martedì, marzo 03, 2009

So how's your portfolio doing?

This is a rant that becomes a bigger rant that ends in a plea.

Yesterday Yankee management did something so inexplicable, so wrong-headed, so cost/revenue/HR unconscious to my department that I've ceased to understand them. Or at least I'm telling myself that I've ceased to understand them, because if I do understand them, they're either blithering idiots or bleeding idiots. And as such, they're perfectly capable of doing one thing or another that will ensure the next Christmas axe falls blessedly on my own welcoming cranium.

The first boneheaded thing I now believe they're capable of doing is going for sheer, number-driven employment practices, which would see me replaced with someone new and a few hundred euros cheaper. That person would take six months to be functional, and considering the history of our department, they'd be statistically likely to turn out either incompetent or emotionally fragile, and depart post-haste, beginning the whole process again. And this would be in a department where one of my three direct colleagues has just quit and is being similarly replaced, and another is on maternity leave, and the third is also a new hire. It would be really fucking stupid, in short, and yesterday I was in some despair because it seemed so stupid as to be absolutely fucking impossible. Now . . . hope springs anew.

The second thing I'm now sure they're willing to do is to replace the managers here, in our office, who I'm accountable to. And who, honestly, I'm crazy about. I've worked some ethically-challenging, infuriating jobs, and the present one is no exception. But here as well, I've been blessed in having some of nature's great managers, who understand how to engage with me, make me work my lazy little fingers to the bone, make me care about the product I'm working on, make me most earnestly desire to be a beautifully functioning cog in a rapidly spinning wheel even when I can hardly leave the house in the morning, and when I cry when I see trees get cut down, et cetera. In short, my managers here are the reason that I can spend a good 15 minutes a day dreaming about the Christmas axe and still not take the natural step of beginning to be really bad at my job. That would reflect poorly on them - it would impact their bonuses and their promotion possibilities - which is the last thing I want to do. If they're gone . . . draw your own conclusions.

I don't want to dip into sensitive information on this blog - sure, I dream about getting sacked, but not until December, and while I insist on the right as a free being to call upper management absolutely fucking moronic, I have a vague idea going into the details of our financials wouldn't be quite kosher. But I will say this: the local management structure here has worked wonderfully well in terms of revenue generation. For years. However, in the best case scenario in terms of what the fuck is going through Yankee management's grey matter, we've run into the reason publicly owned companies don't fucking work and a complete overhaul of the capitalist economic system is presently necessary: our local product is 'mature'.

Now I'm switching into general terms - the bigger rant. A product being 'mature' means its growth prospects are limited. It's profitable, but the possibility of increasing its profitability is low because, in general terms, all the people who would be interested in buying it are already buying it. In a privately owned company that would be fucking great. But publicly floated companies have shareholders, and the shareholders want to see increases in profit levels so the price of their shares go up. That means that key resources get diverted from mature, profitable assets like ours to unprofitable assets that have a chance, if albeit in the present economic climate NO FUCKING CHANCE AT ALL, of becoming profitable.

This sort of dynamic is problematic at the best of times, because it means you compromise the quality of your mature product, and once that happens it becomes very hard to rebuild trust and an audience; even if the gamble works on the previously unprofitable product, you may have killed the golden goose in the process. Another problematic golden-goose killing dynamic just cutting assets from the mature, profitable activities, and hoping they just keep somehow being profitable, except extra profitable because you've just cut the costs, and knowing they won't; for a mature product, people are used to a certain quality level, and will cut it off if that quality level falls. Nothing's easier to lose than brand reputation.

So, in the present, quality-and-cost-conscious economic situation, these sorts of dynamics are incredibly fucking stupid, because the only place such gambles have a chance of working is on paper. Or - and this is key - in terms of the calculation of the CEO's pay and bonus. This is because CEOs must be seen to be doing something to increase profits, and generally their tenures are quite short, so this doing something just has to be doing something in terms of the pay calculations. . . it doesn't have to actually work - the CEO just moves on if it doesn't work for long enough.

Let's switch back to last week's rant about the uselessness of whining about the big fat bonuses CEOs of companies doing phenomenally badly get. I failed to point something out that day which people really need to know; I thought they did, but it's came up four times in my conversations since Thursday. There is a great deal of anger, when it comes to these bonuses, about how they're often awarded to CEOs or upper management at companies that are laying off hundreds or even thousands of employees or otherwise cutting costs. Where's the money for the bonus, one asks, or how can you excuse that bonus, when so many people are losing their jobs? It looks like thievery.

Look: it's not as simple as all that. CEO's aren't getting these huge bonuses despite cost-cutting measures like factory closures and mass lay-offs; they're getting those huge bonuses because of cost-cutting measures like factory closures and mass lay-offs. They're getting those huge bonuses because taking those sorts of measures means they're doing their jobs well. They're minimizing losses, maybe even nudging the company into the black, or into a position where it will re-enter the black within the next quarter or next year, or next couple of years these days, and that's what their employers - shareholders - you and me, the people who hold mutual funds and retirement investments whatnot - that's what we fucking want.

We usually don't know that's what we want - usually we just curse when our portfolio goes down and are happy when our portfolio goes up, as brainlessly as a dog who gets alternately kicked and brushed by its master. But if you want your portfolio to go up, that's what you want. Big CEO bonuses, mass lay-offs, factory closures, outsourcing to cheaper production zones with poor labour standards and poor environmental standards. That's what all us cunts want. And if you don't want that, I suggest you fucking do something about it besides whine about fat cats and unfairness.

2 commenti:

Lady ha detto...

love you! you rock babe!

Mistress La Spliffe ha detto...

You rock!