Corporate politics/culture

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prettybogle
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Corporate politics/culture

Post by prettybogle » Mon Oct 15, 2018 8:52 pm

I am working in private sector for 20 years now. I consider myself still a newbie when it comes to corporate politics. I am hoping you guys can share your thoughts on what’s happening in our company. It is a pretty stable financial company but since last year there have been changes - sold off a business unit, consolidated a location into other locations, some top leaders left, ceo retires and the new ceo is a guy from a good wall street firm. I am trying hard to get as much information as I can from colleagues all the way up to middle management. The information I am able to gather so far seems to be positive - company is doing reorg and coming up with new projects, old ceo is leaving strictly for retirement, new ceo is pretty sharp etc. Thank you in advance.

Beensabu
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Re: Corporate politics/culture

Post by Beensabu » Mon Oct 15, 2018 9:15 pm

Everything coming from the top is lies. New people will come in to take on the new projects. The new people will have the same roles/titles as old people. There will be outsourcing to third-parties. Company may or may not actually be stable. YMMV.
"The only thing that makes life possible is permanent, intolerable uncertainty; not knowing what comes next."

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FiveK
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Re: Corporate politics/culture

Post by FiveK » Mon Oct 15, 2018 9:18 pm

People who make it to CEO level usually don't lack self-confidence. Whether that self-confidence is warranted or misplaced is another question.

It is not at all uncommon for
- other in-house candidates for CEO to "leave for opportunities elsewhere" because, well, they lost out to the winner.
- the new CEO to have "some better ideas"
- etc.

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jabberwockOG
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Re: Corporate politics/culture

Post by jabberwockOG » Mon Oct 15, 2018 9:31 pm

Agree - you'll get nothing but BS and spin from most anyone in 2cd line management and up to CEO who will be a master of BS.

If you don;t already have a highly ranking mentor that is willing to level with you, you are likely not going to move up anytime soon. Look around you and trust your gut. My guess is you can feel the mood and can foretell the future there.

The economy is going great guns right now. An excellent time to make a move to a company where potential opportunities are best for you.

Once you announce your resignation you'll know within the hour if you are actually valuable to your current company.

mac808
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Re: Corporate politics/culture

Post by mac808 » Mon Oct 15, 2018 9:36 pm

Part of the value of a good CEO is their personal network of other executives whom they can recruit to come work for them.

Expect 50% of current senior level executives to be replaced within 12 months, and then it will have a trickle down effect from there, with the new C levels and SVPs replacing the majority of their own staffs, and so on and so forth. Only you can know whether your relationships are strong enough to provide some stability in the likely event of rapid turnover.

I second the previous advice - it's not a bad time to look around and see what else is available, while the hiring market is still hot.
Last edited by mac808 on Mon Oct 15, 2018 9:38 pm, edited 3 times in total.

KlangFool
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Re: Corporate politics/culture

Post by KlangFool » Mon Oct 15, 2018 9:37 pm

OP,

Why does any of this matters to you? What is your goal?

In order to play any political game, you need to have the clarity of purpose first. What are you trying to achieve?

KlangFool

dcabler
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Re: Corporate politics/culture

Post by dcabler » Tue Oct 16, 2018 6:32 am

Been in the private sector for 35 years now. It's almost as if there is a play book that they've read, at least in my industry.
1. New CEO comes in. Declares a 90-120 day period of "getting the lay of the land"
2. After that period, large number of second level execs depart nearly simultaneously and are replaced by new people of the CEO's choosing. Top level of the company then begins to look like some other company where they all previously worked together. Culture shift begins, but doesn't get very far because the day-to-day life of the company is handled by the middle managers with enough of a knowledge gap between them and the next level of execs that nothing really changes.
3. Within the next 30-60 days, a small-to-mid size layoff then happens which shows the board that the exec is fiscally responsible.
4. A short time later, a mid-lower-level reorganization happens to move the deck chairs around, again showing the board that the CEO has things under control
5. By that time a year has passed and, according to the CEO's contract, the CEO no longer has to refund the sign-on bonus. :moneybag
6. CEO either flames out or lasts 3-5 years till the next one comes along.

Only a little cynical. :D

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jharkin
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Re: Corporate politics/culture

Post by jharkin » Tue Oct 16, 2018 7:22 am

I worked 21 years in a public midcap high tech company - I can absolutely confirm all of the above.

Company went though 3 CEOs in my time. First change was from the original guy brought in by the founders and VC investors, replaced by the first salesman (to turn around the ship after dotcom bust). I was too new and too far down to be affected. Second change was after #2 decided to retire to the board, promoted one divisional R&D head to CEO... of course most of the senior folks in the "other" divisions moved on... and then over the years multiple changeovers at the Cxx and SVP/DVP (department head) level led to similar shakeups.

My experience is that every time, as mentioned above, the "losers" mostly leave... The few senior folks who do stay behind tend to be the people most skilled at playing politics. And often those are the ones you want to be most careful around, they are only in it for their own career survival and will leave a trail of collateral damage in their wake as they jump from role to role.

What did I do? I eventually got fed up and left for a private firm that doesn't play these games.

huntertheory
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Re: Corporate politics/culture

Post by huntertheory » Tue Oct 16, 2018 8:16 am

Based on the description I’d be less worried about the “politics” and instead on the stability of the organization. And on that, I would recall the maxim: “Who are you going to believe? Me, or your lying eyes?”

staythecourse
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Re: Corporate politics/culture

Post by staythecourse » Tue Oct 16, 2018 8:29 am

dcabler wrote:
Tue Oct 16, 2018 6:32 am
Been in the private sector for 35 years now. It's almost as if there is a play book that they've read, at least in my industry.
1. New CEO comes in. Declares a 90-120 day period of "getting the lay of the land"
2. After that period, large number of second level execs depart nearly simultaneously and are replaced by new people of the CEO's choosing. Top level of the company then begins to look like some other company where they all previously worked together. Culture shift begins, but doesn't get very far because the day-to-day life of the company is handled by the middle managers with enough of a knowledge gap between them and the next level of execs that nothing really changes.
3. Within the next 30-60 days, a small-to-mid size layoff then happens which shows the board that the exec is fiscally responsible.
4. A short time later, a mid-lower-level reorganization happens to move the deck chairs around, again showing the board that the CEO has things under control
5. By that time a year has passed and, according to the CEO's contract, the CEO no longer has to refund the sign-on bonus. :moneybag
6. CEO either flames out or lasts 3-5 years till the next one comes along.

