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Old 10-07-2010, 12:29 PM   #21
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I've mentioned this before, but in my experience, there are sociopaths who are brilliant and hardworking yet work for the reward of being allowed to make others' lives miserable, as opposed to working for their own financial gain. They are tolerated due to their hard work and intelligence, and feared, too. A classic, extreme example of this type of person would be J. Edgar Hoover. MegaMotors was sprinkled with these types.
I saw this type of person in another department I worked in (briefly) about 15 years ago. He liked the money too, but what he really savored was his close friendship with a high level executive that allowed him to intimidate others. Even his immediate supervisor was afraid of him.

Several years later, his executive buddy retired, and Mr. Sociopath didn't have a friend in the world of the workplace. His treacherous ways left him standing alone when trouble came. He was demoted and disciplined. A few days later, he took his own life. What a sad ending.
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Old 10-07-2010, 12:58 PM   #22
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Ahhh, an opportunity for therapy, thanks.

In 1998, I took over a 200 person group at Gigantic-Corp and thus inherited two sociopaths to deal with. Calvin and Steve.

Folks lived in fear of Calvin (Beelzebub) who was a huge man and classic bully/backbiter/stalker and he literally was "out to get" most of his coworkers. But he actually did excellent work otherwise. His techniques were, slandering, besmirching whoever his target was to anyone who would listen and often to supervisors that he could dupe. He would undermine co-worker's production by erasing files, destroying documents, etc. He even physically intimidated those who stood up to him. His father was a long time VP and so there was nothing a manager like myself could do to fire him.

Steve ( the Angel), on the other hand was Mr. Wonderful of the group. Always taking the newest hires under his wing, mentoring them and helping them weather the startup. He also hosted morale functions and polished the boss's apples. Otherwise he did little work, except doorway chatter. He would mentor new hires who felt indebted thereafter, and low and behold he wrote a book on his mentoring experiences. Company picked up publishing tab. He hosted morale events at his beach home, funded by the company, and he asked the attendees to bring a wine. Funny to later find out he taught a weekend "for fee" class on wine tasting. He got permission to put a collection box in our corporate lobby for "children's books for the needy", and he had the company transportation group take them to a local charity where his picture was taken and put in the newspaper. He never even touched the books. An ideas man, extraordinaire.

Bottom line: both were really devious men and very self-serving but one was generally reviled and the other revered. From a manager's standpoint, Calvin actually produced something of value for the corporation and Steve produced nothing of value except for his own image.

Gosh, glad to be retired.
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Old 10-07-2010, 12:59 PM   #23
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You're absolutely right, although we're 56 & 54 of age, at 43X or a 2.3% WR, that question becomes more meaningful to me with each passing week. I assume one day, we'll accept that uncertainty never goes away and more security won't be worth it to me any more...

If you can make it at 2.3 SWR then please seriously consider giving your notice today!
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Old 10-07-2010, 01:57 PM   #24
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If you can make it at 2.3 SWR then please seriously consider giving your notice today!
We're having Rich_in_Tampa host the intervention...
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Old 10-07-2010, 02:29 PM   #25
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At my Megaorg, we have had quite a revolution in management training in the past 10 years or so. Our middle and junior managers now, mostly, have a clue.

More than half of our senior managers, however, are dinosaurs, often political appointees who are untouchable. They make elementary admin mistakes which mean that jobs get abolished by accident. Many have never had a day's training in their lives. They sit and pontificate on the importance of staff development, while promoting the interests and careers of their acolytes via outrageous nepotism because, hey, that's how they got to be on top.

There's a fundamental problem with many successful people, or at least, people in positions of success. Oversimplified, it runs like this:
"I'm on top of the pile".
"That must be on merit, because that's how we work - it says so on our HR policy website."
"Therefore, what I did to get here must be right and meritorious."
"If you do like I did, you can all get to the top too. All 500 of you."
"Now make this phone call for me. I get $250K a year, and that doesn't mean pressing a 3-digit speed dial combination."
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Old 10-07-2010, 03:05 PM   #26
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us peon's tend to look out for each other down here at the bottom. the politics are much easier to get along with than i imagine the monkey poop throwing wars are at the top. i have a supervisor who is good at keeping crap rolling down at us...but he is notably good at intercepting any crap bombs i tend to throw towards those above me...

such is life.
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Old 10-07-2010, 03:15 PM   #27
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I have interviewed for one company in 1997
it was a small software company of 3000 people and we had about 500 M in revenue at the time with 100 M in the bank.

