Post-GlobalSantaFe merger, Transocean embarks on journey to simplify, clarify new system to engage employees
By Ian Hudson and Tony Johnson, Transocean
To many people a management system, whether HSE, finance, human resources or operations, is a collection of documents describing “things the company needs or wants us to do” and often regarded as something that is written by the company, for the company. Although this may not be true in all cases, if you ask for open and honest feedback, you may get comments from your organization such as, “The manual is complicated; it is not written for people like me” or “I find it hard to understand.”
Feedback such as this is an opportunity waiting to be seized; a chance to redefine what a management system is in your company and a chance to demonstrate that you are listening and to engage your work force in a way that gives them ownership of the end product.
Creating a management system and specifically a QHSE management system that people in your company embrace, are able to execute in the field and have ownership of, is perhaps the gold standard all QHSE leaders hope to accomplish.
By its very nature, a management system and resulting manual requires people to follow certain requirements, act according to the values and principles of that company and execute certain tasks in a consistent manner. At Transocean, we have a work force of more than 18,000 people who want to do the right thing when it comes to QHSE, and the art is in providing them a framework where this passion can be translated into action across 30-plus countries and on more than 120 installations.
To put this in simpler terms, it’s about getting a small town of people from different cultures, backgrounds and educations to work together successfully according to a set of guiding principles and requirements they can all believe in and support.
There are many standards that provide guidance on how to create the right management system from ISO 9001 to ISO 14001. All the information contained within such standards is important in building a true system.
Often such standards are applied in our management systems and are written in such a way that they miss the crucial element of getting engagement from the work force. Asking your employee teams what they want to see, what would work for them and how requirements translate into actions at the worksite will help to generate a foundation for ownership. It is at this point that our journey begins at Transocean.
In 2008, Transocean completed a significant merger with GlobalSantaFe, bringing together two large and mature organizations with strong QHSE cultures and excellent people. There are different approaches to bringing two companies’ management systems together; our strategy was to “move and lift.”
This approach moves everyone onto a single QHSE management system and then allows time for the organization to learn a new approach and start to look for improvements. This approach was seen as the best method to unite the two companies, avoid any potential confusion and have the least impact on performance.
The second phase of this approach is the “lift,” where the best of both management systems are incorporated to form parts of a revised “lifted” QHSE management system. Figure 1 depicts how this process works and shows the ideal path, the chosen path and the space that remains for the best of both companies’ systems to be integrated.
In 2009, Transocean developed a plan to formally commence the lift process and start the engagement of our offshore work force and onshore management. The plan took into account the need to engage our work force, collect their feedback, analyze the trends and formulate this into a new management system. This was to be done over a time period that allowed the maximum amount of feedback to be collected.
There was a need to avoid the old perceptions of a new management system written in isolation in an office and not based on input from the end users offshore and with little consideration to an ability to understand or apply the requirements.
The first stage in the plan was to listen. Over the course of 2008 and 2009, feedback on the system was collected through several mediums, both formal and informal. This ranged from an external safety culture and safety climate assessment conducted by Lloyd’s Register to feedback provided in training classes through the current management system feedback mechanisms and engagement with the company’s QHSE management.
Feedback came from more than 4,000 employees within the company, a number that provided for a representative viewpoint of the company’s diverse operations and that translated into some meaningful trends and identified areas of improvement. The feedback from all these sources was then reviewed, collated and compiled into sections according to the area within the management system in which they resided.
One key milestone within the “listen” phase was to acknowledge the feedback received and explain how it will be integrated into the overall process. This point moved the team into the review and engage phase of the plan. The overriding feedback received was that, in some cases, our documents were complex and not always clear in its expectations. It was at this point the theme of the lift was decided; the ultimate goal – if we were to win the hearts and minds of our work force – would be to “simplify and clarify” our QHSE management system.
Review and engage
To distill all the information down into a series of modified, new or existing policies and requirements, a series of working groups were formed to tackle some of the larger areas of feedback and some of the critical QHSE tools and processes. These included key issues like permit to work, energy isolations, behavioral-based safety, risk management and task planning.
After assigned working groups from different disciplines and functional areas of expertise had completed their draft document sections, a new draft management system was drawn up. At this point we commenced the review and engage component of the lift.
Senior operational and QHSE personnel from operating divisions and corporate departments were gathered to review the draft documents and process. (Transocean operations are split into nine geographical locations known as divisions.)
The goal of this engagement was summarized in a simple term, “Did we simplify and clarify?” The engagement with operational teams was not without some trepidation on their part, but we were able to demonstrate we had not only listened but had taken steps to include that feedback into the new process.
Further, even at that late stage we took additional feedback from the group to ensure that this new product was one that they believed would serve the fleet and they could passionately roll out themselves.
Five distinct steps were established in the journey of creating interest, getting our offshore crews’ buy-in of a new QHSE management system and embedding it into the company.
The results of the engagement phase were:
- A new management system that is simpler and clearer to read, follow and use;
- One new system across the company to drive consistency in application;
- Active communication to enable the system to be successfully implemented and used; and
- Alignment and ownership across our operational divisions.
