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Staff Communications

To support Snowik as a thriving and successful organisation we must communicate effectively with each other, with our clients and with our customers. Customers and clients must have the information they need to achieve satisfaction and confidence in the services we provide and works we carry out.

The office manager will seek to gain feedback from staff on how the organisation can improve and enhance effective communications. In feedback received from the Staff Questionnaire and from Staff Briefing sessions held in the annual team building meeting it was evident that Snowik should outline its standards in communication and that a guide on best practice would provide a way forward. Overall we needed to take a more strategic approach to communication with the institution identifying responsibilities for staff at all levels. This policy has therefore been developed to meet those needs

Vision for Communications

In all our communications to proactively demonstrate understanding and respect, ensuring that we communicate in a way that is open, timely, clear and appropriate to the recipient.

Definition of communication

The Arbitration, Conciliation and Advisory Service (ACAS) defines communication as:

The provision and exchange of information and instructions, which enables organisations to function efficiently and employees to be properly informed of developments

Good communication is much more than the exchange of information. It involves the management of relationships and the need for staff involvement. Communication is as much about attitude and behaviour as it is about message. Every member of staff has a role and a responsibility to support effective communication

For the purposes of this policy communication includes not only the message but also how that message is communicated. Not only the responsibility for communication but also how effectively that responsibility is carried out.

Methods of Communication

The methods of communication covered by this policy include

  • Verbal communication, face-to-face communication, one to one meetings, committee meetings and discussions.
  • Written communications, letters, emails, reports, memos, minutes, and any other written documentation.
  • Vertical Communication up and down the organisation usually via the line management structure.
  • Lateral Communication across the institution covering different faculties, services, staff groups, projects, working groups and organisational levels.

Standards for Communications

  • All communications at Snowik should be open, honest, professional and transparent.
    The reasons for decisions are available. Decision makers are accessible and ready to engage in dialogue. When information cannot be communicated the reasons for non-disclosure are articulated:
  • Questions are expected and answered factually accurate and timely
    Information arrives at a time when it is needed, is relevant and able to be interpreted in the correct context.
  • Clear
    Messages are communicated in plain English. They are easy to understand and are not open to misinterpretation.
  • Two way
    Systems exist to support communication up and down the institution as well as across the sites and various teams.
  • Efficient
    The communication and the way it is delivered is “fit for purpose”, cost effective and appropriate to the recipient.

Responsibilities

All employees have a responsibility to demonstrate the institutional standards in communication. Specifically:

All staff

These are the core responsibilities for effective communication for all staff at Snowik:

  • Staff should be aware of the Communications Policy and demonstrate the principles of good practice
  • Staff are responsible for ensuring that they communicate effectively and appropriately in line with the standards for communication
  • Staff should be aware of the various methods of communication and utilise them appropriately in their work
  • Staff should tackle incidents of poor communication in a proactive and constructive way
  • Information should be shared openly and appropriately in a timely fashion
  • Where a colleague constructively raises an issue relating to poor, or inappropriate communication, the individual should consider carefully this feedback and reflect on their communication style.

Supervisors, Office Manager and Management

Those who have direct responsibility for the supervision or line management of other staff have the following additional responsibilities:

  • Ensure effective two way communication operates to and from the Senior Manager and the team
  • Ensure effective and appropriate feedback is provided to staff
  • Reflect on communication standards and practices within the team and identify opportunities for improvement
  • Where staff raise issues of poor communication to take action to ensure they are resolved
  • Where communication issues are raised that cannot be dealt with successfully to ensure that they are taken to the Senior Manager for action and support.
  • Update the team communication skills as required
  • Ensure effective lateral communication between the team and its’ students and other customers.
  • Support and promote a culture that encourages staff inclusion and involvement and challenges non-engagement.

Head of Departments

In addition to the core responsibilities identified above those who have responsibility for the department areas have the following additional responsibilities:

  • Act as a role model – demonstrating good practice in communication in all aspects of the role
  • Ensure that the principles of good practice are applied in each team in their area of responsibility
  • Ensure that managers are adopting good practice, and are supported and developed in communication skills
  • Ensure all staff in their area of responsibility have an understanding of the strategic direction of the organisation (snowik)
  • Ensure all staff understand where their role fits in achieving those longer term objectives
  • Ensure that when managers or staff raise issues of poor or ineffective communication they are dealt with proactively and constructively to effective resolution.
  • Ensure that all staff are aware of the Communications Policy and that they meet the standards required by the institution and the team
  • Ensure consistency, equity and parity in communications processes cross the faculty/service and across staff groups
  • Ensure all staff actively engage in proactive communications and challenge non engagement

Directorate

In addition to the core responsibilities identified above those operating at Director or have the following additional responsibilities:

  • Demonstrate leadership and proactivity in line with the vision for Communications.
  • Encourage involvement and inclusion from all staff throughout the institution.
  • Ensure non-engagement is challenged and proactively and constructively resolve issues of poor communication.
  • Ensure that communication systems and processes actively support the vision for Snowik
  • Regularly review and seek to enhance the institutional approach to communications
  • To ensure there is equity and priority of application of good practice in communications across the institution.

