At its April meeting, the Inclusion and Diversity Committee invited four of WAPA’s managers and supervisors to speak about their experiences promoting inclusive environments. They were chosen based on their Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey scores pertaining to inclusion and diversity, known as the New Inclusion Quotient.
The New IQ purports to measure to what extent employees believe their workplace is fair, open, cooperative, supportive and empowering. The IDC identified 10 programs with New IQ scores that are significantly higher than the WAPA average of 63.6%.
The IDC was interested in learning what drives inclusiveness in these programs, so the committee invited the relevant leaders to speak on the topic.
Throughout the meeting, several general themes emerged.
Each speaker discussed how information was openly shared. Supervisory Information Technology Specialist John Ginkel spoke of brief, daily standup meetings during which projects were discussed and barriers to completion analyzed. Transmission Asset Planning Program Manager Chris Lyles described a similar approach, allowing his team to contribute, consider ideas and collaborate on solutions.
Vice President of Governance and Policy Lisa Hansen holds weekly staff meetings that include both the internal audit team and the financial policy analysts, during which key decisions are made as a group. She explained that the different groups can be thought of as “silos with holes.” Each group has its own audits or projects, but shares information with and values feedback from the other.
Hansen also described how her staff members shared knowledge through post-training presentations. In addition to sharing information learned from training courses, this helps team members develop and improve their presentation skills.
Building relationships was another critical driver. Each guest spoke about the importance of valuing individual contributions and collecting input from everyone. Supervisory Energy Management and Marketing Specialist John Paulsen emphasized the importance of listening to his team and learning from each of them to make changes.
Lyles also spoke about trying to ensure psychological safety and trust within his group. Ginkel talked about being more mindful of unconscious biases, such as affinity bias. He makes a point of reaching out to his coworkers with interests different from his own passion for snowboarding.
All four speakers agreed that giving and receiving timely feedback is important. They also spoke about developing effective teams focused more on collaboration and less on hierarchy. Both Hansen and Lyles dissuade their teams from referring to them as the “boss.”
Ginkel talked about shifting the focus from a “me or my” perspective to a group effort toward finding solutions. In Hansen’s organization, cooperative relationships are encouraged by connecting the team through lunches or events where awards and accomplishments are celebrated by the team as a whole. Lyles believes his team’s strength can be attributed to having a large number of individuals with diverse perspectives and talents feeding into the end product. That includes reaching out to persons outside of his group for their expertise and experience.
Additional themes common to each speaker included open communication, making an extra effort to develop relationships with employees you may not know very well and being supportive. In regard to fairness, the speakers encourage striving for equitable workloads and making sure assignments and opportunities are fairly distributed.
Afterward, Chief Financial Officer Dennis Sullivan summarized three common themes he heard: information was shared to promote a level playing field; there was value placed on interaction and getting to know one another; and the leaders were humble, focusing on their team’s contributions.