Archive for December, 2007

The “Double Secret” Handbook for bad Executives goes over the top

December 30, 2007

I couldn’t believe this chapter when I read it! It was inserted between the pages of an employee policy manual. Someone had really gone through the book with a red marker, crossing out paragraph after paragraph and inserting notes galore. Scrawled in large print on the last page were the words, “Stop me before I change policies again!”

Chapter 8 Changing the Attitude of Ingratitude

Whoever said that high turnover isn’t good for a corporation? It’s good to be rid of those ingrates. Sure you’ve cut back on hiring and salary increases, trimmed benefits, outsourced and off-shored everything one could to increase profits (and executive bonuses). So what if the traitors have left in droves for greener pastures. You never needed those selfish malcontents anyway. Let the organization pare itself down. Now you can selectively restock the shelves with employees who are true believers in the brilliance of the decisions made by you and the other anointed leaders. Perhaps you don’t even need to replace them at all. You can easily get by with a reduced staff of hard working company patriots. If threats and fear no longer seem to be working, you just need to make those remaining loyalists feel secure, necessary and important – at least until you’re finished with them anyway. Let’s face it. Someone has to do the work

There are a few neat and relatively low-cost gimmicks that can work wonders by convincing your core workers that they work for a great company and actually have a voice and a stake in its success. Psychology works wonders with your kids. It will work with your employees as well. Help them help you turn them into committed zealots.

Solicit Unsolicited Testimonials
If you have a company newsletter or website, it’s time to showcase those employees who really appreciate all that the company has done for them. Take Terry for example. He’s the executive administrative assistant for the new Senior VP of Marketing. Terry’s been on board for six months and has followed his boss around to four companies during the last eight years. There’s an example of pure loyalty. Terry’s been involved in the color-coding of the office staplers project and even headed the “Name the CEO’s new goldfish” contest. He’s a real “go getter”. He always gets the deli order correct for the executive staff luncheons and never forgets that you like your tuna fish sandfish on whole-wheat instead of rye.

Have HR write some human-interest stories about Terry complete with a testimonial about how wonderful a place this is and what a great boss Terry has. Maybe even arrange for Terry’s daughter to be awarded a company paid scholarship to the college of her choice. Magnificent! This is a great teaching tool that will encourage the rest of the rabble to stay focused and loyal.

Use Selective Propaganda
Your company needs to state that it is committed to keeping its employees informed about the travails of the marketplace. There’s a world of useful information out there just for the taking. Salary and benefits surveys are always available for use in comparing your company to others. A little good-hearted and careful massaging of the statistics here and there can result in your company scoring in the top percentiles for employee friendliness when compared to industry or geographic data. We all know how poorly the workers are paid in Taiwan and how bad the health benefits are in Bangladesh. Don’t use Europe. Those employees get too much vacation and too many days off! Publish your findings frequently. Your employees need to be bombarded with how good they actually have it – even if there are only a few of them left. Hell, most of them don’t know the difference between the mean, median and mode anyway. It’s all well intended. They’ll feel better.

Conduct Employee Attitude Surveys
Now! Now! Don’t be afraid. We don’t really mean what the heading implies. There are attitude surveys and there are attitude surveys. We’re certain that you have a pal or two in the consulting business. Just explain to them that you’re convinced that your employees have a great attitude about the firm and you want to validate that fact. Good consultants might not be able to arrange for the survey results to tell you what you want to hear but wealthy ones will. Shop carefully as you would for a trial lawyer or PR firm. Publish the flattering results and voice your pleasant surprise and appreciation. Employees will eat this up!

Form Employee Values Teams
Here’s a gimmick that’s currently in vogue with a lot of companies in the same shoes as yours. The trick here is to form teams of employees to define the “values” of your corporation. Sure, you already know what the values are – but they don’t. You’ll need one of your most loyal, naive and starry-eyed minions to head up the program, someone who’s both charming and convincing. Make certain that the focus of the values teams is always centered on the “customer”. Your employees need to concentrate on the customer and forget about their own paltry needs and desires. Charter each team to come up with a list of values that they can identify with and affect through their behaviors. They need to be steered into defining those values in terms of providing “world class” service and ‘competitive” prices.

