A turn-around strategy for a water utility is the answer to taking it to the greater heights and to rise above the turbulent waves that it is currently sailing through. WASCO has to aim to ACE for Gold in order to address the challenges that the company is currently facing in order to make it against all odds. These are daring words from the new Chief Executive Mr. Futho Hoohlo.
In an effort to solicit inputs to turn around and revitalise the wearisome WASCO, the new Executive Committee (EXCO) now known to the employees as “The Big Five,” organised a team building exercise for WASCO Management which was held at Ha Lejone in the last week of August 2019. This noble initiative was a platform for middle management and EXCO to know and understand each other. It is through the session that the team engaged in work activities and games meant to inspire creativity and also to improve their working relations to solve problems collectively as well as thinking rationally and strategically.
The session was conducted by a team of psychologists and motivational speakers in an effort to boost the morale, synergy and energy of the team spurring new ideas and providing knowledge on leadership skills as according to Maxwell, “Everything rises or falls in Leadership.” Middle management was fragmented, demotivated and also seemed lost in the wilderness at the beginning of the session. However, with an aid of the motivational expert, things gradually turned around. Consequently, everybody`s energy, enthusiasm and passion, was rekindled till the end of the session and the team reunion became an easy task. Also, the team was mandated to go and replicate the same spirit to their subordinate teams. These translated into Sir Henry W. Longfellow words that goes as: “what seems to be darkest hour in one`s life will turn out to be the brightest letter.” Therefore, hard work and use of positive words were the theme to be the order of the day.
The Director of Finance Mr. Mangangole Tsikinyane encouraged the team to go down and do its best and break the silo mentality within WASCO. “The breaking point calls for partnerships and close collaboration. We need to call each other and work unitedly as a team in all our projects, activities and programs,” he said.
From the mountain top, full of energy and vigour, the newly united Management Team wasted no time but executed the mandate. A series of meetings with the internal stakeholders (employees) in the three regions (Central, North and South) were held in an effort to break the silos and also to let flow internal communication and cohesion amongst fellow employees. Moreover, to inspire the rest of the team members to share ideas on how to map a way forward in addressing the challenges the Company is facing. Employees from the said regions tabled a number of challenges but top of the drawer was the issue of low staff morale due to insufficient salaries.
Similarly, and equally prudent, the external stakeholder’s engagement meetings were also held as a means to gather and share information dealing with concerns and grievances from the stakeholders and measuring their impact. These series of meetings culminated with the drawing of a Five-Year Strategic Plan (2020-2025) at a workshop which was held at Blue Mountain Inn from the 15th to the 17th of September 2019. Mr. Litsebe Jimson, the Director of Corporate Services presented Porter`s Five Forces as a framework that management should adopt in analysing WASCO’s competitive environment.
On the same note Mr. Tsikinyane stated that the strategic plan is an indication that WASCO is on the run way just like an aeroplane and ready to take off. He encouraged the WASCO Management team to leave their comfort zone (stationary stage) of WASA and be propelled to a new WASCO zone. He also, cautioned the team that there are a number of anti-forces of flying (turbulence) which the organisation will encounter on its way, that is the weight, as well as the drag. These as according to him are the challenges coming from within and outside the Company that will be pulling down the plane. Thus, he strongly urged the team to apply the skills gained during team building exercise as the lift and thrust to remain level and to maintain a steady flight.
Mr. Hoohlo echoed the same sentiments and encouraged everyone to put all hands on deck, and to each one be our brother’s keeper and to live the Company values each day. “Let us go and make WASCO an employer of choice, go and work as a team as together we can achieve more, remember change is not an event, it’s a process,” he said. He further quoted Henry Ford- “Coming together is a beginning; keeping together is a progress; working together is a success.” To balance the equation, as he encouraged the employees to work hard Mr. Hoohlo also instilled the spirit to play hard, quoted is his words “Work hard and play hard.”
It is through the workshop that WASCO Management Team came up with new values for the Company that were approved as part of the Strategic Plan 2020-2025 by the Board of Directors on November 29th, 2019. The values are as follow: Integrity, Accountability, Customer Centric, Excellence, Innovation, Teamwork: “I ACE-IT”. Yes, We ACE- IT, we go for Gold. Watch this Space!!!