September 8th: Team Building

Management, for some obscure reason, had decided that if there was one thing Engineers needed it was training. I think the idea came about during a meeting between the Engineering Section and our new Human Resources Manager. As I recall, he started to talk about things like “Getting everyone onto the same page with regard to goal setting.” This was greeted with some disquiet, but he then struck a horrific note by talking about trust. This was something he said he felt strongly about and involved engaging team members in a way that would induce trust between them.

 We stared at one another, what did he mean by ‘team members’ and just how far did he feel this trust business had to go? Up until now we’d found it prudent not to trust anyone, a strategy which applied, in particular, to our Hook-up Contractor. This was by no means a one way street, so to speak, as they, in turn, didn’t trust us either. Funnily enough, this state of mutual distrust seemed to work well, as our Project Manager never failed to remind us, on arriving for a joint progress meeting to, “check everything – I don’t trust these bastards an inch.” The fact that at that very moment a similar edict was being issued to our Contractor’s team was reassuring rather than worrisome.

Notwithstanding our inherent caution when anyone suggested training, we could see the HR chap was convinced we would benefit from a seminar on team building. Not feeling strong enough to undertake the task himself, he appointed an unsuspecting Training Consultant to spread the gospel.

The chap started off on a positive note and produced a number of slides to illustrate what he called ‘important issues’ such as:

  • Making the workplace more enjoyable
  • Motivating a team
  • Getting to know each other
  • Teaching the team self-regulation strategies
  • Helping participants to learn more about themselves (strengths and weaknesses)
  • Identifying and utilizing the strengths of team members
  • Practicing effective collaboration with team members

 As we stared at the list with a sense of growing dismay, our Tutor smiled at us believing, incorrectly as it turned out, that we were nodding in agreement. This error on his part was brought home rather forcibly when the floodgates opened.

“What the bloody hell is all this crap about getting to know each other?”

“I know enough about myself already without my weaknesses being aired for all to hear.”

Our Tutor tried to retrieve the situation by saying, “I believe it is important for us to be honest about what might be called the softer issues regarding team work.”

We were just digesting this rubbish when he went too far by adding, “I also want to consider the effects of team building in terms of effects on your families and people’s broader life needs.”

There was brief pause when Dave, our Piping Engineer said, “Hold it sunshine, you leave my missus out of this, she’s perfectly happy and her social needs are taken care of by a weekly session at the Bingo.”

We nodded in agreement, however, still not fully realising he was on a loser; he consulted his notes and said, “I’ve some great inspirational and motivational posters which will boost morale and support personal development. A poster pinned above your shaving mirror helps set you up for the whole day and over a period of time can help actually change your life. Would anybody like one or two?”

Our collective reaction was best summed up by Dave again when he asked, “Have you got any funny ones?”

And so ended yet another attempt to make a bunch of offshore recalcitrants into rounded human beings. Funnily enough, on the next couple of trips, I noticed a tendency for Dave to keep repeating – ‘you can trust me on this’ – when talking to his opposite number. 

I’m also rather glad I’d retired before Neuro Linguistic Wotsisname arrived, quite what Dave would have made of that is anyone’s guess.

You can order Brian Pages books on:

All available on Amazon or directly from Brian (email: brian@bpage.demon.co.uk)

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Boys-Own-Offshore-Adventure/dp/0955453518

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During my contracting days before becoming a dreaded agent, I would always raid the LHR paperback stands before catching my flight to God knows where.  

I am therefore in an excellent position to introduce you to one of our own – Brian Page, who has had the courage and ability to become a highly amusing author.

Brian, having resigned from the ‘circuit’, has turned his hand to writing a series of books describing his rich and varied life as an international contractor in a number of different assignments within the Oil & Gas industry both onshore and offshore, interspersed with appreciative comments relating to attractively breasted film stars like Sophia Loren.

He has a wry sardonic sense of humour that will appeal to you all and makes wonderful reading. Regardless of discipline you simply cannot put these books down. They are very funny and strike a number of chords. I could not stop laughing.

His experiences start with working for 9 years as an underground mining/maintenance engineer, which has little to do with Oil & Gas but in spite of being humorous, illustrates how dangerous the working conditions can be, which more than adequately prepared him for offshore engineering assignments.

His experiences were sometimes extreme but they were often so funny you simply could not make them up. As a typical example I give you the following little taste:

As an offshore engineering maintenance manager, he had the task of investigating a terrible sewage stench within a relatively new accommodation module.

He and his team checked for blockages and found that the toilets were flushing satisfactorily so they flushed the system with heavy duty toilet antiseptic chemicals. The problem unfortunately remained and further investigation was obviously required.

They attempted to check the system through to the sewage plant starting with the connecting pipe work in the void space between the deck and the module.  What they found was almost beyond belief – there was no piping and the void space was packed solid with the production of excreta from any number of offshore workers over a considerable period. The installation teams had forgotten to connect the sewage lines. A solution had to be found……..

I won’t spoil the book; you can read the rest of these stories yourselves.

There are 4 books in the series:

  • A Boy’s Own Offshore Adventure  
  • A Boy’s Own Oily Adventure
  • A Boy’s Own Mining Adventure
  • A Boy’s Own Wartime Adventure

All available on Amazon or directly from Brian (email: brian@bpage.demon.co.uk)

 http://www.amazon.co.uk/Boys-Own-Offshore-Adventure/dp/0955453518

22.08.2011  Norway Sees Longer Oil Era as North Sea Find Offers Hidden Giant.”

Norway may slow a decade-long decrease in oil production after a series of discoveries with two offshore finds of more than 250 million barrels of oil equivalent in Norway this year. The North Sea discoveries are part of one “giant” oil field, and among Norway’s top 10 discoveries. Further oil discoveries may hold 500 million to 1.2 billion barrels of recoverable oil.