Just the Facts – Reputation Matters
You worry more about yourself then what goes on around you. Do me a favor, will you? Sit back and take a real hard look. Look at the victims and try to have a little empathy. It might do you some good. That’s what we’re all here for, to serve these people. Now if you can’t see it that way, maybe you ought to look for some other kind of job. I’m sure the department can spare you. ~ Police Sergeant Joe Friday, “Dragnet” TV Series (photo)
The most powerful predictor for bad behavior turns out to be when people won’t talk about bad behavior. ~ Dr. Roger Miles, Tracing the True Origins of Bad Behavior: New Ways to Predict Conduct Risk Exposure
I published a hit piece about my former employer on LinkedIn, Petroleum Geo-Services CEO Jon Erik Reinhardsen Should Resign. Why would anyone do that? I will assure you that it was in response to the many “hits” I have taken from my former employer. The main difference is that my hit piece was transparent and honest. Petroleum Geo-Services (PGS) hits have been clandestine, intentional, and deceptive attacks intended to harm me and my family. The fore-mentioned article was not the first piece where individuals were named. I had done this before on July 4th when I wrote, An American, the UK Data Protection Act, Petroleum Geo-Services and the Tyranny of “Accurate Data”. I have also written about more general marine seismic industry articles that have been fairly well received, such as The Rise and Fall of the 3D Streamer Fleet. In addition, I host the website, Marine Seismic Survey where I keep myself and marine geophysical operations community abreast of the industry news and developments. I had refrained from posting actual evidence which supports the allegations that I have made. I have progressively up-ticked my contentions to entice some reaction from PGS, just in case executives would want to react to avoid an exposé posting. I have not received any requests to stop publishing my pieces by anyone, including those within PGS. The simple truth is that what I have published is indeed true. I know it. Many know it. As time passes and the truth is no longer disputed what will remain, at the very least, is a chronological record of non-action and apathy by PGS executives.
PGS is the multinational corporation with the executive management and communication teams. Their projects have high profile risk exposure. PGS should be able – no, be required – to defend the integrity of their CEO and executive management, and especially the reputation of the company, without the aid of outside voices and commentary. A company that had confidence in its ethical conduct could have quickly quashed such allegations, but more likely would never have had allegations to quash in the first place. The non-response from PGS points to a corrupt and silo’d organization where the right-hand doesn’t know what the left-hand is doing. PGS does not know how to respond to the fast pace and transparency that social media presents. Perhaps, PGS executives may think that no one reads or believes LinkedIn posted articles. I can assure PGS executives that they are incorrect. More likely is that PGS executives are worried that they do. And how beneficial is doubt, anyhow? Doubt is uncertainty, and uncertainty is risk. PGS may not think that such articles will impact their reputation. PGS executives are wrong about that, too. It quite evidently has impacted current employees of PGS and will likely impact future employee perception, as well as customers and investors. Some, like me, will feel betrayed. No matter which side the reader may take, there can be no denying that some exceptional problem exists. What normal workplace behavior would make a former loyal employee of over fourteen years to even contemplate writing such an article in the first place? How could such a thing be helpful? Only if it were true and vindicating. PGS has had quite enough time to address the issues written about and have chosen not to say anything. Therefore, I have decided to provide some firm document (shortened and redacted) evidence which supports my claims, not because of PGS, but rather to satisfy those more skeptical readers. Reputation matters.
My reputation matters to me and my family. I worked with PGS for over fourteen continuous years, as well as a couple of years before that. I am a U.S. citizen. PGS first moved me to Houston from Las Cruces, New Mexico. Prior to my work in the seismic industry, I had worked at White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico as a data processor/analyst supporting aeronautical and space test projects. My attraction to the seismic industry was especially the opportunity of global travel and interaction with different nationalities and cultures along with the geophysics. One did not have exposure to such diversity while working with sensitive U.S. National security data. PGS certainly delivered on that desire of mine. For most of my years with PGS I lived and worked abroad. I will not provide a full résumé, because the issues brought-up are mostly about character and integrity. But, it is important to frame the basis of my sentiments. I worked with PGS on ocean bottom and streamer vessels globally and then in offices in Luanda, Angola and Lagos, Nigeria. I did this while residing in Thailand on five-week rotations. Weary of the rotations and time away from family, I sought to work in the Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia office (KL). PGS moved me and my family to KL. However, my interest was to grow beyond seismic data processing. PGS then moved me and my family from KL to Weybridge, England to work with the Marine Contract Sales – Africa group. These were international moves which required indigenous Company sponsorship and appropriate visas for all of the members of my family to live and for me to work there. PGS finally paid for me and my family to move from Weybridge to Houston after my employment with the company ended. Through the years, my connections had been fragmented and diverse. In some respects, I returned to Houston as a foreigner, having only had rare visits. My main professional connections to Houston – or anywhere – had been through my former employer, PGS. PGS was also acutely aware of these conditions. Since my time back in Houston, I have volunteered at and attended many Geophysical Society of Houston events and technical talks, among other things.
