In the midst of a difficult time for the oil and gas industry, Steve Mueller, CEO of Houston-based Southwestern Energy Company, shared insights on how to manage employees at WorkforceNEXT’s fall summit Thursday.
“The best way to keep people is to tell them the truth and let them help you solve the problem,” Mueller said during a morning keynote.
Stressing honest communication in the workplace between senior leaders and employees, Mueller also said managers have to be honest about their mistakes as well.
“If [a company] has layoffs, that’s a management problem, not a people screw-up,” he said.
In regards to succession planning, a topic several companies have been forced to visit during this downturn, Mueller has a simple approach.
“If I get the best of everything, I don’t have the most efficient company – I just have the best of everything,” he said. “The goal is not to have a perfect succession plan or perfection within each group. We want to have the best value for our shareholders and other stakeholders.”
It’s important for a CEO to set standards within a company as soon as a new employee is hired into the organization.
“How should leadership be developed and grown in an organization? My standard is when I hire you, I expect you to know how to do your job,” Mueller said. “The goal is to set standards for leadership at the very beginning.”
And those standards don’t change according to generation.
“There are certainly differences between people, but people haven’t changed,” said Mueller when asked about millennials in the workforce. “I don’t care if you’re a Gen Xer or an old guy like me. People still have things that they value. I’m not going to take the standard and change it for each generation. I say, ‘this is the standard. Now make sure you get to that standard.’”