Good going so far, Mrs Kelly Tomblin
WE note with appreciation that Mrs Kelly Tomblin is sticking doggedly to her commitment to transform the Jamaica Public Service Company (JPS) into a more customer-friendly organisation.
Yesterday, the monopoly light and power company that, for decades, has been the subject of much public anger, announced the appointments of 15 parish managers as part of Mrs Tomblin's promised comprehensive organisational restructuring.
"We are decentralising our operations so that decisions about serving our customers in the parishes no longer need to be made at the head office," Mrs Tomblin was quoted in a JPS news release. "Our aim is to create a more personal connection with our customers, so we are strengthening our service delivery capabilities at the local level."
In an apparent move to enhance the change, Mrs Tomblin also appointed three new regional directors who, she said, will have oversight of the company's regional operations.
One of the encouraging aspects of this strategy is that many of the appointees are new to the company. As such, we expect that they will bring a fresh approach to how the JPS interacts with customers and will, hopefully, contribute immensely to the culture shift that Mrs Tomblin intends to achieve.
Following Mrs Tomblin's appearance at an Observer Monday Exchange in May this year, shortly after she took the job as president and CEO of the JPS, we had commented in this space that she appears to understand that when in pain, neither customers nor her employees will care about the needs of the JPS until it is clear that the business cares about them.
We also noted that her emphasis on listening, observing and acknowledging, rather than trying to explain or rationalise, reflected a necessary emotional intelligence that appeared to be missing from the company's former top management.
Based on what we have seen so far, we believe that Mrs Tomblin has brought new and positive energy to the JPS, no pun intended. For in addition to the 15 parish managers and new regional directors, we are aware that she has recruited other talented and highly qualified professionals in order to effect the transformation that the company needs.
It is important, though, for customers to bear in mind that the turnaround that it desires will not take place overnight. For the company has been haemorrhaging from years of customer dissatisfaction that has only been made worse by rising oil prices on the world market that have pushed up, rather painfully, the cost of electricity to customers.
One key to that turnaround, though, is for the JPS to ensure that it maintains a constant dialogue with its customers and, just as important, its staff.
A lot of that responsibility will fall on the shoulders of the parish managers and regional directors who, we suggest, should hold regular discussion sessions with JPS customers in their respective jurisdictions.
Of course, the company will never be able to win over everyone. However, we believe that if the JPS can rebuild enough public trust, it will soften somewhat the anger being aimed at the company because of the volatility in international oil prices.
And any gains made in that area would be multiplied tenfold if the company moves swiftly to introduce cheaper sources of energy.