All I know is that first you’ve got to get mad. You’ve got to say, ‘I’m a HUMAN BEING, God damn it! My life has VALUE!’ So I want you to get up now. I want all of you to get up out of your chairs. I want you to get up right now and go to the window. Open it, and stick your head out, and yell, ‘I’M AS MAD AS HELL, AND I’M NOT GOING TO TAKE THIS ANYMORE!’ ~ News Anchor Howard Beale, “Network” movie
The common mistake that bullies make is assuming that because someone is nice that he or she is weak. Those traits have nothing to do with each other. In fact, it takes considerable strength and character to be a good person. ~ Mary Elizabeth Williams
There are seminal events that define how we arrive to certain points. The event that defines the history leading to this article began during the 2013 European Association of Geoscientists and Engineers (EAGE) conference in London. I especially enjoyed attending the talks and conferences and had been on the schedule to attend this event on behalf of Marine Contract Sales – Africa for months. Then a day or two before my boss, Edward Von Abendorff (Eddy to most), did not want me to go. He especially did not seem to like me enjoying my job. I assured him that all the work was in order and that I had planned accordingly and otherwise had worked early and would stay late, but really wanted to go. I only was allowed to attend one day of the event, and even attended a PGS topic talk while there. The next day was tense as one problem was searched for after another by the VP. Finally, out the blue, I was called to a meeting hosted by David Nicholson, EAME HR Manager, Simon Cather, Regional President, Marine Contract – Africa, and my boss, Eddy. In this meeting a litany of accusations were made about my performance. Eddy had never introduced these issues between us, as normally competent managers would, but had to have the support of David and Simon. I have since found that this is a standard bullying tactic – the “ambush meeting” and is discussed by U.S. researcher and workplace bully expert and founder of the Workplace Bullying Institute, Dr. Gary Namie. One may also read about this bully tactic meeting in The Workplace Bully ‘Ambush’ Meeting. This “ambush” set the wheels in motion to my unintended departure from PGS. The conversation after the ambush started with my e-mail chain below (A,B,C):
It is clear that I did not agree with the meeting content and allegations. The intentional withholding and subsequent deception regarding the meeting minutes was a significant lie. What happened was the corrupt executives were trying shift the process to be a performance issue when they had, at that time, no qualified basis or evidence to support their desires. The meeting was not declared to be a performance meeting before hand and otherwise no legitimate evidence of support were provided. The idea that meetings can turn from informal to formal at whim is also troubling. I had never heard or experienced any honest business carrying on this way before. What the conspirators did was delay and then compose a letter with “investigation into performance” in it to replace the meeting minutes for my action – clearly an intimidation tactic. I did not accept the renaming and continued to press the grievance process forward. The letter mentioned some, but not all of the baseless allegations made during the original meeting. Even after the letter, there were additional meetings and intentional delays. However, I was never presented with the minutes of these meetings to qualify agreement or disagreement. I never signed anything. The grievance about the 13 June 2013 was actually delivered 20 September 2013 following one delay tactic after another. A few excerpts from my (lengthy) grievance can be read below. This document was removed from my personnel record:
The grievance implicated the ambushers who conducted the initial meeting. The grievance contained evidence to counter the unsubstantiated allegations that PGS Marine Contract – Africa management and HR made revealing their abuse/misuse of the performance management system (lies / no evidence). The document also addressed and chronicled pervasive and intentional – abusive – workplace bullying, referencing PGS policy, UK law, and current literature. PGS offered me an exit agreement prior to the grievance hearing, which I dismissed out of principle. However, the delay tactics continued and I eventually decided to consider the leave agreement. The grievance was parked, to use a phrase in a different e-mail. During this time, I took a week of consecutive sick days off because I was sick. I did not have any prior record of abusing leave in all my 14 years of work. However, PGS management requested that I see an occupational health and safety nurse. So, I did. I received partial content of the draft report and had asked for the final report. PGS management was interested in my exit. I never saw the final report and recommendation which had been excluded from the draft. Leaving such a toxic environment as soon as possible was foremost on my mind for my health and that of my family. The purpose of the subsequent leave agreement was to not pursue or discuss the points brought-up in the grievance any further and part ways. The initial allegations had been left unsubstantiated and unproven, there was never any concession and nothing was ever signed by me other than the leaving agreement. Ten months passed after I left employment with PGS and I made a subject access request (SAR) citing the Data Protection Act 1998 (DPA). This is how I learned that my personnel file records were falsified/forged and other information was omitted. The meeting minutes which I had requested and been denied were in my file, unsigned and not verified. The minutes, unbelievably, even appear in transcript form. These minutes contained the reiteration of the unsubstantiated allegations. But, why were they there when I was told that the meeting was informal and no minutes were distributed? This is an unsigned and unauthenticated – falsified – document – one of many.