Only a little cynical. :D
Funny I am in medicine and it is about the same for hospital admin. I have learned that ALL business folks run a standard unwritten playbook. Just shows most CEO's are not innovators but just the same person as the person they hired with a different suit color.

Good luck.
"The stock market [fluctuation], therefore, is noise. A giant distraction from the business of investing.” | -Jack Bogle

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Watty
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Re: Corporate politics/culture

Post by Watty » Tue Oct 16, 2018 8:53 am

prettybogle wrote:
Mon Oct 15, 2018 8:52 pm
the new ceo is a guy from a good wall street firm.
Unless your company is a somewhat similar wall street firm(even if not on wall street) then you have to wonder why they hired someone from a wall street firm.

The reason could be that he was hired to extract value from the company then sell off the remains for as much as possible before the long term consequences hit the fan.

A big question to look at is who owns the company and what they stand to gain by hiring him.

One thing to watch out for is that if you have a pension then one step in this process is often to do a strategic bankruptcy to get out of their pension obligations.

dcabler wrote:
Tue Oct 16, 2018 6:32 am
Been in the private sector for 35 years now. It's almost as if there is a play book that they've read, at least in my industry.
1. New CEO comes in. Declares a 90-120 day period of "getting the lay of the land"
2. After that period, large number of second level execs depart nearly simultaneously and are replaced by new people of the CEO's choosing. Top level of the company then begins to look like some other company where they all previously worked together. Culture shift begins, but doesn't get very far because the day-to-day life of the company is handled by the middle managers with enough of a knowledge gap between them and the next level of execs that nothing really changes.
3. Within the next 30-60 days, a small-to-mid size layoff then happens which shows the board that the exec is fiscally responsible.
4. A short time later, a mid-lower-level reorganization happens to move the deck chairs around, again showing the board that the CEO has things under control
5. By that time a year has passed and, according to the CEO's contract, the CEO no longer has to refund the sign-on bonus. :moneybag
6. CEO either flames out or lasts 3-5 years till the next one comes along.

Only a little cynical. :D
You forgot the step where they publish new core company values(or a new mission statement) and put it on posters on the break room wall and on the company website. I think I saw about three of those before I retired. I never recall the company values or the mission statement ever being mentioned in a decision making meeting.

There is also a step where some of the key middle managers are replaced to provide job security for the new upper management. The problem is that if there is a department director that has been with the company for 20 years then he or she could keep the day to day operations running or they could be promoted to VP if the new VP of that division is fired. Without that person it is much harder to fire the new VP.

It was not as consistent but often there would also be a rebranding step where small changes are made to the company logo or name. That showed they were doing something even though it could cost a million dollars to change all the signs, stationary, etc. if you had a lot of locations.

dcabler
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Re: Corporate politics/culture

Post by dcabler » Tue Oct 16, 2018 9:16 am

Watty wrote:
Tue Oct 16, 2018 8:53 am
prettybogle wrote:
Mon Oct 15, 2018 8:52 pm
the new ceo is a guy from a good wall street firm.
Unless your company is a somewhat similar wall street firm(even if not on wall street) then you have to wonder why they hired someone from a wall street firm.

The reason could be that he was hired to extract value from the company then sell off the remains for as much as possible before the long term consequences hit the fan.

A big question to look at is who owns the company and what they stand to gain by hiring him.

One thing to watch out for is that if you have a pension then one step in this process is often to do a strategic bankruptcy to get out of their pension obligations.

dcabler wrote:
Tue Oct 16, 2018 6:32 am
Been in the private sector for 35 years now. It's almost as if there is a play book that they've read, at least in my industry.
1. New CEO comes in. Declares a 90-120 day period of "getting the lay of the land"
2. After that period, large number of second level execs depart nearly simultaneously and are replaced by new people of the CEO's choosing. Top level of the company then begins to look like some other company where they all previously worked together. Culture shift begins, but doesn't get very far because the day-to-day life of the company is handled by the middle managers with enough of a knowledge gap between them and the next level of execs that nothing really changes.
3. Within the next 30-60 days, a small-to-mid size layoff then happens which shows the board that the exec is fiscally responsible.
4. A short time later, a mid-lower-level reorganization happens to move the deck chairs around, again showing the board that the CEO has things under control
5. By that time a year has passed and, according to the CEO's contract, the CEO no longer has to refund the sign-on bonus. :moneybag
6. CEO either flames out or lasts 3-5 years till the next one comes along.

Only a little cynical. :D
You forgot the step where they publish new core company values(or a new mission statement) and put it on posters on the break room wall and on the company website. I think I saw about three of those before I retired. I never recall the company values or the mission statement ever being mentioned in a decision making meeting.

There is also a step where some of the key middle managers are replaced to provide job security for the new upper management. The problem is that if there is a department director that has been with the company for 20 years then he or she could keep the day to day operations running or they could be promoted to VP if the new VP of that division is fired. Without that person it is much harder to fire the new VP.

It was not as consistent but often there would also be a rebranding step where small changes are made to the company logo or name. That showed they were doing something even though it could cost a million dollars to change all the signs, stationary, etc. if you had a lot of locations.
Oh yeah! My favorite one was a new set of letters put in the long hallways that spelled "SUCCESS". Each letter had a photo of an employee sitting inside the letter. Problem was, all of the letters didn't get delivered at the same time. So for about two weeks, it just spelled "SUCC". We got a lot of mileage from that one!! :D

moehoward
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Re: Corporate politics/culture

Post by moehoward » Tue Oct 16, 2018 9:24 am

dcabler wrote:
Tue Oct 16, 2018 6:32 am
Been in the private sector for 35 years now. It's almost as if there is a play book that they've read, at least in my industry.
1. New CEO comes in. Declares a 90-120 day period of "getting the lay of the land"
2. After that period, large number of second level execs depart nearly simultaneously and are replaced by new people of the CEO's choosing. Top level of the company then begins to look like some other company where they all previously worked together. Culture shift begins, but doesn't get very far because the day-to-day life of the company is handled by the middle managers with enough of a knowledge gap between them and the next level of execs that nothing really changes.
3. Within the next 30-60 days, a small-to-mid size layoff then happens which shows the board that the exec is fiscally responsible.
4. A short time later, a mid-lower-level reorganization happens to move the deck chairs around, again showing the board that the CEO has things under control
5. By that time a year has passed and, according to the CEO's contract, the CEO no longer has to refund the sign-on bonus. :moneybag
6. CEO either flames out or lasts 3-5 years till the next one comes along.

