Rector Øystein and the rest of the senior management group have implemented some important internal communication measures this past year.
That is hardly surprising, considering that open communication is defined as one of the characteristics of NHH staff in both the previous and the newly launched strategy.
What is the current state of internal communication at NHH, in your opinion?
‘The rector's team has been concerned with keeping an open dialogue with staff through both formal and informal channels. We have town hall meetings for all employees, as well as regular joint and separate management meetings for academic and administrative managers, so I think we're settling into a nice pattern,’ says Øystein.
‘It's essential that all staff know which direction we're headed in order for NHH to get to where we need to be. The management therefore takes every opportunity to talk about the overriding requirements from the Ministry, our new strategy and the choices we make on a running basis. An open communication climate where staff feel that they participate and know how NHH operates is crucial, also at the overriding level. Because internal communication is so important to the rector's team, we also discuss it in the most recent annual report. We want the Ministry to know that internal communication is something we focus on.’
Video recordings of the town hall meetings are available in Paraplyen, as are agendas and summaries from meetings of several key committees. In addition, the mandates of five of the committees now state that the chair of the committee is responsible for communication, and that information about the committee’s activities shall be communicated to all stakeholders.
‘This was a natural result of dissolving some of the committees and replacing them with just one, namely the Education Committee,’ says Øystein.
‘The restructuring means that fewer staff members are now involved in committee work than in the past, which means that the committees’ communication becomes even more important.’
What does communication mean to you?
‘Communication should be two-way, meaning that both parties should be given an opportunity to express their opinion. Listening is an equally important part of communication. It's crucial that the management listens to the employees' points of view. We appreciate input and honest feedback. We need to know what the employeew are concerned with. However, we are surprised about how much time we spend communicating with staff and the world outside NHH, but I'm convinced that this is time well spent,’ says Øystein.
'I have come to realise that communication must be integrated in everything we do. I notice that we keep returning to this issue in different ways, including in our cooperation with employee representatives, student representatives and the outside world.'
The rector thinks it is time for the next step, namely to share the matters raised at the management meetings with the rest of the organisation in writing via Paraplyen. He doubts that all staff members will find these summaries equally interesting, however. ‘The important thing is that those who are interested can find them easily,’ he says.
Øystein believes it is important to see the internal communication channels in context. He says that the management is continuously trying to adopt a uniform approach in their communication, both by ensuring that the different managers communicate the same message and by sharing the same message in several channels, for example at the town hall meetings and as separate news items in Paraplyen.
‘I believe that both the academic staff and the technical/administrative staff know what to expect from the different channels. We use the town halls to discuss general issues that everyone must know about, and the managers are responsible for communicating information from the management meetings to the employeew in their units, and vice versa – from the employees to the management meetings.’
‘I promise that there will be time for questions from the floor at the next town hall. That's very important, and the intention has always been to answer questions from the employeew at every meeting. Unfortunately, time flies at these meetings,’ Øystein sighs.
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