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Top Story:  Engaging . . . Promoting Communication and a Shared Sense of Purpose


Chrisalyn Santos
Public Affairs Operations

This is the third in a series of articles on the OCC’s strategic initiatives and how they support the OCC’s “One Vision.”

engaging - A stronger OCC

This month the spotlight is on the Engaging initiative. The strategic intent of the Engaging initiative is to improve OCC communication flow in all directions–upward, downward, and horizontally–and to ensure that each employee’s contribution to the mission of the OCC is recognized and valued.

The Engaging initiative was established with goals and objectives set by the OCC Executive Committee that seek to enhance employee interaction with senior leaders while creating more opportunities for meaningful, internal communication throughout all OCC business units .

Engaging initiative goals and objectives

Improve communication flow in all directions–upward, downward, and horizontally–within the OCC.
  • Ensure that OCC employees get timely, complete, and contextualized information, so that they are more likely to know what is happening and why it is happening.
  • Provide opportunities for OCC employees to be “heard” by leadership, and to have greater face-to-face interaction with OCC leadership.
  • Enhance communication skills of all employees to increase their ability to share information effectively.
Ensure that each employee’s contribution to the mission of the OCC is recognized and valued.
  • Provide OCC employees with a greater sense of shared purpose and insight into the “big picture” to better understand how they contribute to the OCC mission and why their work matters.

The Engaging initiative working group began its efforts by interviewing the OCC senior deputy comptrollers to identify communication best practices that can be leveraged throughout other business units. The group identified actions such as all-hands meetings, visits to OCC field offices, regular teleconferences and face-to-face meetings, newsletters, and management by walking around. The group compiled a list of opportunities for SDCs, especially supervision, to interact with business units other than their own.

The working group also researched internal communication best practices at other organizations, such as Cisco Systems, Deloitte, and IBM. From that research, the group identified opportunities that include improving the intranet (OCCnet), creating internal social networks, fostering positive manager employee relations, encouraging managers to solicit feedback from employees, and measuring internal communication effectiveness. A report on SDCbest practices and the practices at other organizations was shared with the SDCs.

In support of the Engaging initiative objective to create opportunities for employees to get to know the Comptroller and understand what is important to him, Comptroller Thomas J. Curry has formally interacted with field and Headquarters employees on more than 40 occasions thus far in fiscal year 2013. From town hall meetings to brown-bag lunches to team meeting drop-ins, the Comptroller uses these opportunities to share his thoughts with employees and to answer their questions. The Comptroller has also discussed a variety of topics through his e-mail messages to employees and through the “Comptroller’s Corner,” which appears on the cover of SuperVisions.

The Comptroller recently announced another program that fosters communication between him and employees. As part of the Ask the Comptroller program, employees may send questions or comments concerning OCC operations, objectives, goals, or strategies to the Comptroller through a dedicated e-mail account.

Senior Deputy Comptroller and Chief of Staff Paul Nash hosts regular “Meet the Chief” brown-bag lunches at Head- quarters to provide employees with an update on OCC activities and to answer employees’ questions. Plans call for hosting similar meetings with employees at field locations.

The Headquarters move to Constitution Center presented an opportunity to foster and encourage communication across business units in Washington-based offices through open house events. Economics, the Office of Management, and Midsize and Community Bank Supervision hosted events to provide employees with information about the business unit, to answer questions, and to provide a forum where employees can meet staff members; other business units will hold similar events in the fall.

To further two-way communication, a feature will be added to the OCCnet this month that will allow employees to rate and provide feedback on Super- Visions articles and other content. This new rating feature is a part of the newly designed OCCnet and will give SuperVisions staff, in particular, a sense of what employees want to read. Other features of the new OCCnet will help fulfill the goals and objectives of the Engaging initiative.

In support of the initiative objective to enhance the communication skills of all employees, Continuing Education developed a Resource Guide for Communication Skills Development, and it is available for download from the OCCnet. It includes a sample of resources for oral, written, and organizational communication.

To bolster the shared sense of purpose among OCC employees, the Engaging initiative working group proposed the Shared Purpose Award to recognize individuals or groups whose work exemplifies the value of collaboration across organizational lines. The Executive Committee approved the award and two multifunctional teams and three individuals have received this award in 2013.

Engaging initiative working group

Amy Friend, Laura St. Claire, Joe Adamoli, Gary Crane, Grace Dailey, Bob Garsson

Dale Grayson, Laura Hearick, Michele Meyer, David Nebhut, Mark Richardson, Wendell Walker

Next steps call for the Engaging initiative working group to assess the employee feedback on communication related questions on the 2013 OCC Engagement Survey and the OPM Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey to determine if these communication actions are yielding positive outcomes.

Although many of the Engaging initiative objectives have been met, internal communication is an ongoing effort, according to Amy Friend, Senior Deputy Comptroller and Chief Counsel, and Engaging initiative Executive Committee member sponsor. “Key to the success of our future efforts in the Engaging initiative will be eliciting input from generationally, geographically, and functionally diverse groups,” says Friend, “so we can ensure we are building a shared sense of purpose across the agency.”

Last Updated: 08/28/2015