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Not much tolerance for criticism within Shell

There is not much tolerance for criticism within Shell. The biggest mistake I made in my short and soon to end Shell career was identifying genuine problems and trying to be honest with those senior to me. This doesn’t pay. It pays to tow the company line no matter how ridiculous that is.


Just thought I’d post a couple of my thoughts. Firstly the use of the word “chiefs” seems to of upset you. I apologise if this is the case. I didn’t mean it as a prescriptive term for all managers.

Unfortunately my manager is not as open as you seem to be.

He unfortunately seems to be indicative of the kind of manager that Shell has these days. A few factual examples as follows:

1. He refused to greet any staff members within our division for an extended period of time. He has since rectified this after several complaints from a number of staff.
2. He routinely attempts to extend people’s 3-4 years windows with zero consultation by stealth on the flimsy HR systems.
3. Once staff make it clear that their future lies within another division of Shell he consistently gives them very low scores on their performance reviews. This has happened on a number of occasions.
4. Despite appalling results in the widely encouraged Shell Survey and strong encouragement from management above him he has flatly ignored the survey results. Sadly the division seems to be heading for another extremely poor, even by Shell standards, set of survey results.
5. He carved out a “dream team” within the team to surround him to work on special jobs. These people have all subsequently quit for other large oil companies. He described this failed venture as an experiment which he was happy failed.
6. He has a healthy level of disrespect for people undertaking post graduate studies as he took the school of hard knocks straight out of Shell.

No doubt there are many great managers but sadly working under two at Shell I can honestly say that within Shell but my impression is that many managers within my particular area of Shell in 80 Strand London have extremely poor management skills and have progressed because of one the following:

1. Nest sitting within the organisation succeeding because of their ability to hibernate for extended periods of time. ie 10-20 years in a sort of mexican standoff. These people seem to lack any sort of genuine ambition or will to progress the company. They project a will to advance the company but a more than cursory examination of their behaviour shows that they demand much higher standards of those below them than they do of themselves.
2. People who are able to resist all temptation to point out mistakes being made within the organisation. The sort of yes sir men that will always tow the company line. These people will never rock the boat even when doing so is the right thing to do. This makes them gatekeepers of the sloth like Shell way.
3. Good technical people who become managers because it is an avenue to higher rewards even though they don’t have the necessary skills to manage others. I believe this is a real problem at Shell as these people in many cases neither do much work or management.

So in closing I’ll say this. I believe this site continues to exist for a number of reasons:

1. There is not much tolerance for criticism within Shell. The biggest mistake I made in my short and soon to end Shell career was identifying genuine problems and trying to be honest with those senior to me. This doesn’t pay. It pays to tow the company line no matter how ridiculous that is.
2. This site offers an outlet for people to voice their constructive criticism as this is not allowed within Shell.
3. This website offers more than just the blind drawl rolled out by PvdV and PV. The sort of we must try harder…. mindless we must improve safety… these results are satisfactory (even though they are record breaking)…. I have reduced the bonus structure because of the downturn (even though there are clear rules on how these bonuses are calculated not just because I fancy breaking the rules which were created in aid of transparency).

So rant almost over. It seems apparent to me that anyone who hasn’t become totally comatose after life within the Shell should realise the following:

1. This company is extremely reluctant to celebrate it’s success. This is very sad and seems to be the result of pain caused by the previous scandals and that admitting success may mean the wretched mid and low level employees may want a slice of the action. At least companies like BP offer a 1 for 1 share bonus scheme
2. The company lacks imagination and has lost it’s desire to innovate and lead becoming a shadow of BP. Those ays may now be gone.
3. Short sighted. The company seems to be a wet lettuce unable to hold the course of actually deliver change. In my part of the company they’ve been talking outsourcing first to Poland then to India for the last 5 years. Very little has actually happened. My impression is this is done to appease others rather than as a result of strong convictions.
etc etc

Sorry for the length of this. Just got carried away.


This website and sisters,,,, and, are owned by John Donovan. There is also a Wikipedia segment.

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