WaterEUM — Effective Utility Management

Ten Attributes -

Employee and Leadership Development

Recruits and retains a workforce that is competent, motivated, adaptive, and safe-working. Establishes a participatory, collaborative organization dedicated to continual learning and improvement. Ensures employee institutional knowledge is retained and improved upon over time. Provides a focus on and emphasizes opportunities for professional and leadership development and strives to create an integrated and well-coordinated senior leadership team.

Link to Example Measures 


Building a High Performance Team
Does your team need a new plan? In this 2 hour session you will learn practical strategies for creating and maintaining effective teams, including how to eliminate unsatisfactory employee behavior. You will also learn about tools for enforcing employee discipline and find out what incentives work. (CDROM, 2004) $$ Order Now 

Building on the Basics: Core Competencies in Public Works
Are you a leader or a manager? Do you know the difference? This collection of articles, written by APWA leaders, will help you understand the core competencies that are important for the leader or manager and, hopefully, provide some direction for self-improvement. Use these experience and insight of these public works leaders to help you reach your own highest potential. $$ Order Now 

The Changing Workforce...Crisis & Opportunity: An AMSA/AMWA Checklist
This publication examines the increasing demand for qualified, skilled employees increasing while the supply for these resources is decreasing. What began initially as a gradual change has accelerated in the past five years. What is the change and what is causing the change? What happens when a keystone worker, or a slew of workers, leaves? The workforce is gradually reaching retirement age and utilities are offering incentives to their staff to take early retirement. As the workforce retires and leaves the public sector, the staff take along a remarkable wealth of operational and maintenance knowledge and information. How can your utility compete? $$ Order Now 

The Changing Workforce...Seizing the Opportunity: An AMWA/NACWA Handbook
This Handbook assists utilities with developing and implementing a comprehensive succession management program aimed at attracting, developing and retaining a new generation of workers while retaining institutional knowledge from retiring staff. It also presents tools and strategies proven to be effective in the utility industry, or applicable to the utility industry. Most importantly, the handbook identifies why a strategy is successful and what organizational elements are necessary to support its implementation. In addition, this new handbook provides a bibliography section, which lists additional resources that address workforce issues, as well as several informational case studies. (96 pages, 2006) $$ Order Now 

The Effective Public Manager: Achieving - Success in a Changing Government, 3rd Edition
This publication provides core concepts to help real-world managers and mangers-to-be meet the demands of their jobs head on rather than work around the constraints of government and gives them the tools to shape events rather than be shaped by them. Presents an updated and detailed examination of management innovation. Examines the centrality of government in an era of global communication and transportation, economic interdependence, and the threat of global terrorism. Contains information on the opportunities and challenges of managing public policy from and with private and nonprofit organizations. $$ Order Now 

Managing the Water and Wastewater Utility
This book is founded on the understanding that the scaffold on which successful water and wastewater utilities thrive has three legs: (1) Leadership, especially interpersonal relationships and communication skills; (2) Management, especially planning and control skills; and (3) Continuous growth and renewal of core knowledge and skills, especially customer-centered business skills and infrastructure asset management. The authors, speaking from on-the-job experience, stress the importance of leadership and management skills, and the core understanding of the utility business. This book is designed to help transform the specialist into a leader, and is the ideal textbook for the student or young professional studying to become a utility manager. Gain a foundation of knowledge and an array of experience-based opinions in preparation of successful management career. Highlights include: leadership, budgeting and fiscal control, managing O&M, design and capital improvements and the role of information technology. (288 pages, 2004) $$ Order Now 

Strategic Planning and Organizational Development for Water Utilities
To be prepared for the future, your utility needs to articulate its priorities and actions in a strategic plan. This interactive CDROM guides water utilities in developing such a plan. It provides the framework and methodology, and it describes how to conduct strategic planning within your utility, how to implement the plan, and how to measure success. What is strategic planning? Strategic planning is a set of intentions expressed as a plan. This CD delivers an effective strategic planning approach incorporating various methods and business tools that can be customized by individual utilities. This unique approach provides an effective strategic planning framework specifically designed for water utilities that:

