The energy sector is currently experiencing a monumental shift in focus, one that will impact each and every organisation within it. It’s a diverse field with countless sub-sectors, but the challenge of keeping up with the pace of transformation lies solely within attracting the right talent, no matter your area of expertise. If you’re late out of the blocks, it can be difficult to regain ground on your competitors who have reacted to change more efficiently.
Manufacturers who operate within the oil and gas industry, for example, will need to develop new teams of commercial project managers in order to survive in a low-margin, highly complex framework of renewable energy; trading organisations have to put measures in place to deal with power purchase agreements in renewables; processing businesses must transform their assets to support the increasing demand for renewable, circular commodities; the list goes on, and I’ll be exploring these other areas in future articles.
To do this, organisations require people we call transformers. At a basic level, these are individuals who carry out the transformation that is outlined by those at a strategic level – they are doers, not talkers. Change is often shaped at the top of an organisation, but for it to really take place you need people on the ground who are driving that change by challenging existing processes and cultures, and this is where transformers come into their own. Hiring this type of candidate has to be the number one priority for an organisation wanting to implement change.
Because of how crucial this talent is, it can of course be difficult to attract. There is fierce competition for each candidate and while you may worry about the stage of transformation you are currently at, the following fundamentals will allow you to position your business as a leader of change in the industry, and therefore as an attractive employer.
Your mind immediately goes to a focus on gender, race, religion and more – but this isn’t the type of diversity I’m talking about. Although this is important, as highlighted by our recently implemented diversity initiative at Carmichael Fisher, I’m instead referring to the attraction of fresh talent from outside the current energy market and from different geographies. This has proven to be a sticking point for the industry in which decades-old hiring policies often remain to this day, but by expanding your search beyond geographical borders, you have the chance to bring in fresh perspectives and new insights on the issues you’re currently facing.
Knowing your markets
Linking to the above fundamental regarding diversity, it’s easy to fall into the comfort zone of recruitment. This has historically been prominent in single-city countries where leading organisations have consistently poached talent from the same four or five companies. The result of this is an incestuous talent pool that breeds laziness and a lack of creativity that does nothing to change your approach or challenge existing processes. Looking beyond the borders of your sector and of your location, you will have a broader scope of the transformers you need, across multiple departments, in order to begin implementing change.
By looking beyond the borders of the energy sector, it is important to nail down the qualities that a candidate must display in order to be considered for the job and separate them from those that are simply desirable or, in some instances, not necessary at all. There are a range of transferable skills such as critical thinking, business development and project management that can be applied in a similar way regardless of industry, while others, like languages, are all too often made a requirement. Make sure you differentiate between what is essential and what isn’t before starting your talent search.
The Transformer environment
For change to happen, it is essential that you construct the right environment. When building the organisational structure to facilitate change, consider that transformers work best when there are minimal levels of hierarchy and little red tape – they excel in a growth environment that allows for autonomy and challenge. Once this is in place, you can relax hiring stipulations on experience, for example, by gaining an understanding of how a potential hire would approach the position and how that aligns with the company’s goals.
The face of the business
It’s all well and good having your transformation outlined from the top of the business, but it has to trickle down. Transformative talent will be turned off in an instant if they’re confronted with stuck-in-their-ways stakeholders who aren’t, themselves, activists for change. If you are yet to get your entire workforce on board with transformation, make sure that the people who candidates are exposed to throughout the hiring process are change advocates. Legacy leaders who “like things the way they are” and are yet to appreciate or understand the necessity of change are best kept on the sidelines so as not to further prohibit transformation.