About the Engagement
In June 2013, following the occurrences of Hurricanes Irene and Lee, and Superstorm Sandy, a state-level disaster recovery organization was created to focus on recovery and rebuilding efforts for effective areas of New York State. The agency’s aid focused on four areas: housing recovery, small business, community reconstruction and infrastructure. In Fall 2021, our engagement team was procured to support the community reconstruction and infrastructure operations team. The community reconstruction and infrastructure operations team experienced leadership and staffing changes, while adjusting to a full-time remote working environment, due to the global Covid-19 global pandemic.
The business problems consisted of a combination of low team morale, inconsistent supervision, unclear expectations, and limited understanding of objectives and key results. The engagement team was tasked with ascertaining whether systems, structures, and staffing patterns were adequate to ensure timely, accurate, and efficient project-level, grantee-level, and grant closure.
Through the needs assessment process, a series of challenges arose. The first challenge was low team morale. Another challenge was the lack of a change management strategy (for example: communication plans, procedural updates, risk assessments). In addition, a challenge was inconsistent supervision practices, and the final challenge was inability to communicate progress of workload and unequal portfolio distribution.
Project Impacts and Outcomes
The engagement team leveraged the findings of the needs assessment to create systems, structures, and updated procedures for the operations team. Team morale was the first target, and it was boosted through active listening and understanding of staff needs and challenges. The result was the ability to provide support and interventions, based on information gathered. In addition, new roles were created, and additional headcount was added to elevate veteran-knowledgeable staff and to build capacity for on-going support and redistribution of workload equitably. Supervision structures were created including meeting cadences and standard agendas to ensure consistency in expectations across the team. A progress-to-goals system was created to ensure a data-driven approach to goal setting for project-level and grantee-level closure. Lastly, training, learning, and development was a key area of focus to ensure ongoing support, accuracy in work product, and efficient project management.