​By Kevin Howard

At WAPA, we are incredibly fortunate to share an environmentally sound mission. What could be more respectable than marketing and transmitting clean, renewable, reliable, cost-based hydroelectric power to Americans throughout the West?

WAPA’s recent response to the tragic fire in northern California exhibits employees’ professionalism and compassion. While many employees were suffering personal impacts from the fire, they continued working in an extremely dangerous and challenging environment to keep the lights on.

Many employees throughout our organization were already helping by providing outstanding cross-functional support, and I received countless messages from employees far and wide, and from many customers, wanting to know how they could help.

This is an outstanding example of respect for others. When the chips are down, WAPA employees pull together as a community.

Sure, we may experience disagreements in our daily work activities, but the ability and commitment to come together and give our all for our communities and coworkers is what makes WAPA such a great place to work.

I believe respect, as a core value, is incredibly important for our organization. I have always tried to interact with my coworkers and WAPA’s customers with a focus on providing outstanding customer service.

This means that everyone within our organization and those from other organizations with whom I interact while executing our business should be treated like a customer and should come away feeling like they were respected and received outstanding customer service. This isn’t always easy, as we interact with a wide variety of personalities and differing approaches.

As I grew in the earlier years of my career, I often had difficulty listening and hearing differing opinions. I learned to understand that I have blind spots and, although I may disagree with others’ approaches at times, I learned that having a variety of perspectives, experience and opinions always leads to better solutions.

Learning to respect the diversity of thought from everyone with whom I interact is probably one of the most important lessons I have learned in my career at WAPA. It takes commitment and maturity to quiet the self-talk that goes on in our heads while attentively listening to and respecting others’ opinions.

It is all too easy to treat our interactions with team members within our own workgroups, and especially other workgroups, as a competition to get things to go our own way, and this can lead to each of us feeling attacked or disrespected. Getting beyond this approach and assuming positive intent from our coworkers helps to build respectful relationships and improve our work products to advance the organization. It never ceases to amaze me how creative my coworkers are when I listen attentively and respect their input and opinions.

Obviously there are still times when we have to agree to disagree on an issue, but when we have respect for our coworkers, and they have respect for us, our working relationships grow strong enough to tackle the next issue without hard feelings. We can then give our best efforts to solve problems and advance our business. 

As we learn to be respectful in all of our interactions, our customers learn to respect us. I have also learned that when I listen attentively and respect others’ opinions and contributions it leads to me feeling better about myself and building strong self-respect.

We have inherited an incredible system, including an extensive transmission network and efficient, renewable energy sources that we are mandated to deliver to our non-profit customers at the lowest  cost possible consistent with sound business principles.

By aggressively pursuing this mission, while respecting all of our environmental rules and regulations, and contributing to integration of even more renewables, we will always serve a valuable role in protecting the environment.

Note: Howard is WAPA’s executive vice president and chief operating officer.

Last modified on September 12th, 2023