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It’s called a “resource action.”
It can be a verb, too, like hearing at the coffee pot that five IBM technical writers were just “resource actioned,” or even “RA’ed.”
Unfortunately for IBMers, one of the things the company is best known for now is all the resource actioning it’s been doing.
As of earlier this month, IBM had just over 75,000 employees, or “resources,” in the United States. That’s down from 134,000 only 10 years ago and well over 200,000 in the 1980s. This figure is according to Alliance@IBM, an affiliate of the Communications Workers of America. The company itself long ago discontinued its practice of disclosing its U.S. staff count. ...
The erosion of the employee base has been devastating to some well-known IBM towns, such as the company’s birthplace, Endicott, N.Y. There the payroll is down to 700 from a peak of 11,000. The story is similar in nearby New York towns, like Poughkeepsie. ...
What happens with this big company matters here in Minnesota, too. Another of those well-known IBM towns is Rochester. ...
The current worker count there is 2,677, said Lee Conrad of Alliance@IBM. That’s down from 3,224 in 2012 and about 4,200 at the end of 2008. Conrad added that he’s not sure how many of the current Rochester workers are IBM employees, vs. temporary or contract workers.
Rochester has been an IBM town since 1956, and in the early 1990s, IBM Rochester peaked out at about 8,100 employees in 3.6 million square feet of space. But the Rochester operation’s area of focus has become less central for the company. ...
Watson had succeeded his dad as CEO in 1956, and he described just three key IBM beliefs, beginning with what he called the most important, “our respect for the individual.” ...
And as he explained in his lectures, executives who hoped to see their company endure had to be prepared to change just about everything — except the core principles that were important in building the company in the first place. Of course here that means respect for the individual. ...
IBM’s future from here looks to be challenging, as older businesses decline and new lines of business struggle to take off. IBM certainly can’t guarantee a job when there’s no guarantee of enough business to keep a person busy, in Rochester or anywhere else.
But it’s also not too late for the company to go back to core principles.
A great place to start would be banning the word “resource” from ever being used to talk about the people who come to work there.
Selected reader comments follow:
“We find alarming evidence of underinvestment and internal dissatisfaction which suggests in almost all scenarios IBM is set for a painful multiyear transition,” wrote analyst Kulbinder Garcha.
Selected reader comments follow:
I once made the Company $110 million in one single transaction. I went short the Argentina Peso in 1981 just months before the peso collapsed — a massive $200mm equivalent position. It is chronicled in an article I wrote published in the Harvard Business Review March 1983. For this I received just one Attaboy Award — not a percentage as Wall Street rewards its executives.
All this changed when Gerstner came on Board. He was a quintessential "financial engineer" — all window dressing for Wall Street analysts. He did quite well. When he "retired" and passed the baton he had accumulated over $200 million.
Gerstner adopted the following approach:
The Business Plan implemented by Gerstner is now more than 20 years old. It is very long in the tooth. Any wonder that IBM is at the end of the runway? IBM has plenty of competition in "cloud acquisitions" and therefore must settle for third best that a Google or FB do not want. Rejects. Its NBV is so negative that share buybacks no longer are viable. AND India wages are rising sharply so layoffs have begun — in India.
I wish Mme. Rometty a lot of luck. She is going to need it. At some point in time, the Sage is going to wake up from his Heinz stupor and wonder about his single large investment. He may well decide to puke it out — at $125. Buy high, sell low...the Buffet way!
IBM has spent an almost unbelievable amount of money on buybacks in the past, and the last five years have been no exception. The numbers we're talking about here are staggering; the average annual expenditure on buybacks has been $14 billion. That's an incredible sum of money to continue to throw at anything with that kind of longevity. That would be why IBM's share count is so far reduced from its former levels. ...
