Stacey Gisclair starts her week with a leadership team meeting. “We open with recognition of team members who have demonstrated our HPC (high-performance culture) traits,” explains Gisclair, vice president of human resources at Danos. “And we close with a motivational quote. Like this recent example, from Benjamin Franklin: ‘Tell me, and I forget. Teach me, and I remember. Involve me, and I learn.’”
Since 2007, Gisclair has shepherded Danos’ nearly three thousand employees on an intentional culture journey, sixty years after the family-owned and managed oilfield service provider launched its business, building, maintaining, and operating production facilities. “Our senior leadership team was on board with implementing aspirational, transformative ideas that move Danos forward while remaining grounded in company purpose, tradition, and values,” Gisclair says of the change.
The inspiration for Danos’ cultural transformation has its roots in an HR management conference Gisclair attended in 2007. At that time, she had been with Danos for about ten years and had two decades of experience in HR. While at the conference, she had a moment of clarity: “I remember thinking, What if? What kind of impact could an intentional focus on culture have on Danos’ business results? I left Vegas all fired up!” she says.
“My passion for developing an intentional culture was timed perfectly with the owners’ creation of the company’s purpose statement, ‘Honor God. Develop great people to solve big challenges for our customers and communities,’” she continues. “From that time forward, we have worked to cultivate a culture that embodies our purpose.”
To ensure they started on solid footing, Gisclair researched companies with established “high-performance cultures” and identified the actions and policies that made them successful. Building a company culture can’t be done using someone else’s road map, however. “Stakeholders are different. Business models are different. Employees are different,” Gisclair notes. “Every company has its own unique culture. You have to shape your culture so that it matches who you are and helps you work toward your company goals.”
Gisclair found that at the heart of every successful, high-performance culture is its people. She sees every employee as an extension of the HR team. “From operations to recruitment and training, compliance and technology—across all fifteen of our service lines—we strive to put people and safety first. We are all part of the team and responsible for each other.”
That means staff members put on hard hats and steel-toed boots to visit field employees at work sites in the Gulf of Mexico as well as Permian, Eagle Ford, Marcellus, and Utica shale plays. It also means taking care of each other’s families, such as helping a spouse navigate health insurance claims while his or her partner works at a remote field location. “We do everything in our power to show our employees that we care for them, and we are here for them, no matter what.”
With the company’s focus on living out its purpose came many changes, both large and small. For example, the prestigious Employee of the Year Award used to be based primarily on cost-savings generated for the company. Now, Gisclair says, “It’s an employee-driven process that identifies outstanding team members who best embody our purpose, values, and HPC traits. Our employees of the year are examples of everything we strive to be as a company.”
A few years ago, a group of employees wanting to find a way to “solve big challenges for our community” came together with company leadership to create the Danos Foundation, a nonprofit organization that administers grants, spearheads volunteer activities, and provides support for employees in need. “It’s hard to express how fulfilling it is when employees demonstrate our purpose in such an impactful way,” Gisclair says. “That’s when you know you have the right people in the organization and that the culture you envisioned is thriving.”
“You have to shape your culture so that it matches who you are and helps you work toward your company goals.”
By attracting and retaining employees who embrace their unique culture, Danos has been able to build a team that sets a very high standard for performance, both individually and collectively. “Our vision is to be the standard for operational excellence and customer service by which every company in our industry is measured,” Gisclair notes. “We are constantly working to ensure that what we are doing throughout the organization is in support of achieving that vision.”
Creating a thriving corporate culture is a never-ending endeavor. But when Gisclair pauses to reflect on the progress made, she is encouraged. Danos has increased its customer base, added new service lines, grown its employee headcount and expanded its reach geographically. And she’s confident the company’s culture has been crucial to each one of these accomplishments.
“I was invited to speak about culture change at an industry conference recently,” Gisclair recalls. “As I reflected on how far we’ve come since that first spark of inspiration all those years ago, I hoped that I could give someone else that same insight. That someone in that audience would find him or herself wondering ‘what if?’”