Principles of Good Practice

The following examples of good practice are provided as a guide to staff and managers. It is recognised that it may be appropriate to adapt these models to suit the working environment.

Team Meetings

  • Should take place on a regular and planned basis.
  • Should be attended by all members of the team
  • Opportunities should be provided for all staff to contribute equally.
  • The agenda should be open to input from the whole team.
  • Meetings should be held at a time and in a venue, which allows and encourages input.
  • Agenda items for team meetings should include
  • Strategic and longer term planning
  • Faculty, subject, team or service development
  • Opportunities to share good practice
  • Opportunities to understand the work and contribution of team members
  • Operational objectives and progress
  • Health and Safety
  • Customer or stakeholder feedback
  • Feedback to Senior Managers

One to One meetings

Managers should have one to one meetings with staff who report directly to them on a regular basis. This provides the opportunity for the manager to maintain an understanding of the role and obtain progress on objectives and identify any support that is required.

Service/team building Meetings

The opportunity for all staff within a Service to meet together at least once a year is considered to be beneficial in developing working relationships and enhancing communications. All staff should be updated on operational issues and strategic developments, they should also have the opportunity to be advised of and have input to changes, which directly affect their work.

If it is not possible to arrange a meeting for all staff then the Head of Service should develop appropriate alternate methods for informing all staff of changes and gaining their input and feedback

Open door policy – “Walking the job”

Managers should strive to develop a system that enables them to be easily accessible to staff. To allow this to happen Managers are encouraged to either have set open door times or to communicate their weekly diary to staff showing times that they are available for consultation. Managers should also aim to regularly visit members of staff at their place of work on a more informal basis to discuss current work issues.

All of the above will help to build mutual understanding and improve overall communication and decision-making within departments.

Planning Change – Staff Inclusion and Involvement

Adopting the principles of Partnership at Work, managers at all levels should actively seek opportunities to include and involve staff in changes that will impact on them and their work. In some cases this may be a minor operational issue, at other times it could be more significant strategic change. Staff should be advised in advance of any planned change and be given an opportunity to have input, the subsequent ideas being considered before the decision is made

Feedback

Where staff have raised issues, made suggestions or put forward ideas for change, they should receive feedback on the outcome. It is also important that all staff are kept informed and provided with feedback from senior managers and Directorate. The line manager therefore has a role in ensuring feedback is provided on institutional and strategic issues and on operational issues in other areas of the Service area

Email

E-mail communication should be effective, professional and succinct. Staff should consider if e-mail is always the best way to communicate or if face to face communication would work more effectively.

All staff should respond to incoming e-mail and telephone messages directed for their attention at the earliest opportunity.

Action Plan

This action plan has been developed following feedback from the Staff Questionnaire and from the Staff Briefing sessions.

Action

Lead responsibility

Date

All managers with staff responsibility to facilitate at least two team meetings for their staff

Senior Managers

Line Managers

Annually

All managers to attend appropriate training in higher level communication skills

Senior Managers

As required

Effective communications skills will be specifically included in Performance Review documentation.

Office Manger

Annually

The central Staff Development Programme will offer communication development opportunities for staff and managers

Office Manager

On going

Managers will be briefed on the Partnership at Work approach, which is based on the principles of staff inclusion and involvement

Senior Manager

Annual updates

Job Descriptions and Person Specifications used during Recruitment and Selection will include effective communication skills as essential criteria for all posts.

Office Manager

Ongoing

Effective communications skills will be evaluated during the selection process

Office Manager

Ongoing

Feedback Monitoring and Review

Responsibility for monitoring review and further development of the Staff Communication Policy will lie with the Office Manager and Directorate

The group will use the following to benchmark the effectiveness of communication across the institution.

  • Annual Staff Questionnaire
  • Client questionnaire
  • Customer satisfaction surveys
  • Annual Staff Briefing Sessions
  • Exit interviews
  • No of Grievances relating to inappropriate or ineffective communication
  • Number of Disciplinary issues relating to inappropriate or ineffective communication
  • Feedback via Performance review

As a result of monitoring and review the Staff Communication Policy will be enhanced and the Action Plan developed further to ensure Snowik staff are supported in their work by effective communications at all levels.

Reviewed 15th April 2010

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