Overall, has IBM's buyback program had the intended effect of reducing the share count? Yes, of course, and in a very big way. But when we peel back the onion and look at how it achieved its goal of reducing the share count, the picture isn't so rosy. IBM has, by my calculations, "lost" about $15 billion of shareholder money buying back stock at higher prices than it could have today, destroying shareholder value in the process. Imagine if IBM had returned the $70 billion earmarked for buybacks in the form of dividends; I reckon IBM shareholders would be much happier campers at this point. IBM has made it clear it has no other ideas for growing the stock price, so these buybacks will undoubtedly continue, but make sure if you're a shareholder that you understand how the company is spending your money.
Pros: IBM offers decent benefits and the ability to work from home. Great people to work with. Decent compensation.
Cons: The company seems to be lacking a clear vision. Layoffs are occurring in some cases twice a year. Along with that, the company is doing a lot of offshoring. Lack of training.
Advice to Senior Management: Upper management needs to consider some of the decisions they are making and consider some of the downstream impact.
Pros: Smart IBMers around you, flexible work time, fair compensation, good career opportunities, easy to move to new fields.
Cons: Perks practically non-existing, performance evaluation is very much from last century. Much focus on managing the cost side e.g. freezing travel and education budgets.
Advice to Senior Management: Stop transforming for the sake of transformation. Figure out what needs to be done differently first, then move on to changes. Fill the term 'putting the client first' with real content.
Pros: You get to work with some great people who are committed to doing what is best for IBM. Extremely knowledgeable and professional people that make working at IBM almost a pleasure.
Cons: However, that level of commitment ends at senior management, as all they are concerned with is protecting their own jobs, without rocking the boat for higher management. When you look higher then the only concern is for share holders. No thought at all is given to their actual workers. IBM is a manufacturing company, that has changed to a services company, but is still being run by a board with manufacturing blood running in their veins.
Advice to Senior Management: Rather than running the company into the ground through knee jerk reactions and redundancies, do what's best for the company once in a while, rather than what's best for the share price. Employees have seen nothing positive coming from the board for years now. If you have nothing to offer, then don't roll out processes and procedures just for the sake of it.
Invest in giving your workers tools that actually work, rather than forcing tools on to them that are not fit for the job. Many employees will testify that it is becoming almost impossible to deliver services to customers with the internal tools and processes that we are being forced to use. Add to this the ridiculous number of redundancies that have taken place over the last few years and it's a wonder that IBM can still afford to bid for new work
Pros: The company pays for an excessive amount of training. The experience provided from working with the company is priceless.
Cons: The company has issues keeping the employees on project due to many new hires having little to no experience. As well, there is no room for growth and pay is below market average. Most stay for a year at the longest to get the experience and training. Managers have a hard time keeping qualified employees. Another issue is regardless if you work 40 hours a week or 500 hours a week you get paid the same. Some spend much of their time working getting paid little.
Advice to Senior Management: Good luck, wouldn't wanna be in your shoes.
Pros: Over 20 vacation days starting out. Resume builder. Offers some training. Talented coworkers. Good networking opportunity.
Cons: Upper management is very disconnected from the hands-on techs. For the majority of my time here, my team was not allowed to hire anyone, regardless of how many people left. Contracts were signed for millions of dollars to determine what my team supports, without any consultation of us whatsoever. This led to unreasonable demands from the customers that we could not meet. Management would always side with the customer.
Advice to Senior Management: Protect your most valuable asset; your employees. Grow a spine when it comes to contract negotiation. Instead of begging for customers, focus on keeping good employees focused on supporting good customers.
Pros: Worked at IBM for over 30 years. It used to be a wonderful place to work, with talented people and best of breed hardware/software. It no longer is that company and the best that can be said of it is flexible work from home and somewhat flexible work hours. Pay/benefits are average.
Cons: Company used to be run by engineers, but now is run by the finance department. Minimal investment in its people and R&D over the last 15 years and everything is now spent on stock buybacks. Most of the experienced and talented people are now gone. The existing set of customers are really paying the price with the current product set and services now offered. It used to be that having IBM on your resume was a good thing... I'm not so sure anymore, as it was harder and harder to get good college talent to come to IBM.
