City Light management doesn't shine in employee survey
Three years after Jorge Carrasco was appointed superintendent of Seattle City Light, most employees say they still lack confidence in management...
Seattle Times staff reporter
Three years after Jorge Carrasco was appointed superintendent of Seattle City Light, most employees say they still lack confidence in management at the public utility.
According to the results of an employee survey presented Tuesday to the City Council, leadership, communication and staffing received failing grades.
"Some of these results are quite honestly disturbing," Council President Nick Licata said at the council briefing. "We have less than 20 percent of employees saying executive managers make decisions which seem to reflect an understanding of what's going on in lower levels of the organization."
Carrasco, who faces council reconfirmation in 2008, said, "Looking at survey results in and of itself sometimes doesn't give you all the information you need." Rather, he said, surveys can help people "begin to understand an organization as large as ours is."
A City Council staff report analyzing the survey responses concluded that fewer than half of the employees believe the public utility is headed in the right direction, and about a quarter have general confidence in the leadership.
While middle managers and rank-and-file employees both rated the executive management poorly, the executive team gave itself high marks. For example, when asked whether executive management provides leadership for success, 100 percent of the executive team agreed but only 27 percent of all employees agreed. When asked whether changes are managed effectively, 83 percent of the executive team agreed and 26 percent of all employees agreed.
"There seems to be a disconnect between management, supervisors and workers," Councilmember Richard McIver said after the meeting.
Carrasco was hired to replace Gary Zarker, who resigned as superintendent in 2003. When he started, Carrasco conducted an employee survey. A council staff report said that, compared with the results then, this year's results were striking in how little improvement had occurred.
Carrasco agreed scores were low but added that he needed more time to change the culture at the utility.
When McIver asked how much time he needed, Carrasco said, "I don't start counting from the time I got here."
"I do," McIver said.
Carrasco then said he spent his first year learning about the organizational culture, the second year hiring new managers, and that those managers needed another year to get up to speed on how City Light worked.
The council's staff report also said disrespectful behavior "seems to be tolerated" at the highest levels of the organization. Of the employees who report directly to Carrasco, just 67 percent agreed with the statement, "The person I report to treats me with respect."
Sharon Pian Chan: 206-464-2958 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Information in this story published on September 5, 2007 was corrected on September 18, 2007. This story incorrectly said that an employee survey found that fewer than half of the employees believe the public utility is headed in the right direction, and about a quarter have general confidence in the leadership. Those were not direct findings of the survey. Rather, a Seattle City Council staff report made those conclusions in analyzing survey responses.
Copyright © 2007 The Seattle Times Company
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