How much thought or effort do you put into being the boss?
Being someone who runs a company is tough. You have a lot to worry about beyond the jobsite. You have to think about everything from your accounting to your equipment to your people. I want to focus on that last aspect — the people — for a moment.
"I've learned over the years you've got to have good people and treat them right. … At a young age I was just hardcore, go get them, get it done, let's go, and you can't overwork."
Does that sound familiar? How hard do you drive your crew? Drilling is tough work. Are you making it tougher by pushing your crew too hard to get the job done?
Time is always going to be money. The sooner you get a job done, the quicker you can get to the next job. However, it's always going to be a balancing act. Being a good boss is a skill that takes practice, just like any other. That balancing act means understanding just what your crew can do, and working them as close to that point as possible without going over. It also includes the practice of softer skills, like remembering your drilling assistant's birthday, or being flexible enough to send someone home from the jobsite when their kid is sick. People remember that sort of thing, and will reward it with loyalty to your business and your customers.
"It's way easier to have everybody on the same page and treat people well," Qualls says. "That's the main thing, is me learning over the years how to treat people and take care of them and get them to work for you."
For Qualls, like any other manager or supervisor, it took time and practice. He's quick to strap on his hardhat and pull on his steel-toed boots to help on the rig when someone on his crew is out sick or on vacation. To employees, a boss getting down in the mud with them shows that their work is valued and appreciated. That's a big deal.
Getting to Crew Loyalty
The path from OK boss to great boss starts with keeping a few things in mind:
- Be upfront with your people. Tell them from the start that you'll expect the best from them, but are ready to reward those who rise to your expectations.
- Be as flexible as you can. Today's workers expect flexibility baked into their jobs. At the same time, if the job at hand requires you to cut down on that flexibility, let your crew know and explain why.
- Remind people of their path forward. Most people don't want to be entry-level their whole career. If someone does a good job, tell them so and follow that with, "Keep it up, I could see you running this whole crew." That shows workers that you take an interest in their career.
I hear often from drilling contractors and associations in the industry that it's tough to find good help on the jobsite. When it's a buyer's market, you want to make sure your house is in order to stand out. How you treat your employees can make a big difference in hiring and retaining the best skilled workers.
What do you think? Do you have a great story of employee loyalty? Or are you cycling through drillers helpers and don't know how to keep them? Let me know. Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Stay safe out there, drillers.