Where Does Culture Matter Most in Oil and Gas?

Where Does Culture Matter Most in Oil and Gas?
Participants in Rigzone's 2019 Ideal Employer Survey rank the top oil and gas industry players based on corporate culture.

“Culture eats strategy for breakfast” – a quote attributed to the influential management consultant Peter Drucker – conveys the message that culture is a stronger force than strategy in achieving a company’s goals. Because corporate culture refers to common beliefs, values and other factors within an organization, a strong culture is always desirable.

Constance Hubbell, president of the public relations firm The Hubbell Group, Inc., told Rigzone that developing the right corporate culture requires understanding and authenticity.

“In communications, we say the most important thing is knowing your audience,” said Hubbell. “A corporation seeking to define its values has to know to whom it is speaking – not just know its audience but understand it – in order to speak in ways that will resonate and help define a genuinely organic corporate culture.”

According to participants in Rigzone’s 2019 Ideal Employer Survey, the world’s top oil and gas industry players in terms of culture include operators, service companies and drilling contractors and span the private and public sectors. To provide some context into how oil and gas firms can develop and sustain strong cultures, Hubbell recently shared her perspective on the topic with Rigzone. Read on for her insights.

Rigzone: What is the purpose of a company’s culture, and what are some characteristics of a successful cultural strategy?

Constance Hubbell: Put as simply as possible, a good corporate culture enables the employees of a business to successfully execute its strategies and achieve its goals. In the oil and gas industries, which have cherished traditions of independence dating back to the wildcatters of the 1870s, a positive corporate culture fosters the shared values and beliefs that enable employees to work as a team, not just as individuals.

Rigzone: What are some common myths about culture?

Hubbell: Three common myths: First, that cultures are one-size-fits-all. Second, that cultures can be set by leadership alone. Third, that cultures are permanent.

Let’s talk about each of these. First, corporate cultures are not monolithic, not even within an industry. An oil company born during the days of Texas wildcatting is going to have different traditions than one formed a decade ago to explore for shale oil in North Dakota. Even if much of what they do overlaps, each company’s culture has to respect and honor its history, embracing, sharing and passing on the best of it.

Second, leadership can help guide and shape a corporate culture but it cannot impose it. The best corporate cultures really are built from the bottom up and formed by the experiences of all of its workers. Without shared buy-in from the employees, no culture can truly take root.

Third, cultures do have to adapt to changes in industries and in the nation as a whole. While some things – such as honesty and loyalty – are eternal, most companies have changed to accommodate an evolving nation. For example, workforce diversity has been accepted in a way that would have been unimaginable a few decades ago, and companies have benefited greatly from having a much broader base of employees.


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