Advice to Senior Management: Quite frankly, resign. This is/was a technology company that needs to be first run by real engineers that have a vision for the future. In the long run, nobody really cares what the stock price will be 13 weeks from now. Existing management is destroying a once great company.
Pros: Great pay and benefits. The company is generally very stable.
Cons: Big, slow, bureaucratic. Get ready for the grind, as it takes many layers to make basic decisions.
Advice to Senior Management: Get lean! I think this company could be extremely profitable if it got rid of the bloat. Like most bureaucracies, the company limps along because it is hampered by middle managers who are more concerned about their own status than the viability of the organization.
Pros: Helpful in a crisis, good to excellent benefits, many valuable learning resources, clean work environment, a very good cafeteria, good vacation benefit, credit union.
Cons: Poor work/life balance, poor morale, no loyalty, moving everything possible to offshore, regularly furloughs contract workers, no raises for years, demands too much from employees with no compensation for extra work.
Advice to Senior Management: Show some loyalty to your people, stop destroying morale by only concentrating on the bottom line, stop demanding perfection and instead encourage team work and positive practices that minimize problems.
Pros: IBM Global Services pays a competitive rate if you have the skills they require. Also, there is the option to work remotely depending of your team/department.
Cons: Lots of red tape, very heavy processes oriented to the point where you are practically blocked to perform a task to your best ability if not 100% aligned with their process/policies. People working at IBM for a long time are incompatible with the rest of the IT world as they learn to do things the "IBM way". If you cannot handle absurdity and high stress, do not apply with this company. (It is the McDonalds of IT).
Advice to Senior Management: Take an early retirement, there is more to life than Big Blue.
Advice to Senior Management:
Pros: Great folks working there — highly motivated, great skills, pretty effective 1st line managers. OK salary and benefits. Great customers.
Cons: Lack of defined direction for the company. Too much "financial engineering" at corp level. Required "administrivia" gets in the way of time spending with your customer.
Advice to Senior Management: Quit trying to cut your way to meet profitability goals for the company. Invest in your people and free them from non-essential tasks that keep them away from the customer. Quit the maniacal focus on quarterly results and focus a little bit more long term.
Pros: Ability to define your own career path. Flexibility to work across consulting groups and industries. Virtual office presence allows you to work from home every Friday.
Cons: Lack of structure can make it difficult to network. Terrible performance appraisal process — charge hours over emphasized and client service under emphasized; very difficult to separate from the pack.
Advice to Senior Management: Add additional structure to practice reporting, formalize mentoring program, rework employee review program to identify top performers, rework compensation structure to increase rewards for top performers
Pros: The company has some of the best innovation and exceptional colleagues that are dedicated to the company and their co-workers. Most are willing to help in any way to make you successful.
Cons: The company continuously transforms to satisfy Wall Street, impacting employee moral and results in continuous layoffs. Company puts profits over people far too often resulting in significant loss in intellectual capital.
Advice to Senior Management: Get back to a long term focus. Start valuing the employees and trust that they will take care of your clients. Wall Street will be better off if the company is more stable.
Pros: If you like large companies with lot of processes IBM is for you. Depending on the department you'll get to work with some of the coolest and newest technologies. If you work for one of their cash flow businesses that support all the new research it's a good job.
Cons: Downturn in hardware sales across the company impacted all employee's compensation. Even though on the the software side there was great growth. Lots of processes that require lots of people to complete; buying a box of pencils takes way too much energy and time.
Advice to Senior Management: Two things. 1) work hard to make sure your teams are appreciated. Lobby hard for funds to do so. And, 2) Press hard to fix the broken processes.
Pros: They support work-life balance by allowing working from home. Some of the technology is amazing. They support some of the biggest global companies in the world.
