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Communications 101 – Improving communications at STARRT the focus of one Simply the Best project team

Last week, Rob told you about the 10 pilot projects that resulted from the ideas you and your colleagues brought forward during the Simply the Best workshops. He also promised an introduction to each of those projects over the next 10 weeks. Up first is the work Wayne Ostermaier and his team are doing to improve communications at the STARRT campus in Stoney Creek.

In keeping with the college theme you could call the STARRT communications project, Communications 101. Wayne and his team are looking at how news and information gets shared at the STARRT campus after staff and faculty identified it as a priority during the Simply the Best workshops.

 “People made it clear that they want to be better informed about what’s happening at the campus,” says Wayne.

The information is there but accessing it is an issue. It’s not always clear where to go for information, and as employees move about within the College there’s some confusion about who to go to for information, he says.

Wayne and his team are taking inventory of the sources of information at the campus and determining whether those sources are working or not. Later this month the team plans to meet with staff and faculty to update them on the project’s status and to get their input on what does and doesn’t work.

“Openness and transparency will prevail throughout the project,” says Wayne. “There is a core team, but anyone is welcome to provide their opinion. All of the team meetings will be open to anyone at the campus who wants to come and share their ideas.”

Another outcome of the project will be to create a who’s who list at the STARRT campus and develop a process for updating that list as people move around. They’ll also be looking at developing email etiquette practices to smooth out communications between individuals and groups and possibly eliminate the unnecessary use of email.

Pulling it all together will be the job of the STARRT Communications Team who will develop a communications plan, put it into action and then be responsible for measuring its success, he says.  The plan will be in place by the end of September, even though some of the processes will still be under development at that stage.

Team members Rebecca Weylie, Laura Side and Judith Johnston agree that success means everyone will feel informed about what is going on at the campus and around the College. Surveys and feedback sessions will be used to measure success.

The team is also test-driving a new approach to project management that will become the standard for all projects at Mohawk College. Projects advance through a series of “gates” that introduce checks and balances to the process and help make sure that the project stays on track and focused on what it was intended to do. The STARRT team is happy with the approach. Team members agree that it was particularly helpful getting the project started and keeping it focused on its key objectives. 

The STARRT team is made up of a cross-section of faculty, support and administrative staff. Rebecca and Judith are two of the support staff members of the team. Laura represents admin staff. The other six members include faculty representatives Todd Elliott and Brad MacDonald and support staff representatives Karen Brown, Kym Mcreary-Stewart, Maria Segato and Amy Petsche.

Communications is an issue for all of Mohawk’s campuses. The work Wayne and his team are doing will likely serve as the blueprint for a college-wide redesign of how information is shared with staff, faculty and students.

For more information about the STARRT communications project contact Wayne at ext. 5249. For more information about any of the Simply the Best pilot projects contact Carol Mushing in Human Resources at ext. 2174.

Team members Kym McCreary-Stewart and Todd Elliott talk about their involvement in the Simply the Best STARRT communications project.