Only a little cynical. :D
I'm going to have nightmares tonight. When I worked in hi-tech, it was the same speech every year.
"We have to understand what our customers want"
"We need to Increase sales "
"We need to lower costs"

I always thought the same thing, "wow I can see why this guy is in charge..."
https://youtu.be/QDDCeoVMwKQ

Broken Man 1999
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Re: Corporate politics/culture

Post by Broken Man 1999 » Tue Oct 16, 2018 9:30 am

KlangFool wrote:
Mon Oct 15, 2018 9:37 pm
OP,<br abp="686"><br abp="687">Why does any of this matters to you? What is your goal?<br abp="688"><br abp="689">In order to play any political game, you need to have the clarity of purpose first. What are you trying to achieve?<br abp="690"><br abp="691">KlangFool
Yeah, I have to agree. OP,where are you in the grand scheme of things, level-wise? If you are high up, you would certainly need to learn the new corporate culture to survive, much less thrive.

Below a certain level, you are just a drone, you are a threat to no one in the new leadership, and would most likely be left alone to continue doing your job.

If you aren't the lead dog, your view won't change, as I have often heard.

Broken Man 1999
“If I cannot drink Bourbon and smoke cigars in Heaven than I shall not go. " -Mark Twain

KlangFool
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Re: Corporate politics/culture

Post by KlangFool » Tue Oct 16, 2018 9:35 am

Broken Man 1999 wrote:
Tue Oct 16, 2018 9:30 am
KlangFool wrote:
Mon Oct 15, 2018 9:37 pm
OP,<br abp="686"><br abp="687">Why does any of this matters to you? What is your goal?<br abp="688"><br abp="689">In order to play any political game, you need to have the clarity of purpose first. What are you trying to achieve?<br abp="690"><br abp="691">KlangFool
Yeah, I have to agree. OP,where are you in the grand scheme of things, level-wise? If you are high up, you would certainly need to learn the new corporate culture to survive, much less thrive.

Below a certain level, you are just a drone, you are a threat to no one in the new leadership, and would most likely be left alone to continue doing your job.

If you aren't the lead dog, your view won't change, as I have often heard.

Broken Man 1999
The best way to win the game is you do not have to play.

I will be my "Millionaire Next Door". Meanwhile, I will let those folks chasing their own tails. I would not waste my time and effort playing their games. I have my own life to live.

KlangFool

Jack FFR1846
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Re: Corporate politics/culture

Post by Jack FFR1846 » Tue Oct 16, 2018 9:42 am

I worked for one particular MegaTechCorp where the executive VP of sales rotated in/out on about an 18 month basis. Every one of them seemed to feel that they needed to make a major change to show how great they were. I'm attached to sales so saw the result of their ego driven stupidity. One VP says that we don't pay enough attention to smaller customers where easy sales lie. "Go fourth and see all the customers everywhere all the time". 18 month later, new EVP comes in. He decides that 80% of our revenue comes from 20% of our customers. So instead of 150 customers that I was assigned to support technically, I was now assigned 100% of the time to 4. 18 months later, new EVP comes in from Europe, where city/states are still how population centers are laid out. His decree is that every sales person should draw a circle 15 miles radius from his house. Only customers within that circle are his. Although not the absolute stupidest thing I've ever seen, it ranks right up there.

Executives also lie. During a huge downturn in our industry, an Executive VP made the rounds saying that unlike our competitors who are dropping shifts and shutting down fabs, we're going to keep going, making high runners and commodities so that when the economy turns around, we'll have die that can be quickly packaged and take orders from our competitors. Well, the turn around comes. Guess what? We dropped shifts and shut down fabs just like everyone else. So instead of being able to fill orders, we're going around telling customers to order from our competitors because we won't have parts ready for a year.

Those at the top lie. They always lie.
Bogle: Smart Beta is stupid

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BarbaricYawp
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Re: Corporate politics/culture

Post by BarbaricYawp » Tue Oct 16, 2018 9:56 am

Ah yes, the vaunted "Hundred Day Plan". :oops:

Anything that is publicly traded is prone to this scenario. You missed the part where the new CEO starts cutting RD/IP funding -- even though the company doesn't have a stable product pipeline -- because 'what we have already is such a cash cow/needs work and we need to focus on our core/we can buy it vs make it more cheaply'. At that point the company goes from an innovator to a reseller/coupon clipper. The stage after that, either the customers decide they don't want to support your stated double-digit growth projections by paying 15% more for essentially the same product (or a commodity they can get elsewhere). RD gets cut, marketing gets cut, sales gets boosted short term and then they start eating them as well. I've seen it twice now, both companies with nearly billion $ market cap. One folded, the other is staggering along.

I wouldn't say 'cut and run' quite yet -- these things can take years to unfold -- but it would be good to have a contingency plan. I did what one of the other posters did and got into a very stable private company
"The cure for boredom is curiosity. There is no cure for curiosity." --Dorothy Parker

Valuethinker
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Re: Corporate politics/culture

Post by Valuethinker » Tue Oct 16, 2018 10:14 am

Jack FFR1846 wrote:
Tue Oct 16, 2018 9:42 am
I worked for one particular MegaTechCorp where the executive VP of sales rotated in/out on about an 18 month basis. Every one of them seemed to feel that they needed to make a major change to show how great they were. I'm attached to sales so saw the result of their ego driven stupidity. One VP says that we don't pay enough attention to smaller customers where easy sales lie. "Go fourth and see all the customers everywhere all the time". 18 month later, new EVP comes in. He decides that 80% of our revenue comes from 20% of our customers. So instead of 150 customers that I was assigned to support technically, I was now assigned 100% of the time to 4. 18 months later, new EVP comes in from Europe, where city/states are still how population centers are laid out. His decree is that every sales person should draw a circle 15 miles radius from his house. Only customers within that circle are his. Although not the absolute stupidest thing I've ever seen, it ranks right up there.
The 80-20 is standard McKinsey analysis and I wouldn't be surprised if they paid $1m+ to McKinsey for a consulting assignment with that particular insight.

