Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Why a company doesn’t listen to their employees?

Many years ago when I am working with B Company, the company’s business and product is going downhill. Rather than letting it slip and leaving, a bunch of Techies decide to take initiative to come up with a plan to build a better product and give suggestion on how to make the company better (in terms of technical development). We propose our case to the management, where the management gave verbal approval and support to turn the tide around. At the end, all we get is verbal support, with no extra resources or monetary support (lip service from the management?). Sooner than later, almost everyone got disappointed and left the company, and the company went to its eventual demise (not actually dead, but it doesn’t matter anymore).

We come up with a plan to the management, and even write suggestions to certain key people, but I guess manager and CEO don’t take a bunch of Techies very seriously. What do a bunch of Techies know about business? They can’t wait to shut our mouth and move on with whatever brilliant plan on their mind, which proved to be non-workable either. The fact is, the company didn’t take the view and recommendations of employees seriously. Something had taken precedence, may it be the pressures from the board, dwindling revenue and with no mood to “restart” the business.

Perhaps our plan is flawed, thus the company didn’t take us seriously (I’ll give them the benefit of doubt).

Many years later, another set of problem is brewing at my wife’s company. Everyone seems to be working with unreasonable timeline and resources in most projects. Rather than acknowledge the problem and provide a remedy, the management just bulldozed their way through by asking everyone to work harder and longer. The employee thinks that such working environment is not conducive, but the management thinks that is the right way to run a business. There was hardly any postmortem or discussion on how to ease the pain or stop history from repeating itself. To the management, this is the only right way; while the employees think otherwise. The fact is, not everyone have the luxury to clock in more than 12 hours every day including weekends; if the company is not willing to accommodate these life/family oriented people, then they should put “workaholic wanted” in their job posting. My point is, the company knows what the employees are thinking and wanted, but the company couldn’t agree with them (or they can’t, in terms of conflict with their own interest?).

Today I read an article about Google, the “Shangri-La” for most programmers across the globe. They have their own problem brewing as well, where the company is growing too big and fat, losing the agility and dynamic of a startup, with increasing bureaucracy and slow decision making of large corporation. Larry page might be “trying” to turn the company around, and an ex-Googler gave all the constructive suggestions on how to make the company “better” again (sounds too familiar to me). Can Google really “restart” its culture again, or they will be eaten alive by their own “mutated” culture?

Is there still hope?