Can great communication enhance your IT team's internal brand? We think so...

Dan Simms
July 7, 2020 12:32 PM

Earlier in my career I worked as an interim IT Director/Head of IT for before setting up Klaxon.

Typically an interim is hired to help bring about rapid change; this includes business transformation, turnarounds such as failing projects and restructuring the IT team. 

In nearly every case, improving communication was a significant factor; however, often, this was not an explicit part of the brief. I believe this is because there is both an assumption that this will 'just improve' or a lack of understanding that this is part of the problem.

As an interim, I developed a toolbox of approaches - for those who are reading this from the UK think ‘Blue Peter - here’s one I made earlier’ and you’re on the right lines. I called this my A to C approach (leapfrogging an organic incremental improvement). 

In the communication space, I always looked to drive fast paced improvements to operational communications. Often I started here since it is immediately visible (which I call 'visibly different') to the broader business. Seeing immediate progress with the quality of communications demonstrates progress, builds trust & goodwill and helps to unlock further support and investment for other change.

Communications is a broad subject area, and I’m not going to cover everything here. I thought I’d include some of my approach to improving operational communications.

  • Agreeing roles and responsibilities for sending communications, so it is clear who is doing this in every circumstance (including out of hours);
  • Professionalising the communications by using branded templates and colour coding to help people see the severity based on the colour;
  • Outlining workarounds where possible, to help keep people productive during an incident;
  • Working with other operational departments to demonstrate a single approach across all operational departments;
  • Training the IT Service Desk/Major incident management team to communicate quickly even if we did not know the cause or when it would be fixed (helping to reduce calls to the IT Service Desk, allowing them to be more proactive). In most organisations, this met with some initial resistance, since the team wanted to communicate the cause and the solution at the same time (i.e. some good news as well) however this usually led to delays issuing the communications. My counter argument for communicating promptly in the event of a major incident is three-fold - 1) prompt communications will stop the business flooding the IT Service Desk with calls about the incident, allowing the Service Desk to be proactive rather than reactive; 2) the business already knows there’s a problem, so why delay telling them?; 3) if you can provide a workaround people can find other ways of being productive, which will reduce the cost/impact/lost production associated with an incident;
  • Always issue follow up communication in line with any agreed timescales, helping to build trust;
  • Using templates for common major incidents to avoid sending out notifications with spelling or grammar mistakes;
  • Don’t forget the personal touch - I would ask the Head of IT Service Management (or similar roles) to contact business Heads during a major incident personally, to help build up their profile and trust;
  • Be transparent and open about the cause following the incident - this helps build trust;
  • Always do this - even if members of the team grumble about whether it’s worth it, stick to it. Being consistent is essential as it demonstrates commitment, and avoids undermining the excellent work/wins you have made to date. 

Together ‘visibly different’ operational communication changes helps to build trust and position the IT team as a professional business partner, which enhances and enriches the IT brand.

And the good news is that we used all this knowledge to design and create Klaxon. It is loaded with features to help IT teams improve operational communications and enhance their brand. Please schedule a demo using the link below if you'd like to learn more.