It's actually quite a useful one BUT what you do about it that counts. For example those 20% of customers are probably the most profitable in the sense that they have the lowest total cost to serve, but they also negotiate the biggest discounts, volume off takes etc.

The number of times I have seen "loss making" products dropped, and then the discovery that that causes your customer to shift their business, or that that product was absorbing a disproportionate part of your overheads, etc...
Executives also lie. During a huge downturn in our industry, an Executive VP made the rounds saying that unlike our competitors who are dropping shifts and shutting down fabs, we're going to keep going, making high runners and commodities so that when the economy turns around, we'll have die that can be quickly packaged and take orders from our competitors. Well, the turn around comes. Guess what? We dropped shifts and shut down fabs just like everyone else. So instead of being able to fill orders, we're going around telling customers to order from our competitors because we won't have parts ready for a year.

Those at the top lie. They always lie.
Ahh the semi-conductor death cycle ;-).

Everyone always tells the stock analysts in The Street that this time the industry has learned its lesson, will not overinvest, and will not slash prices when the downturn in demand hits. And every cycle they do precisely that.

In John Sterman's textbook on Systems Dynamic Modelling (he's at MIT) there is a nice little description of how the semiconductor industry works. It goes back to "the Beer Game" which I think all business and engineering students probably play in orientation week? That tendency to misforecast, overproduce, then have to slash back too much.

http://jsterman.scripts.mit.edu/docs/Do ... %20JOM.pdf

http://jsterman.scripts.mit.edu/docs/St ... ffects.pdf

neither of the above is quite what is in the textbook but they do capture some of the effects.

I've seen them in every capital intensive industry with long lead times on new capacity and with volatile demand. Metals & mining (especially aluminum!), semiconductors, pulp & paper, chemicals, commercial real estate ...

As to execs they are governed by insider trading laws - so they can't admit, even to employees, that the company is going to do what it is going to do "price sensitive confidential information". What's more scary is they may not, themselves, know.

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Re: Corporate politics/culture

Post by lostdog » Tue Oct 16, 2018 10:31 am

Financial independence is the best revenge. Use these places to build your wealth with a high savings rate and get out asap. Your health and family will thank you.

KlangFool
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Re: Corporate politics/culture

Post by KlangFool » Tue Oct 16, 2018 10:35 am

Jack FFR1846 wrote:
Tue Oct 16, 2018 9:42 am

Those at the top lie. They always lie.
Jack FFR1846,

I think you overrated their capabilities. A person has to know the truth in order to lie. They are not smart enough to lie.

KlangFool

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Watty
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Re: Corporate politics/culture

Post by Watty » Tue Oct 16, 2018 10:42 am

Jack FFR1846 wrote:
Tue Oct 16, 2018 9:42 am
Executives also lie. During a huge downturn in our industry, an Executive VP made the rounds saying that unlike our competitors who are dropping shifts and shutting down fabs, we're going to keep going, making high runners and commodities so that when the economy turns around, we'll have die that can be quickly packaged and take orders from our competitors. Well, the turn around comes. Guess what? We dropped shifts and shut down fabs just like everyone else. So instead of being able to fill orders, we're going around telling customers to order from our competitors because we won't have parts ready for a year.

Those at the top lie. They always lie.
They can also be clueless.

One time we were going through a round of layoffs after a merger. I knew one of the executive VPs even though I was working as IT staff and we just happened to be walking down the hall together. He ask me how things were going and I said I was just waiting for the next shoe to drop. He had loafers on so he flipped his shoe in the air and let it drop on the floor and said something like, "there it is, the shoe just dropped, no need to worry now." That was more or less a lie but it was more because he was trying to "rally the troops" when he really didn't know what was going on. The funny thing was that he was laid off about a week later and I don't think he had a clue that it was coming since it seemed like he was going to be on the surviving team.

KlangFool
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Re: Corporate politics/culture

Post by KlangFool » Tue Oct 16, 2018 10:50 am

Valuethinker wrote:
Tue Oct 16, 2018 10:14 am

The number of times I have seen "loss making" products dropped, and then the discovery that that causes your customer to shift their business, or that that product was absorbing a disproportionate part of your overheads, etc...
Valuethinker,

That is still a fairly sane company. How about consistently cut cost and reduce investment on your most profitable products? Then, divert the money into the development of a new product that guaranteed to lose money even if it works. After 2 years, the development of the new product failed. Then, repeat the same process again. Cut money to profitable products and waste money on new product development that will lose money even if it works. Repeat and rinse again and again.

It takes a great amount of stupidity and insanity to destroy a multi-products profitable company with long-established customers. But, it happened.

KlangFool
Last edited by KlangFool on Tue Oct 16, 2018 10:56 am, edited 2 times in total.

staythecourse
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Re: Corporate politics/culture

Post by staythecourse » Tue Oct 16, 2018 10:51 am

Jack FFR1846 wrote:
Tue Oct 16, 2018 9:42 am
I worked for one particular MegaTechCorp where the executive VP of sales rotated in/out on about an 18 month basis. Every one of them seemed to feel that they needed to make a major change to show how great they were. I'm attached to sales so saw the result of their ego driven stupidity. One VP says that we don't pay enough attention to smaller customers where easy sales lie. "Go fourth and see all the customers everywhere all the time". 18 month later, new EVP comes in. He decides that 80% of our revenue comes from 20% of our customers. So instead of 150 customers that I was assigned to support technically, I was now assigned 100% of the time to 4. 18 months later, new EVP comes in from Europe, where city/states are still how population centers are laid out. His decree is that every sales person should draw a circle 15 miles radius from his house. Only customers within that circle are his. Although not the absolute stupidest thing I've ever seen, it ranks right up there.

Executives also lie. During a huge downturn in our industry, an Executive VP made the rounds saying that unlike our competitors who are dropping shifts and shutting down fabs, we're going to keep going, making high runners and commodities so that when the economy turns around, we'll have die that can be quickly packaged and take orders from our competitors. Well, the turn around comes. Guess what? We dropped shifts and shut down fabs just like everyone else. So instead of being able to fill orders, we're going around telling customers to order from our competitors because we won't have parts ready for a year.

