Tuesday, September 29, 2009

how to chill?

FSP has a post today about dealing with disrespectful students. Do you respond coldly? Do you get all worked up? Appeal to a higher authority? Or do you ignore the offenders?

I had a similar problem with disrespectful drillers. When a driller says something offensive, how should I react? None of my usual reactions (calling them out on it, pointedly ignoring it) worked. My problem was, if I ignored it, they would continue. If I got angry, they knew they'd gotten a rise out of me, and they'd keep saying it. And calling in someone else wasn't going to help the underlying lack of respect.

I had more problems with mouthy drillers when I had more experience rather than less. When I first started overseeing drillers, I think it was clear that I was overwhelmed, so they tiptoed around me. With more experience, I had more control over what the drillers were actually doing, and that's when I had more problems with drillers teasing me or saying things to piss me off.

My sweetie says that my problem is that I'm "too adorable". I'd like a solution that doesn't entail waiting another 10 years in the hopes of aging into a little more gravitas.


Brian O said...

I have been working with drillers for 15 years. They have a tendancy tothink of us as extraneous (i.e. they could pop the well in in half the time if we were not there). I have found you have to work with them not tell them how to do there job unless it is impacting what you actually need to accomplish. When there are problems they do not feel we can help so you need to guide them to the solution. Such as I was at a similar site and we had this same problem and we did this and it worked, maybe you want to try that. Also you can make them feel you are on your side when they are not doing something the way you want by telling them I understand your frustration but my boss/client/the state want us to do it this way even though it is not the best way.

Also if they get to out of control or are not doing the job remind them that you are the client and they would not be on site doing this work if you were not there. This should be a last resort. Also if necesary contact their drilling manager or have your manager contact them if necesary. You can indicate to the drilling manager that you do not want that driller again if they can not do the job you need them to. The drilling manager can then talk to them and get them to do what you want. You should always tell the drillers before calling the manager.

Rock Head said...

Hey Shorty,

As a former environmental geologist and current geology professor, I can relate to the problems with both students and drillers.

As a guy, I probably had an easier time with the drillers than females would, but I think some general observations apply:

1. Most drillers and contractually bound to follow various protocols and procedures. As a supervising geologist, your job is to make sure those are followed, no exceptions and no crap from the drillers allowed, period.

2. Drillers are people too, and they aren't all alike, but I think a couple of generalites apply. Drilling is hard work and I found some good-natured back-and-forth with drillers helps keep things loose and tensions at a minimum, particularly with tight deadlines.

Don't get pissed off and don't take it too personally, give it back to them just like they give it to you. It may sound sexist, but be "one of the guys."

When I was site manager or project manager, I had geologists, male and female, working in the field and those that worked best with drillers took the attitudes I described above.

Rock Head

Unknown said...

As a driller, I would suggest that you put your idea in the form of a question and not a "suggestion." Something like "Do you think we should...?" Try that. Drillers as a breed are very prideful, and if they feel that you are "telling them" ANYTHING they will shut you down and make your life miserable. I have been a drilling supervisor for 25 years and it works. I did the drilling at the closing of Fresh Kills in NYC in 1997 and worked with Bill Rathje (the Garbologist) for National Geographic.

C W Magee said...

Are owner-operator drillers rare in your neck of the woods? I've only had one job where the driller wasn't his own boss, and that was a total disaster.