Grabbing a Golden Ring on the Executive Merry Go Round

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!


4 Responses to “Grabbing a Golden Ring on the Executive Merry Go Round”

  1. BPFH Says:

    Ye gods, this sounds familiar. It happens so regularly at my company, I’ve even come up with a name for it: the Semi-Annual Reorganization Fest.

  2. thecorporatecynic Says:

    I’m happy to see that to we are not alone. Keep on reading my friend. Perhaps you’ll find some other parallels.


  3. Don Says:

    I like your merry-go-round analogy, very fitting and (unfortunately) very true in my experience. The company I work for tend to “restructure”, “re-align” or whatever other cute tag-of-the-day they put on it. Essentially all they do is shuffle the deck. The public utility company I work just last week announced a mini re-shuffling. The majority of appointments make no apparent sense.

    To wit:one guy was made VP of Shared Services, responsible for such things as Purchasing, Real Estate, and Environmental. Well duhhh, the dude has no experience whatsoever in any of these areas he’s now in charge of. And, a woman with an environmental engineering and law background who was (logically) director of Environmental Services was put into a new director position responsible for developing a business plan for new business opportunities. If you guessed this lady has no such experience dealing in the focus areas of her new job, your correct!

    Hello??? ………. am I missing something????????

  4. thecorporatecynic Says:

    My “spin” (pun intended) on the executive merry-go-round phenomena is that much of it is fueled by pure cronyism.

    It strikes me that many of these highly compensated types have no real functional responsibilities other than to hold their subordinates responsible. Aren’t these great positions to be in? Nothing more than conduits (and highly compensated ones at that) between the CEO and the lower levels. Qualifications? Purely political. I’ve seen this occur many times in companies that I’ve worked for in the past as well as the I one work for now.


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