A few years ago, I was hired as Front Office Manager (FOM) in a small hotel in Provence. The hotel had only a small reception team that was very polyvalent. The first project I had to take care of as I arrived was to review the procedures and update them to increase the customer service. The previous was fired just before I arrived (I did not know that until I started my job. They just told me she was leaving with no further details during the interview).
I am using this example, as it was personally a failure, even if the objectives were pretty much reached. We did manage to get new procedures in place, and to overall increase customer satisfaction and follow up. However, the managers were not fully satisfy with the work done, as there had been a lot of issues with one of the employee, who was not willing to follow the project’s instructions, and was fighting against my authority. So her lack of engagement and support led to various issues, and as she had been here for quite a long time, she had the trust of the management, which did not help me to complete my project as expected. They tend to take her side when she was complaining about certain elements, simply because I was not keeping them informed enough about what was happening and they only had her version (felt like I was back in kindergarden though!). Little by little, I lost their support on the project.
Overall, the four first phases of the project management process were followed, but the last closing phase was not done, which is one reason why the results of the project was not as expected.
There was no particular issue in Phase I. The need and feasibility study were easily and effectively done. During phase II, the estimations were done correctly, but there was an issue with the assignment of the roles. The employee I mentioned above has been assigned to review the procedures and its application, to ensure that the other members were following them, and that they were working as expected. However, instead of being reviewer, I should have assigned her SME. She knew her job, and could have been bringing a lot of good ideas. By having her review the procedures, it was a way for me to recognize her knowledge but it obviously did not work, as the result was that she was catching all the mistakes of the others, and felt frustrated by those mistakes that she had to correct. If I were doing all of that again, I would start by a one-on-one meeting with all the employees involved, before assigning them different roles. It will be a way for me to know what they were interested to do, what they knew how to do, and figure out the best role for them to play. “Involving people in the development helps to encourage their belief in and commitment to achieving it” (Portny, et al., 2008, p. 79). It would have been a way also to communicate more effectively with them so they understand where we are going and what role they play in all of this.
There was no particular issue in Phase III, and Phase IV. In that one, only the creative input that this employee may have been able to give me was not used due to those issues. Phase V was not done.
A lot of elements were still done well during this project: one-on-one discussion and training with the employees during the various stages of the project, to keep them motivated, team building activities, etc. However, I should have organized more team meetings with all the stakeholders in the starting phases. This would have helped me ensure that the higher management knew exactly what I was doing. As supporters, they should have been moderately involved in the first stage, and heavily in all other stages (Portny, et al., 2008). Doing this will have allowed me to keep their support, and by doing a correct closing phase, I could have showed them how effective the project was. Concerning my employees, they were the driver audience, and I should have included them heavily at the beginning, and them moderately throughout the process (Portny, et al., 2008) in order to include them more in the conception and design of the procedures, and engage /motivate them more.
Communication would have been one of the key solutions. According to Portny et al. (2008), it would have helped me “learn about other team members’ background, experience, and styles; stimulate brainstorming, problem analysis, and decision making; and provide a forum for people to explore the reasons for and interpretations of a message” (p. 360).
Portny, S. E., Mantel, S. J., Meredith, J. R., Shafer, S. M., Sutton, M. M., & Kramer, B. E. (2008). Project management: Planning, scheduling, and controlling projects. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.