You like to think of your company as one well-oiled machine, or even a big happy family. The reality is, even small companies have a hard time keeping all of their employees on the same page, and as companies expand, that challenge becomes even greater. This could leave management thinking that things are going smoothly while various corners of the company are heading in different directions or missing important business opportunities.
This is no small problem. A company that has poor alignment can more easily fall behind the competition or develop an undesirable work atmosphere. That can cost the company in both earnings and investors while developing an in-house downward trend of poorer work performance and higher employee turnover.
Meanwhile, a company that makes the most of its employees and opportunities can grow and thrive, even during a lackluster economy.
Drilling Down to Solve Alignment Problems
Oil and gas companies face unique challenges when it comes to keeping every division coordinated and working in the same direction. The high risks and rewards in drilling inherently give every investment or missed opportunity greater potential for gain or loss.Compared to other industries, oil and gas employees generally have more autonomy and are responsible for larger financial transactions and risks. That means that keeping everyone in alignment and working in cooperation with the broader objectives of the company are far more important than in other industries.
Just like a facility manager needs to know the details of the site, such as the land use terms and current drill status or production, managers often need to have access to the bigger picture at the company in order to make better decisions. Most companies have manager meetings or other notifications to keep upper management well-informed.
What some companies forget is that sharing information is important across the entire company, not just with the management team.
For example, land agents need to understand the ongoing market rates for mineral rights, but having even more knowledge can improve their ability to negotiate deals and manage current properties. Imagine how effective your land agents would be if they also knew things like:
These insights might determine the best tactics for negotiating out in the field. Even if agents are given
specific directions with little negotiation latitude, a lack of understanding of the company’s direction could mean opportunities aren’t communicated to senior management, much less capitalized on quickly enough to edge out competitors.
One challenge is sharing information without releasing propriety data to the public. Fortunately, I.T. offers many solutions to make sharing information practical without overburdening employees.
Remember that opportunities and information can come from unexpected sources. A smart company makes it easier for every employee to contribute more effectively.
Technology has made communication easier, but all-too-often that means that instead of photocopied memos sitting unread on desks, we now have unread emails in inboxes. All too often, company efforts to keep employees informed leads to workers being overwhelmed.
Yes, email is an invaluable tool, but it needs to be used strategically.
First, your I.T. provider can help you set up email distribution lists and maintain them so they remain up-to-date with personnel changes and company reorganizations. Beyond lists for each department or management group, you should create lists so that supervisors can relay information to specific teams within their departments and to employees from different areas who need to share specific types of information.
For example, mechanical engineers in different divisions might all need some of the same information, or the drilling and reclamation groups might discuss and coordinate changing regulations and ways to minimize expenses.
These types of established groups can save supervisors time while keeping workers from receiving emails they don’t need. These lists can encourage everyone to share important information with the right people.
Having a process for regular updating of these lists will keep the distribution groups relevant even as your company expands and evolves.
Keep It Simple
Email is not a one-way tool. Rather than only sending emails from management down to employees, important information should flow up to where it’s needed.
Your employees on the ground can be sources for some of the best industry information. Is a competing firm starting to drill from an adjacent property into your newly discovered reservoir? Your field crews might be the first to know.
The problem is facilitating communication in a way that doesn’t create undue work.
Employees might have trouble tracking down the correct person who needs specific pieces of information. Use I.T. to your advantage with a special email account for employees or even contractors to use to convey key information. Personnel within your office could be assigned to read these emails and forward the information where it’s needed. Encouraging employees to contribute what they know can make workers feel more valued while giving your company an important industry edge.
The same email address could be used to by employees to report potential problems they’ve noticed that are outside their areas but which might need attention. Having a single email for incoming employee reports will create a little extra work inside your offices, but the upside is that making the process fast and simple for your employees across the company will increase participation.
Rather than requiring employees to all gather at a central location, it is often more cost-effective and efficient to have remote meetings. Video conferences are one way to reach out to employees, and important announcements can be recorded and viewed by off-shift employees at their convenience.
Your I.T. provider can set up networks capable of streaming team video conferences and ensure meeting rooms have the right equipment to eliminate common problems like poor sound quality or buffering delays.
The popularity of video in everyday life has caused many people to think of that first when planning remote team meetings or conferences. However, don’t forget to make the most of a good telecommunications system.
Conference calls are easier to set up and offer some benefits over video meetings. If visuals aren’t required for a presentation, they can become a distraction. Teleconferencing can make it easier for employees to pay attention to the discussion while referring to the relevant spreadsheets or other information on their computers.
A modern phone system can provide options to make in-house teleconferences easier by allowing employees to set up team groups so they can contact their team by pressing a single button rather than having to dial each employee’s number for every call.
Make It Accessible
The most commonly needed information could be put front and center for employees by incorporating it into simple daily briefs or a webpage.
For example, current NYMEX petroleum futures prices and the average reported spot prices by basin could be posted along with a few sentences summarizing individual industry news items and weather forecasts for key geographic areas.
I.T. can work with your management team to develop the most user-friendly approach for your employees to keep vital information at their fingertips without overwhelming them with notifications.
That could mean setting up a company notifications page using a cloud-based app such as Teams or Workplace, or even relaying updates straight to remote employees’ phones. By automatically pulling information off various sites, the amount of work required by your in-house team can be minimized.
