For any organization greater than one person, communications is arguably the most critical internal function. The failure to communicate is likely the cause of many a department’s problem.
Accordingly, communication should not be left to chance. The IT manager should write out their communication plan and reference or include it in their staff operating principles. The primary component of the plan should be the identification of communication activities, the medium, and frequency, such as in the matrix below.
|Change management||Change app/email||Constant|
|Incident/service management||Service app/email||Constant|
|One-on-one with manager||In-person only||Weekly/bi-weekly|
|Staff/team meetings||In-person only||Weekly|
|Project meetings||In-person and dial-in||As scheduled|
|Meeting notes/minutes||Email/document||As needed|
|Collaboration||Collaboration site||As needed|
|Informal quick text communications (live)||Instant messaging||Constant while at desktop|
|Formal communications w/ manager/team||Constant|
|Meeting invitations from manager||Answer upon receipt|
|Live voice calls during work hours||desk/cell phone||Constant while at desk|
|Live voice calls while working offsite||Cell/home phone||Constant|
|Emergency communications after hours||Cell/home phone||As needed|
|Performance review||In-person only||Semi-annually|
|Emergency communications to manager||Cell/home phone||Any time as necessary|
|Team internal bridge||xxx-xxx-xxxx|
Other components should include contact information for the team, location of collaboration space (e.g., fileshare, SharePoint site) and email distribution groups.
Finally, this document is an excellent place to include some pithy aphorisms related to communications. For instance, a pet peeve of mine is the direct who receives a request and may loyally begin carrying it out, but does not communicate receipt or agreement; thus I include something “acknowledge communications from your manager in a timely manner”. It’s always appropriate to include such items as “communicate professionally” and “ensure we communicate externally in unison”. Finally, it’s also good to define communications to leave no doubts on expectations – communication is the words one says or writes, the tone, the facial expression and the body language.