The Success of a Self-Governing Culture

How employees’ control over their work has helped Central States Water Resources prosper

Sovereign, independent, self-regulated, free-standing — all works not commonly associated with the workplace environment.

But, what if they were?

What if workplaces had an environment where you were in charge of your own schedule? Where you were inspired by your company’s purpose rather than a deadline? What if workplaces cultivated an environment where you are encouraged to be your own leader in an organization that’s bigger than yourself, rather than reporting to someone “higher up”?

This type of environment would allow employees to push themselves and to be innovative without the fear of repercussions. It would allow them to have a work/life balance, so when they arrive at work they are focused and present, allowing them to work harder and more efficiently. They work together as equals, propelled by the same goals and vision.

This collaborative and self-motivated environment is called a “self-governing culture.” And it’s effective.

What exactly is a self-governing culture?

Regardless of their individual role, employees of a self-governing culture are encouraged to act as leaders and operate with a set of core principles and social imperatives. Rather than being focused on reporting to a superior or being blindly led in a hierarchy-driven operation, they are part of a purposeful and value-based organization that is focused on the overall performance and legacy of the company.

“We’ve found our company culture makes all the difference in innovating our industry,” says Josiah Cox, President of Central States Water Resources. “The utility industry can be slow in terms of growth and adaptation, so we’re approaching it with a different mentality. We don’t want things to be done as they’ve always been done, we want to find out what works and what doesn’t work quickly so we can bring clean, safe and reliable water resources to as many communities as possible in the U.S.”

How does Self-Governing Work within Central States Water Resources?

This ability to inspect, adapt and innovate is what makes a self-governing culture thrive at Central States Water Resources. It allows employees to succeed, which makes the company succeed. They shared a little bit about their experiences with self-governing culture at the company, and how it’s affected their work experience.

“For me, self-governing is understanding what I’m accountable for and for setting the work pace while ensuring I’m delivering what I need to,” said Stacy Culleton, Project Manager. “It gives you room to grow and some space to make mistakes.”

Self-governing aligns with professionalism. It’s putting productivity into the hands of the employee, relying on them to get work done quickly and thoroughly, but also in a manner that works for them. This means not reporting all tasks to someone “higher up”, but relying on them being a responsible leader in their own right.

“You have the opportunity to control your own productivity because you know what the goals and deliverable goals are,” said Brent Thies, Comptroller. “As you long as you hit the deadlines, if you leave the office a little bit earlier and pick it up later, no one worries about that. ultimately the buck stops with you and you have to figure it out and get it done. That’s what gets you rewarded, taking on those challenges and meeting them.”

“Self-governing” doesn’t just relate to the governance and leadership of the company, it also part of the culture. Central States Water Resources attracts individuals who contribute fully and fulfill their full potential by working more collaboratively. They are committed to the purpose and values of the organization and work together to achieve it.