Those at the top lie. They always lie.
I've always wondered do these folks lie on purpose OR do they really drink their own kool- aid and then turn around and do whatever everyone else does when they fail? The fact admin. lies I have always accepted as dogma, but can't figure out if it is intentional or do they really believe they are that good.

Good luck.
"The stock market [fluctuation], therefore, is noise. A giant distraction from the business of investing.” | -Jack Bogle

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jharkin
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Re: Corporate politics/culture

Post by jharkin » Tue Oct 16, 2018 11:36 am

Valuethinker wrote:
Tue Oct 16, 2018 10:14 am

The 80-20 is standard McKinsey analysis and I wouldn't be surprised if they paid $1m+ to McKinsey for a consulting assignment with that particular insight.
You know whats funny... Right around the time that I hit my final straw and gave my notice, my old company brought in McKinsey. I even got interviewed by them on my way out. Later on I heard that there where two major R&D reorganizations within 3 months of my departure based off the McKinsey recommendations, the end result of which had the org structure rolled back to what it had previously been about 15 years back :oops:

That seems to be another common one... each new leader ping ponging R&D from a silo'ed product line based structure, to a differently silo'ed function based structure. rinse and repeat.


I am sooooooooo much happier in a private company. I actually hear people mention the "core values" in meetings.... even senior leaders will listen if somebody says it and its guaranteed to pause the discussion. I never realized that kind of environment was even possible in the decades I worked at public firms.

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Re: Corporate politics/culture

Post by Valuethinker » Tue Oct 16, 2018 7:03 pm

jharkin wrote:
Tue Oct 16, 2018 11:36 am
Valuethinker wrote:
Tue Oct 16, 2018 10:14 am

The 80-20 is standard McKinsey analysis and I wouldn't be surprised if they paid $1m+ to McKinsey for a consulting assignment with that particular insight.
You know whats funny... Right around the time that I hit my final straw and gave my notice, my old company brought in McKinsey. I even got interviewed by them on my way out. Later on I heard that there where two major R&D reorganizations within 3 months of my departure based off the McKinsey recommendations, the end result of which had the org structure rolled back to what it had previously been about 15 years back :oops:

That seems to be another common one... each new leader ping ponging R&D from a silo'ed product line based structure, to a differently silo'ed function based structure. rinse and repeat.


I am sooooooooo much happier in a private company. I actually hear people mention the "core values" in meetings.... even senior leaders will listen if somebody says it and its guaranteed to pause the discussion. I never realized that kind of environment was even possible in the decades I worked at public firms.
Generational change is the danger point for private companies. That or ownership change (often due to Founder retiring or family lacking someone interested in/ competent to carry it on).

But it's always nice when you find such an organization because it is so rare.

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Re: Corporate politics/culture

Post by prettybogle » Wed Oct 17, 2018 1:27 pm

Thanks everyone. I came to know a strange tidbit on the ceo change - outgoing ceo used to get a salary + bonus of 12+ million. New ceo will get salary of 900k, bonus upto 100%, long term bonus of 500%. This seems to be significantly lower than the old ceo.

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Re: Corporate politics/culture

Post by jacksonm » Wed Oct 17, 2018 1:36 pm

I retired two years ago from the same company I started working for in 1982. You wouldn't know it from my resume however because that company was swallowed up in so many corporate mergers/re-organizations/sell-offs that it looks like I worked for a lot of companies.

One thing I can tell you about the experience is that I don't recall any instance in which things actually got better for the employees and most of the time they were significantly worse - in terms of employee benefits, salary, company culture, etc.

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Re: Corporate politics/culture

Post by randomguy » Wed Oct 17, 2018 1:50 pm

prettybogle wrote:
Wed Oct 17, 2018 1:27 pm
Thanks everyone. I came to know a strange tidbit on the ceo change - outgoing ceo used to get a salary + bonus of 12+ million. New ceo will get salary of 900k, bonus upto 100%, long term bonus of 500%. This seems to be significantly lower than the old ceo.
Probably just got 50 million in RSUs that vest the day he is fired:)

It is easy to make fun of these activities but in general they are happening because a company is in trouble. Rapidly growing companies whose products are crushing the competition don't tend to do stuff like this. Companies that are struggling/at transitions often try various stuff to turn around a company. But if you look around there are not a ton of great turn around stories or companies that make major transitions. A company like IBM or HP are sort of unique (ignoring their current problems) in that they have survived several tech transitions and are still sort of functional. Eventually they will make enough missteps and disappear. If you go down the list of 80/90s pc and software makers you only have a handful of survivors who maintain decent market shares.

Realistically you can't expect to get a ton of communication from on top that isn't public information. And yes they are going to be somewhat optimistic. That is part of the job. You aren't going to hear a CEO going times are tough and odds are I am going to layoff half of you in the next year. Doing that would cause any remotely solid employee to leave.

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Re: Corporate politics/culture

Post by Murgatroyd » Wed Oct 17, 2018 4:09 pm

OP, you haven’t said the level you are at. You could be toast for reasons given above if you are within a level or two of anyone new.

My advice for survival if necessary. In any initial conversation with a new person positivity is critical. You need to appear enthusiastic about your work and have revenue ideas that may not be widely known. This will give you time and options.

Good luck.

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Re: Corporate politics/culture

Post by DaftInvestor » Wed Oct 17, 2018 4:14 pm

KlangFool wrote:
Mon Oct 15, 2018 9:37 pm
OP,

Why does any of this matters to you? What is your goal?

In order to play any political game, you need to have the clarity of purpose first. What are you trying to achieve?

KlangFool
+1
What's the real question? Are you trying to decide whether or not to leave? How to get promoted? How to keep your job? What?

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Re: Corporate politics/culture

Post by El Greco » Wed Oct 17, 2018 10:39 pm

Valuethinker wrote:
Tue Oct 16, 2018 10:14 am
The 80-20 is standard McKinsey analysis and I wouldn't be surprised if they paid $1m+ to McKinsey for a consulting assignment with that particular insight.
All I have to add to this discussion is that if anyone from McKinsey shows up at your company...RUN!

