Utility Management

Following completion of this manual, students should be able to:

  1. Identify the functions of a manager.
  2. Describe the benefits of short-term, long-term, and emergency planning.
  3. Define the following terms:
    1. Authority
    2. Responsibility
    3. Delegation
    4. Accountability
    5. Unity of command
  4. Read and construct an organizational chart identifying lines of authority and responsibility.
  5. Write a job description for a specific position within the utility.
  6. Write good interview questions.
  7. Conduct employee evaluations.
  8. Describe the steps necessary to provide equal and fair treatment to all employees.
  9. Prepare a written or oral report on the utility's operations.
  10. Communicate effectively within the organization, with media representatives, and with the community.
  11. Describe the financial strength of their utility.
  12. Calculate their utility's operating ratio, coverage ratio, and simple payback.
  13. Prepare a contingency plan for emergencies.
  14. Prepare a plan to strengthen the security of their utility's facilities.
  15. Set up a safety program for their utility.
  16. Collect, organize, file, retrieve, use, and dispose of utility records.

Lesson 1 of this course describes the elements of a utility manager's job and introduces basic concepts of organizational management. A major portion of the lesson focuses on one of a manager's most important responsibilities—staffing. While most operators will already have a general understanding of personnel policies and procedures based on their own work experiences, it is likely that relatively few will have considered staffing issues from the perspective of a manager. Key concepts that should be emphasized include a manager's responsibility to treat all employees and job applicants fairly and equitably, to base hiring and employment decisions only on job-related criteria, to fully document personnel actions, and to stay informed about and comply with the federal and state laws governing employment practices.

Lesson 2 describes the typical responsibilities of a utility manager in nine additional areas, from written and oral communications to public relations to emergency planning and homeland defense. Each area of responsibility is important and is described in a separate section, but students also need to develop an understanding of the many ways a manager's responsibilities overlap. As an example, assume XYZ Water Utility decides that one of its main goals for the future is to develop the best possible safety program. Accomplishing this goal will require the manager to develop a comprehensive project plan, calculate costs, budget the needed funds, write and implement safety policies and procedures, provide safety training, and hold supervisors and employees accountable for using safe work practices. In carrying out the program, the manager may need to delegate some tasks, give oral presentations, conduct meetings, and justify budgets. In other words, a manager's underlying abilities to plan, organize, delegate, and communicate effectively will directly affect the outcome of the project.

As you present the material in this manual, frequently ask students to examine an issue or project from the manager's perspective. What skills and abilities are important? How does a particular decision affect other areas of the utility's operations? What effect will an action or decision have on the budget or on employee morale? Encourage your students to consider the needs of the whole organization and to think about ways to balance competing demands, whether for funds or staff or equipment.