It’s perfect! Publicize those values and stress the fact that the employees themselves have defined them. What better way to gain everyone’s buy-in! Better customer care means harder work. Better prices means lower costs. (Heh, Heh, we all know what that means!) Hey, it’s the employees’ own ideas after all!

You see it’s not at all disingenuous, sneaky or underhanded. You’re a great leader in a dynamic organization. The remaining employees just need to understand that and not leave until you’re ready to cut them loose.

Hold on a minute! Your old frat brother Chad is on the phone. He still owes you one for trimming a few strokes off of his scorecard at the last business school alumni golf outing. He’s got an opening for you at his company. He’s offering nearly one and a half times your salary and almost twice the bonus. Get packing. You’re out of this low class dump. It’s a sinking ship and an unappreciative sweatshop. The sooner the better!

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But where were the Corporate Grief Counselors?

December 27, 2007

So at last the official announcement was made concerning the sale of the division. I’ll have to hand to the corporate chieftains. It was sure kept a state secret over the last three months. Everyone was taken by surprise. The timing could not have been worse. On the afternoon of the Friday before the Christmas break, those of us stationed at the divisional headquarters’ site were asked to join in meetings that had been scheduled in the conference room. Now one has to understand (if one can) that due to the company’s goofy, complex and confusing organizational structure, employees of our division are not the only people who dwell in our building’s offices. There are a multitude of other divisions’ and even a few of the corporate headquarters’ employees housed there as well. By the same token, many of our division’s employees and managers are based at other geographic locations. It’s all part of this highly matrixed nightmare.

I’ve been involved in certain aspects of the sale for some time and so I was least somewhat prepared. The others weren’t as lucky. To top it all off, there were a number of employees on the payrolls of other divisions who had also been earmarked as part of the sale. Their “matrixed” support of certain functions of our division had made them vulnerable to the transaction as well. Upon hearing the news, they were the most shocked and confused of all.

I’d been busy most of the morning and afternoon and happened in on one of the last scheduled meetings of the day. These were clerical folks. There were eight of them present for the presentation that was remotely broadcast by the division’s General Manager. He was stationed at another geographic location. Many of the meeting’s participants had neither met nor even seen the General Manager beforehand. Welcome to twenty-first century management! Ah, the wonders of modern technology! Along with the affected employees were five – that’s correct five managers from the Human Resources Department, none of whom were connected to our division They were ostensibly present to provide support – whatever that meant. Also present were a few functional managers to whom these affected employees reported – at least on a dotted line basis.

The GM apologized for the timing of the announcement. He explained that the agreement had just been signed and that the transaction would be effective at year-end. Due to the impending holidays and vacation schedules, it was felt that the affected employees should receive a “heads up” notice in advance of both corporations’ press releases announcing the takeover. That was a considerate gesture. He then went into an excruciating detailed explanation of the sale. The GM sounded like he was making a presentation to sophisticated investors or the board of directors. He voiced his feelings of excitement about the new opportunities for the customers as well as both companies involved in the deal. I do not believe that the attention to his words by any of the affected employees lasted past his first sentence. While the GM professed his feelings of “excitement” about the takeover, it was obvious from the expressions on the faces of the affected that they were feeling profound “anxiety” and “terror”. He signed off by wishing everyone a Merry Christmas. That was another nice gesture.

You could have heard a pin drop on the carpet in the conference room until one of the HR Managers spoke up. She was obviously the spokesperson for the HR group and prefaced her remarks by stating that there was no detailed information available regarding anything involving the status of the affected employees. All of that would be communicated after January 1st. She then asked if there were any questions. Duh!!! Of course there were questions from the shocked and anxious employees. Every question ranging from continuation of benefits, to severance pay was thrown at the five HR managers. The HR spokesperson answered all queries by reiterating that no other information was available. She would then end each exchange by asking if there were any more questions. This prompted round after round all ending on the same note. It began to sound like one of those silly post disaster television news conferences where reporters keep asking the same questions over and over again only to receive the same answers. I finally wanted to gag the HR spokesperson to get her to shut up. This was really stirring up the eight affected employees. To make matters worse, the unaffected functional managers began having “business as usual” discussions between each other and several affected employees. How mindful of the affected employee’s state of mind after hearing the news. You could feel the tension levels rise during these exchanges.

