Communication is a critical aspect of any oil and gas operation, as it enables teams to work together more effectively and efficiently, improves safety, and helps ensure that the operation runs smoothly. In this blog, we’ll break down some of the most common reasons that operations experience breakdowns in communication, some of the problems associated with those disconnects, and how to prevent or solve them.
Problems from Poor Communication
First, let’s break down some of the top problems that arise from poor communication in your organization.
Risk of Safety Incident
One of, if not the most important, problems that occur when proper communication isn’t prioritized is the increased potential or likelihood of a safety incident. The impacts of a safety incident are far-reaching and pose a serious threat when they occur. Safety incidents often reach other parts of the operation and external stakeholders including surrounding communities.
Operational efficiency is a key driver in profitability. Poor communication leads to risks going unaddressed for longer than necessary. Good communication practices allow your team to work more efficiently – whether that’s to address an existing issue or to implement new processes geared towards increasing accuracy, efficiency, etc.
Regulation Violations, Fines, Financial Burdens
Whether it’s new processes or new policies, communication is key. It’s important to be able to effectively disseminate changes in regulation or process to your team. When poor communication practices exist in your operation you’re at an increased risk of experiencing a regulation violation – and those violations carry fines and financial burdens that could otherwise be avoided.
Ineffective PAAR (Programs and Activities to Address Risk)
As we outlined in our recent blog post about Programs and Activities to Address Risk (PAAR), capturing stakeholder feedback is an essential part of creating accelerated actions. When stakeholder input is limited, it is increasingly difficult to define what changes need to be made or identify where the breakdown is occurring.
To maintain ongoing improvement, you’ve got to be able to source the feedback from your team, organize that information, and ultimately use it to inform the creation of new or updated processes. Without the tools necessary to facilitate these actions, you’ll end up with inconsistent data and won’t have the full picture of the current state of your operation.
Damage to Reputation & Business Loss
Any of the problems listed above can lead to serious impacts on the financial side of the business. When issues arise due to poor communication in your organization, it can be damaging to the company’s reputation.
If your team is unable to identify poor safety practices or bad equipment due to a breakdown in communication, this can lead to leaks, spills, or other safety incidents that damage your reputation and may cause federal penalties.
Whether it’s a loss of an existing client or the missed opportunity of a new customer, the monetary effect cannot be overlooked.
How Poor Communication Happens
Lack of Paper Trail
Proper record-keeping is essential when looking to strengthen your internal communication efforts. In order to understand why certain processes exist, it helps to have a historical record of past communications and documented changes in processes that have occurred.
Gathering Feedback is Not Optimized
If there’s no clear process in place for gathering feedback, communication efforts become disorganized and lead to confusion. Many operations are relying on ineffective or outdated methods to source input from their employees, which leads to an incomplete dataset when an employee is missed, or responses aren’t captured properly. These faulty methods of collecting data can lead to an inaccurate picture of your organization’s safety culture.
No Process for Communicating Changes
We work in an industry that constantly faces change. Whether it’s local or federal regulation change, internal processes, or new technology – it’s an uphill battle to stay ahead of the ever-shifting nature of the industry.
Without a concrete method to communicate changes effectively to your team, the difficulty of that battle increases exponentially. Implement the tools and processes necessary to communicate change amongst your teams to avoid breakdowns in communication.
No Follow Through With Feedback
It’s important to collect feedback from within your organization, but what do you do once you’ve gathered responses? If you don’t have a concrete plan in place to review and act on the input from your team, the information falls by the wayside. When organizations fail to follow through on input from their employees, they’re eroding the importance of stakeholder feedback. Maintaining an enthusiastic view of the opportunity to provide feedback is critical amongst stakeholders.
Silos – we hear this term often in this industry. While often created unintentionally, the barriers between your teams are often the main culprit behind poor communication. Silos lead to lengthier communication and response times, and they invite the opportunity for risks to go unnoticed or unaddressed when issues cross over multiple teams.
Removing these barriers by implementing more effective communication encourages more valuable feedback and a more efficient operation.
Why Good Communication Practices are Important
Effective internal communication helps to promote a safe working environment by ensuring that everyone is aware of any potential hazards or risks. It can also help to prevent accidents and injuries by ensuring that your team is aware of the correct procedures and protocols.
Good communication can streamline workflows, reduce downtime, and prevent unnecessary delays. When everyone is on the same page, it’s easier to coordinate activities, allocate resources, and identify and address issues as they present themselves. It’s also easier to be proactive about potential risks when your team is better connected.
Having the tools in place to allow open communication and feedback allows team members to share their thoughts, ideas, and concerns, which can help improve the quality of decision-making. When everyone has a chance to contribute their insights, it’s more likely that the final decision will be the best one.
Poor communication can lead to costly mistakes and rework. Avoid re-learning lessons and save time and resources by communicating more effectively.
Good communication helps to build strong relationships between team members, departments, and even with customers and vendors. Clear communication helps to prevent misunderstandings and misinterpretations, which can lead to strained relationships and conflicts.
Start Communicating More Effectively using pSEc
P.I. Confluence evolved our PipelineWatch tool, which was used for Public Awareness Stakeholder Engagement, to create pSEc (pipeline Stakeholder Engagement communication). pSEc is a configurable mobile application for collaborative communication and information exchange engaging internal and external stakeholders in process improvement.
We utilize pSEc to check that your team is operating in accordance with your policies and regulatory requirements by providing tools to help you gather feedback from all of the necessary users in your operation. Gathering stakeholder input is streamlined and easier to review and analyze. You’ll be able to make informed decisions and take action on potential risks more effectively, and all of this combined leads to the proper execution of the ‘Act’ step in the Plan.Do.Check.Act. cycle.
pSEc also allows you to collect input from your teams in an efficient and effective manner, creating any necessary records along the way.
Key Features of pSEc
- Improved messaging: Advance beyond cookie-cutter, stereotypical surveys by asking the right questions in the right way.
- Specific targeting: Identify the right stakeholders you need to communicate with.
- Local targeting: Set up geographic, role-based, or domain-based communication.
- Measurement of Understanding: Use simple, message-specific, short questionnaires to determine how many of the key takeaways were retained.
- Utilize KPIs: Track the results using our Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) dashboard.
- Run Reports: Measure the responses in a format tailored to your specifications.
- Route the findings: Capture suggestions, build feedback loops with stakeholders, and send feedback throughout the operation.
- Guide next steps: Utilize the findings to provide direction for continuous improvement.
pSEc enables operators to achieve the following objectives:
- Target stakeholders by role, audience, and geographic location
- Satisfy the performance effectiveness requirements of API 1162.
- Build on API 1162 to measure stakeholder engagement.
- Support the full PDCA cycle of API 1173
- Plan the information to relay to stakeholders.
- Provide the information.
- Allow for engagement.
- Measure reception and understanding.
- Identify behavior changes.
- Use the check to identify what to act on.
- Implement enhancements.
- Achieve incremental safety improvements.
If you’ve struggled in the past to remedy poor communication practices, you’re not alone. Implementing all the right pieces to foster strong communication within your operation is a challenging project. We’re here to help you address, and ultimately avoid, the common problems that occur from bad communication. We’ve worked with organizations to help them build on their current practices and modernize their system with robust, digital communication tools.
Contact us now to learn more about pSEc and how P.I. Confluence can help you with implementing more effective communication tools.