Meet a team of champions

Posted on Saturday, December 12, 2015

Éliette Portelance, Monique Boucher and Michelle Ferland from Housing Service

The University of Ottawa Housing Service has proven its dedication to service excellence through its refreshingly positive outlook on teamwork in the workplace, and its many recent initiatives that continue to align with the vision of Service Excellence.

Whether by opening a new residence in only four months, or creating a resource centre for students, or hosting fun team networking events, the Housing Service incorporates service excellence into everything it does, big or small, even though it is forced to meet many tight deadlines.

Those who are tasked with spreading the service excellence approach throughout Housing Service are three Service Excellence champions, each representing a different sector, namely: Eliette Portelance (Office Manager and Customer Service), Monique Boucher (Project Coordinator) and Michelle Ferland (Manager, Off-Campus Housing). These three champions agreed to answer our questions on how they team up to foster service excellence within their service. The answers reflect their opinion as a whole.

Can you talk to us about some of the service excellence initiatives you have put forward at Housing Services?

Our service excellence initiatives are born out of a commitment to achieving and delivering high quality service to everyone Housing Service deals with, either directly or indirectly.

With this in mind, the creation of a new Resource Centre and the new residence building at 45 Mann were focal points around which we centralized our service excellence efforts.

Our students are often the main drivers of our initiatives: by hiring students who live in residences to actually work on the premises, we provide financial support and work experience to our residents.

How did you collaborate to implement these initiatives?

Our collaboration efforts begin with an open door policy for our team members to freely address any concerns they may have. Over the course of the summer, we participated in a team workshop to better understand the importance of everyone in the team. TRIMA* allowed us to appreciate and recognize the different skills everyone on our team possesses, while also learning each person’s strengths and weaknesses. Try embarking on special training for your team and hire people who will fit in well with your existing team.

We also introduced KX (by Kinetic Software), a conference management and student housing software that allows our team to easily collaborate, share ideas and concerns, and discuss top priorities.

We are constantly soliciting feedback about their experiences from students living in our residences. We are committed to actually listening to what they have to say, and to finding ways to implement their suggestions. For example, over the summer, the Housing team worked with the Residence Life team to put in place suggestions from students.

What advice would you give other teams on campus on staying committed to service excellence and making it a priority?

It really starts with having employees who take a genuine interest in the University itself – this is the foundation for your service excellence initiatives and is what will keep guiding you throughout the process. You should also take an interest in other sectors, services and teams to find out what they do in terms of service excellence.

Also, we can’t stress enough the importance of positive and effective teamwork. Think outside the box to come up with unique solutions and make it your mission to constantly receive direct feedback from both your team and students on how to improve.

Finally, don’t be afraid of change and going against the status quo: sometimes, that is when the best innovation happens.

How do you remain committed to service excellence under tight deadlines?

There is a special sense of belonging that our team brings –something we think that is essential to have in the workplace. Our team is always creating opportunities to have fun together and focusing on each other’s strengths. 

Do not beat yourself up when you don’t reach a target. Yes, life and deadlines get in the way, but it is important to remain focused on your vision. If you work hard, feel good and say thank you to your teammates, you’d be surprised at how well your commitment and dedication stays with you and your team.


*“The TRIMA competency-based approach is a model which comprehensively integrates three dimensions of human behaviour: preferences (Social Styles), competencies and influence (Leadership Styles).” 

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