Insights and BC Hydro – ‘Part Of The Culture Here’
When the HR group of BC Hydro – one of Canada’s largest utility companies with nearly 6,000 employees – decided to try out an Insights workshop in January 2000, no-one realised just what an impact the Insights approach would have on the company.
Eighteen months later, Insights’ one-stop shopping approach to human resources management has delivered results far beyond what was originally imagined. “When I was first introduced to Insights, I didn’t realise its potential,” says Susanne Matheson, Human Resources Manager. “Its applications are endless.” Initially planned to provide a comprehensive approach to addressing the ‘people issues’, the system has become an integral part of the organisation’s business strategy. “Insights is part of the culture here.”
Making A Splash
From that first workshop, Susanne knew she had a hit on her hands. “I was hooked because it was accurate, easy and most importantly, applicable. Insights provided the language and framework for the team to have in-depth discussions around their own personal communication needs. And, on a personal level, I learned how to tailor my own communication approach with some of my employees.”
Susanne and a colleague decided to become Accredited Insights Practitioners. Over the next 10 months they delivered 30 specially tailored half-day core workshops based on word-of-mouth endorsements – there was no need to sell the program. “We planted the seed and it grew on its own.”
As its popularity grew, another 18 employees became accredited, setting up the IN Crowd (Insights Crowd), who meet every four months to brainstorm new applications for the system. They have also introduced a questionnaire system which quantifies the ongoing effectiveness of the system.
Nearly 1,000 managers and employees have now been through the program, and the benefits can be seen everywhere. Ray Toscani, BC Hydro’s Manager of Operations Support Services draws heavily on the system in communicating his priorities to his staff. “Sometimes you are pounding away at what you want but [now I know] people are looking at it from another perspective,” he says. Before a meeting, Ray will take time to consider the ‘colour preferences’ to ensure he addresses their needs as well as his own. “I’ve tried other tools and this one evokes more dialogue and understanding. It’s given us a common language.”
Repositioning In A Competitive Environment
Now embedded in the culture, that common language is proving to be highly valuable as BC Hydro undergoes significant restructuring to position itself for a more competitive environment. Insights is being used both in helping the company redefine the corporate culture that it needs to be successful, and in giving its managers the communication tools they need to lead out the transformation. “It’s a bit of a leveller when you’re working with a new team,” says Gayle Stewart, Vice President, Customer Services. “The faster you get people to feel like colleagues and that they have things in common the better. It breaks down barriers.”