By James Phillips
I have been in the workforce for more than 50 years. I have had a lot of jobs and a lot of employers, but I've never worked for an organization quite like WAPA.
I believe that WAPA's success has a lot to do with its culture, and its culture is created by its employees. It is created by the way in which we conduct ourselves daily in our professional lives. As WAPA employees, we have a sense of shared values. We take our cues from each other. We demonstrate our shared values every day by what we say and what we do.
Last year, when I received an Exceptional Service Award, I thought about the aspects of WAPA's culture that most closely resonate with me and energize me. Six things came to mind that I believe illustrate WAPA at its very best.
WAPA at its best is open and welcoming.
At WAPA, new employees are quickly brought into the family. They are valuable members of the team and are made to feel welcome. They are accepted and appreciated for the contributions they will make to fulfilling our mission.
We celebrate each other's successes. Whether that's in the form of awards or other recognition, we understand that anyone's success is success for all of us, for WAPA and for the customers we serve.
WAPA at its best is transparent.
As employees, we are kept informed of the direction in which the organization is headed, as well as the challenges that the organization faces.
Senior leaders model and ensure this transparency by meeting with us regularly and by inviting us to listen in to portions of their meetings. We have publications, such as this one, and an intranet that we can refer to whenever we need to know what is happening in and around WAPA.
Additionally, we are invited to participate in finding solutions to organizational problems. The Inclusion, Innovation and Technology Summit is built entirely around this concept, and leaders look forward to hearing our perspectives. We are stronger as an organization as a result.
WAPA at its best is collaborative.
Job information is shared freely among employees, keeping each other informed and doing our best to avoid working in silos wherever possible. People do not hoard information; they work collaboratively with others to make sure everybody who needs that information will have access to it.
We readily work across organizational boundaries, and are encouraged to do so. If Upper Great Plains has a solution for a difficulty faced in Sierra Nevada, the two will work together to solve it.
WAPA does not suffer from “Not-Invented-Here Syndrome." If an idea is good, it will find support, and once an idea has been accepted, it belongs to all of WAPA. No one person claims sole ownership, because we are all in this together.
WAPA at its best is focused.
Measured only by the number of employees, WAPA is a middleweight in the electric utility industry. If we measure it by our miles of transmission lines and influence within the industry, however, WAPA is a heavyweight.
WAPA punches above its weight class. This can only happen because our workforce is highly skilled, very experienced, dedicated and focused on doing their jobs efficiently.
Our ability to focus allows us to excel as public servants. It's what allows us to provide premium service to customers and ensure that we are able to address unanticipated obstacles as they arise.
WAPA at its best is open to new ideas and innovation.
WAPA looks forward, not backward. This applies to everything from new work processes to new technology. We understand that innovation is the key to staying relevant into the future and providing the best possible service to the more than 40 million Americans who rely on us.
The annual I2T Awards are evidence of WAPA's innovative spirit and were created for the express purpose of celebrating it. The Organizational Approach to Markets initiative is further evidence of WAPA's innovative spirit, as are the many other initiatives that reflect WAPA's dedication toward a reliable and resilient tomorrow.
WAPA at its best is found in employees living the mission.
Our mission statement is: “Safely provide reliable, cost-based hydropower and transmission to our customers and the communities we serve." What an honorable way to serve our country and support critical national infrastructure. In civilian life, service to our country doesn't come much better than this.
Millions of our fellow citizens depend on the services we provide, and I see the mission reflected every day in WAPA's employees.
Note: The author is WAPA's vice president of Information Technology – supervisory control and data acquisition. This article was excerpted from his comments at the Exceptional Service Award ceremony for Ron Tritz on Oct. 1, 2021.