I turned to one of the other HR managers who happened to be seated next to me. She was in charge of corporate training. I asked her why she was in attendance there. She stated that due to the obvious traumatic reaction that the announcement would cause, corporate headquarters had pressed all HR management into service. I then asked her specifically about her role was in the meeting. “I’ve been through these things several times with other companies,” she answered. “Look at these people’s faces,” I whispered, “Are you a grief counselor?” She thought that the question was humorous. Meeting adjourned.

It’s times like these that reinforce my cynical philosophy about today’s corporations. I’ll give the leadership those 20 degrees for at least having good intentions. They did not want the affected employees to learn about the transaction from the press releases. As usual though, I would have conducted the meetings at least 160 degrees differently:

· I realize that the General Manager had memorized his presentation and had probably delivered it 30 or 40 times over the previous days or even weeks but sometimes one has to tailor a message to one’s audience. Sophisticated executives and investment bankers are not the same as employees whose first reaction is fear and anxiety about the prospects for losing their livelihoods. A good leader should understand that.

· Having a “team” of diverse HR managers present during such a traumatic meeting, particularly when they have nothing to say, may make company officials “feel” good about themselves but they should reflect on the point that the meetings are NOT about their feelings but rather the feelings of the affected employees. This is a huge global corporation with a lot of resources. Why not have some real HR professionals present who know how to deal with these issues. Trainers and talent managers? I don’t think so.

· If a designated spokesperson really has no information to offer, stop the tired practice of soliciting questions. I realize that this is almost a reflex action learned in public speaking seminars or from the media but it only serves to prolong the agony.

· Changing the subject or interjecting “business as usual” banter by those who are unaffected by the news sets up an instant “us versus them” mindset and trivializes the effect of the event. “It’s easy for you to talk about ‘business as usual.’ You’re not affected!”

Don’t get me wrong. I am most definitely NOT some bleeding heart. I fully recognize that this whole “deal” is about transacting hundreds of millions of dollars. I am a part of the management group that helped make it happen and I am part of the sale as well. I also appreciate the effort made by the company to at least give the affected employees some warning before the press releases were published. But there is more than just cash, assets and market channels being traded here. There are employees with valuable knowledge and experience as well. Let’s try to keep that in mind.

Perhaps during the coming weeks we’ll learn if the welcome is as ill planned and antiseptic as the sendoff.

Someone’s been Reading The “Double Secret” Handbook for bad Executives

December 21, 2007

Could it actually be true? I’ll refer you to the chapters titled Salary Norming and Ration that Pesky Vacation (posts dated March 22 and August 3, 2007 respectively and categorized under The “Double Secret” handbook). In fact, check out all of the other chapters if you’d like. This is a classic. It probably encompasses the entire handbook including the chapters I haven’t even written yet!

The holidays are right around the corner and our division’s designated paid holidays are listed as December 24 thru December 28. These five paid holidays for 2007 were published back in late 2006. As has been customary for several years, our office is to be closed. Managers and employees alike have made plans well in advance of December. Perhaps some holiday travel to visit relatives or a short mini-vacation. It really doesn’t matter. Other than in polite conversations, no one even bothers to ask anyone what they will be doing. These are paid holidays after all and people have just gone about making plans around them. Some employees (yours truly included) still have unused accrued vacation time coming. Perhaps some have even scheduled it now to extend their holiday time off. Of course carryovers to 2008 are prohibited by company policy. What could the Scrooge’s at corporate headquarters have dreamt up this time? You guessed it, a top-secret initiative that only now on December 5 is being trickled down to only a few select division managers on a “need to know” basis only. Although it affects the entire division, the initiative is so sensitive that it must remain confidential right up until the transaction is complete. If you’ve kept up with my weekly posts, you might guess what that transaction is as well as its timing. I guessed it two month’s ago. Our division is being sold and the closing date is set for December 31.

