A typical company hierarchy. Note the name of the middle layer, where most middle managers are found.

CALGARY, Alberta – Training and work experience is a key factor for any company creating a strong base of competent workers.  In the oil and gas industry, there has been a stellar lack of said competence in virtually every aspect of the business, and it is only getting worse.  University new grads completing a BMM degree are getting put into positions of significant responsibility more frequently than not, and senior staff are simply too lazy or fed up to mentor them properly.  This typically results in lost revenue at best, human injury or environmental loss at worst.  These days, any way you cut it, the industry is seeing a record level of stupid.

To counteract this industry-wide skill retardation, Tittcoque Resources has launched what they are calling the Circular Experience Program (CEP).  Much the same as cooperative programs operated by the majors such as Cheaterson and Shall Energy, this new program is designed to subject its employees to different teams and areas throughout their career, ensuring a level of operational skill in all aspects of the company.  The big difference with the CEP is that it focuses on middle management and ends with a firm dismissal from the company.  That’s right, part of the program is your ass getting fired.

Terry McFigger

We see middle management as the main problem at 90% of every company, especially in the oil and gas workplace.  They have finished doing technical work, which by formal education is all that they have ever been trained to do.  They are not business savvy enough to be a lead manager or a VP, god knows there are too many of them anyway.

They have basically plateaued at a level just high enough to get them out of a scope of any real work, but not high enough to make real decisions.  This leaves them disgruntled and pretty much useless.  – Terry McFigger, COO Tittcoque Resources

According to the program’s creators, the CEP runs in a circle, right up until it doesn’t.  The magic of this unique program is the creativity and game-like setup of the program’s structure.  Much like with the classic children’s musical chairs game, nice, low volume music is run perpetually throughout the office (all offices, boardrooms, bathrooms, offices, lobbies, you name it).

When the music stops, each manager or team lead has to scramble around the building, in an attempt to try and find an empty chair in an office that is not their own and claim it (and the position of the person to whom it belongs) before they are all gone.  The manager then works that team or asset or group until the music stops momentarily again, and the cycle repeats.  The catch: One chair, selected at random, is stealthily removed by an Office Services staff member shortly before the music is stopped.

A middle-manager shown cheating the system, by taking his chair with him everywhere he goes in the building – he was promptly fired

We of course put the missing chair back after each cycle, and move a new manager up so there is always a full staff, but the people that get dismissed for lack of finding a chair are prohibited from applying at Tittcoque for 18 months.  After that, they are welcome back if they wish to apply.  We feel that the 18 month, random dismissal can really put a middle manager focus on what is important and what they could have done better in his or her term here at Tittcoque. – Martia Ichbotom, VP HR and CEP Director at Tittcoque


You get to see a few teams, and eventually you get to know what it feels like to be run out on your ass.  It’s a great career builder for everyone!  And the board gets to see all these idiots running around trying to save their jobs for no better reason than they got off the damn elevator on the right floor. – Mark Swaptitch, President of the Board of Directors, Tittcoque Resources


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