Being an excellent “do-er” doesn’t necessarily make someone a good manager or leader of other “do-ers,” and this is particularly true in the environmental drilling industry. Often, our leaders develop over a long career in drilling, starting in the field and climbing the career ladder through hard work and experience. But the skills required for drilling are entirely different than the skills required for organizational management, so how can our leaders transform field experience into leadership?

If we can answer the question successfully, we can improve our workforce retention and grow the next generation of senior drillers. Here are three strategies for growing the next set of leaders.

Connecting Delegation to Empowerment

Not all tasks can, or should, be delegated by a leader. However, delegating appropriate tasks can drive your drillers to take on more responsibility and groom them for advancement. People find the sense that they are needed and trusted empowering. Nurture that sense in several ways:

  • Encouraging your drillers to take a more active and involved role in the workplace demonstrates your trust in their skills and abilities.
  • Involving employees in processes or projects outside their normal scope of work exposes them to business operations.
  • Enabling your employees to make decisions on their own or take over new responsibilities demonstrates respect for their experience and judgment.

When we delegate tasks to our employees, it helps develop their skills and abilities so they may one day take on a more advanced role. When we empower our employees, we go beyond simple task delegation and give them the opportunity to make decisions about how to execute progressively larger tasks. This connection is crucial, and both delegation and empowerment have a role to play in developing drillers into future leaders in the industry.

Involving Employees in Decision-Making

Shared decision-making within an organization can have tremendous benefits, including easier implementation of change, and increased ownership in organizational goals and outcomes. By offering to involve your drillers in the decision-making process, you can identify employees up for the challenge of taking on new responsibilities.

The last thing we want is to stretch employees too thin, but we also have to recognize those ready for more responsibility and ensure we aren’t holding them back.

Not all decisions can be shared with employees, however. As leaders, we must remain cognizant of that fact and carefully select who we choose to involve. Consider the attitude of an employee, their hunger for career growth and advancement, their desire for autonomy, and their overall experience level. The last thing we want is to stretch employees too thin, but we also have to recognize those ready for more responsibility and ensure we aren’t holding them back.

Connecting Empowerment to Career Advancement

Delegating to and empowering drillers we’ve identified as key contributors enhances their job satisfaction and increases the likelihood of retention, but we’ve also shifted the focus to professional development and career growth. We’ve sidelined the company benefit of retention, and demonstrated to our employees that their development matters and that we value them and want to see them succeed in the industry.

Reducing costs associated with turnover is obviously a major concern for any organization and we should always strive to retention. At the same time, empowering them through delegation and shared decision-making doesn’t just serve as a win for the organization; it also emphasizes individual development and sets them up for success for future leadership roles.