The conundrum facing our corporate honchos is that a tremendous amount of work must now be completed at the division level and in very short order to facilitate the transaction. But who is to do it? No one will be around and virtually no one knows what’s going on. To top it off, most if not all will view the initiative negatively or, at a minimum, with a huge amount of anxiety. How can they get all of this work done? If the tactics that I’ve seen employed so far are any indication of an overall strategy or plan, I’d say that there is none – just another typical knee-jerk, last minute reaction.

When given the abbreviated and details free official “word” last week by my corporate level “matrix” superior, my first question was, “What will happen to us – the managers and employees of the division?” At first, there was no response. I was given lists of information requests with a very aggressive timetable for completion. I then pressed the issue again but this time for some insight into how the transaction would affect me personally. The only response I received was that I would be part of it. Get it? No other details would be forthcoming until the transaction was complete. Those details would be in the hands of the other party to the transaction. That was really comforting. I could not believe this cavalier and matter-of-fact attitude about the whole thing. What in the world is about to happen to us?

After scanning the timetable, I reminded the official of the upcoming holiday schedule and the lack of time. The tone of his response implied that I was part of the corporation’s management team and expected to act in a professional manner. There were deadlines to meet. If that meant working through the holidays and foregoing time off, then so be it. I then attempted a dialog with the chap to determine exactly what, if anything was in this for me. I could already imagine what was in it for him. His position the corporation was unaffected and he might even qualify for a nice bonus for pulling this off on schedule. Would I somehow be compensated for any of my lost vacation or holiday time? These were company paid benefits after all. I was subtly reminded that I was already a well-paid middle manager and that part of my compensation included going above and beyond for the corporation. I guess I could have retorted by asking exactly which corporation I was to go above and beyond for. I then stated that I would accomplish whatever I could within the “working days” that were left.

Shortly thereafter, I was asked if I would travel to one of our sister division sites to oversee the completion of some business affecting our division. This business has to be closed out before the date of the transaction. The travel would involve having to begin the trip either extremely early on December 26 or even late on Christmas day and leave me out of town for the remainder of the week. You see the other division is on a different holiday schedule and their offices would be open during that time. I was told that I was a “key” resource and that my sacrifice would be greatly appreciated. I asked if my “sacrifice” would be somehow rewarded monetarily. When I received no reaction, I declined the request. I already have plans.

Yesterday, super-secret teams were assembled consisting of the “selected” division managers and support staff from headquarters and other company shared services groups. The teams were given assignments to support our division’s “transition.” Everyone was sworn to secrecy. The aggressive schedules received very negative reactions from some corporate and shared service team members. You see they have plans for the holiday period as well. To placate the growing hostility, I’m sure that those team members were guaranteed that any planned unused vacation time could be held over to 2008 and that they would receive compensatory time off for any designated holidays worked. God knows whatever else they might have been promised. There was a lot of politicking going on. I again asked about what arrangements were being made for us division employees who were in the same boat but had no one to bargain with. The corporate level “matrix” executive assembling the teams seemed puzzled. He had neither thought of that nor received any instructions about it. He guessed that we were on our own and would get more information after the transaction was complete and details were announced. How inspiring.

So now, as we “selected” division managers determine the resources necessary to support this “transition”, it seems that we’re going to need the help of certain members of our staffs. How do we do that? I went back to my corporate level “matrix” superior and asked for some guidance. The response was to use a cover story that would justify a request for staff members to change their personal schedules and/or work on the division designated holidays if necessary. We are to avoid letting out the secret at all costs. That’s fine. What about their foregone vacation days and holidays? They’ll be sure to ask. My superior was silent. “I don’t know,” he finally responded. “Well don’t you think we should find out?” I blurted. I have yet to receive a reply.

