The Grays Harbor PUD Commissioners have approved a new configuration for upper management positions at the district, eliminating the assistant general manager’s position.
The new alignment creates four “chief officers” who will be responsible for various management areas and report directly to the general manager, the highest management position at the utility. The new structure replaces one in which various department heads and supervisors reported either to the general manager or assistant general manager.
The changes come as the board searches for a general manager to replace recently retired Rick Lovely.
PUD Commissioner Dave Timmons said the job of former assistant general manager Doug Smith is safe. He’ll just assume one of the chief roles. The reconfiguration doesn’t mean an increase in anyone’s salary, he said, or an immediate savings from losing one of the positions. In fact, Timmons said the PUD will still have the same number of administrative staff. The roles are just a bit different.
“This is going to be all about efficiency improvements,” Timmons said.”Doug Smith is amazing at what he does. He has a vast knowledge … . He’s, a lot of times, our go-to guy.”
Last fall, a consultant hired by the Grays Harbor PUD to begin a hiring process for the new PUD director, first met with department heads and others at the PUD and said she heard concerns about communication problems within the organization, including a lack of clarity about the PUD’s mission, goals and objectives. Janice Corbin of Sound Employment Solutions, told the commissioners her concerns about inconsistent leadership, long-standing conflicts and personality clashes and department heads who “operate in silos.”
“Inconsistency in leadership was a common theme,” she said.
Timmons said that the PUD Commissioners took that criticism to heart and tasked interim general manager Doug Streeter with coming up with a reorganization plan.
“It was important to do this before we move into hiring a new general manager,” Timmons said.
“We felt there was an opportunity to improve communication and gain efficiencies by restructuring,” echoed Commission President Russ Skolrood in a press release.
Under the new structure, former engineering manager Wes Gray will become Chief Operating Officer with responsibility for engineering, substation, meter, line, and system control. Rob Hanny, former information technology manager, will assume the role of chief information officer with responsibility for information technology and communications, records, fleet/facilities, and storeroom. Streeter will remain in his role as chief financial officer, with responsibility for accounting and customer service. Former assistant general manager Smith will become chief administrative officer with responsibility for power supply, energy services, and general administration. All of the changes take effect immediately.
In addition to the four chief officers, the human resources director, safety & environmental director, communications and government relations director, and general counsel will report directly to the general manager.
“We’re hopeful the new structure will allow for better communication across departments,” said Skolrood. “We wanted to put the new system in place prior to hiring the new general manager, because we believe it will help define the skill set we’re looking for in that position.”
Timmons said that the PUD will start the application review process for the new general manager position in the next few weeks.
“A lot of different employees from all levels throughout the PUD will help us with this process,” Timmons said, adding that by the time applications are narrowed down to three to five candidates, public input may be sought, as well.