To be successful, every piece of work, however small or large, requires a project management mindset. Although the approach adopted may be the same irrespective of the project, that is where the similarities end.
No two projects are the same because no two clients are the same. Each project requires an approach which recognises not just the business objectives but also the business culture.
From an early stage in my career I recognised what differentiates a completed project from a successfully completed project.
The key is communication.
It’s, to take the time to truly understand what you, the client, requires. And having done that the task is to prepare, organise, execute and finally report with recommendations.
It’s about “getting things done”.
Clients questions answered
WHAT TYPE OF PROJECTS DO YOU UNDERTAKE?
During my career I have undertaken many different HR projects both in the UK and in Malta covering a wide range of topics. You can see a brief description of some of the projects I have completed elsewhere on my website
WHAT IS YOUR APPROACH TO STARTING A PROJECT?
Time spent in preparation is absolutely essential. Before starting a project, the key is to invest time in working with the client to be absolutely clear on the brief. At times that requires me to challenge the client so that we can both understand what the objective is and how success will be measured.
HOW DO YOU WORK WITH A CLIENT ONCE THE PROJECT HAS STARTED?
In my experience the success or failure of a project is down to communication. More often than not issues arise, and actions are not completed when communication fails. During the initial planning stage of the project, I agree with my client how, when and by what means we are going to communicate. Not only does this ensure that the project is on track, it allows for changes to be factored in whilst the work is being undertaken, rather than having to address matters at the end.
HOW MUCH INVOLVEMENT WILL BE REQUIRED FROM ME?
That depends on you, you can have as much or as little involvement as you wish. I do however stipulate that you make yourself available for pre agreed project meetings and that you complete any “action items” that sit with you, likewise you instruct your colleagues to do likewise.
WHAT ABOUT YOUR (MY) ACCOUNTABILITY ONCE THE PROJECT HAS BEEN COMPLETED?
In many respects the real work starts once the project has been completed, when it becomes “live”. As much as my client will allow, I like to be involved for up to six months post project delivery, to review with the client how it’s going and discuss any changes that may be required.
As a consultant your obligation to your client is an ongoing one and it doesn’t end when the work, be it project or other work, is completed.
LEADING RECRUITMENT INITIATIVES
Working to a brief prepared by me in conjunction with the client, I’ve led large scale recruitment programmes for an FMCG supplier, and separately, managed the recruitment of Board members for family run SME’s. And pretty much everything in between.
My objective is to always provide the client with a shortlist of suitable candidates, thus allowing them to focus on the selection decision, rather than all of the activity that “gets us to that point”.
DEVELOPING AND THEN INTRODUCING TERMS AND CONDITIONS OF EMPLOYMENT
Necessary to have I know but I’ve always seen this as being a great opportunity to reflect company culture. All too often these documents are written in a very dry style and focus on telling employees the consequences of breaking the rules! I’ve always sought to discuss with clients innovative and creative ways in which this information can be presented in a style that employees will engage with.
MANAGING LARGE SCALE RESTRUCTURING AND CHANGE PROGRAMMES
In my last role I “successfully” managed the planned closure of 8 offices with the resulting loss of nearly 200 staff. The key was to treat everybody as individuals and recognise that they all have their own “life stories”. If success is measured in terms of employment tribunal complaints, not one action was brought against the company.
WRITING JOB DESCRIPTIONS AND DEVELOPING A SUPPORTING EVALUATION PROTOCOL
A recent assignment required me to lead a job evaluation project for an overseas bank that employed 300+ staff across a branch network and Head Office complex. I oversaw the writing of the job descriptions, in some cases I had to prepare first drafts, as well as chairing the Evaluation Committee. The most challenging, and enjoyable, part of the assignment was devising a points-based evaluation criteria.
LEARNING AND DEVELOPMENT INCLUDING DELIVERING PROGRAMMES
In my view L&D should sit at the centre of every business. I’ve prepared development plans, and then monitored and managed progress, completed TNA’s, worked alongside external training providers, overseen internal programmes and delivered training myself.
CHAIRING AND ASSISTING WITH DISCIPLINARY AND GRIEVANCE MEETINGS
Whilst I have led both disciplinary and grievance investigations and meetings, my preference is to coach managers to undertake these tasks themselves. I’ve worked with many managers across different business sectors to empower them to own this/these processes. It’s a coaching approach I’ve used successfully when working with managers on various other HR “hot topics”.