Loyalty Demanded but not Returned

Demanding Loyalty In Return For..?

Brokers demand loyalty from the landmen that work for them. “You give us 8 hours in the day.” They will nickel and dime for how much that is worth and pocket the difference. Some brokers will turn their landmen into the AAPL for “ethics violations” if they find out you are doing work for anyone else, even if it’s not at the same time or in the same areas.

Let’s put that aside for another post and drill down on the problem here: landmen are expected to be loyal but there is no loyalty, or often even common decency, given in return.

How Brokers Fail Us

Brokers want to smash down day rates in order to make more money but aren’t willing to fight for higher rates from clients in order to pay their landmen appropriately. Yes, you can live on $300 per day. I’m not going to argue that you can’t. But I will argue that it’s not going to be comfortable. Paying a 10+ year landman less than that is just sleezy.

They won’t hesitate to cut guys loose when the work dries up. That’s business, I get it. But there is the general attitude that “you’re still our guy.” If they call you in 6 weeks you’ll drop everything to come help them, even if it’s for less money. Turning them down puts you at risk for being “petulent” and having that broker rant about how they have stacks of resumes and you have the nerve to turn them down. It’s ego at its worst.

The Easy Way to “Get Ahead”

Well…fuck that. Just because “everybody does it” doesn’t mean it’s right to treat people like a number. So we end up with people saying things like “it’s the only way to ever get ahead” or “it’s only wrong if you get caught” about people who have violated our code. I’m not justifying that behavior and I don’t work with people who do, but there certainly is some room for operating between the lines. The most successful landmen don’t get caught.

The industry wants us to be honorable, ethical, professional, and discrete…but the only stories you hear about landmen now are instances where we fail to live up to those ideals. We’re the red headed stepchildren, the butt of the jokes, and the constant lightning rod for the industry. Unlike geologists, analysts, engineers, or finance bros…we have to deal with people.

Where’s the Incentive?

You know what people do? Whatever they want. They are not always logical. They don’t always see things the same way. We have to deal with those challenges and then some. I still get calls from landowners I worked with 8 years ago, expecting me to solve a problem for a company that might not even still be in business. They EXPECT that the landman still works for that same client. When in reality, we were the first people cut loose.

Where is the incentive to do better work for less money, or to do the work at all? That’s a big part of why landmen are always burning out. They’re sick of hitting the same wall over and over, and getting paid less and less for it.

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