Pop quiz, hotshot: What’s the fastest way to drive your company’s name into the ground?
Well, there are several sure-fire ways. These are just the latest to surface in the news:
ExxonMobil spent approximately $16 million between 1998 and 2005 on 43 organizations that have cast doubt on the reality of human-caused global warming.
Funding ranged from $30,000 for the group Africa Fighting Malaria to $1.6 million to the American Enterprise Institute, a pro-business think tank in Washington.
Deborah Zabarenko, Environment Correspondent for Reuters, sees a parallel between the energy company’s aim to discredit the science of global warming and the tobacco industry’s decades long “cancer causing” cover up.
Nice. So subterfuge is one way. Greed is another:
Write your company’s deadbeat CEO a $210 million severance check when you finally fire him, while your employees’ annual raises barely edge out cost of living increases, your customers leave you in droves, and your stock remains stagnant. Brilliant.
From Jeff Matthews Is Not Making This Up, here’s a little MacBethian scene to illustrate the Nardelli situation :
DUNCAN, Board Chairman
Did we fire his sorry you-know-what yet?
MALCOLM, Lead Director
The lawyers say he has us by the you-know-whats.
But he’s an idiot!
He almost destroyed our franchise
With that stupid Six Sigma crap…
(Pouring a scotch although it is only 10 a.m.)
I’d like to Six Sigma his sorry you-know-what…
Sir, there’s no time for that.
We need a decision.
What is it this time?
He wants the corporate jets.
He wants to use the jets???
Son of a…
(Downing the scotch and exhaling slowly.)
What for—he can’t fly home to Nantucket on Delta?
I think he actually lives on St. John’s Island, sir.
(Pouring another scotch.)
You want one?
No thank you, sir.
We need a decision, sir.
(Stirs ice with fingers reflecting on something.)
He looked so good on paper.
Number two at GE!
What the hell went wrong?
Sir, our lawyers need an answer.
About the jets.
(Tasting the scotch.)
Well, we have three freaking jets, right?
Six? Jesus. Well, see if one of ’em is free.
Tell the pilot to take that S.O.B.’s sorry Six Sigma you-know-what wherever it has to go.
And good riddance.
Sir, you don’t understand.
He wants the jets.
He wants the freaking jets????
Yes Sir. All six of them.
Tell him to go pound sand!
Tell him to go pound Six Sigma sand!
Tell him I’m sure a Six Sigma guy like him
Can pound sand better than anybody else ever pounded sand!
Tell him I said that!!!!
Sir, it’s in the contract.
The one you signed when we hired him.
If he gets fired for cause, he gets the corporate jets.
(Pouring another scotch.)
I hate this job.
End of Act I
Jonathan Berr, over at WMT offers this little footnote:
Home Depot is in a pickle with regards to Nardelli’s pay. It’s also found away to turn off consumers as well. I haven’t set foot in my local Home Depot in years because the experience of shopping in Lowe’s Companies Inc. (NYSE:LOW) is so much more pleasant. The Lowe’s is about 20 miles further from my house than the Home Depot.
$210 million. Bravo.
Greed. Arrogance. Inequity.
When more and more American families struggling to make ends meet these days, with ever shrinking benefit packages, with the loss of manufacturing jobs on a massive scale in the US, with the rising, disenfranchising costs of college, nobody likes a company that slights its employees, chases away its customers, and rewards monumental management failures with the kind of money that could jumpstart many third world countries’ economies.
Be careful who you name as C.E.O. or allow on your board of directors.
Be careful how you treat your employees.
Be careful how you treat your customers.
Be careful how you come across to the world.
If you’re a C.E.O. (or if you sit on a board of directors anywhere) be aware that the business you have been entrusted with is about much more than numbers, personal perks and your need for status and recognition.
There are good shepherds, and bad ones. It’s as simple as that.