Apr 28, 2017

Building tomorrow’s leaders

As part of her role as a senior talent management consultant, Sue Drabic rolls out the welcome mat for Pennsylvania-based PPL employees. Drabic and other members of the Human Resources team host new employee orientation, where they spend time teaching the values and vision of PPL. Drabic also makes an effort to engage with new arrivals and spark a connection that will make them feel accepted and appreciated on day one — and beyond.

But Drabic knows that employee engagement can’t end there. It’s an ongoing process.

Icon depicting utility workers That’s why Corporate HR runs development programs aimed at giving employees the skills they need to become effective supervisors and managers. Drabic with the talent management team focuses on teaching three core skill sets: setting goals, observing performance and giving feedback. These skills are necessary to build strong leaders, Drabic said. And strong leaders are vital to a business’s success.

“There is a lot of research that shows the quality of a first-line supervisor at a company is very critical,” Drabic said. “Having highly skilled supervisors who know how to engage their employees and create a positive work environment keeps employees motivated and increases employee retention.”

While the PPL workforce is made up of highly trained and talented people who excel in their fields, Drabic and her Human Resources colleagues recognize that being able to inspire and motivate a team of employees is a separate matter.

“Some people have innate management skills, or they had a really good manager in the past that they can model their behavior after,” Drabic said. “But often management skills need to be taught and developed. You might be excellent in the IT or engineering or financial field, but you may need support and guidance on how to lead a team. That’s what we are providing.”

Senior Talent Management Consultant Sue Drabic gives PPL employees the skills they need to manage and lead successful teams.
Senior Talent Management Consultant Sue Drabic gives PPL employees the skills they need to manage and lead successful teams.

Drabic was part of the team that created supervisor training programming in 2009. At the time, there was recognition that many of the company’s baby-boomer-generation supervisors would be retiring in the coming years. To prepare for that change and ensure the company had people prepared to step into management roles, Drabic and her training and HR colleagues developed a specialized curriculum for both Pennsylvania and Kentucky employees. Since its inception, there have been nearly 600 graduates of the program.

“The training experience was fun, hands-on and very engaging,” said Jim Boykin, a right-of-way supervisor in the Harrisburg, Lancaster and Susquehanna regions, who received training in 2016. “It provides you with many different tools that you are able to take with you and grow your management skills. If you model the managerial practices, you will see a positive impact on your team. The experience really shows PPL’s commitment to drive a culture and develop its employees.”

Indeed, PPL has also offered a development program for senior-level managers to help them further advance their leadership skills. These programs are just two examples of how PPL shows its commitment to building an engaged workforce that is given numerous opportunities to grow and thrive.

Drabic herself is proof of that. The experience of teaching training sessions — plus PPL’s tuition-reimbursement program — inspired Drabic to pursue her own career aspirations. “I discovered that I really like helping people grow their leadership skills, so I’m currently working to get my master’s degree in organizational leadership,” Drabic said. “I’m enjoying learning about new theories of learning and am eager to be able to apply my new skills.”

Read the 2016 Sustainability Report