You are running an unsupported version of Internet Explorer. Please upgrade.

WANO supports Olkiluoto with its Nuclear Professional Leadership Programme

Jaana Isotalo Senior Vice President, HR, Communication and Training at TVO, explains how its Olkiluoto plant worked closely with WANO to enhance staff morale and drive plant performance.  

Our story with WANO has included several phases and different topics. All of those we have found to be fruitful and productive, but not always the easiest ones. There is a saying that “the good things never come from comfort zones. If we want success, we must get comfortable being uncomfortable.”

I would like to explain what happened between the years 2010-2015 in TVO’s operational and business environment:

•            Electricity price dropped dramatically and since TVO is a private owned company, it impacted us immediately
•            The Olkiluoto 3 project was not proceeding as planned, as TVO was engaged in a big legal case. Due to this situation the plant contractor almost left the site, and we were having challenges to finance the project
•            The Olkiluoto 4 project was stopped due to the difficulties we had in the Olkiluoto 3 project
•            Due to the challenging financial situation we needed to do a major organisational change and to reduce the number of contractors and staff members in 2015
•            Due to all these changes our internal safety culture indicator and staff satisfaction went down, and many staff members left from the company and away from the nuclear industry
At that time, our colleagues at WANO were able to see the change and shared our concerns. We noticed that we would need external support and we are thankful to WANO for supporting us during this journey.
One of the key themes identified as an area for improvement was leadership. WANO Representatives will be key in helping nuclear power plants worldwide improve their leadership performance under Action for Excellence. We have already benefited from this at our station.
WANO was able to appoint an experienced WANO Representative to support us and he spent almost three years with us. With him we were able to organise several types of workshops, training, and mentoring. For example, we had tailor made workshops under the theme “Leaders’ role in nuclear safety.” We also had several members support missions between three different nuclear power plants in Finland, Sweden, and the Netherlands.
Our journey continues, and we are really looking forward to sharing our lessons learned with other WANO members. One practical example of a major learning for us was to understand the impact of the national culture for developing leadership. One area for improvement identified by WANO was the lack of establishment of management expectations.
Just by looking at the documentation or the posters on walls you were able to start a debate by arguing that we have established management expectations. However, we found out that those were only letters, words, and sentences. They were not a part of our everyday life or our organisational culture.
During one of the WANO workshops, we discovered that our point of view for management expectations in Finnish culture was completely wrong. In Finland, all organisations are equal so if you want to have impact, you must have an individual point of view in your communication. That was the starting point for the establishment of five characteristics of Nuclear Professionals and our Nuclear Professional Leadership programme. This was a minor change that had a major impact.

As a result of learning lessons and improving, we now:
  • have the best employee satisfaction level and highest score in our internal safety culture indicator ever.
  • have increased the number of our staff members by 250 during the last four years so now we have about 1,050 staff members.
  • have the highest acceptance of nuclear in Finland ever.
  • are in a stable financial situation.
  • Olkiluoto 1 & 2 plants are operating well and Olkiluoto 3 has been connected to the grid and electricity production has started.
I would like to encourage all WANO members to use this unique Association and its services. Open, and transparent information sharing and willingness to discuss weaknesses is really a key element for development. Like WANO always says: “Learn from experiences, don't become one.”