Lynda's Diary

Tags: SSON

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. We will be publishing Lynda's Diary each Friday for the next four weeks.

Friday, March 13th, 2009

What a truly awful week…

This week, we’re in the middle of downsizing actions, as are most companies—particularly U.S.-based Companies, like mine. I’m hit at around 5% of my professional staff and am trying to take out non-critical positions so that we reduce cost but maintain business-critical capability … and stay ready for the upturn when it comes. All of Cummins’s businesses and corporate functions are similarly targeted, so the mood is low everywhere, and each day brings notices from across the globe, of people leaving. Someone forwarded me an email entitled, "I thought it would be me...and it was me!" a lovely, funny, philosophical note from someone leaving the company. Other announcements have included a 10% salary cut for Officers, bringing widespread panic from my mainland Europe and Africa staff, where English is not the main language. They think that ""Officers" are Office-grade staff! And they’re worried that their pay is going to be cut. I’ve emailed all my people to say: "Don’t worry, the Company strategy is to be poised for the forefront of the economic upturn and to have all our talented and capable employees in place and ready, so we are ahead of our competitors … Let’s continue to service our BU customers as professionally as we have always done … Remember, they have all received the same email! … The company will need us for the future upturn and growth." I get feedback that my people are reassured by this.

So—Friday night and all I have to do now is find my car. We don’t have enough parking spaces so I double-park my car and spend half the day moving it around to let people go to the doctor, let part-timers go home, let people out to visit one of the businesses … and at the end of the day I have to think: Where did I put it last? And will it have any petrol left in it? And will the battery be flat?

Friday, March 20th, 2009

This week I am in the Q1 heaven that is HR in Cummins. Really, I should say that I’m deeply involved in the HR space. I’ve noticed the in-word these days is "space" for everything, … and during very uninteresting conference calls I amuse myself by counting the number of times I hear people use that word. I counted fifteen, recently. I’m definitely very spaced out. It’s been variable compensation week, where we pay bonuses for last year’s performance. And why not? We are a profitable company, we’ve had five straight years of record profits, and yes—we got hit Q4 by the downturn, like everyone else, but we are still very profitable and pay bonuses according to results. And we had good results for 2008. My problem is that I have staff right across mainland Europe and Africa, sitting on BU sites, and with different compensation rates to the BU site. So each year, as results come in and payout factors are announced, I have to assess which of my people are going to be really pleased to be part of CBS this year and who is going to be really fed up! I liaise with European HR leaders, who are a really nice group of people, so we can figure out how to handle any local situation that might arise. It’s taken me five years to get to this level of communal co-operation. This year, Germany are really pleased; France are scarily fine; Belgium not so much; Holland has a strong works council and couldn’t give a fig; and Russia does its own thing, for a change. And I’m to hold all European payrolls until the financials are signed off on the U.S. side by auditors! At 2 a.m. U.S.time, the "good to go" signal comes in, and payrolls run through the night, right across the region. Next week will be Forced Ranking, more HR fun, but for now I’m looking forward to getting my variable compensation. It’s going to go right into my very empty Bank "space."

Cummins Business Services is a global organisation providing Finance, HR and IT Services to Cummins businesses worldwide. Cummins Inc., a global power leader, is a corporation of complementary business units that design, manufacture, distribute and service engines and related technologies, including fuel systems, controls, air handling, filtration, emission solutions and electrical power generation systems. Headquartered in Columbus, Indiana, (USA) Cummins serves customers in approximately 190 countries. Cummins reported net income of $755 million on sales of $14.3 billion in 2008.