I got that job and have been bought out, merged or acquired 3 times. Now on my 4th employer, same people. 4 different 401ks, 4 different company names. Each company larger than the one before it, and the only way we get bigger now is if FIFA or the catholic church merge with us (my current employer has 400,000 employees and is in more countries than every company except FIFA and the catholic church).

The leadership keeps getting worse. The CEO of the small software company was an idiot, but he was smart enough to negotiate a sale at $25/share when it was selling at about $16/share.

Our products were top notch- the derivatives of the products now are among the best and most fortune 500 companies use one of our products- even our competitors use a portion of our products if you could imagine that.

But the drive of the company, the motivation of the 3000 workers to do something extra has completely gone away when they are now one of 400,000. Good work goes unrecognized, ideas to make money are not passed to the people in the groups which generate revenue. It is a mess.
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Old 10-07-2010, 04:17 PM   #28
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If you can make it at 2.3 SWR then please seriously consider giving your notice today!
FWIW, we'll have no pensions and no retiree health care, we are completely on our own until when/if SS & Medicare kick in. But we realize that 2.3% SWR should be enough.

It's also partly that I don't dislike working and contributing. I may go somewhere else, but I also realize no organization has the market cornered on Angels or Sociopaths - they're always a factor in an org. Thanks...
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Old 10-07-2010, 04:21 PM   #29
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FWIW, we'll have no pensions and no retiree health care, we are completely on our own until when/if SS & Medicare kick in. But we realize that 2.3% SWR should be enough.
Many of us have done it very successfully, in the same no pension/no employer health care situation, on far, far less...
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Old 10-07-2010, 04:58 PM   #30
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This is in good part what has led US corporations to reach and hold historic highs in profit margins in spite of terrible economic conditions. Also agree with Sarah that size doesn't matter (well, paraphrasing )
Michael, could you elaborate on this? Admittedly I am inexperienced in corporate life, but this seems counterintuitive to me.

A general comment on this thread--no wonder you guys lived to retire!

Ha
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Old 10-07-2010, 06:11 PM   #31
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Michael, could you elaborate on this? Admittedly I am inexperienced in corporate life, but this seems counterintuitive to me.

A general comment on this thread--no wonder you guys lived to retire!

Ha
Higher profits are resulting from much lower personnel cost, and this comes from pension cost reduction and headcount elimination. Positions are eliminated and the work is redistributed or just not done. Management is well rewarded for cost reduction (options, bonus) and punished (fired) for not achieving profit goals. Employees are fired for complaining. This “process” is working in that costs are contained or reduced, enabling profits when there is little revenue growth. It’s been a way of life for many for a decade and a half now. People are unhappy – even management – but they are also afraid and greedy, so they suck it up and look for transfer opportunities in the hope it may be better elsewhere – and it sometimes is.

An oversimplification perhaps, but not by much. Not all companies are like this. But when it starts, it quickly becomes the primary management system because it is so effective. Unhappy employees won't deliver double digit revenue growth but motivated management will sure get the costs down.

BTW, US corporations are global leaders in this, although China isn’t far behind.
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Old 10-07-2010, 06:19 PM   #32
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CO, XO, and Engineer on a submarine are generally the top three, although you could add the senior enlisted Chief of the Boat to that list.

My second submarine had the top three in the "whatever it takes to get the job done" category. Screaming matches and table-pounding were common. (To be fair, Intel calls this "constructive confrontation", and the submarine force calls it "forceful backup".) The CO actually backfisted one of my chief petty officers (although he pulled it short before impact) and it was common for him to front-kick officers of the deck (although he did give them a kicking shield to hold up before he started). The XO was of the public opinions "have green ID card, will travel" and "if the Navy had meant for us to have families then they would have been issued to us with our seabags". (Although arguably this attitude is the XO's job.) The engineer used to wake up 3-4x/week with nightmares that would literally have him jumping around the stateroom punching at imaginary people.

