The Executive Wagon Circles
Ok. A couple months ago I typed up this thing about Top Ten Ways to Fix Corporate America-- but I left one off and this one is sort of a big one.
Across the board-- people I talk to who have jobs all seem sort of stunned about how badly the powers-that-be are cracking down on petty expenses. Weed wacker style. Like one friend ordered in lunch for a client meeting and he ordered from the more 'pricey' place. His boss flipped on him. It was $150 the company couldn't afford. (This was a Fortune 500 company). Blah blah. Office supplies and new software purchases are slashed. Crappy chairs litter the office because nobody can order furniture. Hiring a temp for a week is off the agenda. IT people are left twisting with empty pockets and stuff because nobody understands what they really do. Nobody wants to be flagged for spending-- even when its necessary.
See, the real issue with the economy is that up until recently companies were not required to make money at all. Not in reality anyway. They just had to make enough to make it look like they made money. Keep money flowing through their system. But when you added it all up in reality-- the company probably was taking big losses. Every year. (You're telling me a company like GM has made a dime in the past 30 years? No way...) So now that the game is changing. Companies are scrambling around to learn how to actually make money... in real life. Mathematical profit. Not bullshit number shovey fantasy profit.
Problem is they all seem to be dealing with it wrong from the start. Take airlines cutting back on their peanuts as an example. That's gonna solve the problem? They're going for the obvious and easy slashes. Justifying themselves to the stock holders. Acting like they're 'changing things'. Cutting costs. But for the most part, the people I talk to all have the same complaint. The companies seem to be scratching like crazy at the lower level stuff to find a way to make the numbers work--- ignoring is the fact that they're crazy top heavy.
I've yet to see a company shake up the executive levels in a serious way. They're not. All those high-ups execs are now protecting themselves. Circling the fancy wagons. They're ignoring the fact that way too many do-nothing Senior Vice Presidents that make huge salaries are sitting in their offices counting how many staples people use all day. Or "heroically" throwing themselves on their sword with a 5%-10% across the company salary cut. (Mr. Millionaire is going down to Mr. $900,000-aire? Whatever. But now the guy who's making 50k is now making 40k-- deflating any real motivation long term.)
Put it this way, if you have some company that produces umm... Wiggily Wockets and some SVP guy is sitting in some top floor office costing the company $650,000 a year. Does the company realize they have take in a profit of $650,000 worth of Wiggily Wockets just to support that one guy and his staple obsession? That's ALOT of Wiggily Wockets!
Now I'm not saying there aren't valuable executives sitting up there. Of course there's lots. But the thing I'm noticing is the powers-that-be are too scared to start shaking up the top branches in a serious way because then they might fall out of the tree too. No exec dude is gonna start a process that might end up with his own self getting fired. But if any company is serious about gaining ground now-- they have to stop wondering if they can 'afford' a new assistant for the mid-level manager guy and start wondering if the guy 5 levels up who's not signing off on it-- is seriously worth keeping around. He's making the money of 25-50 assistants! And in alot of cases is less valuable day to day than the mid-level backbone manager!
I don't wanna see anyone get laid off of course. But I would like to see companies get alot more serious about the fact that they don't look like anything resembling a healthy oval and start accepting the truth. They're all shaped like broccoli...