Monday, April 03, 2017
How To Kill A Successful Company: A Short Guide
There were also small non-quantitative "bonuses" which added immense value to being an employee there, such as an outing to the track. The company would shut down for the day and take everyone to the races (the company owned box seating), lunch at one of the upscale restaurants, along with anniversary lunches, gift cards, and turkeys at Thanksgiving. The white collar employees, such as myself, had individual offices. Each morning the company president would come by and greet each employee. He would check to see that the trash cans had been emptied the previous night, the carpets vacuumed, light bulbs changed, office furniture was in good repair, and everything was in working order.
After the president retired, things changed rapidly. There were fewer and fewer pay raises (even COLAs), updates in technology slowed to virtually nothing. Building maintenance became nearly nonexistent. Gone too were many of the small perks such as an outing to the race track, luncheons and turkeys. There was greater emphasis placed on intercompany competition. Employees were subtly encouraged to steal fees from fellow employees (especially if they were in another department). Employees were expected to lie to clients when it came to issuing remittance checks (the company would hold the checks for approximately ten days, sometimes longer), or find ways to beat the attorneys down on fees and to get clients to go along with changes in terms which would, of course, benefit the company's (but not necessarily the employee's) bottom line. Ultimately, the company's reputation took a nosedive.
So, how did I fare? Well, I had been one of the employees who looked out for fellow employees regardless of their department or role. I openly opposed any and all internal conflict. I refused to take advantage of my attorneys or of the clients (however, if there was a way we all could mutually benefit, I was all for it). I was seen as a "shop steward" or employee liaison. Employees came to me on a regular basis to discuss problems with supervisors, management or other employees. I often served as the conduit for new ideas to improve work conditions, improve productivity and so forth. Management, rather than appreciating my role, which was at their behest, actually feared it. They did everything they could to force me out, from verbal harassment to cutting my income my over 1/3 at one point. Somehow though, I always made money. In fact, I was lucky enough to collect the single largest recovery in my department's 90+ years history (and the second largest in the company's history) and collected the most total fees earned in the company's history. I was also one of the most requested managers to handle certain clients exclusively; this, despite routinely being given the worse claims.
After a few minutes of thought, I fired off a reply and for good measure, copied all the same people as he did. Here's what I said, "That works until the monkeys decide to organize their efforts. One goes for the banana. One serves as lookout, and the other three wait to beat the bejeezus out of the asshole with the water hose. They split the banana and laugh and laugh". A few years later, I was promoted to Special Projects Coordinator to the President---an Assistant Vice President position within the new company. My role was improve the workplace efficiency and working conditions, evaluate individual and departmental performances, assist with HR functions, help resolve any workplace conflicts (I was a certified mediator), in addition to my existing position as the senior Legal Manager in the department. It was a role I enjoyed (and the additional compensation was nice too).