If this had indeed been a valid performance meeting, then why would PGS be requesting my family visa’s be extended for another 3 years? UK Border was told that my services were required. Further, my continued employment displaced a capable and competent UK citizen or someone else without “performance” issues. This letter is dated 15 July 2013. The meeting occurred 13 June 2013.
The most disturbing document is the memo signed by Per Arild Reksnes, EVP PGS Marine Contract (now EVP Operations) and Terje Bjølseth, SVP HR. This memo (below) is a forgery. There are several detectable problems. The Memo is addressed to my attention, but it was never received by me while I was employed with PGS. David Nicholson and Simon Cather were not present at the meeting. Edward Von Abendorff was my immediate supervisor and is not a recipient. These three individuals were the object of my grievance. The colleague who accompanied me to the meeting is not copied. The date matches the day when we began to discuss the leaving agreement and also leave the grievance parked. There was no conclusion to the process. In the references, there was no 11 September 2013 meeting. That was an original schedule date for the presentation of the grievance mentioned in the letter (which was provided in lieu of the 13 Jun 15 meeting minutes which were withheld), but that day was postponed. I never wrote a letter 29 September 2013 that I can remember or that PGS can provide. I never saw this memo until I received a copy of my personnel file through the Data Protection Act 1998 (DPA) Subject Access Request (SAR) last November in Houston. The contents tries to imply performance issues. But, none of the performance issues had even been substantiated and no performance plan was formally discussed much less put into place. The grievance offset plans to forward unsubstantiated performance nonsense.
During the SAR process, I requested the copy of the occupational health and safety report and was told no report existed. Similarly, the Information Commissioner’s Office caseworker was told the same thing (lying to ICO). I was able to get a copy of the report through a separate subject access request. Another example of lying and withholding information. There was a recommendation to be evaluated again after two weeks. The final report and recommendation was withheld from me during my employment.
We are asked to approve small credit card purchases through signature. Yet, these important career-ending documents are not signed by me? Of course they are false. Signatures and authentication are important in all business record transactions, including internal ISO / OHSAS audits, as well as contracts which I have been involved with directly. I would never had accepted such documents. The issue which is difficult to get past is why individuals who are compensated very well and have power would even engage in this sort of activity to illegally compromise an individual’s personnel records and then report them as factually accurate to compliance organizations. I believe that once the individual’s knew that I knew how they operated they wanted to avoid a fair fight and take responsibility for the bad behavior and lies which would have revealed their practices. This fraud was to satisfy psychopathic egos and protect the perpetrators. The amount of PGS resources and money misused for their bully operation is not insignificant, and included at least a percentage factor of an annual salary, solicitors to bind the leaving agreement, the visa processing, and family relocation from the UK to the USA. How much is a career worth? The average bank robbery nets only $4330 USD according to a US News article, and everyone easily accepts bank robbery as a crime. That amount would only just cover the family plane tickets. Of course, such an amount is considered “noise” with respect to multi-million dollar marine seismic data acquisition and processing contracts that operate at day rates well in excess of $350k USD.
Whenever there are some who have more opportunities than others, this feeds corruption. – Enrique Pena Nieto
Whoever is detected in a shameful fraud is ever after not believed even if they speak the truth. – Phaedrus
It is against the Data Protection Act 1998 (UK) principles – UK law (and Norwegian law) – to export electronic or firm personal data information outside the UK/EU/Norway to the US, even if the data were correct. Why would PGS go through so much effort to create the false records only to have them retained in UK files where they would have no (negative) impact? I know, and PGS acknowledges, that my (false) personal data records were shared with a UK national working in the U.S. The issue in question is the agency of that employee. PGS has informed the Information Commissioner’s Office that this individual is a UK entity employee. He was HR support within the UK while I worked on vessels, but he was not working physically in the UK at any time during my employment within the UK. So, is he still an employee of the PGS UK entity or the PGS US entity? I have worked in many international offices and never been able to work and remain in a foreign country without a work visa sponsored within that country. In other words, I could not live and work in a foreign country as an employee of a US entity. I had to be employed and sponsored for work visa within the foreign country. Again, regardless of his agency, he would not be legally permitted to share my personal data information to anyone outside of the PGS UK entity. Also, my personal data is not allowed to be shared with just anyone within PGS UK either. I personally cannot think of a legitimate and reasonable business case for sharing my correct personal data with this individual even if employed by PGS UK.
