Charlotte-Mecklenburg Employs Strengths-Based Management Approach to Integrating Two Field Operations Units

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Abstract:

By definition, ‘integration’ means ‘the combining and coordinating of separate parts or elements into a unified whole.’ In the real world, combining separate organizations – be it two separate corporations, departments within an organization, or individuals into a team – seldom results in real harmony. In Charlotte, NC, the process of integrating two separate field units of the Charlotte- Mecklenburg Utilities (CMU) into a single sustainable, successful field operations team has been a success. The utility's approach has focused on managing individual and organization strengths to place the right people in the right roles. This presentation will explore how the concepts behind strengths-based management can work in a modern wastewater utility.

Working with EMA, the utility embarked on a facilitated change process that focused on organization, practices, and technology, ultimately resulting in a 20 percent improvement in productivity. Five separate strategies were rolled out in pilot programs. There were six specific changes to CMU's business practices that drove this substantial productivity improvement. The key to making integration work is putting the right people in the right roles for sustainability. This meant that individuals who were used to working independently had to make the transition to working as part of a team. Only by tapping into employee and organization strengths could CMU create true employee engagement.

The key to making strengths-based management work is leadership. Great leadership provides the organization with clarity. Great leaders get their people to follow them, even under the most difficult circumstances because people believe their leaders are taking them to a better tomorrow. In Charlotte, the utility has employed strengths-based management to successfully integrate two field operations divisions. This presentation will explore the specifics of that integration and how the strengths-based approach has resulted in improved productivity, better employee morale, and a more stable, sustainable organization.

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.2175/193864706783750899

Publication date: January 1, 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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