I have no doubt that the folks in Yorktown are working hard, but an optimized corporation requires an entire community of educated and enthusiastic employees at all levels. It takes strong two-way communication processes to improve teamwork between widely-dispersed and easily divergent international teams. And it takes the right sales and marketing people to keep selling hundreds of mundane products day in and day out to drive the revenue that produces profits to invest in critical, mind-blowing technologies. And it takes a thinking executive suite to invest those profits properly.
But instead of investing wisely, IBM's 21st Century corner office has spent its profit dollars on paper--stock. Which although the stock buybacks are positioned as being in the shareholders' best interest, that hasn't really worked out so well providing a compound average growth rate of 3% since January 1, 2000. A decent S&P 500 index-based fund would have provided 4.2% with much less risk and volatility. Neither has it worked out well for IBM's customers that wait longer for product updates that are stripped of needed functionality in exchange for an inflating maintenance dollar. Nor has it worked out so well for IBM employees that now view their corporation as a pit stop on the employment highway to somewhere else. ...
And IBM's acquisition growth model reinforces jettison-now mentalities. IBM rather than grooming turn-around leadership for its executive ranks promotes jettison-now management: if PC's aren't meeting expectations jettison it; if Intel servers aren't meeting expectations jettison it; if an internal product isn't performing just jettison it! No need to buckle down and get to work, just buy something that does work. IBM executives no longer understand that long-term, optimized profits are buried away in deep customer relationships. Long-term optimized profits won't be found in a financially-tuned, profit-driven, product portfolio. Shareholders shouldn't wait until IBM's next cash crunch before asking why IBM can't successfully evolve a "commodity" into the next new thing--like Apple. ...
Does shareholder-first and -only work? Does me-first and -only, in the long run, work out for the best? Does a corporation's history, its culture and its people--its deep roots--matter more than anything else during difficult times?
Selected reader comments follow:
Pros: Best end-to-end technology capabilities and long-term solutions strategy.
Cons: Excellent sales training does not replace experience. Cross-functional promotions of marketing people to sales management, of direct sales to channel sales is an antiquated skills growth.
Advice to Management: Value the experience of existing employees. Devote time to sales execution rather than daily sales cadence calls. Stop promoting mid-level sales management across disciplines. (Direct sales managers don't have a clue about channel sales strategy, yet they are continuously selected to manage far more experienced channel sales reps simply because of their cadence and spreadsheet skills).
Pros: Loved traveling as a F/T consultant, working in different places, meeting new people, and each assignment is never the same. Loved the constant change.
Cons: When I started in 1999, there were only 6 levels between myself and the CEO. Today, there are 10 levels. You can imagine each level is more costly then the other.
In the last 4 years, no raises, barely any bonuses, went to 44 hours/week; required to spend 40 hours of our own time training ourselves. (Class training denied unless for a specific client.) 401k match is only given at EOY, assuming you are still employed with them.
High utilization (billing to the client) is required, without regard to your earned vacation. (Told "well you can just work more hours".) Last few years, often management was not able to provide two weeks if you were being rolled off a project earlier then estimated. Hard to keep up your utilization when you can't control when you'll be at a project.
You have multiple managers to please (your personal manager and multiple client staff/managers). I never minded this part, but when IBM replaced a manager knowledgeable in HR issues with a manager who isn't experienced with HR issues, I felt cheated.
Used to feel part of something good. Expectations became too unrealistic. From 1999 until approximately 2010, I was proud to be an IBMer. Since then, IBM seems to cater to the stockholders, then the product. Seems that successful companies put their product first, then project. If done correctly, people are rewarded.
Advice to Management: 1) Stop with the at-a-boy club and reward what little loyal staff you have left. 2) Stop rewarding the CEO, who never made her numbers for 4.5 years, yet still received bonuses. 3) Focus on priorities: product, client, people.
Pros: If you are willing to work hard, have the skills that are desired by IBM and you are not marked for a resource action, I have always found that there is many opportunities available at this large company.
Cons: In my position, the biggest con is IBM's lack of work and life balance. I am expected to be on call 24x7 each and every day of the year as well as I must be reachable while on vacation. This is not an easy situation to live with, but is what I have chosen to do in order to remain employed.
Advice to Management: Take a moment to pause and remember the original, core values that IBM was built on: excellence, customer service, and respect for the individual. As a US employee, I no longer see any respect for the individual as a core, company value and that is a shame.
Pros: You have the option of coming in between 7am-9am so it's impossible to be late to work, hopefully. You can skip your lunch and leave an hour early but I heard that may depend on if your manager likes you or not.
Cons: IBM is contracted by Pepsi, so you are required to enter in all of your work that you completed at the end of the day and they act as if the world is coming to an end if you don't. It's pretty much a tracking device to see how productive you are. There is completely no organization. There have been so many re-orgs that everything is such a mess.
