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They say hindsight is 20/20, but in the year 2020, navigating the oil and gas sector is anything but clear. At the start of the year, no one could have anticipated a global pandemic would upend our lives in a matter of weeks. The steep decline in fossil fuel demand and accelerated investment in renewable energy has been another remarkable development. And as I’ve learned through experience, when seismic shifts like these occur, you can either embrace change—or risk being left behind.
Here are four key areas—four C’s—where adapting to the new normal of 2020 and beyond can be critical to the short- and long-term success of your organization:
· Communication – As a leader, I’ve had to learn to communicate remotely with individual staff members and teams. Before this year, I would travel the globe to meet with employees one-on-one and visit with customers to share our latest technological advancements. That approach is not feasible right now, so I’ve come to rely on digital communication tools instead. However, motivating employees can be challenging with limited in-person contact. Applying the “one-minute manager” concept can help immensely here. To keep your team members engaged, make a regular call to each one to check in on their work and personal lives. Don’t just assume they are staying busy and all is fine.
· Core Values – Business objectives may change, but core values should remain constant. Upholding our corporate values has been particularly important in 2020. For example, at the height of the industry downturn in the spring, we actually accelerated our Impact Our World charitable giving program. It was a difficult time for many organizations—including Impact. However, we recognized the urgent need to help nonprofits focused on fighting COVID-19 as the scale of the outbreak grew rapidly. I am proud of that effort and our Family Shield program, which we launched to support Impact employees worldwide whose spouse or partner lost income due to the pandemic.
· Creativity – As much as I believe in giving back to our communities and supporting employees, I am also realistic about what it takes to survive as a business. Ultimately, we had to make the difficult decision to reduce headcount and cut costs in other ways. At the same time, we needed to keep our team motivated to help Impact weather the storm and position our company for future success. Striking this balance required creativity—particularly with the unique challenges posed by COVID-19. For example, we began rotating shifts at our Global Technology Center to ensure employee safety while continuing to meet customer support needs and drive new product development. Meeting outside the office and outdoors, sometimes while walking, has also been extremely useful for remaining productive while protecting our team.
· Change – More than ever, companies across sectors—including oil and gas—are focusing on environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues. Impact has long worked to continuously improve our ESG performance, but we can always aim higher. At the same time, our industry has likely shifted permanently, and we must adapt. That could mean evolving our product offering to meet growing demand in the oil and gas space for environmentally-focused chemical solutions. It could also mean looking outside our industry for new opportunities.
Having 20/20 clarity would certainly be ideal during this unpredictable year. Lacking that, we will continue to focus on the four C’s to prepare our individual team members and our company for whatever the future may hold.