For a corporation with so many SR Vice Presidents, Vice Presidents and Directors of Human Resources, one would think that a detailed plan had been formulated to cover these contingencies. The devil is always in the details but those details are always the province of us middle management types. Yet, we have no authority or even enough information to make commitments to our staffs. Just make it happen. That’s right.

Ever wonder from where I get the material for the handbook? Look no further. I couldn’t make this up if I tried.

Grabbing a Golden Ring on the Executive Merry Go Round

December 16, 2007

Sometimes I wonder why they continuously publish these corporate-wide announcements. If they are intended to inspire confidence at the lower levels, they have missed the mark by a country mile. We recently received one detailing the restructuring of the corporate executive staff. (RE: Life Must be Grand Inside the Pyramid, December 2, 2007 categorized under Never Fail to Amaze). The rationale for that massive and confusing reorganization was to maintain a tight finger on the pulse of the corporation and instantly react to changes in the marketplace. Now we read the memo heralding the hire of yet another executive vice president as well as three new administrative assistants. Maintaining that tight finger must take a lot of manpower. Either the pulse is very weak or the artery has ruptured and massive direct pressure is required to stop the hemorrhaging. Unfortunately, we’ll never hear about those details.

The game of musical chairs amongst the elites seems to dominate our company’s E-mails as of late. As divisions and subsidiary companies are sold, reorganized and continue to cut and outsource functional positions, the executives simply transfer from place to place; disappearing from one unit and popping up at another or even corporate headquarters. Talk about job security! Amazingly, one vice president whose departure was announced months ago by the CEO himself is still on board. Although his title has changed a bit, his executive status has remained intact. The word on the street is that he simply refused to leave. If true, what hubris! Can we do that too? In another recent communiqué, a business unit president announced that one of the vice presidents from a soon to be disposed of subsidiary had graciously accepted an offer to join his staff in a “newly created position”. When the executive in question left the corporation after a month to grab a more prestigious gig with a different company, the “newly created position” mysteriously disappeared. What a surprise! Shocking isn’t it?

It’s almost as silly as the merry go round in the management ranks of professional sport’s teams. The team has a horrible record and so the manager quits or gets canned only to get a multi-million dollar contract managing another. It seems that it matters not whether you win or lose or have a good season or a bad one, it’s how you negotiate your contract. These managers just keep popping up here and there like our elite vice presidents. Hey, it just dawned on me. Perhaps this why so many of these executives appear to be so fixated on professional team sports. It’s all they ever seem to talk about. Believe me, they are no Vince Lombardi’s.

Who is supposed to be impressed by all of this? Certainly not us career middle managers who can’t even figure out who to contact in order get things done within this three dimensional Rubik’s cube of an organization structure. Perhaps the young starry-eyed neophytes who gaze in awe of these titans of industry and hope to rise to positions of great stature and power are impressed. They will learn soon enough.

The corporate carnival is loaded with attractions, games and rides. We all know that some of the attractions are fakes and that some of the games are rigged. We catch our ride on the merry go round everyday and try to do our best to just hang on. If we’re lucky enough, it’s the brass ring for us. The golden rings are reserved for the cadre of pitchmen and the barkers who circulate from one venue to another. Hopefully we won’t come to the fair grounds one day and find that the carnival has left town without us. Can we trust these self-promoters? They sure seem to know how to run an organizational shell game for their own benefit. Hey Rube!

The Return of the “Stress Interview”

December 13, 2007

I thought that this fad had run its course back in the 80’s but I’ve been wrong before. If you’ve kept up with my posts, you know that I’ve been dancing The Job Search Shuffle as of late. It’s not a great time of the year to be job hunting but with persistence and perhaps the right credentials, one might make some good connections.

