No matter what type of reliability initiative you are planning, there's one thing that remains true for every single initiative: Communication. Communication is one of the most important tasks in change initiatives.
When starting an initiative, leadership must determine and be consistent with the message. Once the leadership team truly understands and can articulate the vision and mission in his or her own words, then this will drive that consistency that will be required for sustainable change.
Secondly we know that there are going to be issues along the way. The leadership team needs to identify these bumps in the road through a risk review. Once you know what the high risk issues are, then you can determine how you as a team will deal with them before they arise. Many of the mitigating steps will be influential in creating your communication plan.
A thorough communication plan should contain the messages or ideas that need to be presented, the media or medias that will be used to present it, and who and when it should occur (See example below). In order for your plan to be effective, you will need to use different media and repetition to insure that the message is truly heard. As an example, you may plan to share the change vision four ways within your communication plan and repeat as required.
They could include:
- Verbal one-way communication by the Director or Plant Manager in his or her monthly meetings
- Verbal two-way communication by having each of the leaders spend one-on-one time on the floor talking and soliciting feedback from each of the individuals in his department about the change.
- Written communication via a column in the monthly plant newsletter with frequently asked questions that were discovered in the one-on-one sessions.
- Written communication in the form of a personal letter delivered to the home of each employee from the director describing how this change affects them and their family.
The key point is that you must not just communicate, you need to strategically communicate. Develop a strategic direction through the vision and mission. Identify the risk to the initiative and address those risks in a communication plan. If you take these types of proactive steps, any new initiative will have greater chances for success as each issue is successfully communicated and addressed in advance.
Shon Isenhour, CMRP
ABB Global Consulting