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Old 06-20-2013, 11:02 AM   #21
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One of the aspects of #1 that I see quite often, these days, is the orientation by the company-as-a-whole to view "work" as that which is done by the VPs, SVPs, and CEO, instead of that which is done by production workers, engineers, developers, testers, etc. When performing due diligence, as part of an acquisition, for example, if you don't actually talk to key individual contributors, how could you really know the risks of the purchase? Unless there really isn't any specific, uniquely-identifiable value in the work of individual contributors, instead such work being the facilitation of the work of VPs.
Even if this were true, exactly how would an outsider know who your supposed "key individual contributors" are? You must read "quite often," but not have first hand experience?

You begin with senior management to get all the detailed financial info obviously (especially a private firm) and their perspective is useful (though predictably scripted & well rehearsed). But no competent acquisition team would go through with an acquisition if they weren't allowed to talk to anyone but the "VPs, SVPs and CEO" and both 'sides' know that. It's a clear red flag, and you walk as it's a clear sign they're hiding something major...Acquisitions101.

You talk to a random cross section of people up and down the organization (privately at random - it's amazing how candid some people are when you pull them aside), knowing you can't talk to everyone, and the incumbent managers may to limit your access somewhat. And though you talk with "production workers, engineers, developers, tester, etc." - you have to recognize that many of them are going to be too intimidated to be completely honest (and they'll probably be questioned by management later), confused since they're being acquired (fear of the unknown) and the incumbent managers are going to steer the acquisition team and limit access somewhat. You talk to everyone you can until you can put together the real story and separate out any potential misinformation. Where pieces of the puzzle don't match up, you talk to more people as needed. And you don't leave/make a decision until your questions have been answered satisfactorily. It's a challenge...
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Old 06-20-2013, 11:27 AM   #22
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Even if this were true, exactly how would an outsider know who your supposed "key individual contributors" are?
It's the job of someone performing due diligence to know how to determine that.

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You must read "quite often," but not have first hand experience?
I think I've mentioned before that I used to work for a Big Six firm. We performed independent audits of companies and divisions of companies. Those relying on our reports were specifically relying on our ability not to be snowed under by executives saying whatever they understood we wanted to hear. We generally politely listened to the executives, only casually evaluating their comments as input to the report, but rather mostly using their comments to help us understand where to dig into the organization to find the real input for the report. (Other audits covered the financials. We focused on contracts, operations, customer and supplier interfaces, etc.) We'd then research and investigate iteratively until we gained a comprehensive and deep understanding of the company's processes. Then we'd audit specifically at the critical points in the process, looking to establish through interview and review of records that the company is complying with generally-accepted policies, principles and procedures.

It's hard work, but if you care about the value of what you're looking at, critical work. If all you care about is the customer list and the financials, figuring you can "snap-in" alternative revenue streams if the existing ones aren't sufficiently profitable, then all you look at is the customer list and the financials.

And neither approach is necessarily better than the other in an absolute sense: It's the difference between whether you want to make money versus have a great business. It isn't clear which approach is more viable into the future, since the costs of having a great business are high, and variability in the environment (i.e., the volatile economy and marketplace) degrade the value of great businesses, since it introduces more random risk into the system. If all you care about is milking revenue streams, by comparison, you may not foster lots of customer loyalty but you're going to have more cash available and therefore will be more nimble in switching gears, to milk new revenue streams.

I know as an employee, though, I'd rather work for a great business rather than a company good at making money. (And yes, I suppose as an investor, given today's environment, I'd prefer to own companies good at making money.)

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But no competent acquisition team would go through with an acquisition if they weren't allowed to talk to anyone but the "VPs, SVPs and CEO" and both 'sides' know that. It's a clear red flag, and you walk as it's a clear sign they're hiding something major...Acquisitions101.
Abso-friggen-lutely. However, I know of two recent instances where that simply didn't happen - not that there was necessarily a limitation placed on due diligence, but rather that due diligence simply remained at the superficial level, rather than digging down deep into the operation being purchased.

I don't know how widespread this change is.
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Old 06-20-2013, 01:54 PM   #23
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Question: Why do you think people fall in the "actively disengaged" category?

When people feel like they are being treated unfairly and also feel powerless to rectify the situation, they might express their anger/frustration in covert ways, e.g., by doing things that undermine the company (e.g., slacking off in performance/hours, talking trash about adminstration, etc.).
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Old 06-20-2013, 03:26 PM   #24
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We needed a poll to determine this?
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Old 06-20-2013, 04:17 PM   #25
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I was part of the 30% until this year. My bosses just got me resources and got out of the way. I work from my home, so no commuting hassle. I often could get into "flow" where the day would be gone in a split second and my productivity was huge.

That all changed when they asked me to train my replacements in India. They hired noobs and I don't think they are really even applying themselves (asking questions that have been answered or are super obvious if they spent 2 seconds thinking about it).

Luckily, I still have my own projects, or I'd have gone nuts by now.
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Old 06-20-2013, 06:00 PM   #26
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We needed a poll to determine this?
I like seeing these sorts of polls. Makes me feel less alone.
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Old 06-21-2013, 07:17 PM   #27
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Most of the time my attitude is I do what I need to do to get by. Sometimes this is enough to move be through a pay period, but a lot of time I am lucky enough to find things that encourage me to keep going.
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Old 06-29-2013, 02:27 PM   #28
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I like how most of the blame is focused on the bosses, who are actually the ones instilling the disengagement by not engaging. Administrative level superiors have never asked me how things are going, whether I like my job, the good parts and the bad parts, what I need to do it better, etc. They rearrange things and give directions, but they seem disinterested in what the people who actually produce the goods/services do, whether they are satisfied or not, etc. They have no interest in me; it's not surprising that most people have no interest (engagement) in the work/company.

p.s. I like the ideas in Flow, though, and I try to enjoy my work for intrinsic reasons.
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Old 06-29-2013, 10:33 PM   #29
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Ever since I heard the news stories about this poll, I've thought there needed to be another category in between, because that's were I spent most of my time as an employee. I worked, and worked diligently, but it was because I needed the money, not because I was "enthusiastic" or "committed".

Maybe I misunderstand what the author means by the description of the disengaged employee. To me, "going through the motions" means pretending to work while making little or no effort to perform the task for which one is being paid--stuff like playing computer games or surfing the net when you're on the clock or spending a lot of time making personal phone calls during office hours. I think many, maybe most, employees fall in between the above-described goof-offs and the gung-ho 30%, and ISTM the article completely ignores their existence.
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