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Re: Corporate politics/culture

Post by Dottie57 » Wed Oct 17, 2018 10:47 pm

Watty wrote:
Tue Oct 16, 2018 8:53 am
prettybogle wrote:
Mon Oct 15, 2018 8:52 pm
the new ceo is a guy from a good wall street firm.
Unless your company is a somewhat similar wall street firm(even if not on wall street) then you have to wonder why they hired someone from a wall street firm.

The reason could be that he was hired to extract value from the company then sell off the remains for as much as possible before the long term consequences hit the fan.

A big question to look at is who owns the company and what they stand to gain by hiring him.

One thing to watch out for is that if you have a pension then one step in this process is often to do a strategic bankruptcy to get out of their pension obligations.

dcabler wrote:
Tue Oct 16, 2018 6:32 am
Been in the private sector for 35 years now. It's almost as if there is a play book that they've read, at least in my industry.
1. New CEO comes in. Declares a 90-120 day period of "getting the lay of the land"
2. After that period, large number of second level execs depart nearly simultaneously and are replaced by new people of the CEO's choosing. Top level of the company then begins to look like some other company where they all previously worked together. Culture shift begins, but doesn't get very far because the day-to-day life of the company is handled by the middle managers with enough of a knowledge gap between them and the next level of execs that nothing really changes.
3. Within the next 30-60 days, a small-to-mid size layoff then happens which shows the board that the exec is fiscally responsible.
4. A short time later, a mid-lower-level reorganization happens to move the deck chairs around, again showing the board that the CEO has things under control
5. By that time a year has passed and, according to the CEO's contract, the CEO no longer has to refund the sign-on bonus. :moneybag
6. CEO either flames out or lasts 3-5 years till the next one comes along.

Only a little cynical. :D
You forgot the step where they publish new core company values(or a new mission statement) and put it on posters on the break room wall and on the company website. I think I saw about three of those before I retired. I never recall the company values or the mission statement ever being mentioned in a decision making meeting.

There is also a step where some of the key middle managers are replaced to provide job security for the new upper management. The problem is that if there is a department director that has been with the company for 20 years then he or she could keep the day to day operations running or they could be promoted to VP if the new VP of that division is fired. Without that person it is much harder to fire the new VP.

It was not as consistent but often there would also be a rebranding step where small changes are made to the company logo or name. That showed they were doing something even though it could cost a million dollars to change all the signs, stationary, etc. if you had a lot of locations.

The posters are of course ignored or laughed at. Values only followed if convenient and if inconvenient twisted into different values. One of the values was “Gratitude” - perhaps self serving to mgmt.

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Re: Corporate politics/culture

Post by dcabler » Thu Oct 18, 2018 6:18 am

Valuethinker wrote:
Tue Oct 16, 2018 10:14 am
Jack FFR1846 wrote:
Tue Oct 16, 2018 9:42 am
I worked for one particular MegaTechCorp where the executive VP of sales rotated in/out on about an 18 month basis. Every one of them seemed to feel that they needed to make a major change to show how great they were. I'm attached to sales so saw the result of their ego driven stupidity. One VP says that we don't pay enough attention to smaller customers where easy sales lie. "Go fourth and see all the customers everywhere all the time". 18 month later, new EVP comes in. He decides that 80% of our revenue comes from 20% of our customers. So instead of 150 customers that I was assigned to support technically, I was now assigned 100% of the time to 4. 18 months later, new EVP comes in from Europe, where city/states are still how population centers are laid out. His decree is that every sales person should draw a circle 15 miles radius from his house. Only customers within that circle are his. Although not the absolute stupidest thing I've ever seen, it ranks right up there.
The 80-20 is standard McKinsey analysis and I wouldn't be surprised if they paid $1m+ to McKinsey for a consulting assignment with that particular insight.

It's actually quite a useful one BUT what you do about it that counts. For example those 20% of customers are probably the most profitable in the sense that they have the lowest total cost to serve, but they also negotiate the biggest discounts, volume off takes etc.

The number of times I have seen "loss making" products dropped, and then the discovery that that causes your customer to shift their business, or that that product was absorbing a disproportionate part of your overheads, etc...
Executives also lie. During a huge downturn in our industry, an Executive VP made the rounds saying that unlike our competitors who are dropping shifts and shutting down fabs, we're going to keep going, making high runners and commodities so that when the economy turns around, we'll have die that can be quickly packaged and take orders from our competitors. Well, the turn around comes. Guess what? We dropped shifts and shut down fabs just like everyone else. So instead of being able to fill orders, we're going around telling customers to order from our competitors because we won't have parts ready for a year.

Those at the top lie. They always lie.
Ahh the semi-conductor death cycle ;-).

Everyone always tells the stock analysts in The Street that this time the industry has learned its lesson, will not overinvest, and will not slash prices when the downturn in demand hits. And every cycle they do precisely that.

In John Sterman's textbook on Systems Dynamic Modelling (he's at MIT) there is a nice little description of how the semiconductor industry works. It goes back to "the Beer Game" which I think all business and engineering students probably play in orientation week? That tendency to misforecast, overproduce, then have to slash back too much.

http://jsterman.scripts.mit.edu/docs/Do ... %20JOM.pdf

http://jsterman.scripts.mit.edu/docs/St ... ffects.pdf

neither of the above is quite what is in the textbook but they do capture some of the effects.

I've seen them in every capital intensive industry with long lead times on new capacity and with volatile demand. Metals & mining (especially aluminum!), semiconductors, pulp & paper, chemicals, commercial real estate ...

As to execs they are governed by insider trading laws - so they can't admit, even to employees, that the company is going to do what it is going to do "price sensitive confidential information". What's more scary is they may not, themselves, know.
Well, I'm not surprised to see that I'm not the only semiconductor veteran here!
Yep, "we're going to concentrate now on our core business". Layoffs start, new innovative teams are disbanded, etc. Begin spiral.
Yep, "we're going to backup a truckload of money and give it to McKinesey who will send us a bunch of newly minted MBAs who have never worked in our industry to tell us how it's done".