Cons: Continuous cutting of people makes getting anything done very difficult. There has been brain drain for years losing people with valuable experience. The former priority of "respect for the individual" is gone. It seems the only focus of the company is to try to delivery to the stockholders by lowering costs, but the customers are not receiving the support they need from the skeleton crew remaining.
Advice to Senior Management: Rediscover that people make the company work, not stockholders.
Pros: I was on the road constantly and often was living outside the US — which for me was a great way to see the world.
Cons: Most of the work that was done was focusing on selling their software, not really focusing on the strategic issues. I was often told to lie to clients about the amount and type of experience I had to get on projects as IBM's priority is to maximize revenue and they do so by pitching staff at a higher level than they actually are.
Advice to Senior Management: Train and provide support to all leaders. There are many poor ones who continue to generate revenue in deceitful ways and take advantage of their staff.
Pros: I was working previously in Deloitte Consulting, and I think that the kind of projects that IBM has are more interesting. International projects, and big IT projects. Good allowance per diem + 4* 5* hotels.
Cons: Travel if you don't like it, but I have colleagues who has requested not to travel and IBM is flexible with this.
Pros: The team members will push through to get a job done and deliver exceptional results. Some of the smartest people I have worked with during my career. If you are aligned politically you can flourish but if you say the wrong thing to a manager you are done.
Cons: Very low morale. Some very good employees have not had raises in years but the significant toll on morale is due to the threat, and delivery, of monthly of layoffs. As a manager told me, "It's not what you know, it is who you know". Managers move up and the "worker bees" are being let go. Last week two of the best performers I have known were let go. Perhaps it is because they were well paid and over 50.
Pros: The overtime was nice when it was available.
Cons: There are yearly ratings for each person in each team. Each team has a bell curve. You can be a hair lower in experience or progress compared to your peers and end up being graded poorly. Which results in no bonus. This is a very unfair system.
Depending on what account you work on, you could be applied to no overtime, on-call rotation, and in the cross fire between teams. Again, there is more arguing of who does what and whose problem it is than actually going ahead and doing the work. Just about every little adjustment requires a change that can take anywhere between 24 hours to a week to be approved before you can do said change.
Moving up in the company can also be very difficult. At the time I came in and later laid off, openings on my account were non-existent. Those with experience mostly held their jobs.
Training was non-existent and you learned as you went.
Last, the company seems to be laying off people at random. Regardless of how much you worked or not. You can have a really good or average PBC and still be laid off.
Advice to Senior Management: Management needs to stand up to upper management in decisions. Lay offs are not the answer to all the problems.
Pros: IBM offered flexible work hours. The hours were long and there were no boundaries (i.e. 6a or 11p meetings on the same day are the norm); however, generally I could carve out time in the day to be there for my family. The work at home environment allowed me to have more flexibility if a child was home sick.
Cons: No growth potential in the US. A strong focus on outsourcing minimized opportunity for growth within the US.
Advice to Senior Management: Understand that a diverse work force is the best work force, and a diverse work force means you have a strong career path and potential within all of the countries you do business in.
Pros: There is a good deal of knowledge to be gained since there are some really intelligent people working here. However, there are also a bunch of over-educated, not so intelligent folks here as well.
Cons: Trying to become "Agile" in their development methodology will only work if they have their teams on the same continent, maybe even in the same time zone. It is very difficult to be agile when one piece of the product is waiting on work that is in a time zone with 12 or 13 hours difference. Only then to find out that the APIs you thought were locked down changed in the middle of your night, now your code does not work and it is your issue to deal with. But there is no buffer built in to allow for this so you need to spend all hours of the evening fixing this and working 16 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Advice to Senior Management: Stop throwing out buzzwords and treating people as if they were just plug-and-play pieces. Don't assign a project to somebody and then ask them why they haven't completed it in a day, when they explained they don't even know that piece of the technology yet.
