Michael Thomas worked for AMEX Petroleum and jumped into an opportunity to set-up business operations in central Hungary. "His main goal is to established 10-14 gas stations in the region by purchasing existing stations, building new ones, or negotiating franchise arrangements with existing owners of stations" (Larson, & Gray, 2011 p. 560). He took this opportunity hoping that this will boost his career plus his mother being Hungarian he has the command of the language but didn't realize what he was getting into. He is faced with a variety of challenges such as high employee turnover, high percentage of unemployment with a large number of unmotivated burned out workers and bureaucracy in the public sector. He underestimated the challenges and was overconfident on his abilities and now it seems like the issues are mountains that needs to be moved. Analysis
"The issue with staffing is really obvious due to the fact that he has hired sixteen employees, four quit within three days and six were let go after the trial period due to absenteeism" (Larson, E.W., & Gray, 2011). His existing staff were no where to be found and will not even call him and let him know personally why they are not at work. This shows lack of respect, professionalism, structure and discipline on the part of his staff. It is also a reflection and indication of his leadership and management skills. On his main job of establishing 10-14 stations he met with a prospect that he met from a reception sponsored by the US Embassy and Hungarian business people. Zoltan Kodaly owns three gas stations. Instead of trying to get to know the Kodaly who brought in a young daughter to translate he went straight to discussing how much AMEX is willing to pay for two of his stations. And went on to tell them about franchising that it is similar to McDonald's "you pay a franchise fee, share profits with AMEX, and adhere to AMEX procedures and practices. I n exchange, AMEX would provide petroleum and funds to renovate the stations to meet AMEX standards" (Larson, & Gray, 2011 p.562). When he was asked what will happen to his employees Thomas said that they were overstaffed by 70% and must eliminate at least 15 people to make a profit. He knew from the reaction of Kodaly and his daughter that his focus is only for AMEX to take over the business and not to help them. Another interesting subject is the bureaucracy that is plaguing the public sector. They were expecting new tanks that they ordered from Vienna. It took several phone calls to find out that it didn't arrive because it is being held at customs. He was promised by local officials that everything is taken care of. This is another waste of time and resources because the workers didn't have anything to do that day. Thomas should have anticipated these types of problems prior to him arriving in Hungary. Understanding the culture especially the way the public sector operates is crucial in being a project manager abroad. Solution
Thomas should review his entire project from beginning to end. He needs to involve, train and motivate his current staff and lay down his new vision and mission. He needs to empower each and every single staff to be responsible and accountable for their own projects. Conduct regular meeting updates and practice effective communication all across the board. Thorough research needs to be done prior to setting up a meeting with a prospect. A concise plan needs to be prepared and presented to a prospect with a complete detail of what option is best for their situation. They need to know what the major challenges are and present it that emphasize value that by partnering with AMEX their business will be better and become more profitable. His best resources are his staff when it comes to learning the ropes on how to deal with the local authorities so as to avoid frustration and delay. He needs to learn more about the current job market situation by...
References: Larson, E.W., & Gray, C. F. (2011). Project management: The Managerial Process (5th ed.). New York: McGraw Hill.
MM&A. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.franchiseconsulting.net.au/Advantages-of-the-Franchise-System/Advantages-of-the-Franchising-System/Advantages-of-the-Franchise-System.asp
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