Thursday, August 1, 2013

The Value of Mentoring - In and Out of the Oilfield

Last night, we had dinner with a former coworker.  It’s always a pleasure to hang with oilfield people...especially those that have been all over the world, excelled, and love doing what they do.

My friend is from Louisiana, and he has always included me in his business wherein we had mutual customer relationships, all over the nation.  We don’t see each other often, but when we do, we have a great time. It might be in this corner of the oil patch, or that corner in the northeast, or in California, but we have a great time.

Tonight, the topic around our dinner table focused on women in the oilfield.  We talked about him about hiring women as salespeople;  though it seems my friend has hired plenty of women salespersons, he seemed somewhat worried about the how “old guys” in the patch would treat them.

I was shocked at his worry.

As a new employee, either you have integrity and character, or you don’t.  It doesn’t matter if you’re male or female, you have to hold the lines and walk with professionalism.  I realize there are blocks to ascertaining such in a person,  some imagined and some real.  I realize there are certain questions you cannot ask a new employee, but there should be methods of verifying via letters of reference, etc.  I mean, someone, somewhere, has to have a measure of knowledge about your potential employee.  It’s your job to check them out before you present that offer.  And then?  Mentor, mentor, mentor.

I believe that new salespeople need mentoring, no matter the industry.  You cannot impute knowledge, value, or negotiation.  Ditto about proper conduct.  These are learned skills. And in the oilfield, even more so.  It's a tough world out here in the patch.

Seasoned, successful people should be the ones to mentor.  A company shouldn’t  just randomly assign mentors.  It’s a matching process.  Factors need to be considered such as personalities, selling style, and individuality.  I also believe a person can have more than one mentor.  There should be some commonality and “clicking” between a new employee and their mentor - it’s got to be a good fit.  A good sign of a great mentoring relationship will be mutual respect.   Another could be shared values.  A good mentoring relationship would be give and take on both sides - so, rewarding to both mentor and mentoree.

A mentoree can have a formal mentor, and an informal mentor.

A mentor will help you gain trust.  A mentor can help define roles and responsibilities, establish short and long term goals and help the mentee meet them.  A mentor will help the mentee identify and solve problems, and be more creative doing so, while learning in a safe and supportive environment.  In short, a mentor can help an inexperienced employee develop and progress and succeed in their environment.

It’s a win-win deal for the employer, the mentor, and the mentee.

But, I digress.   There remains a huge percentage of men vs. women in the energy industry. That gap is starting to narrow somewhat, and I’m glad to see it.  No matter the gender, I love it when new people enter this industry and grow to love it, themselves.   I have been in the oil and gas industry for almost 30 years.  I love this industry, and I tell everyone, though I’m 3rd generation oil and gas, this industry chose me.  I'm so very thankful it did.

I love the people, the technology, and the sense of family.  And I love that what I do helps people live well. 

May it be so for all of the newbies out there. 

May it be so. 

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