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Emerson: Open Dialogue on Safety

By Michael W. Kahn | ECT Staff Writer Published: October 30th, 2013

SAN ANTONIO, Texas—Praising the emphasis that electric cooperatives put on safety, NRECA CEO Jo Ann Emerson urged co-op leaders and employees to foster an honest exchange of ideas.

NRECA CEO Jo Ann Emerson

NRECA CEO Jo Ann Emerson

“With promoting a culture of safety, you have to have open communication back and forth. It’s a key part of improving safety,” Emerson said Oct. 30 at the opening session of NRECA’s 2013 Safety Leadership Summit.

“If we’re going to improve, then we have to be open to honest feedback, both ways,” she told more than 550 participants.

Emerson walks the walk when it comes to two-way communication. She explained how since taking the helm at NRECA earlier this year, she has encouraged staff to “tell me what I’m doing right, what I’m doing wrong.”

“Once I allowed that to happen—gave them permission to criticize me—they’re open to more discussion,” Emerson said.

“Now, everybody on the team understands that there’s safety in speaking their mind,” she said, urging the same free dialogue to promote safety at co-ops.

Since coming to NRECA, Emerson has been attending meetings at local co-ops and statewide organizations. She couldn’t help but notice a pattern.

“Almost to a one, they start off the meeting with a message about safety,” Emerson said.

“That told me from the very outset that this is the heart and soul of what our co-ops promote.”

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