Friday, May 30, 2014

saturdays in sakhalin: in search of balance

Another Saturday, another day in the office. Of course, my employment contract does stipulate working 6 days per week, so my presence in the office today is perfectly normal, even expected. The real issue is what happens tomorrow. Another Sunday, another day in the office? Probably yes. We have still not gotten the staffing situation to the level it really needs to be at and it wears on everyone else as a result. I have been in this situation before. In the short-term, people can power through and operate like this for a few months. In the long-run, this is not sustainable. Not just for me (though I really don't ever worry about myself in this sense), but rather for the people who work lateral and below me. I am a shepherd of of sorts, though no biblical analogies are intended. This is what managing is though: tending to your staff, developing them, making sure the work is getting done, offering support, and every so often you lose people, sometimes at their own volition and sometimes at your own volition. I know I can only push people so hard before something gives. I have often wondered how hard I can be pushed. Very hard is my answer from experience, but my most difficult assignments have also been relatively short. I can sustain the pace for roughly a year so that's what I know I can do, but a single year is not a long-term solution. However, I have come to (somewhat) jokingly say that there are never the right number of employees. Either we have too many people relative to activity and revenue and need to transfer people out or we have too few people. We never have "Goldilocks" staffing levels because something is always changing. Thus, the only balance is dynamic, like moving back and forth to keep a pendulum balanced above its pivot.


Buickguy said...

Hm-m-m. This post -- at least the first half -- sounds a lot like one of my emails to you about a half year ago or so. Your observations parallel mine.

mhowell said...

Every so often I will hit "next blog" just to see what else is out there. Invariably its disappointing. At least 99.9% of all BlogSpot blogs are beyond crap. Seems to be mostly mommies, Mormons, and girls from Singapore.

Yours is the one exception though. Not many blogs coming out of Sakhilin. I follow oil/gas plays probably closer than most laymen and never knew about these fields. To me Sakhilin Island is just a place Stalin stole from Japan after Nagasaki.

Skimmed some your entries over the years. Turns out we have some interesting intersections.

1) I live in Port Lavaca, TX. Victoria is the nearest big town for us.
2) the four corners. Our family vacations in Silverton CO every other Christmas since the kids were little. They're all high school age now.
3) the Bay Area. My wife and I had our honeymoon in SF in 1995. Liked it a lot back then. Have not returned since it got all Googlefied though.
4) Schlumberger. My dad sends me all these Simply Hired message alerts for Victoria-area engineers. A lot of them are from your company.

From the inside looking out the oil companies complain how hard it is to find talent. From my perspective, the outside looking in, its seems like its all one big club. Everyone chasing the same scarce skill sets looking for credentials (ME degree, 5 yrs oil field experience) rather than upside. I haven't tried to break in but one of my best friends did. Took him almost two years to get a foot in the door. Now that he's a member of the club though headhunters bug him on a weekly basis.

Keep up the good work, Brian. At least you're not in South Texas for the Summer.