A major oil company’s drilling and completions department was underperforming, even raising questions with the Board about future investment. Technology wasn’t the issue; they had some of the best in the business. The General Manager knew a different approach was needed – one involving EQ instead of IQ.
The GM intentionally led the organization on a performance journey, taking actions to break through complacency, engage and change his top leaders, and energize a “coalition” of change agents to become leaders at every level of the organization.
Key to success: Creating a view of current performance as a manageable issue; enrolling the organization in a vision of what the future could look like when that turned
around; and creating a near-term mission rooted in leadership behaviors focused on accountability, clear
priorities and goals, and operational discipline.
The Hawk’s Ridge Associates approach creates ownership across the entire organization in the future state and the path to achieve it. The initial engagement steps provide members of the organization with an opportunity to help define the changes needed – enrolling them as architects of the change through interviews and joint analysis.
In this case, interviews and assessment of documents indicated root causes for many current performance shortfalls in failure to execute approved processes. Procedures existed but were not being followed. Why? By engaging the organization, the team was able to trace the roots to leadership behaviors.
Hawk’s Ridge helped the GM and his leaders create a view of what excellent performance would look like, and to set a goal for the next year: Achieve every budget metric in the subsequent year. This mission was underpinned by three critical leadership focus areas:
- Accountability: The GM was battling a culture that viewed “accountability” as taking the blame when something went wrong. The Hawk’s Ridge team helped the leaders redefine accountability as a process of articulating clear expectations, aligning on elements needed for completion, following up, and delivering positive or negative consequences. This changed the conversation from “mea culpa” to an action-oriented drive for performance.
- Priorities and Performance Goals: Hawk’s Ridge found that the Voice of the Organization indicated a lack of clarity in priorities. Some procedures were not followed because there “wasn’t time to get everything done” when well design and delivery procedures were put in a bucket with administrative tasks. The focus on meeting budget metrics gave people the space to challenge non-core tasks even as they were being held accountable for tasks core to the mission.
- Operational Discipline: Leaders were seen violating standards and procedures, reducing the perceived imperative of adherence. Often there are reasons to change plans or procedures, and leaders began to make deliberations on these decisions more transparent. People came to understand how to manage exceptions as exceptions and prevent them from becoming the norm.
These changes could not be achieved unless the leaders made visible changes themselves. Hawk’s Ridge helped the GM and key leaders within the organization define behavioral change plans to support the culture shift, with specific actions that helped them develop as leaders seen to be representative the new way of working, even while the industry was distracted by rapidly declining oil prices.