Internal Communications Task Force

Internal Communications Task Force Report (2021)

Remaining members of the original task force gathered again in April 2021 at the request of Vice President John Lawrence to assess progress made on the recommendations contained in the initial report.

Internal Communications Task Force Report: Assessing Progress Three Years Later

Internal Communications Task Force Report (2019)

In April 2018, Vice President Lawrence appointed and charged a task force with determining how communication might be improved within the organization to enhance the delivery of the mission.

For the complete list of recommendations, as well as descriptions of the task force's original charge and objectives, process, and findings, see the Internal Communications Task Force Report Executive Summary (April 2019, pdf).

Progress on Specific Recommendations from the 2019 Report

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.
  • May 2020: As we implement Structured for Success, County Services is providing orientation and training to all regional directors to standardize expectations for the position and increase consistency across the state.

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 centralized (internal) website or other "front page" for leadership communications.

Recommendation: Develop a method for crisis communications.

  • March 2020: New Crisis Communications Plan developed; also addresses social media.
  • July 2020: Crisis Communications Plan and Crisis Incident Report Template updated; available on MyExtension.

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 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.

Recommendation: Develop consistent teams across units for implementation across the state.

  • Spring 2020: Program and service units are realigning their teams geographically with the new regions.
Other actions
  • 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.