I believe that civilians would call this a "hostile work environment". In the submarine force it was referred to as "one of the top submarines in the Pacific", the CO would be awarded a Legion of Merit, and he'd go on to run the school for prospective commanding officers.

The good news is that I got my job on this submarine because my predecessor (the weapons officer) had begun coughing up blood (from frequent vomiting?) and had turned himself in for psychiatric evaluation. That's what it took for me to get orders to the same homeport as my spouse, so that's what I did.
Nords, it's good to see the USN uses similar management techniques as America's most successful global businesses. This gives us a better understanding of your desire to RE ...

What the USN calls "one of the top submarines in the Pacific" the civilian world calls “America’s Most Admired Corporations”. Their (ultra-wealthy) retired CEOs join private equity firms because there is no such thing as "enough".
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Old 10-07-2010, 11:02 PM   #33
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FWIW, we'll have no pensions and no retiree health care, we are completely on our own until when/if SS & Medicare kick in.
Then the question becomes how much your health insurance will cost if you have to retire unexpectedly due to stress-related causes that are interpreted as "pre-existing conditions"...

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Nords, it's good to see the USN uses similar management techniques as America's most successful global businesses. This gives us a better understanding of your desire to RE ...
What the USN calls "one of the top submarines in the Pacific" the civilian world calls “America’s Most Admired Corporations”. Their (ultra-wealthy) retired CEOs join private equity firms because there is no such thing as "enough".
The Navy totally ripped off TQM and called it "Total Quality Leadership". Those were some dark days...

I've occasionally thought about looking those guys up on Google or social networks. Then I realize that I have a life, and they do not.
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Old 10-08-2010, 08:14 AM   #34
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Prompted by another recent post, thought I'd describe the "culture" at the privately held megacorp I work at and see what comments it drew. I've enjoyed my career for the most part until the past few years. But this recession has brought to life the adage 'tough times bring out the best in some people, and the worst in others.'

There is a Darwinian aspect to every workplace and maybe even dominant in some departments within companies. But it's the overriding mechanism where I work from the CEO and all the Officers down, which naturally trickles throughout the organization. Not working together and poor performance are routinely tolerated throughout the company. People subtly but clearly undermine each other and that's tolerated as well - as long as it's not overt and blatantly obvious. Instead of intervening, they've clearly taken the position the right people and ideas will prevail, so we'll just let the conflicts play out. [added: the CEO, Pres & VP's literally just watch while people at all levels of the company bash each others heads in, and wait for a winner. The Officers are all hard-working and technically well qualified - but their leadership/managerial skills are mostly awful.] As you might expect, the best ideas have not always prevailed, personalities and alliances have an equal chance to rule the day.

I could go on and on with examples, but anyone else ever worked in such an environment where it permeates the entire organization? When you have a bad boss or localized situation, you can often move to another department to get away from it. Not where I am...
I thought this was why they call it "work" and not "play", and pay good money for people to participate. You are fortunate that all of your management is technicall well qualified, and some are not there solely due to relatives with connections as can often be true in certain organizations.

The toxic nature of many/most work environments is probably the main reason why I am so happy to be retired. I liked doing the work itself, but I sure don't miss the BS that goes along with it.
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Old 10-08-2010, 08:22 AM   #35
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Then I realize that I have a life, and they do not.
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Old 10-08-2010, 01:05 PM   #36
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You can say a lot with just 12 words
Like: "Thanks"!
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Old 10-08-2010, 02:23 PM   #37
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Also agree with Sarah that size doesn't matter (well, paraphrasing )
Wait....what?
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Old 10-08-2010, 02:47 PM   #38
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FWIW, we'll have no pensions and no retiree health care, we are completely on our own until when/if SS & Medicare kick in.
I know the feeling.....
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