Lynda's Diary



You may have read Lynda Atherton-Mile's Diary in Shared Services News. If not, now is your opportunity to catch up  here - a true and frank account of working in a Global Organization in current times.

Friday, April 17th, 2009

Forced ranking this week....we rank our people according to performance— 20/70/10 versus their peers: 20% high performing (1), 70% good satisfactory people (2), and 10% below average performing (3). I do our ranking publicly, all 240 employees throughout Europe and Africa. We start with everyone in the room from Team Leaders through to senior managers and work upwards, grade by grade. No-one leaves the room until we all agree on a grade as I’m having no-one leave and say, "Look what they did?!" We are all complicit here. I provide lots of drinks and no chairs to facilitate the process; and as we get through this process people leave the room until I’m the only person left! And then I rank my team. I have to check the Ranking before I submit as I need to have the required distribution by grade and by function— Finance, HR Services, IT, Quality and Management services, etc. We rank by region in January and this week we do a global ranking. If I find it hard in Europe/Africa to rank an AP processor’s performance in Germany versus an AP processor’s performance in Africa or the UK ... it is doubly hard to rank an accountant in China, India or Brazil versus one in Romania. And you need to understand beforehand who might be challenged ... when to keep quiet ... and when to speak up....to make sure you keep all your people in the right place. After this comes a functional ranking review and then, sometime, hopefully by the end of June, we’ll know how all our people ended up and can share feedback before merit increases in July! Except that in this downturn year, no one will get merit increases! So, does it matter how people get ranked this year given there’s no merit increase? I think it does. In future years, whenever promotions are requested or people are highlighted as high-potentials, it’ll always come back to the last three years’ rankings. And though I see some people adopting dubious tactics such as marking last year’s leavers as low performers, and so making up the numbers and "ticking the boxes," I don’t do that. Especially not in this downturn
year. We’ve lost too many people due to volume reductions, and when volumes pick back up, why wouldn’t we re-hire them? They are good people and it saves on recruitment costs. Plus they already understand the business. But if they are marked up as low performers, Cummins will never re-hire them. I try to make sure the process has integrity, but the distribution is never complete until I enter my own ranking, which of course I don’t know! I always ponder: what could be higher than a "1"?—a zero? I solemnly type against my own name: "off the Richter scale."

Friday, April 24th, 2009

A quieter mid-month week so I’ve been working on global recognition....We’ve recognized that some of our CBS programs have been designed for the US and regional leaders either don’t apply them locally or implement their own versions, so I’m now the global champion for recognition and need to figure out a global scheme that we can apply anywhere, even though gifts might vary locally. I want to align reward levels to the US but fit local culture and standards of living. Today I’m doing a McDonald’s Bun table for cash rewards to remove the inequity from using a simple $ conversion, as sometimes two people who get the same US$ reward actually get different amounts, depending on how the currency has moved. I’m using the cost of a Happy meal for two, globally ...so if it costs $5 in the US then a $100 recognition reward would equal 25 times the cost of the same meal in the local country ... today that would be 8 RON in Romania, 70 pesos in Mexico, 30 RMB in China, 20 Rand in SA...etc. Then I need to sense check with my colleagues in other regions that the spend value there will be perceived as equivalent as $100 to a US person. It’s an interesting project….and I wonder if I’ll get recognized for my scheme? I’d like global gifts … Chinese silk, Indian carpets, Russian vodka ... Hope I don’t get awarded 20 Happy meals! I’m aligned with the company…I’m trying to downsize