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Recharging Employees

How to make sustainable performance improvements at any utility.

Fortnightly Magazine - June 2010

team’s mission is clearly communicated to the broader organization and the team has visibility to employees at all levels of the organization, these misconceptions can be prevented.

A third challenge to implementing this type of structure is talent. With the wrong type of analysts and managers on the team, the team could struggle to make real changes. Senior management should be extremely selective in staffing the team, focusing on managers with strong analytical, problem solving, and communications skills. Furthermore, senior management shouldn’t be afraid to change team members if one person isn’t pulling his or her weight. However, this should be done on a non-retribution basis. If an employee is selected for the team, that person shouldn’t be punished if they don’t succeed in this developmental role.

Despite the challenges, ComEd’s OSBI team has contributed to performance improvements in a variety of areas including strategic, operational, financial, and environmental. From a strategic standpoint, the OSBI team facilitated the development of the company’s strategic drivers. Through focused communications, employees are beginning to understand the link between the strategic drivers of the company and their day-to-day work. Operationally and financially, ComEd has reduced leakage and losses by redesigning metering processes, and has rationalized overtime and pre-staffing for storms without impacting CAIDI (customer outage duration). The OSBI project even provided environmental benefits for the company, through the development of a comprehensive transformer recovery program.

Beyond the strategic and operational benefits, the ComEd OSBI team has developed and enhanced the analytical toolkit of more than 30 ComEd managers. Some OSBI managers have rotated out of the department and are now managing projects in new line departments—many in a different area from their previous position—and are utilizing their improved analytical skills. Former OSBI managers also are expected to conduct training sessions with their new colleagues to pass on to the organization the skills they’ve learned.

It isn’t easy to make real, sustainable change happen at a large utility. The daily needs of the business, competing priorities and at times inertia, all could become obstacles. By creating a sustainable performance team, utilities can overcome these obstacles. The process doesn’t cost a lot of money, but requires an investment in dedicated resources, executive support and talented, analytically-oriented employees. The results are worth it and can put a charge in any utility’s performance.

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