Oil & Gas Talent Management – 2017 & Beyond

The industry’s managers have a talent management problem. In our latest white paper we look at the need for changes in strategy as companies compete in a new market environment.  New strategies will be based on innovation and collaboration, but at their heart is the issue of talent: having the capabilities to implement the new strategy. Companies have laid off thousands of experienced staff, many of whom have said they are not coming back to the oil business. Many experienced staff who remain are close to retirement. There’s a new generation of Millennials who are not that keen on the existing management styles of the oil business – and don’t see it as a particularly attractive industry to work in. This might not matter much if the industry was in terminal decline.

But the signs are that it isn’t; despite the low oil price, projects seem to be picking up. We are in a cyclical business and today’s inventories are likely to run down before alternatives can take up the slack. For the near term at least, demand for oil will remain and possibly increase. Despite the tempting prospect of greater automation and efficiency, it seems inevitable that there’s going to be a supply/demand crunch for management skills.

How should the business react? According to our annual industry survey (and several rather more illustrious commentators), it needs to change, and to learn how to innovate, how to collaborate and how to plan for a future that may look a lot different from the world we used to know. Our respondents identified these as the leadership skills that are currently most lacking in the industry.

In some ways this is surprising: most oil majors – eg BP. Shell, Statoil, Chevron – have established innovation and change programmes and the whole industry talks about it.

But our survey, and more detailed reports by Mercer, Hays, McKinsey, PwC and others, suggest this may be little more than just talk; and when it comes to talent management, the analysis demonstrates that although some firms – such as Statoil – are good at making change part of their career models, fewer than half of the industry’s companies are investing seriously in career development and talent management programmes, let alone ones that support change and innovation.

For those responsible for oil & gas talent management there’s a double hit: if businesses don’t recognise the need for change, and the need for a different set of skills and attributes, they can’t map out what sort of talents they should be looking for, let alone identify those, within or outside their companies, who have them.

Of course, as a training business we believe much can be done with training, to improve knowledge and change attitudes, to develop skills and new habits; but this is only part of the answer. A new approach to recruitment, a recognition that the world is changing, a change in management structures and processes, and a concerted effort to “sell” a reformed industry to a new generation – these will also all play a part in ensuring oil firms have access to the talent they need in the future.

To download the full report, click here.

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