Sunday, May 22, 2016

Staying True to Core Values During a Transition

The article “Building Your Company’s Vision” really resonated with me given the major transition occurring at my current job.  I work for an energy company that up until three years ago was predominately a coal company.  The CEO and executive management saw the writing on the wall in terms of the future of the coal industry, and decided to make the tough decision to break with our company’s 150 year history as a leading coal producer, and focus on becoming the leader in the exploration and production of natural gas in the Appalachian Basin.  This is our BHAG, which has motivated many to step up and work towards achieving attaining this goal.  This transition has been taking place over the course of the last three years and has included significant force reductions and asset divestitures. 
As the article states, great companies that endure market uncertainties are those that are open to changing and are successful at doing so.  Companies with strong cultures, core values and ideologies are able to make successful transitions because they are beholden to those values and not necessarily to their product at a given time.  The gas industry is suffering from a flooded market and gas prices that are at an all-time low.  All gas companies are tightening their belts and trying their best to weather the storm.  The immediate decline of gas prices upon the announcement of our transition really gave employees pause about the direction of our company.  The resulting staff reductions did only to further that fear.   The emphasis of this article regarding core values was very reassuring to me given the uncertainty that surrounds my company.  My organization has been steadfast in its core values.  Everything our organization does, from financial decisions to operating procedures is governed by our five core values of safety, compliance, continuous improvement, production and cost.  While the emphasis on each core value may change, safety is always first and foremost.  Even during my interview I was asked about safety and what I did to remain safe at work.  These values have not changed since our transition from coal to natural gas and never will.  This article demonstrated to me the importance of organizations operating within the confines of its values.  As long as it remains true to them, it does not matter what the company produces because what identifies an organization and sets it apart from others are its values, not what it produces. 

Our company’s purpose, while not explicitly stated, is to be a leader in the safe production of domestic energy.  One of our slogans is “America’s Energy Starts Here.”  Our name has become synonymous within the industry with safety and purchasers of our product pursue us regardless of whether we provide coal or natural gas because they (and consumers) care about using domestic energy that was produced safely and compliantly.  This article gave me confidence in my organization and I am looking forward to seeing the fruits of our labor.              

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