Large-scale organisational changes are important for transformation, says chief people officer Jason Glennon
First, through our strategic transformation programme we have begun the process of replacing our slow, rigid legacy systems with a new, integrated digital platform. This new, multi-tiered system will soon be ready to deliver the data and information that will enable us to be significantly more responsive to the needs of our customers and stakeholders.
Hand in hand with the setting up of this new technology has been the introduction of new, agile ways of working. We are applying a collaborative approach within this massive project, and learning new skills and new ways of achieving better and more effective outcomes sooner. All of the learnings from the technology project will have application right across our company.
Another milestone this year has been a major rearrangement of the way our business units and teams are organised – our operating model – and the simultaneous expansion of our leadership development programme.
We want the right people with the right skills, organised in the right way, with access to the right tools and business processes. This will result in the best possible experience for our customers and stakeholders.
Our customers expect Aa-grade water to come out of the tap and their wastewater to be disposed of cleanly. But we know that they also want us to respond in a timely and effective manner when anything goes wrong.
To achieve that level of responsiveness, we need to truly put the customer at the forefront of our decision-making. That relies, among other things, on an open, people-based culture.
Our leadership programme has been central to this push to support our people and their development. This year, 120 people have completed our leadership and mentoring programmes. Along with their technical responsibility, team leaders are now to become more involved with the evolution of their teams and to fully embrace all that is expected of them – leading, managing, coaching, mentoring.
The main challenge this year has been aligning people development with the structural change. Becoming expert in all these roles will take time and repetition. Right now, the intent is there – confidence will follow with practice.
Another area of challenge is health and safety. While we consistently meet our targets – low serious-harm rates, low accident rates – we know there is more to do. Here at Watercare we still view health and safety from a compliance perspective. We should also be looking at it from a ‘hearts and minds’ perspective.
Health and safety is about all of us making sure our colleagues get home safely every day: watching out for each other, making sure the correct safety gear is being worn, the protocols are understood, that we have been trained in the right way to do the job. And if something is wrong, we should have the courage to say so.
Our ambition is to establish a culture that values collaboration and inclusion, as well as curiosity, debate and challenge. That way, our people will consistently drive continuous improvement.
We already pride ourselves on our technical excellence, but we know we can be even better in all that we do. So, this new combination of greater access to information, disciplined, data-driven decision-making, a more streamlined organisational structure, and people development will enable us to improve the way we provide our service.