Short-sighted company does not value its employees
Working at IBM is something like an eternal game of Russian roulette, except with layoffs instead of bullets. I survived the layoffs for almost 20 years, but eventually my luck ran out (despite never receiving a bad rating). I am still with the company as of now, but my last day will be in the next 3 months. I have seen this happen to very talented employees many times during my years at the company. The layoffs are
often determined by what project you happen to be working on at the time that the layoffs are done, rather than being determined by your skills or value to the company.
Up until recently, IBM was very good about giving employees the flexibility to work from home or even to work purely remotely from other cities. Recently it was announced that this policy had ended and all employees were expected to be on site for all working hours. For some employees, there was no local IBM office where they could work. Those employees were told they would have to relocate closer to an IBM office or they would not be able to stay with the company. This was another case where very talented employees were essentially forced out of the company.
For the past 10-15 years, it seems like the company tries to reinvent itself and entirely change directions every couple of years. But IBM never sees any of these strategies through. It tries them briefly, and if they do not pay immediate dividends, something new is attempted. On top of this, IBM has had a habit of always being late to the party. Only once cloud computing was well-established by IBM competitors did IBM start trying to get into the market, for example. It is very frustrating as a worker to feel like the company has no real direction or sense of strategy.
It also often feels like the executives making the strategy decisions are too far removed from the reality of the business. IBM has many layers of management between the regular employees and the executives that make the decisions.
Finally, and I imagine this is probably true of many large corporations, IBM treats its employees in a very schizophrenic manner. When a project is behind schedule or high priority, IBM management tells its employees that we are a family, a team, and we all should pull together, work extra hours, go the extra mile, etc, to see the project to completion. However, when IBM decides that they need to cut costs, they’ll have one of their frequent layoffs (except they will only refer to them as “resource actions”, the same way downsizing to them is “right-sizing”). And when the layoffs happen IBM management makes it clear that this is a business and these things happen. Wait, what happened to being a team and a family?
Advice to Management
First, realize that one of your greatest assets is your talented and knowledgeable employees. Treat them that way.
Second, stop floundering when it comes to the company’s strategy. Stick with an idea for longer than a couple of years.
Third, rethink the misguided decision to forbid working remotely.
Fourth, try to remove some of the layers of middle management.
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