When Mike Peters took over the top job at WPPI Energy a decade ago, one of the first things he did was share the organization’s business plan with employees.
“It was literally labeled ‘confidential, not to be shared,’” said Peters, the company’s president and CEO. “The first business plan I was involved in, we published it and sent it to everybody in the building. Now, every employee has access to that information and knows what we are trying to do.”
Communication, Peters said, is vital to the success of the Sun Prairie-based, member-owned operation that serves 51 local electric utilities with wholesale electric power supply, utility technologies and services.
“You can’t have some people having information and others not and still understand the ultimate objective we’re trying to reach,” said Peters, who added that he has never dodged a question at all-employee meetings.
“I’ll give them straight information,” Peters said. “I want them to trust me. If I tell them good news and bad news, I think it’s important they know I’m not holding stuff back.”
That level of communication earned WPPI Energy special recognition in this year’s Top Workplaces as employees there felt well-informed about important decisions there.
Peters has also worked to establish a teamwork culture, driven by credibility and member service. In the past 10 years, Peters said, WPPI Energy changed its hiring practices to reflect those attributes.
“You might be the best in your field, but if you can’t communicate, if you can’t work in a team, if you can’t collaborate with others, if you don’t have a service mindset, then you’re not going to fit in well,” he said.
The organization’s 112 employees participate in the Wisconsin Retirement System and the state’s health insurance system and are offered maternal and paternal family leave. Many surveyed employees also appreciated workplace flexibility and support from managers.
Says one: “If we need something, whether it’s a tool to do our job safely or time off to take care of our families, we get it. WPPI seems to have the mentality of removing roadblocks from our path, not placing them.”
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