This immoral, and I believe illegal, way of doing business is bad for PGS. It is bad for PGS customers, investors, and employees. I am certain of this. Even the most superb vehicle of technology and talent is unable to reach its objectives when its leadership and top executives are not aligned and committed to the same organization values and objectives. It is impossible. It is written that Nero fiddled as Rome burned. Just a few days ago Upstream (16 Sep 2015) published that PGS may possibly be forced to stack additional vessels. This is on top of stacking the Ramform Viking, which was only announced in the beginning of September 2015, and the stacking of Ramform Challenger and Ramform Explorer. PGS Apollo in a lease-back agreement (was pawned). Conditions are unraveling. I will be writing a more normative analysis of the marine seismic market when Q3 2015 numbers start to be revealed. However, currently the market is uncertain, and yet degenerate top executives remain silent to calm the storm of uncertainty surrounding their integrity, while compromising PGS’ reputation. What are the named PGS executives doing? Are they focused on PGS objectives and strategy during this crisis or deflecting inconvenient questions from police about how they report and retain records and abide by DPA? It would be exceptional for them to be fully focused on business since they have been dishonest and selfish up to this point. Are they focused on guiding the Company through the storm or manipulating information in an effort to save their positions and continue the deception? Which view are PGS leadership and top executives betting has the best chance to prevail? Risky business.
Workplace bullying is understood by many to be a quantifiable type of psychological violence and abuse of position. The subsequent retaliation is meant to marginalize, silence, and financially disenfranchise the bully targets. The “mob”, as Norwegians call workplace bullying, abuse targets while they are employed and often continue this theft and abuse even after the target leaves. This is a more despicable kind of theft and violence than being robbed on High Street. Such robbers at least limit what they take and ask for it directly. As a trained educator as well as one trained in U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity standards, or otherwise someone who simply knows how to read and has some ethical conscience, I can confidently assure HR professionals that such actions are not anything close to effective performance management. If the “ambush meeting” is so common to be written and spoken about, HR as a professional needs to undergo some serious soul-searching and educate themselves about how to actually manage employee conflict and performance, and especially how to properly address workplace violence in general. The current conspiratorial relationship between toxic management and HR professionals who knowingly violate common codes and best practices is reprehensible and endangers employee health and workplace productivity. If humans are enterprise resources, then what is the difference between an employee knowingly driving a company vehicle into a tree and an employee knowingly abusing a capable and productive employee? If using a Company vehicle for personal use is not allowed, how can company monies be justified to be used to satisfy the personal egos of incompetent and insecure workplace bullies? These are leadership and management issues that need to be addressed.
I am more loyal to my former employer than the current toxic management which allows PGS values, potential, and reputation to evaporate in hubris. I followed the rules and put forth best efforts. Every UK employer has a duty of care. This is critical to the health, safety and general welfare of all employees. Duty of care comes into force when a person or group of people do something that might reasonably harm somebody. PGS management had to abandon their obligations, rules and values. PGS management forged and falsified documents to win their zero-sum game and stack the deck to force a loyal employees exit. They lied and bullied. Who then is loyal? In English labor law there is also a mutual duty of trust and confidence between employer and employee in contract. This means that both the employer and employee are to behave in such a way as to not to undermine the employment relationship. How many lies are employers allowed before they breach their commitment? How many health and safety reports can be ignored and destroyed? PGS executives may have thought that they were clever in their lying, after all, I was far away and what could I do? Finally, it is not my responsibility to preserve or defend the reputation of PGS executives who have engaged in an intentional and calculated campaign to harm me and my family. On the other hand, it certainly is PGS CEO Jon Erik Reinhardsen’s responsibility, along with his executive team and other top executives, to preserve and protect the reputation of PGS. It is only a question of how much PGS’ reputation matters to them.
Bullying consists of the least competent most aggressive employee projecting their incompetence on to the least aggressive most competent employee and winning. – Tim Field
Those in powerless positions aren’t about to complain about bullying bosses, abusive supervisors or corrupt co-workers. There is no safe way to do so and no process that promises redress. – Margaret Heffernan