“People can’t just come in my office and say here boss, here are a few problems; I also demand solutions.
“What are your thoughts? How do we fix these? What are your ideas to improve them? We’ve been very much focused on that,” he says.
Once a month there is an employee roundtable where any employee, anyone in the DOT can come in to an open meeting with MassDOT Secretary and CEO Jeffrey Mullan and Davey.
Going out to the shops and barns has also been beneficial in increasing employee communication. “I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard you’re the first GM I’ve met in 10 years or 15 years or ever,” Davey says. “I’m spending a lot of time focusing on the employees, getting their input, getting their feedback.”
Along those lines, they have also initiated a safety hotline where employees can anonymously report issues if anything arises.
Davey says, “General managers come and go but the trains and buses always run.” He continues, “There will be many more people that sit in this chair that I’m sitting in right now. It’s the 6,000 men and women that work here that make it happen, so it’s my job to give them the tools, the training, the equipment, to get their jobs done.”
He stresses that there’s been a huge push for himself, Secretary Mullan and their colleagues to get out of their offices and to go and listen to help the employees do their job.
Davey says they recently came to an historic agreement with three unions on the wages and benefits program. “That is a four-year contract with net healthcare contributions of a 5 percent rate increase over four years. That’s the lowest in 35 years.
“My point is that our labor unions get it. They know what our fiscal challenges are. They’ve been very good about stepping up and trying to find creative ways for us to save money and then save their jobs.”
The pension program was a 23-years and out, so employees could retire at 23 years of service, regardless of their age. That has changed, with current employees grandfathered in.
When talking about succession planning, Davey says there have been a number of senior management retirements since he’s been in his position and he’s only been there a year.
“I’m trying to dig a little deeper in the organization, folks who have maybe 15, 18 years experience, to tap on the shoulder and put them in senior management positions.”
He says they’re also finding ways to collaborate with high schools and colleges in the area. One current project is looking at having students at Madison Park High School work on a T bus in their shop. “Let the students learn working on that automotive piece and my hope is that they would suddenly dream about working at the T one day,” Davey says.
Aside from being out on the system, there are a number of things, Davey says, that have helped in making the T a little more transparent for the riders. One of those was the GM for a day contest. “We said to the customer, write us a short essay, why would you want to be the GM for a day,” he explains. “We got 150/200 responses; we picked a gentleman who spent the day with me and kind of shadowed me.
“At the end of the day he had a great experience, he had a greater appreciation of the complexity of the system that we run.” He continues, “But we had this idea that there were a number of folks who were disappointed we didn’t pick them, so we picked 10 of those individuals, those customers, to come in and spend an hour in our control center and then come have lunch with me to get some feedback.” Davey stresses, “It was great.
“It was so good that we decided that I’m going to do this once a month, a focus group or a roundtable of eight to 10 customers. We’ll just randomly select folks to have lunch with me, my senior brass, and just say what do you see? What needs to be done?”