By Mike Beier, ContXt CEO – Time is such a precious commodity. It’s a powerful ally in the rare times we have some; it’s a stress-inducing foe when we don’t.
When major growth mode started kicking in for the electric transmission industry, the management team at AEP Transmission – which operates and maintains the country’s largest transmission system – wanted to share their strategy and tactics with employees. The core transformational message is a positive one, since AEP Transmission affiliates can help with improving reliability in existing markets or expanding into new ones.
But such critical business and market environment explanations take time to develop and communicate well. Having more than 1,000 employees spread among dozens of locations in several states makes disseminating information even more difficult.
So AEP Transmission partnered with my team at ContXt Corporation to help its employees at all levels understand the new behaviors required to succeed in a more dynamic marketplace. We developed three interactive, discussion-based learning tools for AEP Transmission that made communication among groups consistent.
To help advance AEP Transmission’s cultural strategy and alignment with diverse employee groups, we started by engaging leadership to understand their critical role in supporting the new culture.
We then broke down complex topics into succinct visual and written materials for 60- to 90-minute sessions. This information was the foundation for our mainstay learning tool, called Meeting-in-a-Box.
AEP Transmission’s Meeting-in-a-Box was divided into three, easy-to-use parts:
- A module for leaders to examine how corporate values and behaviors support the overall strategy, and how each leader can better live these behaviors every day.
- A module used by leaders to understand how they can best instill these values and behaviors within their teams.
- A toolkit that leaders can use with employees to reinforce behaviors and values.
Discussions among AEP Transmission’s workforce using Meeting-in-a-Box materials have had positive results. They have especially exceeded expectations among field employees, who are focusing on business and improvement ideas, according to feedback from the management team.
The U.S. electric transmission industry is expected to spend nearly $300 billion between 2010 and 2030. That includes investment in the system’s aging infrastructure, renewable energy integration, increasing reliability standards and expansion in some regions. And it certainly offers opportunities for those willing and able to adapt.
How did we help AEP Transmission in this time of rapid growth? We listened to the management team’s objectives and quickly translated them into an effective learning tool with visual and written materials. This three-module tool helps everyone in the organization understand what AEP Transmission’s strategy entails and the necessary behaviors required to execute it.
Another time-related benefit? By using different modules, we were able to focus efforts on specific audiences and tailored discussions.
Planning and communications take time. So do meetings to explain and discuss concepts. And for businesses, all of this means employee time spent away from operations.
Yet, in this case, AEP Transmission’s cultural transformation is progressing nicely, and I’m pleased to know the time was well spent.
Are you facing organizational change? If so, please share your experiences in the comments below.
Mike Beier is the founder and chief executive officer of ContXt Corporation, a management consulting firm based in suburban Toledo, Ohio. ContXt helps organizations achieve strategic objectives by translating big concepts – including strategic plans, culture shifts and process changes – with simple, effective communications tools. For more information about ContXt, please visit contxtcorp.com.