Account officers seem to work against you but your relationship with them determines how successful you are in the position. Managers act like they're always in a bad mood and not very helpful and they are will LIE to your face like it's nothing.
The morale is low and the employees there are disgruntled. Everyone is now hired as a contract worker. You get no vacation time and no benefits. Don't believe the story that you'll get hired on full-time after a full year. LIES!!! They'll just renew your contract. You're better off applying directly to Pepsi. Better culture and pay!
Advice to Management: IBM, I have no words. I'm purely disappointed to have worked for a company with such a prestigious name, only to find out it's not worth the hype and definitely not worth a mention on my resume. This taught me the lesson of "the grass is not always greener on the other side"...the grass here was dead with no hope of coming back to life.
Pros: They are paying crazy money for people to come back or start: band 9, $160K+. They may put Manager or Senior something or other in your "title".
Cons: They have gotten rid of and still are getting rid of employees with complete disregard of skill, education, or contribution to the business. Promotions are not based on tangible metric, or contribution to the business. Bonuses are not based on tangible metric, or contribution to the business. There are hardly any bonuses in comparison to other companies. Someone in your org has to be a 3 (low rating)) even if you have only one person (and they are a wizard) under you.
There are so many once "managers" now in place of technical staff and workers all they have are "IDEAS" and there is nobody left to do the work. Hiring, it is so hard to find the individuals that are needed to do the work because candidates have either worked there before and won't come back, or have heard the horror stories and won't come in. What you are hired to do likely won't be what you are doing when you get there.
IBM is still trying to "DECIMATE" its own ranks to boost falling stock prices. If you go into IBM now you may be caught up in the reorg.
Management has no idea what is going on and there has been no business planning done. If you invent something that has nothing to do with IBM in your off time, say highway road divots, It becomes IBM property because you work for IBM the other eight hours, five days a week and you will get nothing other than a $50 Best Buy card.
Advice to Management: I have been back to IBM a few times as a "regular employee" and I can't tell you the disarray I have seen. I was hired to come in as a "manager" to start and build an organization based on my experience as a consultant. When I started work the folks in charge told me the work has changed; you are now to do administrative work and make marketing movies and there will be no consulting. When I told them that is not why I was hired I was told "well, it still says manager in your title in the company directory".
Also the organizations have little or no business planning. And, the programs advertised are largely vaporware. My advice to management:
Pros: Good pay and plenty of exposure to training and opportunity to use training and good pay for overtime effort.
Cons: When mainframes were being replaced by PCs and PC networks IBM wanted to decrease my salary by $10 from $25 per hour to $15 per hour and little or not opportunity for overtime and I had an obligation for child support for 3 children to my ex-wife, so I had to leave IBM and get a job with a medical company as a field engineer on a medical CAT scanning equipment.
Advice to Management: In fairness you should consider assisting an employee in finding a different job with IBM rather than just abruptly telling him his salary was being cut by $10 per hour.
Pros: Work-life balance really depends on the project. Mostly good. Lot of avenues to learn. Plenty of artifacts to read and build cool things. Mostly learn independently with no restrictions. Excellent support is received, from peers across units.
Cons: Heavily dependent on how your relationships are with immediate manager. A good relation translates to rating, bonus, band change, etc. Merit is often sidelined. Pretty easy to feel left out, since it is vast. Very political environment. Often the senior management is trying to score brownie points with their line ups, ignoring the ground reality of their team. Don't get carried away because of brand value. At the end of day it is just like any other company.
Advice to Management: None. I can tell you from personal experience, management barely needs any advice from bottom up. All the changes, are always top down!
Pros: Good technical experience, a bit behind the curve but in general they catch up with the competition. I have had some nice workmates too.
Cons: The promotion system is based on self promotion. This has, over time, meant any decent management will just leave, leaving a complete set of people who are completely out of their depth and only skilled at self promotion. I have had a string of managers whom I either never dealt with, or were completely incapable ongoing anything. I had one incompetent manager repeatedly defend a bullying team lead, as he had no confidence in getting anything done on his own back. Of course this system leaves you no other routes open. They are tied to this outdated ridiculous bell curve system. Which means each team has to carry a dead beat.
And, promotions are rare and not based on ability. To get promote people morph into...well incompetent self promoters.
Canteen is probably the worse in the developed world. Office space converted factory, no natural daylight at all. Depressing space. I only work from home 2 days a week to get out of that grim office. In short, a dreadful culture, no career track, and some not so great people to work with. Managed by threats. I'm extremely happy not to be working there anymore.
Advice to Management: Get some back bone. Right is right and wrong is wrong. Weather it's small or big.
http://www.endicottalliance.org/thedisintegrationofemploymentinIBM.htm To all Alliance supporters, send and share the above link to the article "The disintegration of employment in IBM" far and wide. Put it on your FaceBook page; send it to newspapers; send it with comments to your political reps and send it to your co-workers. Help break the secrecy of IBM job cuts. Put some pressure on IBM. -Alliance-
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