What gets you up each morning? If you’re like the thousands of water professionals we’ve talked to over the years, you share a passion for an industry that impacts every aspect of modern life, because water is essential to healthy bodies and economies. And by “you,” we mean the people behind the water utility. You are important, and taking care of your needs is essential to the success of your utility.
May we be so bold as to recommend a New Year’s resolution for every water utility employee? Take 2022 to focus on yourself and develop your skills and capabilities. Our communities need you to be at your best to ensure they have the water they need when they need it. Caring for yourself is not selfish; it’s the act of “sharpening your saw,” as Stephen R. Covey describes in his book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. When you keep using a tool over and over without caring for it — neglecting to sharpen a saw, for instance — the tool inevitably becomes less efficient and effective. The same applies to you as a person.
Why is working on yourself in 2022 critical?
Water utility employees are essential workers who have stepped up to care for their communities during the pandemic. While it can feel motivating to be an essential service, it can also feel very draining. The water workforce is already facing a “silver tsunami” in the form of massive impending retirements. If workers were to consider retiring even sooner, the industry would suffer greatly. Developing your skills and caring for your team’s needs will have a positive impact on your operations and retention.
What does “sharpening your saw” look like in 2022 in the water industry?
Don’t just think outside the box; step outside the box. One way to do this that we’ve talked about before is to check out the Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs). MOOCs provide the opportunity for you to learn a new subject at your own pace for free (or a reasonable price). We mentioned some water-related courses in our “Get Inspired” blog, but also consider checking out courses on innovation, economics, or programming.
If you’re a leader on your team or within your organization, consider participating in leadership training in 2022. Check out offerings from the American Water Works Association or the Water Environment Federation, such as the WEF Water Leadership Institute.
More so, extend this New Year’s Resolution to those you lead. Inspire the team to sharpen their own saws and care for themselves. Give them the space they need to find ways to enhance their skills and develop their minds; then, support those activities with the time and financial resources required. Let’s take care of what matters in 2022 — and that includes you.