At our 2019 Annual Conference, our Internal Communications Task Force presented its 215-page report to Vice President John Lawrence and the leadership team. Check this page often to learn about ISU Extension and Outreach’s progress on prioritizing and implementing the task force’s recommendations.
Updates from John Lawrence
(From John Lawrence's “Did You Know” message for each date shown.)
- March 16, 2020: Crisis communications plan
- Feb. 10, 2020: Our internal communications progress
- Dec. 23, 2019: Introducing Second Monday Live
- Dec. 9, 2019: County visit notification reminder
- Nov. 11, 2019: Connecting with the Leadership Team
- Sept. 23, 2019: Area-wide meetings and Structured for Success
- Aug. 5, 2019: Office of the Vice President website and virtual suggestion box
- July 15, 2019: County visit notification
- June 17, 2019: Preliminary discussion — centralized, internal communications platform
- May 20, 2019: Leadership team will prioritize recommendations
- April 22, 2019: Communication recommendations
Progress on Specific Recommendations
The task force arranged the recommendations to align with themes generated from the qualitative data analysis. Progress on implementation will be noted here as specific recommendations are addressed.
For the complete list of recommendations, as well as descriptions of the task force's charge and objectives, process, and findings, see the Internal Communications Task Force Report Executive Summary (April 2019, pdf).
Theme: Re-evaluate roles between field specialists, regional directors, county staff, and councils to educate and clarify individual responsibilities for accountability and buy-in.
- February 2020: As we implement Structured for Success, we will be taking a close look at roles of field specialists, regional directors, county staff and councils. We want to clarify individual responsibilities for better accountability. The two-way scorecard is under development and will formalize these communications.
Theme: Implement methods for a two-way, field-to-campus, feedback loop for improved relationships and effectiveness.
Recommendation: Create an internal virtual suggestion box.
- August 2019: Share with Us virtual suggestion box is now available. Share your questions, comments and concerns at any time. About every two weeks, the vice president and leadership team will review comments and provide responses. Occasionally we will ask for input on specific proposals and upcoming decisions. Your feedback always will be anonymous and confidential.
Recommendation: Implement listening sessions or virtual “office hours” with the leadership team.
- November 2019: We held five virtual listening sessions in October about Structured for Success. We are evaluating the technical platforms for virtual office hours in the future.
- January 2020: Second Monday Live begins -- a brief, monthly digital update from the leadership team about program and professional development opportunities. (See "Introducing Second Monday Live.")
Recommendation: Create a public website to gather information about needs across the state.
- August 2019: Office of the Vice President website is now available. On this new website you’ll find links to special initiatives, area-wide meeting information, the vice president's weekly “Did You Know” messages, other updates from the Office of the Vice President, the ISU Extension and Outreach strategic plan, and other information about the organization.
Recommendation: Expand the ISU Extension and Outreach leadership team.
- Fall 2019: Terry Maloy, Iowa Extension Council Association executive director, now is invited to leadership team meetings once per month.
Theme: Implement centralized, unified messages to achieve the same understanding of key information across the system.
Recommendation: Develop a method for crisis communications.
- March 2020: New Crisis Communications Plan developed; also addresses social media.
Recommendation: Develop a method for systematically communicating university visits across the state.
Recommendation: Develop a method for systematically communicating regional or county staff visits across the state.
- July 2019: County visit notification email protocol established to address both recommendations.
-- Visitors (campus faculty and staff, regional staff, county staff): Send an email ahead of time explaining where you’ll be and why.
-- County staff: Acknowledge you received the message.
-- Over time, we may discover that we need a more complex or automated system. However, sending an email to let our colleagues know when we’ll be visiting their county is a best practice that we all can implement right now.
Theme: Provide standardized, immediate, meaningful staff and council onboarding for consistent, base-level knowledge of the organization.
Theme: Provide financial resources and training to eliminate barriers and increase effectiveness of interpersonal communication.
Recommendation: Enhance diversity of employees and clarify career planning and pathway.
- May 2019: The Vice President for Extension and Outreach Tuition Assistance Program is established to help our people move forward with their extension careers.
Theme: Define consistent, stable, and geographic teams across program and service units to allow for face-to-face interactions and effective communication pathways, and to deepen relationships.
Recommendations beyond the themes
- January 2020: County Services began the County Services Connection, a monthly newsletter directed to county staff, councils and regional directors.
- August-September 2019: We had engaging discussions during our first round of area-wide meetings in August and September.