Oh, stop having these stupid layoffs when you know we are hurting for human resources to do the job.
Pros: IBM really has what they are doing "down pat". For a big company I was always impressed by how smoothly their internal systems worked and that they really tried to help employees when they needed it.
Cons: In order to advance in the company managers have to work in all different parts of the business so they can understand them. This means you will get short-term managers popping in on a regular basis who don't understand the part of the business YOU are in so they can learn. Some of these are good, some not so good.
Advice to Senior Management: Consider a model where someone can advance without having to "travel the globe."
Pros: Very large company, international sales force, leading edge in some technologies, probably many job opportunities. Working for the name IBM has its own prestige.
Cons: You are just a number! I have never seen my manager because he worked remotely and we could never have a face to face discussion as issues arose. Large companies have a round about way of coming up with customer satisfaction. They could just ask the customer! Instead they rely on some kind of method that the customer has no direct input!
Advice to Senior Management: You should have a manager of a group more accessibility and face to face discussions to solve both work issues and performance issues. The system they have in place had encouraged me to seek employment at a much, much smaller company.
It is bad enough having thousands of guest workers already taking American's jobs when there are plenty of "RA'd" American tech workers available, but now their spouses will be competing for those burger flipping, table waiting, and bar tending jobs that are all that is left for many experienced American engineers. And they won't have to pay the original visa holder as much either because now they don't have to fully support a spouse, as now the spouse can work too! We need a union! -Anonymous-
Speaking for myself as an Band 10/STSM, you sound like a hype hysteria, F.U.D. monger of Fox news. In my position one, and other STSM's/DE's I worked with one does not have any influence as you put forth. The work was purely technical. Battling at times — more frequently than you know with management to do things right.
To the other person who implied that STSM's are given out like dog treats. Look up the corporate wide STSM requirements on W3. It's an arduous process that requires sign-off by up through your SVP and review by an independent board not associated with your division. Try it, see what you have to go through, how long it takes. After 35 years I got fed up, took my skills, knowledge, experience and walked.
IBM's been compared to an ocean liner slow to be able to respond vs faster more agile industry vessels. My job required me to work in the engine room so to speak dealing with a rotten hull, unskilled foreign crew members, aging failing equipment, glossy brochures promising a wonderful cruise while the reality was other that was hidden from view. If only Cringley and Greulich knew, if only they knew. -Gone-
To the person who wrote, "Why in such a lousy IBM financial reporting year would a PBC 2 even get more than a 0% GDP? Though GDP was based on ROI (return on investment and turning a profit)? PBC 2 means you just made commitments, kinda "average" or middle of the IBM resource pack by band": I guess you have not realized yet that the entire PBC rating system is a TOTAL FARCE? Management is forced to adhere to skews and has limits on the number of 1's and 2+s given. For the majority of employees, the rating has little to do with the employees actual contributions or performance. -FDB-
So at least a large percentage like this can INDIRECTLY effect a change. Yes, it is a difficult process, but we should be voicing displeasure in some way that hits the media. Joining the Alliance is even more effective if we can get the membership significantly increased. Please join the Alliance as a voting member if you have not already and encourage others to do the same. -LET YOUR VOICE BE HEARD-
So watch yourselves if you want to remain an IBMer...and most importantly don't ever argue or have a different opinion than your manager. Again, another example of a caustic environment. How do you fix things that are not working if you are not able to debate with a differing viewpoint! Ask yourself, is it worth it? There are many worthwhile smaller companies looking for great experienced people! Good luck to those remaining! -Glad to be Gone!
Lousy, if you ask me, just plain lousy. Also, the loss of those individuals has hurt me as a customer now left with a less than adequate resource pool for future projects. So from a customer perspective, the demise of IBM by ripping apart bit-by-bit is sad. Sadly in my lifetime, I can see the end of IBM coming. To all those employees keep up the good work. From this customer, you are truly appreciated. -Anonymous-
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