Behavioural Leadership and Safety in the Oil & Gas Sector

Project Description

TTM associates Article

Behavioural safety is globally recognised as having a key impact on accident causation and accident prevention.  The Energy Sector recognised the role of behaviours in optimizing performance and the prevention of major accidents many decades ago. Today, UK Health & Safety Executive statistics demonstrate that over 80% of all incidents happen due to human behaviours. Corporate procedures, processes, systems and engineering hardware in the Oil and Gas sector are designed by humans, and so are as fallible, or as safe, as we are. This also means that we humans have the power of informed choice to make that difference.Behavioural safety is not a simple topic. It requires a deep understanding of the mechanisms behind human behaviour. Understanding both personal and process safety requires a proactive, two-way, systematic exploration of the hazards.

Here are TTM’s top 3 ways to ensure behavioural safety in the Oil and Gas sector: 

1.Employee Trust & Empowerment

The working relationship between people is the primary cultural connection that leadership influences through mission, vision, and clear values. One way to gain insight into an organisation is by observing what the team norms are when the supervisor is not around. What are the rules, both spoken and unspoken, that define the phrase: “That’s how we get things done around here”? These norms are usually largely guided by a company’s rank-ordered and agreed-upon core values, which get relentlessly reinforced through performance-based discussions, trainings and rewards. When it comes to safety, a workforce need to be empowered to be ‘Leaders without Titles’, so that each and every person can make a positive impact on the health and wellbeing of both themselves and their colleagues.An example of employee empowered in the Oi and Gas sector can be seen at Canrig Drilling Technology, Ltd, where a leadership awareness initiative has been implemented, giving frontline employees the permission to call out behaviours – by both peers and company leaders – that are not in the best interests of the organisation.  By starting every company meeting with a Safety Moment, Canrig Drilling Technology, Ltd reinforces the serious nature of the business and crystallises focus of activities on people. Any employee is also allowed, without fear of reprisals, to stop the show in order to check the safety ratings on a crane before lifting the next load.On the other hand, it was made even more clear that Health and Safety in the Energy sector needed to be managed in a different way in 1984 after the Piper Alpha disaster,  when the operations crew declared that they did not believe they had the authority to stop pumping oil and gas to Piper Alpha, even though they could see that Piper Alpha was burning.

2.Proven Processes Produce Proven Results

Significant time, energy and money are invested into refining systems and processes, in an effort to produce more energy, more efficiently and more safely. This is a wise investment as order and clarity in processes is proven to create an optimal environment for both safety and productivity. Leaders and organisations need a systematic approach to communication, that allows them to leverage the competence and commitment of their people.

TTM adopts the ORPI model to ensure operational excellence. The ORPI model includes measurable objectives and goals and well-defined roles, and lists which team members could fill what role. The ORPI model also clarifies the list of processes needed in order to achieve project sub-goals, as well as a plan for interpersonal interactions, that facilitate problem solving and goal achievement, such as communication, conflict handling, gaining mutual support and embracing team diversity.3.Adopting a high-performance culture 
A high-performance culture is when an entire organisation consistently strives to improve and is collectively committed to achieving a common purpose, through a common approach for which they all hold themselves accountable. Achieving and sustaining operational excellence within the Oil & Gas sector requires an unrelenting focus from senior management and constant communication with the front line. Companies with less experience managing communication between the top ranks and the front lines, often make the mistake of sending too many messages or sending instructions and messages that are too detailed. It is far more effective to present inter-organisational communication in simple, crisp, clear and language. For example, two of Chevron’s successful internal slogans are: “Do it safely or not at all” and “There is always time to do it right”. These are both simple, short messages, that clearly articulate the company’s priority of safety over haste. 

Final Thoughts

High business performance in the Oil & Gas sector is all about the power of choice. The power of choice to design, construct, operate, inspect, maintain, manage and lead organisations safely on a daily basis. As well as the power of choice to empower safe behaviours at board levels, managerial levels, supervisory levels and workforce levels on a daily basis, where ‘Leaders without Title’ deliver safe, world-class results.

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Please read behavioural leadership book and learn how TTM can help provide insights on becoming a high performing culture