I received a phone call from the HR Manager of a new $30M division of a global corporation to whom I had applied for a position via an online service. The new division’s offices and plant were located about 15 miles from my home. It looked like a great opportunity. We set up an interview and I met for two hours each with the HR Manager as well as the General Manager of the division. I was very impressed and I guess that they were too because I received a call one week later to return and interview with one of the big shots from their corporate HQ. Something must have clicked during that interview as well. The official told me that the next step in the process would be for him to counsel with the HR and General Managers. They had all interviewed four prospective candidates and would select one to travel to HQ and meet with even higher-level big shots. I had mixed emotions but generally felt good about the entire process. I knew that they had checked me out rather thoroughly. I had signed releases for certain public information. Some of my references had even notified me that they had been contacted. Everyone I met from the corporation had been very accommodating during these initial interviews. They knew that I was working and we always scheduled things around my availability. That was very nice.

When I returned home the evening after my interview with the corporate honcho, there was message on my answering machine. It was the HR manager. She sounded very excited and requested that I call her back as soon as possible the next morning. I had been selected to travel to their headquarters for final interviews. I had done some research on the corporation prior to even applying for the position and noted that their corporate headquarters was tucked away in a fairly rural area about 100 miles from the nearest large metropolitan area. The place was about 850 miles from my home. I knew that this trip would be all day event and began to rehearse my spiel to the boss to justify taking an unscheduled vacation day.

I called the HR Manager early the next morning. She was still very excited. As we began to discuss to the trip, my anxiety level increased to about DEFCON 3. It seemed that that they wanted me there the very next day or, at the most, the day after that. They really wanted to move on this as quickly as possible. The corporation would arrange and pay for an extremely early morning flight. The tickets would be waiting for me at our local airport. Because of the distance, there would be a connection and I wouldn’t arrive at the destination airport until a little before noon. I was then to pick up a rental car (I had to arrange and pay but would be reimbursed) and drive the 100-mile circuitous route to their rural campus. I was to meet with four or five individuals then drive back to the airport that evening during rush hour and return on a late evening flight. It would probably put me back home by midnight. I had been watching the local weather forecast for that area during the previous few days (just in case I got the call) and noticed that it was horrible – ice storms and snow.

I am not a bad driver and have never even been issued a citation. But I am not young as I used to be and am quite careful and thoughtful about “sticking my neck out” behind the wheel. I am not too proud to admit that I had trepidations about driving through a major metropolitan area that I have never visited before and then making a 200 mile round trip journey on rural roads in potentially bad weather conditions – all in a part of the country that I was unfamiliar with.

In a spirit of full disclosure, I mentioned all of this to the HR Manager. She thought that this would be a rather exciting experience but sensed my apprehension. I opined that I would have thought that the corporation would send someone to meet me at the destination airport and transport me to their campus. “No, they don’t do that.” she replied. She said that she would talk to HQ and see what kind of alternatives could be worked out. I did not hear back from her that day.

When I returned home from work that evening, there was a message on my answering machine. It was the HR Manager. She was withdrawing the offer for the interview at their headquarters campus. They had selected another candidate. She wished me luck.

Talk about an anxiety filled day! I’m sorry that I lost out on the opportunity but my health and safety are much more important. I had calculated that based upon the travel schedule, the four or five execs at the HQ campus would probably each have gotten about a half hour’s piece of me. Perhaps I would have been mobbed. None of this guaranteed that a job offer would be extended. It wasn’t worth it.

I wonder what these corporate executives had in mind. Was this their normal process? No matter. At least they’ll be sure that the candidate who shows up has a lot of guts.

There are two precepts by which I’ve lived my entire working life: I will neither put myself in harm’s way nor go to jail for any company – let alone one that I don’t even work for.

Drive safe!

Life Must be Grand Inside the Pyramid

December 2, 2007

I’ll refer you back to my description of the corporation’s hierarchy in the post Help! We’ve Spun off the Organization Chart and can’t get up! (May 20, 2007, categorized under Never fail to Amaze). It’s difficult enough to work in a highly matrixed organization with directives and edicts emanating from a far distant “pyramid”. Now we are graced with the details of its newly reorganized structure – despite the fact that we were never informed of how it was organized beforehand.

