Original Date: 11/17/1997
Revision Date: 01/18/2007
Best Practice : Communication — Spreading the Word
The Department of Plant Operations initiated a Communication process to promote its mission, goals, objectives, and accomplishments throughout the campus community. Prior to this initiative, Plant Operations’ quality services were overlooked by most of the campus, viewed as unessential to the educational process, and minimally supported by top officials. Today, Plant Operations takes a dynamic approach to communicating internally within the Department; externally with customers and suppliers; vertically with top-down visions and bottom-up ideas; and horizontally with other departments. This approach champions reliable, efficient service and continuous improvement. In addition, Plant Operations established itself as an integral part (Figure 2-2) of the educational process and conveys this message to students, faculty, and trustees through a variety of programs:
Plant Operations Scholarship Fund This fund gives $1,000 annually to a needy student; awards $1,000 to children of staff who attend Elizabethtown College; and helps finance staff who pursue undergraduate work and continuing education. Plant Operations raises all the money for the fund through employee contributions and various programs (e.g., Recycling Program).
Plant Operations Residence Life Management Team This team was organized to promote communication with the students. Ambitious efforts involved creating a student group with representatives from all college-owned housing on and off campus, and scheduling forums so issues and concerns (e.g., recycling, energy conservation, maintenance, safety) could be communicated between Plant Operations and students.
Recycling Program This program is linked to student groups who educate incoming freshmen on the practices and incentives of recycling. Recycling centers are established in each residence hall. Plant Operations gives 50% of the profits from the program to the Residence Hall Association so students can purchase items (e.g., furniture, televisions, VCRs, ping-pong tables) for use in their common living areas. The remaining 50% is placed in the Plant Operations Scholarship Fund.
Opportunities for Interaction Plant Operations’ manager and staff regularly receive invitations to discuss their programs (e.g., total quality management, project management, performance contracting) with business classes at Elizabethtown College and other universities. Plant Operations also opens its facilities to tours and lectures.
Customer Satisfaction Work orders are personally handled by a Work Order Station Coordinator. The customer of every fifth work order receives a customer satisfaction card so feedback can be obtained. Any dissatisfaction issues are addressed immediately. Plant Operations summarizes customer feedback every semester to analyze performance levels and trends.
Self-evaluation Plant Operations performs self-evaluations at the completion of every calendar year. All staff members complete a questionnaire. In addition, 50 questionnaires are issued to faculty, administrators, and office staff for their evaluations of Plant Operations, and another 50 questionnaires are distributed to students. Plant Operations enters the assessment data into a database and compares the results against previous years’ performance.
This added dimension of communication enables Plant Operations to partake in the mainstream of the campus life and become an integral part of the educational process. The Communication process helped Plant Operations improve its performance, credibility, student involvement, staff visibility, and services to the campus, as well as lay the groundwork to win support for programs that promote continuous improvement. In 1993, Plant Operations won the Key to the Campus Award and the Unsung Hero Award from the student chapter of Habitat for Humanity. One staff member also won the Excellence of Service Award. Since then, Plant Operations has won awards which, in most cases, had been previously given to faculty or administrators.
Figure 2-2. Communications
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