From Dog House to Pent House at STP Nuclear
South Texas Project Electric Generating Station is a two-unit nuclear power plant commended by federal and industry officials as a state-of-the-art model facility.
One of the newest and largest nuclear power plants in the U.S., STP produces 2,500 megawatts of electricity—enough for more than one million homes and businesses in south central Texas.
As you can imagine, the people who work at STP are very much the no-nonsense type. They take their work very seriously and they have zero patience with anything that doesn’t add value.
Several years ago the people at STP had, by their own admission, sort of plateaued. They had improved quite a bit after earlier challenges that led to a year-long shut-down of the nuclear station, but improvement seemed to level off. They found themselves stuck on good-but-not-great.
So they requested help from Duncan Worldwide. We observed that people at the station got along fine as friends, but they failed to hold each other accountable for top performance. With the right behaviors, we explained, it’s possible for “friends to hold friends accountable” in a way that not only improves performance but that can even strengthen the friendships.
We introduced a comprehensive training program in dialogue skills. These Talk-friendly skills enabled STP people to step up to risky conversations about safety, accountability, and other critical performance issues. We certified more than two dozen internal trainers, when then delivered the training to nearly 2,000 employees at every level of the organization. We showed them how to maximize the return on investment by using our 4E Learning Model. And we showed them how to “stay on message” and reinforce desired behaviors through cascading sponsorship as emphasized in our CHANGE-friendly IMPLEMENTATION protocol.
The result? Today STP is an industry leader in safety, reliability, and efficiency. For the past several years it has achieved the lowest fuel cost of all power plants in the U.S. The facility has twice won the U.S. nuclear industry’s highest honor, the Best of the Best Trophy.
STP President and CEO Ed Halpin credited Duncan Worldwide with helping the nuclear station accomplish its dramatic improvements by emphasizing “engagement of the team, focusing on the hearts and minds of our employees, and the key behaviors associated with trust.”