Life in the big leagues. :D

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Re: Corporate politics/culture

Post by Valuethinker » Thu Oct 18, 2018 7:08 am

dcabler wrote:
Thu Oct 18, 2018 6:18 am


Well, I'm not surprised to see that I'm not the only semiconductor veteran here!
More of an interested onlooker. But I knew a lot of semiconductor engineers at one time.
Yep, "we're going to concentrate now on our core business". Layoffs start, new innovative teams are disbanded, etc. Begin spiral.
Yep, "we're going to backup a truckload of money and give it to McKinesey who will send us a bunch of newly minted MBAs who have never worked in our industry to tell us how it's done".

Life in the big leagues. :D
Consultants can provide real insights into market & competitor dynamics. They an go out there and interview customers etc. and identify actual
trends and perceived strengths and weaknesses. Also sometimes you get deep specialisms e.g. supply chain and they can provide real insight.

On the other hand what they usually do is collect information from middle management and experts, and tell it to senior management in nice powerpoints. Because senior management is too remote from middle managers and customers, consultants get paid lots of money to do this, and so they are believed when senior management don't believe their own subordinates.

The reorganizations that result often seem pointless, and often simply revert things to the state they were 10-15 years before. Senior managers don't last long, and so there's no corporate memory.

Organizations get into this cycle of bring in consultants- reorganize - reorganization fails for various reasons - bring in consultants - reorganize. Eventually senior management gets replaced and the cycle starts again.

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Re: Corporate politics/culture

Post by dcabler » Thu Oct 18, 2018 8:53 am

Valuethinker wrote:
Thu Oct 18, 2018 7:08 am
dcabler wrote:
Thu Oct 18, 2018 6:18 am


Well, I'm not surprised to see that I'm not the only semiconductor veteran here!
More of an interested onlooker. But I knew a lot of semiconductor engineers at one time.
Yep, "we're going to concentrate now on our core business". Layoffs start, new innovative teams are disbanded, etc. Begin spiral.
Yep, "we're going to backup a truckload of money and give it to McKinesey who will send us a bunch of newly minted MBAs who have never worked in our industry to tell us how it's done".

Life in the big leagues. :D
Consultants can provide real insights into market & competitor dynamics. They an go out there and interview customers etc. and identify actual
trends and perceived strengths and weaknesses. Also sometimes you get deep specialisms e.g. supply chain and they can provide real insight.

On the other hand what they usually do is collect information from middle management and experts, and tell it to senior management in nice powerpoints. Because senior management is too remote from middle managers and customers, consultants get paid lots of money to do this, and so they are believed when senior management don't believe their own subordinates.

The reorganizations that result often seem pointless, and often simply revert things to the state they were 10-15 years before. Senior managers don't last long, and so there's no corporate memory.

Organizations get into this cycle of bring in consultants- reorganize - reorganization fails for various reasons - bring in consultants - reorganize. Eventually senior management gets replaced and the cycle starts again.
Agree, to a point, about their ability to provide insights into market & competitor dynamics. But most of the mega-companies I've worked for already subscribed to a number of companies that provide such competitive data analysis. Perhaps the execs just thought they needed to have it said to their face, don't know.

Anyway, they were brought into one company I was at. We were starting a new project and the aforementioned consulting house suggested to the execs that everybody sign a contract to agree to meet the schedule that was developed tops/down. Nobody believed in the schedule, a few people balked and refused to sign. One or two outright quit. Schedule still wasn't met but it was certainly within the error bars of any other project that happened before this great idea was thrust upon everybody. No consequences, and life continued with only the consulting house richer for the experience....

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Re: Corporate politics/culture

Post by jharkin » Fri Oct 19, 2018 6:18 am

Valuethinker wrote:
Tue Oct 16, 2018 7:03 pm
Generational change is the danger point for private companies. That or ownership change (often due to Founder retiring or family lacking someone interested in/ competent to carry it on).

But it's always nice when you find such an organization because it is so rare.

Yep, I have thought about that quite a bit. Its really my only reservation about this place.

Luckily the Founder/CEO is still very actively engaged at age 60 and is the kind of driven guy who will probably work well into his 70s. Heck he still talks to each class of incoming new hires face-to-face. Its a growing billion dollar business and there are a couple of 25+ year veteran VPs with similar personalities who I suspect may take the reigns whenever the founder decides to slow down.

Or at least that's my hope :) I just need this to last 10-12 years or so and then I am home free to FI....

The thing I shake my head about is all the young 20-somethings who start here in junior roles... who never worked anywhere else. Complain about the silliest things or get focused only on the fact that Google pays more and have no idea how lucky we are.

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Re: Corporate politics/culture

Post by jharkin » Fri Oct 19, 2018 6:34 am

Valuethinker wrote:
Thu Oct 18, 2018 7:08 am

Consultants can provide real insights into market & competitor dynamics. They an go out there and interview customers etc. and identify actual
trends and perceived strengths and weaknesses. Also sometimes you get deep specialisms e.g. supply chain and they can provide real insight.

On the other hand what they usually do is collect information from middle management and experts, and tell it to senior management in nice powerpoints. Because senior management is too remote from middle managers and customers, consultants get paid lots of money to do this, and so they are believed when senior management don't believe their own subordinates.

The reorganizations that result often seem pointless, and often simply revert things to the state they were 10-15 years before. Senior managers don't last long, and so there's no corporate memory.

Organizations get into this cycle of bring in consultants- reorganize - reorganization fails for various reasons - bring in consultants - reorganize. Eventually senior management gets replaced and the cycle starts again.
But lets also think about specifically who we are talking about here and look at their track record.

We are talking about McKinsey. The folks who brought us Enron. And that's only the tip of the iceberg...

https://www.independent.co.uk/news/busi ... 13484.html
http://blogs.reuters.com/felix-salmon/2 ... d-culture/

Like I mentioned, the week I left my old job i actually got interviewed face to face by Mckinsey guys. I was grinning ear to ear.. they probably though it was because I was happy they where there to "save us", but in reality it was because I was 2 days away from turning in my badge :beer (And yes, my management new that I was on notice, and I did the professional thing and generally held my tongue in the interview)

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Re: Corporate politics/culture

Post by Valuethinker » Fri Oct 19, 2018 6:35 am

jharkin wrote:
Fri Oct 19, 2018 6:18 am


The thing I shake my head about is all the young 20-somethings who start here in junior roles... who never worked anywhere else. Complain about the silliest things or get focused only on the fact that Google pays more and have no idea how lucky we are.
Every generation makes the same mistakes due to lack of experience ;-).

