BP CEO Tony Hayward BP CEO is no longer speaking for BP’s Oil Spill in the Gulf of Mexico according to a New York Time article. The BP Board of Directors has removed him because he ‘upset people’. The Chairman of BP’s Board of Directors, Carl-Henric Svanberg is taking over.
“This has now turned into a reputational matter, a financial squeeze for BP and a political matter, and that is why you will now see more of me,” said Svanberg.
While the article states that Tony Hayward will still be in charge of running BP’s extensive business, there is rife speculation that a management change may be coming and a possible successor’s name is mentioned in the article.
From a customer satisfaction perspective, what went wrong?
1. Poor Public Relations Communication Skills:
Tony Hayward didn’t perform well at the US Congressional Hearing. During the hearing, Tony Hayward repeatedly blamed others and said denied responsibility for the decisions that may have led to the accident. He was perceived as ‘evasive and obstructive’. He may have been following his legal team’s advice. “He appeared to have drunk deeply of the wisdom of his lawyers,” The Times of London dryly noted. But CEOs are expected to be able to take that advice and still spin it with the public in a way that is understandable and believable.
2. The buck has to stop somewhere.
Tony Hayward kept blaming Transocean, the owner of the rig. According to another New York Times article – Transocean LTD., a Swiss-based company, is the world’s largest offshore drilling contractor, renting floating mobile drill rigs along with equipment and personnel for operations, to oil and gas companies. None of us knows what the terms and conditions of the contract between BP and Transocean are but if a company subscontracts to another, they must do due diligence on their procedures and risk mitigation before hiring them. Blaming Transocean does not remove responsibility from BP. There is an old saying by those in ultimate charge of a problem: “The Buck Stops Here”. Tony Hayward did not believe that was his duty.
3. Lack of Honesty and Integrity.
Tony Hayward repeatedly downplayed the size of the oil spill and the environmental implications, angering the US government and the population of the US, particularly those living in the affected areas on the Gulf Coast. BP later admitted the oil spill was under estimated, also implying what everyone already knew, the consequences would be more severe.
4. Self Interest vs Public Interest
The worst comment of all was one Tony Hayward made on May 31, 2010 when he hoped that disaster would end soon because, he said, “I’d like my life back.” I think the residents of the gulf coast would like their lives back. And what about the families of the 11 men who died. Can they get their lives back? While he apologized, this lack of caring and empathy for anyone other than himself was damning.
An article in the Mirror.co.uk.NEWs, talks about Tony Hayward participating in a, Isle of Wight Yacht race on June 20, 2010, just days after his poor showing at the US Congressional hearing that got him ousted as the Oil Spill Spokesman. The article speculates that this will be perceived as another public relations disaster for him. A blog post on CNN Larry King’s blog contrasts Tony Hayward in a yacht race with out of work fisherman on the Gulf Coast. This is another example of the perception of self interest rather than public responsibility.
I expect there may be changes in the BP Management ranks soon.
Customer Satisfaction is more than just surveys and customer service. Customer satisfaction includes multiple stakeholders, including governments, individuals and even populations of countries, even many countries. There are other stakeholders as well including shareholders, employees, financial backers, suppliers, and subcontractors and business partners. All of these stakeholders are affected. The deep sea offshore drilling for oil industry is affected. This disaster will have far reaching consequences.
Senior management is key in mitigating the dissatisfaction of stakeholders.
See my earlier post ‘Recovering from Big Mistakes in Customer Satisfaction’, about Tiger Woods, Toyota’s CEO and the Pope addressing their mistakes.
Sadly in Tony Hayward’s case, we have a demonstration of what ‘not to do’.
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