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The City of Tampa Wastewater Department Builds a Strengths-Based Organization

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It's no small accomplishment for a large utility to become a world-class competitive organization and pocket $10 million in savings along the way. That is what has been accomplished in the past six years at the Tampa (FL) Wastewater Department (WWD) as the result of an ongoing optimization program. In that time, the utility has achieved significant progress toward meeting its “world-class” goal and is now making the transition from the optimization phase of this program to the continuous improvement phase. To make that transition, WWD began the process of building a “strengths-based organization” aimed at creating a department with the key components of competence (workers with the right talents, skills, and knowledge), focus (on performance and outcomes), and confidence that leadership can move the organization forward.

The transition began with an Advanced Leadership Development Program that defined these components and set the course for moving the department into a new operational mode. Following this startup program, WWD changed the process for selection and placement of staff, developed a new performance management program, and recreated the utility's leadership philosophy to encourage staff development in an entirely new way. This presentation is all about Tampa's experience in building a “strengths-based” organization and the resulting changes this has made in the department.

The Advanced Leadership Development Program was delivered in four segments (modules) with 32 department leaders taking part. As a result, Tampa WWD has parlayed its newly-acquired knowledge base into actions and begun building their own strengths-based organization. Utility leaders have developed new ways of interviewing staff and potential employees that identifies their talents and places them in circumstances that maximize the use of their talents. This has resulted in happier and more productive teams of employees. New performance measurement and management tools have been developed, enabling utility staff to restablish their focus on the correct business outcomes. This presentation will outline those new approaches and offer specific, measurable outcomes resulting from Tampa WWD's dramatic cultural transition to a strengths-based organization.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 01 January 2006

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  • Proceedings of the Water Environment Federation is an archive of papers published in the proceedings of the annual Water Environment Federation® Technical Exhibition and Conference (WEFTEC® ) and specialty conferences held since the year 2000. These proceedings are not peer reviewed.

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