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They (Hall and the Director) should have been meeting on a regular basis, not only because Hall might need the guidance but because it was an important project and one the Director needed to be up to speed on at all times. Hall, new to project management, might well not have recognized that need herself. Hall was not given a promotion with this task. However, she was given considerable extra responsibility, and it seems possible that she did not get enough support from her own department, which may have contributed to her difficulties. It seems that her range of authority was not clear, both to the people loaned to her by other departments and to the people running those departments. This kind of communication is not something she could have reasonably accomplished, since the task assignment did not come with a promotion. Hall did not always handle things perfectly, but she is not alone in that regard.
Hall does not deserve to be fired, but she is also not ready to be promoted. However, if interdepartmental responsibilities are made more clear in the future, Hall might turn out to be a very good project manager and a good candidate for promotion.
5. Evaluate -- in an overall way -- the use of project management by the Division of Social services.
Based on Hall's experience, it seems possible that the Directors of the various departments within the Division of Social Services may engage in some level of "turf wars," at least sometimes. If this is so, Hall's project would be a perfect situation for such interdepartmental positioning and posturing to occur, because her authority was less than clear. Hall most have some real strengths, or her Director would never have given her the task, and yet she herself did not seem to clearly know what authority she had to make sure the job got done. Obviously the was the leader for her team, but her team members did not report to her. It seems very clear that interdepartmental cooperation may not have been the norm at the Division of Social Services, because consistently, the team members chose work from their own departments over the demands of the disbursement project, even though they clearly knew the deadline. It seems unlikely that Hall would not have communicated that to them.
Hall apparently went into this task assuming that others would see it as she did -- an urgent job requiring whatever it took to get it done on time. However, her own chain of command was clear: her Director gave her this job. All the other teams had split loyalties.
When Hall responded to the lack of cooperation by yelling and banging on the table, she may have put her team members in a difficult situation. At some point, failure of the task may have reflected on them, but they had difficult situations to juggle, having to report to Pam on this task as well as their regular department for other work. Somewhere, someone in a personnel decision-making capacity should have clarified to these people what their priorities had to be. In addition, their department heads needed to share in that assessment. This task became difficult because the issue of how to prioritize work was not made clear.
6. How should the Division improve its performance to enable better projects in the future?
Doing such programming tasks in-house is probably more economical than using outside consultants, which was the backup plan for this task. However, the Division needs to decide exactly and in detail how they want such tasks done in the future. The Directors of the different departments should all sit down together and decide exactly how they will assess priorities in such potentially conflicting situations.
The Division needs to predict such demands as accurately as possible, and then decisions about how to execute the needed task should be done by all the Directors together so there is clear agreement about what needs to be done. In addition, even when programmers work for other departments, since those are regularly assigned duties, they should be part of the employee evaluation. In this situation, the Director's and Hall's reputations were on the line, but not those of the people who had to do most of the work. This made it not only predicable but sensible of them to not treat Hall's…[continue]
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