At this point a major milestone was accomplished where the operational division took ownership of the system and its processes. We then presented this new system to the executive team and received their full support.
The next stage was to build a roll-out plan, train the coaches and re-engage with our work force to show them that we had listened and offer them an opportunity to align and own what had been developed for them.
Roll-out and re-engage
In any plan, the final stage is often where the real work begins; while much was accomplished in the listening, reviewing and initial engagement with onshore management, success for the lift was always going to be measured by the level of buy-in and ownership of our offshore crews and the results that would come from applying the new system in the future.
To this end, a great deal of planning and thought went into creating the right roll-out plan to do justice to the level of feedback that was received and the honesty of our crews in what they wanted to see in the new QHSE management system. The roll-out plan was compiled into another series of steps to ensure that the right levels of knowledge and support were established with the operational management teams and offshore.
The essence of this plan was to have the ownership for roll-out in the divisions and by the management teams that support the daily operations, not to be seen as just another corporate requirement. Each operational division assigned operations managers, QHSE managers and QHSE support teams to be trained in the new material, its delivery in the form of interactive workshops and to take the message all the way to the installation.
This commitment brought more than 50 people from across the company to Houston for intensive sessions, where the program was refined, practiced and delivered to their peers. Even at this late stage, their feedback were input into the final product.
The end result produced a team of knowledgeable and excited people who were ready to deliver their message of ownership to their teams in a consistent and coordinated manner alongside Transocean’s new company vision.
During April and May 2011, the first phase of the roll-out took place where these teams engaged with their respective onshore management teams, who were coached in the new system and given a chance to see first-hand the end result of three years’ work. These sessions produced a lot of energy, and the comments received validated that things were simple and clear.
Following the onshore sessions, the coaching teams then started to bring our offshore supervisors and personnel into the workshops to allow them a first-hand view of the material and to go through the training to allow them to take the new system to their rig, implement it and embrace it as a tool built for them. As of today, many of these offshore sessions are completed and many of our rigs are working to the new system.
With any change comes a requirement to build tools and applications to help managing the change a little easier. We developed a suite of IT tools designed to help people learn the new system. Even though the intent of the system and many of the policies remained, some changes to processes were required, and as such, tools to manage this change had to be developed.
Such tools were QHSE quiz modules to test knowledge and understanding, electronic toolboxes to manage risk assessment materials, verification modules to allow installations to track their progress in implementing the new requirements and an element of support training. Without these elements, the “change” process could create confusion, and as a result, some of the momentum from the events to date could be lost.
Feedback and results
When we commenced this journey, we realized we had a plan to execute, a task to complete and goal of a new system to bring to the company by the end of 2011. We accomplished this aspect of the journey and learned a lot on the way, but what we did not count on was an emotional journey that resulted in a renewed level of belief in our company that we have the right tools to work incident free; we just needed people to use them for the right reasons.
We started with some levels of apprehension about whether we would really deliver the change promised through to confidence that it was happening, ending up with belief it had been accomplished to the best extent possible.
We learned that change is not always welcomed, but when you plan for it, work at it and never lose sight of the goal in mind, you can make change positive. The key to this success was not the fact that we have expertise in QHSE and operational matters, nor that we are professional management system writers, but that we listened to our work force, and our new management system demonstrated that they had been heard.
We believe this single fact will take us from forced compliance to willing buy-in, and this is the only way we believe we will reach our goal of an incident-free workplace.
Where are we today?
Many installations are running the new system, and feedback has been excellent. During the sessions conducted in the field, feedback has continued to be strong and along distinct themes. The results are a level of energy around the new system and the beginnings of belief that this is tool for our people to keep them safe and not just a tool for management.
What do we hope for the future?
By the end of December 2011, all of our installations worldwide will be using the new system and our Lift stage will be complete. However, we see this just as the close of one more chapter in the story. We will continue this journey and continue listening to our work force by way of continuous improvement tools built into the new system.
We hope the system brings an enhanced level of ownership to our tools, processes and requirements, and, as a result, we get a continued improvement in QHSE performance and a step closer to our vision of an incident-free workplace, all the time, everywhere.
What can we share that helped us along the way?
Listening. We had to admit we were not listening enough and in the right places.
Engaging. Gaining the support and commitment of our front-line operational teams took the system from the corporate office to the rotary table.
Alignment. We may not always get 100% agreement, but when everyone is aligned for the right reasons, ownership follows.
Our people. One of the best phrases we consistently heard during this process was “Built for our people, delivered by our people” or, to put it another way, “Built and delivered by our people, for our people.”
What is next
The mantra of simplify and clarify is contagious, and it has shown the company that there are other areas of improvement in our wider company management system that present more opportunities to improve our level of ownership and use of the tools we believe help us toward our vision.
In addition, we have embarked on a journey to revise our QHSE training materials and support programs to align with the changes brought about by our lift.
The journey is now one of sustainability, continuing to listen, continuing to support and always looking to get better, gradually.
This article is based on a presentation at the IADC Drilling HSE Europe 2011 Conference & Exhibition, 28-29 September, Amsterdam.