I oscillated from a company where people were "lifers" that was very bureaucratic and it was a sin to have a confrontation with someone, to one in financial services which was the opposite extreme (ish). And various flavours in between.

Each iteration one hopes one learns something.

I imagine those American superstocks are absolutely terrible places to work - you sell your life and your soul to them, the performance pressure will be extreme (and unfair; I remember reading about Microsoft's grading by the curve which guaranteed that a certain percentage would be let go in each area) and the politics will be absolutely brutal.

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Re: Corporate politics/culture

Post by Valuethinker » Fri Oct 19, 2018 6:37 am

jharkin wrote:
Fri Oct 19, 2018 6:34 am
Valuethinker wrote:
Thu Oct 18, 2018 7:08 am

Consultants can provide real insights into market & competitor dynamics. They an go out there and interview customers etc. and identify actual
trends and perceived strengths and weaknesses. Also sometimes you get deep specialisms e.g. supply chain and they can provide real insight.

On the other hand what they usually do is collect information from middle management and experts, and tell it to senior management in nice powerpoints. Because senior management is too remote from middle managers and customers, consultants get paid lots of money to do this, and so they are believed when senior management don't believe their own subordinates.

The reorganizations that result often seem pointless, and often simply revert things to the state they were 10-15 years before. Senior managers don't last long, and so there's no corporate memory.

Organizations get into this cycle of bring in consultants- reorganize - reorganization fails for various reasons - bring in consultants - reorganize. Eventually senior management gets replaced and the cycle starts again.
But lets also think about specifically who we are talking about here and look at their track record.

We are talking about McKinsey. The folks who brought us Enron. And that's only the tip of the iceberg...

https://www.independent.co.uk/news/busi ... 13484.html
http://blogs.reuters.com/felix-salmon/2 ... d-culture/
In my case it was one of the others (one of Bain, McKinsey, BCG + the big 4) but it was similar. I am not sure if McKinsey is worse than the others.
Like I mentioned, the week I left my old job i actually got interviewed face to face by Mckinsey guys. I was grinning ear to ear.. they probably though it was because I was happy they where there to "save us", but in reality it was because I was 2 days away from turning in my badge :beer (And yes, my management new that I was on notice, and I did the professional thing and generally held my tongue in the interview)
The irony is they too, most of them, know they will be out within 5 years (and probably 2 years). Consulting is 100% up-or-out. They are all keeping an eye out for their next role, probably with a client.

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Re: Corporate politics/culture

Post by jharkin » Fri Oct 19, 2018 6:39 am

Valuethinker wrote:
Fri Oct 19, 2018 6:35 am
I imagine those American superstocks are absolutely terrible places to work - you sell your life and your soul to them, the performance pressure will be extreme (and unfair; I remember reading about Microsoft's grading by the curve which guaranteed that a certain percentage would be let go in each area) and the politics will be absolutely brutal.
Well I hear mixed things. I do know some people who work at Google and Facebook (here in Boston) that really like it there.. But Im sure the big salary makes people willing to put up with a lot.

I've had some real drag out fights with people on this board telling me I am a chump because I work in this industry and dont make 300k, but I value work-life balance and great culture over the $$$.

Cheers :beer

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Re: Corporate politics/culture

Post by Valuethinker » Fri Oct 19, 2018 6:56 am

jharkin wrote:
Fri Oct 19, 2018 6:39 am


I've had some real drag out fights with people on this board telling me I am a chump because I work in this industry and dont make 300k, but I value work-life balance and great culture over the $$$.

Cheers :beer
I know too many casualties of high powered financial services employers.

I also know too many 50 somethings who are either dead or dying: MS, lung cancer (someone who had never smoked in his life) plus the usual middle class diseases (diabetic, bad backs etc.). Stress does not help this. We think we will be granted the time to enjoy all the money we have made - but that's not necessarily the case.

The important thing is to have work that you enjoy, and find fulfilling. Also generally that you can continue to grow within (that becomes less important as you age, but it's also quite individual). And you run out of options as you get into your 50s - your next job is no job. That's even true at the C-Suite level.

Most people on this board would accept that to be promoted to a level of management where it's all about politics and who is on side with whom (and it always is, at a certain level, if the CEO and very senior managers are good then it will also be about achieving results for the company as a whole, but more usually it's just about who you are loyal to, but ready to jump ship to the next rising star) is not the right thing if one is happier and more successful at a less high status job in an organization.

But they have trouble making the mental leap to choosing roles between organizations.

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Re: Corporate politics/culture

Post by lostdog » Fri Oct 19, 2018 8:33 am

Get to financial independence ASAP. Your central nervous system will reward you for the reduced stress levels.

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Re: Corporate politics/culture

Post by investingdad » Fri Oct 19, 2018 10:59 am

Beensabu wrote:
Mon Oct 15, 2018 9:15 pm
Everything coming from the top is lies. New people will come in to take on the new projects. The new people will have the same roles/titles as old people. There will be outsourcing to third-parties. Company may or may not actually be stable. YMMV.
After 24 years in the corporate world, I will say that this is the most accurate answer you will recieve.

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Re: Corporate politics/culture

Post by investingdad » Fri Oct 19, 2018 11:06 am

KlangFool wrote:
Tue Oct 16, 2018 9:35 am
Broken Man 1999 wrote:
Tue Oct 16, 2018 9:30 am
KlangFool wrote:
Mon Oct 15, 2018 9:37 pm
OP,<br abp="686"><br abp="687">Why does any of this matters to you? What is your goal?<br abp="688"><br abp="689">In order to play any political game, you need to have the clarity of purpose first. What are you trying to achieve?<br abp="690"><br abp="691">KlangFool
Yeah, I have to agree. OP,where are you in the grand scheme of things, level-wise? If you are high up, you would certainly need to learn the new corporate culture to survive, much less thrive.

Below a certain level, you are just a drone, you are a threat to no one in the new leadership, and would most likely be left alone to continue doing your job.

If you aren't the lead dog, your view won't change, as I have often heard.

Broken Man 1999
The best way to win the game is you do not have to play.

I will be my "Millionaire Next Door". Meanwhile, I will let those FOOLS chasing their own tails. I would not waste my time and effort playing their games. I have my own life to live.

KlangFool
I edited your reply. I agree either way.

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