  • Allows you to focus on the important strategic issues relevant to your utility

  • Integrates the strategy with your utility operational plans

  • Shows you how to communicate the strategic plan to employees and stakeholders, to get their support

  • Offers several unique strategic planning tools for water utilities

  • Creates a sustainable planning process allowing your strategic direction to shift and flex with change

Included on the CDROM is the Strategic Planning and Organizational Development for Water Utilities final report that can be downloaded to your PC and/or printed. 2004 - CD-ROM ISBN 1583213422; Catalog No. 91021 $$ Order Now 


Employee retention and satisfaction
This measure gauges a utility's progress toward developing and maintaining a competent and stable workforce, including utility leadership.

Example calculations: 

  • Employee turnover rate (percent): 100 X (number of employee departures / total number of authorized positions per year). Can be divided into categories such as:

    • Voluntary turnover (percent): 100 X (number of voluntary departures / total number of authorized positions per year). (Perhaps the best indicator of retention problems.)

    • Retirement turnover (percent): 100 X (number of retirement departures / authorized positions per year). (Measures loss/retention of institutional knowledge.)

    • Experience turnover (percent): 100 X (number of years of experience represented by all departures / total years of experience with the organization) (at the beginning of the year). (These are harder data to collect but provide a good assessment of institutional knowledge loss potential and therefore the need to retain/capture institutional knowledge.)

  • Employee job satisfaction (percent): 100 X (number of employees with "X" job satisfaction level / total number of employees) (based on implementation and monitoring over time of a comprehensive employee survey). Can be divided into work type or job classification categories, etc., and cover overall satisfaction and topics deemed relevant to longer-term employee satisfaction and retention, such as:

    • Compensation and benefits

    • Management

    • Professional development and long-term advancement opportunities

    • Work and teamwork

    • Procedures

    • Fairness and respect

    • Communication


Management of core competencies
This measure assesses the utility's investment in and progress toward strengthening and maintaining employee core competencies.

Example calculations and assessment areas:

  • Presence of job descriptions and performance expectations: Does your organization have and maintain current job descriptions and related performance expectations (yes/no)?

  • Training hours per employee: Total of qualified formal training hours for all employees / total FTEs worked by employees during the reporting period. This is a QualServe Indicator.1 

  • Certification coverage (percent): 100 X (number of certifications achieved or maintained / number of needed certifications per year) (across the utility).

  • Employee evaluation results (assumes utility evaluates employee performance in a routine way and documents results): Results of employee evaluations (e.g., employee growth not clearly demonstrated, employee growth only demonstrated in certain areas or for certain labor categories, etc.)

  • Presence of employee-focused objectives and targets: Do you have employee-focused organizational objectives and targets and a related professional management system in place? Are you meeting your targets (yes/no)? (Targets could be, for instance, related to quantity, quality, timeliness, or cost. A timeliness target could, for example, relate to the number of hours it takes on average to complete a routine task.)

Workforce succession preparedness
: This measure assesses utility long-term workforce succession planning efforts to ensure critical skills and knowledge are retained and enhanced over time, particularly in light of anticipated retirement volume in coming years. Focus is on preparing entire groups or cohorts for needed workforce succession, including continued training and leadership development.

Example calculations:

  • Key position vacancies: Average time that critical-skill positions are vacant due to staff departures per vacancy per year.

  • Key position internal/external recruitment (percent): 100 X (number of critical-skill positions that are filled internally (through promotion, transfer, etc. rather than outside recruitment) versus filled through outside recruitment / total number of positions filled per year). (This will help the utility to understand if internal workforce development is covering long-term succession needs.)

  • Long-term succession plan coverage (percent): 100 X (number of employees (or cohorts, work units, etc.) covered by a long-term workforce succession plan that accounts for projected retirements and other vacancies in each skill and management area / total number of employees) (or cohorts, work units, etc.).


[1]  From AWWA and AwwaRF, Selection and Definition of Performance Indicators for Water and Wastewater Utilities, p. 38. 2004. Note: This material is copyrighted and any reprinting must be by permission of the American Water Works Association.