Showing posts with label Fortune 500. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Fortune 500. Show all posts

September 21, 2010

Corporate Double-Talk

Listen, don't get me wrong, I'm all in favor of businesses making a profit. Also, I don't hate the rich (after all how many poor people can give you a job, huh?).What grinds my gears is when any employer, big or little, will take advantage of the employees.

I was pondering some of the stories that Neil told me about his cheapskate but very large Fortune 100 company. First, they claim to be interested in "diversity". Their propaganda has phrases like this:
  • Diversity is about having a broad mix of talent in our operations
  • A diverse workforce offers unique perspectives, ideas and solutions
  • [With] diverse workforce, we can better meet the needs of the increasing multicultural clients, communities and individuals
  • Build teams that bring together varied points of view to generate unique ideas and business solutions
  • Age, experience, gender, ethnic backgrounds all contribute to a grand and glorious whole (my summary of some of their other propaganda)
 And so on, and so on.

Gives you the idea that they value people, right? People are those things that have their own needs, wants, desires, infirmities, ambitions and so on. Personally, I would have plenty of advantages to offer to The Company. But I have the baggage of a partially neglected but still medicated heart condition, medicated diabetes, back difficulties, a diagnosis of "severe depression" (not so severe anymore, but I have "spells") and other things.

If you, Mr. Employer, claim to value people, you had better be prepared to accept the whole package.

Neil raises a very good question, and I agree: If The Company values the diversity of employees, and expect this diversity, then why on earth do they demand a uniformity of production? Yes, that's a very good question.

Here's something else that came up about their cheapness: Raises. I believe in a two-tier approach to a pay rise. First, a "thanks for coming in and being a good worker" kind of thing. Then, an increase based on merit. If it's all based on merit, and the standards are too high to obtain the pay rise, The Company should not be surprised when productivity drops off and good employees become less good, even finding other jobs. If you want good work, you pay for it, capice?

February 18, 2010

The Way Employment Should Be

Buona sera. Yours truly is a little bit steamed today. I have heard and written about things that go on where my friend Neil works. He told me some things, and I feel the need to rant. Maybe a manager with some sense will take the advice that I offer and make his or her company a better place. Some teams don't have to fake it with a forced smile. You take care of them, they take care of you, show mutual respect, everyone does what needs to be done and is happy.

There are several things wrong with the organization where Neil works:
  • Untrained managers. People will be hired to boss a department that have no knowledge of the job; workers know the job inside out and managers have the skill level needed to be a Wal-Mart greeter.
  • Too many managers. There are managers, CEOs, COOs, Corporate Officers, Team Leads, Managers, Supervisors — plenty of management, but most of them are not leaders. Capice?
  • Managers are off-site. This company is very large, but does not pay to hire managers for departments in each location. Many people have never set eyes on their supervisors.
  • Raises are scarce. Yes, I know that it's a tough economy. But too often, "the economy" is an excuse for being cheap. It's a crisis for this company when the quarterly reports show that they are not making as many tens of millions of dollars as they want. They tell the employees to work harder and to be happy that they have jobs in the first place, yet they are making very handsome profits. Taking advantage of the people that are making you rich is bad management. Merit raises are a good thing, but should be used in addition to cost of living increases for loyal employees. Bosses, don't come crying to me because of employee performance; you get what you pay for, and if you paid a decent amount, you'd get better work.
  • Criteria are negative.  These off-site managers do not know, really know, the performance of their employees. They use numbers ("More production! Move it!") and recorded data of errors. This is negative thinking. Worse, they have no way of knowing how well their employees succeed on other things that are not measured.
  • Little respect for employees. Think about the term "human resources". What is a "resource"? Something that you use up, discard and replace. Places like this give capitalism a bad name. I hate to see this because my crew and I respect each other, and we know it can be done.
We all know that there are companies that are struggling, and the employees should be glad just to be working. I repeat, the place I'm talking about has big money coming in and can afford to give its employees some sign of appreciation.

The place where Neil works is a Fortune 500 company, but they certainly do not have a good showing in the "best places to work" surveys. That should come as no surprise. Perhaps the size of the company has a part in this. Perhaps not. What matters for any company is to get its management out of the Industrial Revolution mindset ("More! Faster!") and realize that they are dealing with people. And if the company takes care of its employees (not that stuff that they look at on paper and tell themselves that they are treating their employees well, but really wants to make them happy), then they will make the employer happy as well. It's all quite simple, really.

    June 13, 2008

    Life in Big Business

    Buon giorno. I should have Neil write this because it's his story, but he's too busy trying to make money to pay the bills. As for me, I'm in a better mood because some money has come to me that I've been waiting a long time to receive.

    Neil works for a major American corporation. It's very big, and has international holdings. They complained that in their last quarter, they did not make as many tens of millions of dollars as they expected. Poor darlings! Neil says that this company is too big and too impersonal. I agree. The problem is, that's the way most of them get.

    His company does not care about its employees. They make a pretense at benefits because they could not get anyone to work there if they did not offer them (and their health benefits are laughable; many employees rely on their spouses for coverage). They cut out the overtime that many employees relied on to survive. Instead, they will have to learn the hard way that there is too much work, too little time to do it and it will lead to the company having to pay many large fines because they violated laws for being timely.

    There are many irritations that show that this company does not care about the people that make it wealthy. An incident yesterday really set Neil off. One of his co-workers who had been there for over a decade was removed. (Well, they said "laid off". That's different from being terminated. Termination indicates that you are bad. A layoff is a nice way of saying, "Get lost, we don't need you anymore".) There were two others that were laid off, but they were in another office and he did not know them.

    Now, this lady had been a good worker and learned many facets of the organization. So, she must have been making a halfway decent wage. When the company decided to do cutbacks, they not only eliminated the overtime, but eliminated jobs as well. She was caught in a "business decision".

    Frankly, they've learned poorly from the Mafia (let's pretend that they really do exist). The half-assed ruthlessness of "nothing personal, it's only business" is coupled with incompetence. Organized crime does not accept incompetence. I've heard it said that the "business decision" and "nothing personal" line is crapola. When you lose your job, it's very personal. They're playing fast and loose with people's lives.

    I detest the term, "Human Resources". What is a resource? Something that you use up, squeeze dry, throw away and find another. And now we have departments set up to officially drain you dry.

    The bean counters in accounting don't care about the effects on people. They are only interested in making the fastest grotzits possible, and are unaware of long-term effects. Neil has already met people that are angry about the unjust removal of employees. They do not accept the "business decisions", and are less willing to work as hard because, frankly, hard work and loyalty are not rewarded. Well, sometimes they are, but it's just window dressing.

    Businesses like this give Capitalism a bad name.

    Let's end this comedy with an un-funny and actually somewhat touching moment from the end of National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation. Mr. Shirley, the boss, suspended Christmas bonuses and did not tell anyone. Then he had to look the Griswolds in the eye. He said, "Sometimes things look good on paper, but lose their luster when you see how it affects real folks. I guess a healthy bottom line doesn't mean much, if to get it you have to hurt the ones you depend on. It's people that make the difference."

    I'd like that carved into the concrete of every business.

    There are successful businesses that are good to their employees, so it's not just a "business decision". These companies know the realities of having people work for them. Neil's company is a Fortune 500 business, but it's not in the top 100 "best companies to work for" lists.

    I think I read (many years ago) in Lee Iacocca's autobiography, "If you give your employees your best, they'll give you their best." Whether he said it or not, it's something to seriously consider.

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