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Checking-in with Hyatt's Associate Director of Colleague Relations Kevin Levine: Coda's August Meetup

Recap of the Coda August 2020 meetup with Kevin Levine, Associate Director of Colleague Relations @ Hyatt Hotels in NYC

A hospitality veteran

For August 2020's virtual NYC meetup, I had a chance to speak with , Associate Director of Colleague Relations for New York City at Hyatt Hotels.
Kevin joined Hyatt 16 years ago and started in an operations role supporting Hyatt Hotels in Rhode Island supporting housekeeping operations. He eventually made his way to New York and calls the Grand Hyatt NYC his home base. Kevin needs to stay in contact with his distributed staff across the five hotels: Andaz 5th Avenue, Andaz Wall Street, Grand Hyatt New York, Hyatt Centric Times Square, and Park Hyatt New York.
Kevin discussed how his role has evolved with COVID-19 as his hotels suspended operations at the start of the pandemic and remain suspended (as of August 2020). Prior to the pandemic, his hotels were hiring a lot and he used Coda to track the hiring process his team’s SOPs (standard operating procedures). The hiring process is very unique since Kevin has to abide by many rules imposed by the city, state, and hotel unions. As the pandemic unfolded, his use case for Coda shifted to tracking which hotel staff he’s reaching out to (he calls them “care calls”), storing nuances about union contracts, and more.
👉 Make a copy of some of Kevin’s Coda docs he demoed during this meetup below 👈
Watch the full replay of the meetup here:

Coda brings it all together

Starting with Microsoft Word and Excel, Kevin and his team has gone through a variety of tools to document and track their processes. After Microsoft, he tried Wunderlist, Google Sheets, OneNote, and Trello. Coda seemed to bring it all together, but as he says during the meetup, his team is constantly evolving:
Coda is one of the many steps in the evolution of how we operate.
One of the challenges Kevin faces is that even though he has to work with his distributed team across different hotels, but his access to corporate documents (Word of Excel files) is tied to the specific hotel he works at (e.g. Grand Hyatt NYC). In order to collaborate with his colleagues from other hotels, he would nee to get a file shared explicitly with him from his colleague from another hotel if he wants access to the document. As you can imagine, this selective access to documents can be frustrating as colleagues leave, go on vacation, or change roles.
Trying to get access to file your colleague owns but she’s on vacation.
Coda solved the access problem since Kevin simply shares his Coda docs with his colleagues who need access, and they can start writing and collaborating in real-time after they get access. In addition to access, Kevin pointed out that the mobile view of his Coda docs is really important for his colleagues. This feature is super important for the (discussed below) since the person inspecting the room needs to be able to quickly provide his or her assessment of the room quality, and accessing this Coda doc on a mobile device is much more convenient.

Kevin really appreciates the Trello/card view of his data, and created to oversee the different stages a candidate is going through during the hiring process.
Image 2020-08-24 at 12.05.55 PM.png
Kevin’s workflow involves a Google Form which the hotel manager can fill out to open a requisition for the headcount. The Google Form is then connected to a Coda table via Zapier. Prior to Coda, Kevin was using Trello and had had five different Trello boards for each hotel with no way of seeing an overall view across all 5 hotels.
Having this all in one place is a huge step up since you can basically combine boards into one place.
Kevin also tried Google Sheets, but it was too easy for people to make mistakes in Google Sheets. It was difficult to view all the data associated with a candidate as well once you have many columns of data and some of those columns had a lot of text.
In Kevin’s Coda doc, you get a customized layout of all the fields/columns associated with that candidate when you click on a card so all columns can fit in one “view”:
Image 2020-08-24 at 12.06.35 PM.png
Finally, Kevin discussed the ability to do some analysis on the roles he needed to fill. If you look in the above screenshot, there’s an Effort column which translates into the amount of work his team would have to put into finding the candidate. A more senior position would require more “effort,” for instance. Once all candidates have been assigned an Effort, he builds a chart off of that data to ensure the work is balanced across his team:
Image 2020-08-24 at 12.13.46 PM.png

Prior to the pandemic, the onboarding process for new hires was an inflexible process:
The usual experience is you create a Google or Word doc and you print it out for the new hire.
The reality of the situation at Hyatt is that things can change, and new hires would have to cross things out on their printed Word docs and write in their new onboarding schedules. With Coda, Kevin or the new hire can changes things on the fly and the new hire can also view the doc on their phone:
coda.io_@kevinlevine_hr-onboarding(iPhone 6_7_8 Plus).png

