Skip Navigation Links Home » Facts and Frequently Asked Questions » Communication

Communication

What is communication?

It is the process of exchanging information in a way that conveys meaning and attempts to create shared understanding.

Why is communication important?

Communication is a two-way street. It allows the providing of information to others and permits the return of information. Communication – in writing, orally or through images – is the basic tool for people to give one another the means for understanding what is happening in an organization and why.

What happens if communication is inadequate?

A vacuum is created. Employees fail to understand why decisions are made and what direction the department is going. The public develops suspicions about what is occurring within the department. Rumors spread, misunderstandings thrive and inaccurate information is perceived as fact.

Where does good communication originate?

From everyone in the department. Administrators and supervisors are obligated to clearly, consistently and frequently communicate their needs and expectations to the employees who work for them. Employees should understand they are expected to freely communicate issues and concerns to their supervisors.

What is the most important part of communication?

Listening. Through listening comes understanding and the ability to recognize whether the message is clear and understandable. Active listening allows communicators to assess what they are saying to ensure it is conveying the right message, and permits recipient to analyze what is being said so they can ask questions.

With whom does the Corrections Department communicate?

Employees, other state agencies, Montana citizens, legislators, district judges, prosecutors, victims, defense attorneys, offenders, federal agencies, other state corrections departments and news media.

Why is internal communications in the Corrections Department so critical?

The department has 1,300 employees scattered throughout Montana in 25 communities. Some of these employees are more than 500 miles apart. Some spend their shifts in secure facilities; some spend their workdays in cars. It’s important to ensure that this diverse work force has a common understanding of the goals and activities of this wide-ranging department so that staff acts in unison toward reaching the department’s mission and objectives.

Why are external communications so important?

Citizens and news media have a keen interest in how a state agency responsible for the supervision of offenders and protecting public safety. Ensuring Montanans know what is happening in a department with such a serious obligation is critical to maintaining the credibility of the agency and public trust. Legislators need to understand what goes on in an agency that uses about 9 percent of the state’s total general fund budget. Criminal justice system officials care about corrections as a critical element of the system.

What does the department do to communicate with employees and the general public?

The department publishes a biennial report in advance of each legislative session that is made available in printed form to key lawmakers and to the general public on the DOC Web site at http://www.cor.mt.gov/content/Resources/Reports/2011BiennialReport.pdf. A quarterly newsletter is published online at http://www.cor.mt.gov/content/news/Signpost.pdf. In addition, the department issues news releases, fact sheets and reports on various issues and events that arise related to the department.

Department officials are available for media interviews and a communications director and public information officers at each of the state prisons ensure that requests for information are promptly answered. A DOC intranet site, recently revamped, provides important internal information to employees. Each division has developed a communication plan specific to their operations and they can be found at http://www.cor.mt.gov/About/CommunicationPlans/default.mcpx.

What happens when someone asks for information from the department?

Such inquiries usually come to the communication director who will either collect and provide the information or route the request to someone with knowledge to answer the questions. The communications director works with staff to prepare responses that are accurate, consistent, organized, understandable, comprehensive and timely.

Who responds to requests for information?

In most cases, an administrator or bureau chief will reply. But even then, the response should be coordinated in advance with the communications director to ensure the information provided is consistent, accurate and timely. While the department can speak with more than one voice, it is critical that the voices are in harmony in reflecting the agency’s mission, vision and goals.

How good are my communication skills?

Here’s a Web site link where you can take a test that assesses your communication skills:

http://www.queendom.com/tests/access_page/index.htm?idRegTest=683