The Role of Soft Skills in a Challenging Environment

Lower oil prices have evoked a level of stress in the industry not only for those involved in a slowdown or cancellations of projects, and potential staff reductions, but also for those who may be buffered from the business cycle swings. These times of scarcity of operating cash flow and capital resources can create substantial anxiety because of an internal conflict among employment needs, a company’s survival needs, and corporate and professional conduct.

In such times, the human tendency is to hunker down so as not to lose ground and to survive. When we do that, we often lose sight of what ensures resilience for the individuals and their organizations. Humans under stress do not always do what is intuitive or logical, and in times of high stress, the engagement of the larger community, namely the value chain teams within and outside of our workplace, is essential. We need to maintain a balanced focus on the long term while managing short-term demands. This obviously is not an easy task, but self-awareness of our internal conflicts is an excellent starting point.

To maintain a focus on the long term, our capacity to engage others and enable their mutual needs to be met, while maintaining the viability of the systems in which we operate, is indispensable. Stress management, resilience, self-awareness, and engagement are all important competencies for surviving challenging times, and these skills are grouped under the general category called “soft skills.”

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The Role of Soft Skills in a Challenging Environment

Narandja Milanovich-Eagleson, SPE, GriffinWorks Consulting; Susan Howes, SPE, Chevron; and Behrooz Fattahi, SPE, EnerTrain Institute

21 August 2015

Volume: 67 | Issue: 9