In search of what's next

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Companies that care about their employees

Wouldn't it be great to know you worked for someone that truly cared for you? I used to believe that companies cared about their employees a little. I'm beginning to learn that they don't care dideley squat about their employees, for the most part.

This is a top down problem. I mean from the CEO down to mid level managers. They only care about one thing. No, scratch that. Two things. Money and their image. And not necessarily in that order.

For example, my current VP of operations at this location is the ultimate micro manager. (Being a small company, we have to squeeze the best dollars out of whatever we can to try to make a profit. I see that as everyone's goal here. That profit keeps us all employed.) I have been pestering mgmt here 2 years to buy new pc's in engineering. They're simply not powerful enough to do the job. A couple weeks ago, during the normal micro cycle, (which is to say I need to make sure the workforce is doing everything I think and say because I'm the VP, dangit) the vp went to engineering to try to help the design engineers better use their software. Some of the 3d models they work on are huge and can take as long as 20 minutes to load.

After waiting on this dwg to appear, he came over and started to yell at me about the speed. I reminded him that I've been pushing that problem for 2 years and if he'd be so kind as to sign off on a purchase order, I'd have pc's in there asap.

Guess what! They're now on order. Then in his ultimate wisdom, he tells me he wants to talk to me about where the engineering computers will best be used. I told him that was already taken care of. He asks where they're going because he doesn't want to waste the power of these particular pc's on someone's workstation that doesn't need it. I told him that's how I've always done this job and then gave him the list of recipients. Guess what else? The list didn't change either.

Think I'm over-reacting? Try this. When we moved over here, I designed and installed the network because the old one was pretty useless. He (new vp of micro mgmt) get's hired about 1/3 of the way into the project. He has to do the typical manager move and make his mark, so he begins to 2nd guess all the work everyone has done up to this point, including my network design. He moves my office (after 1/3 of the wire is pulled, so that's a mandatory cabinet and switches added to the design), then removes the A/C unit already on the plan, approved and signed off on by the CEO. He drops the electrical circuits by 1/2 and tells me that should be plenty.

The extra cabinet wasn't such a big deal, but tracing circuits is a true pain because my internet connection was already located and wired there. So I had to run several lines from there to my current location because of expansion. It didn't take long of popping circuit breakers to get more circuits ran in the office.

But the A/C was a problem. They didn't want to spend the money on it. In the mean time, I sat every day in a 90 degree office. I had 2 fans outside the door. For a year. Then I got a bright idea. I started having meetings in my office, instead of the conference room. I used every excuse I could think of to not leave my office. Every meeting I had to, there was a reason I had to have it in my office. 4 months of this got me an A/C unit.

It didn't matter that is was so hot in here that my firewall and one pc would shut down every day because of the heat. The pc ran some background apps mostly that didn't affect much of anyone except me. However we pay for email service. Every time the firewall crapped out, no email or internet. My phone would ring off the hook because of this. This went on for over a year because I just really didn't need an A/C unit in here.

But remember, you can get people's attention by having a meeting in a hot office during the winter when everyone wears long sleeves, sweaters and heavy pants. And make it a long one. Repeat key issues and run them in the ground. I actually got asked if I could turn the heat down one time. At least the firewall isn't dropping 3x a day.

Anyway, that's my example of self importance or self image if you will of upper mgmt. If you disagree, tell me where I'm missing a point. I'm not trying to be difficult. I want this company to succeed. I want to keep working here. I like the job. Just please, use some sense in managing it.

My example of the money part happened last night. My wife started working for a large grocer company in their IT dept last week of June. They make a mistake and give her the first paycheck for the whole month, instead of the week (they pay monthly). She dutifully takes it back and tells them it's wrong. They re-issue a check.

Here's the problem I can't figure out how they can legally do. There were 22 working days in June. To figure a weeks pay, I would guess you'd take the annual salary, divide it by 52. There's a weekly rate. Divide that by 5. There's a daily rate. That's not how they figured her salary. They took the monthly rate and divided it by 30.4 and only paid her 5 days. They literally stole several hundred dollars from her.

Don't get me started on HR depts. That's the most useless section of paperwork in company files I've ever seen.

Anyway, what legal recourse does my wife have in that case? Her lovely HR dept says "that's company policy". It's outright theivery if you ask me. How can they do that?

But what got me to write this is mainly pent up frustration about a lot of things. It just happens these fit my attitude about it. I just read an article in information week about mergers, takeovers and buyouts. Interesting article from the IT perspective. One particular company written about is DHL's takeover of Airborne Express.

This got my attention because I used to work for them in the sort center. Didn't pay the greatest, but it was a fun job that I liked. I learned a few things, for example, DHL is from Belguim. They outsourced most of their IT work to India. Airborne was an in house shop with a great network to do the job. In a typical European move, they had to have Airborne's US business because they had tried several times to get into the US and failed, so they bought their way in.

France based Schneider did that to Square D company. A Danish company did that to the one I work for now. That's why I say it's a typical European move. Can't cut the mustard? Buy your way in with somebody else's knife. (Think about that while pondering Microsoft's problems with the EU)

The head of DHL's transportation group, Rod Parker, was referenced in the article with this line: "Parker doesn't know how many Airborne layoffs resulted from moving work to Infosys." (Infosys is the India based outsource firm DHL uses).

You tell me, does DHL care for it's employees at all?

I'm of the opinion "that's a negatory, good buddy".


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