The CEO has just issued the all employee memo. Of course it’s a lengthy and complicated document. Could anything less impress us lowly peons? If my powers of deduction are correct, it would appear that the pyramid contains several levels of the elite hierarchy – well sort of. Let’s see, we now must pay homage to the “Bureau of the CEO”, “Senior Executive Counsel”, “Functional Executive Counsel” and “Executive Advisory Counsel”. I had no idea that the pyramid had grown so large. Sounds magnificent and important, no?

The “Bureau of the CEO” seems pretty straightforward. It’s the CEO and his direct reports identified by both name and title, sort of like the traditional hierarchy one would expect. After that, it all becomes a bit more complicated. The “Senior Executive Counsel” is also headed by the CEO and contains some but not all of the CEO’s direct reports. It also contains some but not all of the heads of the various business units. Reporting to members of the “Senior Executive Counsel” are other heads of various business units identified by name only. So now we have some business unit leaders reporting to other business unit leaders. OK. Then there is the “Functional Executive Counsel”. This counsel is headed by one of the CEO’s direct reports who has a variety of individuals (some with strange and undecipherable titles) reporting up to them. One might think that these would be the heads of the major functional areas of the corporation, except for the fact that one of the most important functions is missing. This counsel also includes an individual from a functional area that one would expect to report directly to one of the CEO’s direct reports in the “Bureau of the CEO”. Finally, we come to the “Executive Advisory Counsel”, again headed by the CEO. This counsel includes several executives from a variety of business units none of whom anyone outside of the pyramid has probably ever heard of. It also includes the SR VP of the functional area that seems to be missing from “Functional Executive Counsel”. Sound confusing? Probably not to those who understand “the big picture”.

Of course there is absolutely no mention of how the rest us interface with this structure. To whom do we middle managers in the spinning sphere that separates the pyramid from the elongated rectangle report functionally or administratively? Where is the talk about providing those beneath the pyramid with resources and support? I have never seen a corporation more fixated on its elite. You can bet that the tape measures are working overtime to ensure that the proper office sizes befitting the status of the various counsel members are correct. The orders for new office furniture and other accouterments to appropriately identify the status of the various members probably abound as well. Salaries and perks? Let’s not even go there.

One thing is certain. We all know that the directives will continue to flow downward. Perhaps the purpose of the memo is to indicate that this restructuring will result in more commands and demands placed upon us. These “Counsels”, after all, will naturally have to justify their existence. You can bet that additional (and most probably redundant) requests for data and reports will soon be on the way. Why not just install telemetry on every piece of production machinery and office equipment and have the data transmitted to the various executive counsel members? Sorry, I forgot that there would still be a need for someone to perform the tasks of data collation, validation and summarization. Such tasks are certainly beneath the members of the “Counsels”.

Did I forget to mention the rationale behind this puzzle? Why it’s to structure the executive leadership so that it can maintain a tight finger on the pulse of the corporation and instantly react to changes in the marketplace. Sounds very cutting edge. In my opinion, it serves only to insulate the “elite” even further from the rest of the workforce. What utter pomposity!

Perhaps I’m being too critical and cynical. Could additional memos from our local leadership be forthcoming to further explain all of this to us? Based on the track record, it’s rather doubtful. In the meantime, I am certain that Sally, the accounts payable clerk whose position is about to be outsourced, Herman, whose manufacturing job will soon be eliminated because his plant is being closed and Edgar, the middle manager whose business unit was just sold to another firm that will find his position “redundant” will all take comfort in the knowledge that the Pharaoh, high priests and priestesses residing in the pyramid are now well organized and positioned to make only the most enlightened of business decisions.

As the elongated rectangle continues to shrink in size due to plant closings, outsourcing of jobs and the sale of many the corporation’s business units, what will become of the Pharaoh and his reorganized retinue who reside in the pyramid? Will it become their tomb? Not! They will move on to other kingdoms and continue to govern from distant palaces and temples. The rest of us will be set free to find other rulers to whom to pay our tribute. That is if we can locate them in the employment desert and be deemed worthy.