Establishing New Office Function: Communication & Stakeholder Management

To make it clear, the "charter" for this particular project was really easily established and directed by our Group Commander (an O-6): Establish a compliance office that puts our missionset in compliance with Air Force Instructions. Do this within 6 months.

I say that the charter was clear, but that does not mean that the work required to achieve these objectives was easy. I would need a lot of help from people that did not work directly for me to make this happen.

Having seen communication problems in the past, I set out to plan how we would engage with the stakeholders.

Planning

In order to establish a plan for communications and stakeholder engagement, I built out a RACI chart. RACI stands for Responsible, Accountable, Consult, Inform. A RACI chart is an effective tool to document everybody's roles responsibilities.

  • Major Command Compliance - CI
  • Group Director of Operations - A
  • Group Compliance Lead - A
  • Flight Senior Operator - R
  • Flight Manager - I

For those of you unfamiliar with Air Force hierarchy, Groups belong to Major Commands, and Flights belong to Groups. (The reality is a little more complicated than that, but that explanation is sufficient.)

For these tasks, I am trying to say that generally the Major Command Compliance office is consulted and informed; the Group Director of Operations and I as the Compliance Lead are accountable; the Flight Senior Operator is responsible; the Flight Manager is informed of what I'm asking her people to work on.

Note that much of this listing is influenced by the military hierarchy. Based on other literature, it seems more ideal to assign only one as accountable.

Based on this assignment of responsibilities, I sketched out a rough plan like the following:

Accountable - Report status of the project on a weekly basis or as delays are incurred by email; meet face-to-face once a month

Consult - As needed

Inform - Provide status update once every two weeks in a standard format via email

Responsible - Via face-to-face and email as tasks are assigned; the Responsible party provides an update to the Accountable party once a week or as tasks

Execution & Controlling and Monitoring

Managing these communications was not terribly involved but I did need to remind the senior operators of their roles a few times. My initial planning also did not include the biggest stakeholder, the Group Commander. As such, I adjusted to include monthly status reports to the Group and Squadron Commanders in addition to holding a meeting every three months.

Summary

The RACI chart is valuable for planning and establishing rules of engagement for communication. The organization may have its own culture and standards of communication that you may need to take into consideration.

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