Management styles in the oil and gas industry
An OPITO case study

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Page 3: Management style

Managers are human and they do not always operate according to set principles. Every manager has objectivesto achieve. They must answer for the success or failure of his or her area of work. OPITO The Oil & Gas Academy sets out to supply the oil and gas industry with people of high skills and aptitudes. Managers can only achieve their objectives through their staff. As Fayol suggested, managers will need to instruct workers and organise resources to ensure objectives are met. It is therefore important that employees are well managed.

How do managers get the best out of their staff? Management style is very important. Early industrial managers felt that, as they were paying wages, they had a right to expect workers to work hard. F W Taylor, who founded the scientific approach to management, saw pay as the primary motivator - more money paid in wages meant more work done. This was a principle that was quickly found not to work. Some workers did not work harder just for more cash. Instead, it was found that there were psychological reasons why some people were hard-working and others less so. There were human factors involved. Theorists like Maslow thought that workers had many individual needs, such as safety or a sense of achievement.

Douglas McGregor found that managers fell into one of two types: those who held 'Theory X' or those who held 'Theory Y'.

According to Theory Y, workers are responsible people who enjoy having control over their work. These two differing positions would have an effect upon the style a manager adopted.

In the oil and gas industry, a variety of management styles may be used in different contexts:

  • A manager working offshore might be supervising important or dangerous high voltage maintenance work. In this context matters that are basic to health and safety are not open to debate. The manager will simply instruct workers in an autocratic style.
  • In another context a manager who is based onshore could be coordinating the supply of LPG, gas or oil from the fields to buyers. Here, managers can be more democratic consulting or discussing with colleagues the best ways to proceed.

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