Your employees might not be working together as efficiently as they should. One way to improve teamwork is to facilitate coordination using I.T.
Even employees sitting in close proximity might not be synchronizing well; but when employees are working in different departments or facilities, the problem becomes even worse. Add in other variables like different work schedules, and, understandably, coordination can truly begin to suffer.
The right software systems can be one way to keep everyone informed and on track without unnecessary meetings. Project management software can be used to share information and can be particularly helpful in projects that are long term and/or more complex. Each member of the team can document the status of their portion of the project and the completion of milestones. That allows employees and supervisors to remain updated and on track.
Even scheduled maintenance projects and other routine work can benefit from better coordination. For some work, a spreadsheet posted on the cloud and updated by employees could be the best solution. For more complex updates, tracking might be improved by having employees scan barcodes after completing maintenance or system checks. This approach can create clear records with less risk of human error while having the information online will help supervisors or downstream groups stay informed.
Your I.T. provider can work with your company to develop the most effective solutions to make coordination seamless and eliminate the time employees need to spend on tedious data entry or written updates.
It might seem strange to include celebration as a key factor in keeping your company in alignment, but this is an important step.
As humans, we tend to strive toward the next milestone constantly. Unfortunately, we don’t always take the time to appreciate our accomplishment once we get there.
Companies have the same problem. Record highs in share prices might cause a boardroom celebration, but the company’s ongoing successes might be overlooked under the onslaught of daily work. That’s a mistake, since taking a moment to see how far your company has come will help to keep employees advancing in the right direction. Taking time to celebrate motivates your employees to continue putting in the hard work necessary to make each success possible.Celebrations don’t have to be grand, and the accomplishments you’re honoring shouldn’t always be the most obvious. Senior managers may already receive recognition for high profile projects, but other employees might not.
The contract team that negotiated pricing amendments with your suppliers deserve credit for wrangling signatures from various stakeholders, as does your maintenance team that enabled a facility to go a record number of days without an outage. Completing a big pipeline integrity project might not seem as exciting as a well completion, but by avoiding a potential ruptured pipeline, your integrity team provides tremendous gains in their own way.Don’t forget that each team’s success is due to more than the efforts of the team leaders. From the administrative staff managing paperwork to an accounting team updating pricing calculations, everyone involved in your company’s victories deserves to feel appreciated.
Face-to-face celebrations aren’t always possible or even desirable. A good I.T. system can provide great teambuilding experiences without the time and cost of employees traveling to meet together. These could take the form of formal video announcements by senior management team.
An even more common method is casual video meetings of a few employees. Employees can participate at their desks via webcam, or from their smartphones, laptops, or tablets in the field.
While gatherings can be the right approach to celebrating the company or individual teams reaching major milestones, more routine celebrations can be done in less formal ways. A daily or weekly company email could include a shout-out to select teams or individual employees along with market data, weather, and industry updates.
Company intranets remain a popular way for companies to share private information with and between employees. This can be a great place to celebrate company and team accomplishments.A few words of appreciation to employees can go a long way toward motivating them and creating a good work environment. By sharing this sort of information alongside general company and industry updates, companies can increase the number of employees paying attention to key updates while providing a venue for company celebrations.
Your I.T. provider can make sure your company has the framework for providing this company information to employees.
Celebrations should also include promotions and service anniversary milestones. Honoring every employee’s promotion will make everyone feel more appreciated. Add announcements of new employees or transfers so that they feel welcomed and your existing employees know who they’ll be working with in the coming days. Depending on the size of your company, you might even want to offer birthday greetings as part of your daily updates.
Another reason for celebrating successes is it is another way to keep employees updated and encourage sharing of information. Perhaps engineers working in different departments or offices might realize they are facing a similar challenge that they could work together on or share equipment. Celebrations could help you more effectively share technical information on equipment, drilling, or processing to spur other employees to more success. This could speed problem-solving or spur the development of new technologies.
Another option is to set up private social media groups where employees can share information. These can work great for teambuilding and employee social activities. Unfortunately, due to ongoing security issues on the common social media platforms, they should probably be avoided for any propriety company information, but they can be great for more casual employee outreach and teambuilding.
Don’t neglect to look into social media options built specifically for corporations, such as Workplace by Facebook.
Building a System
In the daily grind to keep your business operational, competitive, profitable, and growing, it is easy to put off the effort you feel it will take to get the disparate pieces of your company aligned.
But with the help of your I.T. provider, you can create secure systems to improve company alignment. By designing an integrated communication, coordination, and celebration plan, you can provide the right framework to improve employee satisfaction while keeping access to sensitive data secure. By making this part of your company’s policy and compliance management procedures, you can install processes that will keep supervisors and employees informed about the resources available to them and the correct ways to use them.Don’t wait until you realize your company is lagging behind before making the necessary changes to keep your company on the road to success.
For over thirty years, JMARK has been helping oil & gas companies of all sizes use technology to increase the velocity of their success. We have been named one of the top I.T. security providers in the world, and stand steadfast in our commitment to helping businesses reduce risk, increase profits, and become more efficient. To learn more about our solutions designed for oil & gas companies, contact us via this website, by emailing [email protected], or by calling 844-44-JMARK.