As the new hire completes all their onboarding tasks, they can see their progress right above their tasks. Kevin wrote formulas in the doc that calculates complete, incomplete, and overall progress of onboarding tasks:
Image 2020-08-24 at 12.20.05 PM.png

Quality control for hotel rooms is very important at Hyatt, and Kevin developed a room inspection doc giving the inspector a series of questions to answer about the condition of the room. It’s kind of like a pilot going through a checklist before they are allowed to fly a plane. Given there are 257 room configuration at the Grand Hyatt NYC alone, making sure the inspector knows exactly which room they are providing feedback for is critical.
Image 2020-08-24 at 12.23.45 PM.png
There are a variety of hospitality software vendors Kevin could have utilized, but he decided to build one himself for free. No set up fee, software licenses, or working with a developer to make custom changes. Kevin created a list of all the rooms in one table and created a simple “catalog” layout for the inspector to find the room they are inspecting. If there are serious issues with the room, the inspector can tap the Email button to alert housekeeping about the room. As mentioned above, the mobile view of this Coda doc makes it very convenient for the inspector to go from room to room:
coda.io_@kevinlevine_hotel-room-inspection-list(iPhone 6_7_8 Plus).png
You’ll notice the stars for Shower Condition, Carpet Quality, and Chair Condition. The inspector can just tap the stars to indicate the quality of these fixtures in the room, and Kevin created of the main list of rooms. Since each of these columns outputs a numerical value, Kevin can calculate an overall score for each room and the view only shows the lowest quality rooms so that his team knows which rooms to fix and repair:
Image 2020-08-24 at 12.29.51 PM.png

Some individuals have been working at Hyatt for 40+ years, and due to the pandemic were temporarily laid off. Kevin and his team set up “Care Calls” to 1) reach out to staff to stay up to date on their status and 2) keep track of when we last their colleagues.
Image 2020-08-24 at 4.49.55 PM.png
As Kevin’s team updates the call tracker, a chart shows their “Care Call” progress:
Image 2020-08-24 at 4.50.45 PM.png

Kevin demoed a personal use case of Coda: his to-do list. His to-do list originally started in Trello and he eventually moved it over to Coda. It’s based on the where you prioritize tasks across two dimensions: importance and urgency. Kevin made his own version of the Eisenhower method and combined it with Phil Howard Cooke’s philosophy from .
Image 2020-08-24 at 5.00.32 PM.png
The purpose for the “1 Big Thing” checkbox is to filter the list of tasks down to just the most important thing on the list that Kevin should focus on (Kevin admits that sometimes he’ll mark more than one “big” thing to work on 😃).
The Accomplishment column is a checkbox that gives Kevin a way to mark something that he can bring up during his next performance review. He will just filter his to-do list by the rows that have the Accomplishment column checked off to quickly see the projects and tasks he was most proud of during the year.
Finally, the colorful buttons above his to-do list give him a simple way to add new rows of data to his to-do list based on the type of task he wants to add to his list:
Screen Recording 2020-08-24 at 05.04.56 PM.gif

Converting his team to use Coda

Kevin talks about how he is constantly innovating on new ways for his team to collaborate. If his colleagues might be stuck on some workflow, he would suggest different ways of approaching the problem, and offer solution on how Coda may help solve the problem.
For new hires, he’s found converting them to using Coda has been an easy process since Coda is the main source of truth for them from day one. Trying to convince someone who has been doing a process for 15-20 years is much harder. Given Kevin’s role in HR, he has the ability to influence others and act almost as a consultant for other to get their work done more efficiently. One of the key factors for getting his team on board:
I try to find the problem that needs the biggest fix from my colleagues and say “I think I know how I can fix this.” I try to get them involved and ask them what do they think, how they think the Coda doc should look, and offer different ways the solution could work.

What’s next

While Kevin’s hotels have suspended operations, he’s optimistic that they will open soon and his team can do what they love: providing Hyatt’s guests with a memorable experience. As far as his process and Coda docs, he said this may evolve as well. He said he has a reputation and stigma at the company to introduce new tools to use for this team, but it’s all for the betterment of his team:
I think it’s for the benefit of evolving our process and creating a better experience for our colleagues and the colleagues who we serve.

Present at or attend a future meetup.

If you want to showcase something you've built in Coda for the greater community, feel free to . To RSVP for future meetups, check out our dedicated meetup page which also has content from previous meetups:
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