Inside GM: "Too Little, Too Late"

Robert Farago
by Robert Farago
inside gm too little too late

I’ve started to get emails from more ex-GM employees. Here’s one, with details omitted to protect the correspondent’s identity… “I’ve worked for GM nearly 9 years. No barfing in the toilets that I saw (at least when they weren’t closed for cleaning during the day–you know, after they did away with nightly maintenance to cut costs). But I did break down in tears in the parking deck. This was after fighting for 3 years to get a lateral move that was necessary for career development, getting resisted by management who told me I had to find own my replacement, only to have my director (a long-timer, my-way-or-the-highway type) move me to a completely different group during the 2006 layoff/reorg without bothering to ask me first. Fortunately I did pick up skills to qualify me for my current job. But too little, too late — that’s essentially been GM’s problem for the last 30 years, in fact.

During my whole time there I remember a constant pressure to reduce costs–benefits cuts, services cuts, fired contract help. I remember the FUD really getting strong in early 2006, when layoff rumors were running rampant. After the bloodletting and reorg, it died down some, although everyone was working 2-3 times as hard and all the managers were working OT and 7-day weeks.

The people who were most pleasant to work with (and most productive) were the 3D contract designers–one of them ran the coffee station and raised money for Iraqi troops and organized potlucks and stuff. But my area never did anything fun like that because we had only 1 admin and she was overwhelmed taking care of several executive directors–no Christmas potluck or anything.

I was in XXXX during my last year, which had a healthier culture than XXXX. Not as much FUD there, although there definitely was some present. When I left earlier this year, my director announced that I would not be replaced. They wanted to distribute my work amongst the other engineers, but they protested enough for my manager to declare that the efforts for my programs would be put on hold. I’m guessing that the FUD ramped up from that point on.

GM screwed up by being the grasshopper instead of the ants in the summer, and now it’s winter. I don’t want my new company to make that mistake, so I’m going to push for cost-cutting innovations.

I am rooting for the bailout loans to fail at this point, at least for GM. It needs to go C11 and reinvent itself. It will suck, but it’s going to suck anyway, and with C11 at least GM has a chance or surviving as GM.

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  • Michael Karesh Michael Karesh on Dec 05, 2008

    IOtheworldaliving: Good to see you here. It's really shocking to me how little the automotive press tries to get an insider's perspective on these organizations. They prefer to get all of their information from senior execs and PR, and neither really knows what's going on among the people who do the real work. Thank you for providing some insight--I hope you'll continue to write. After the research 50merc mentions, I provided GM with a report. Executive summary here: Do the points I made still ring true, ten years later? The report called for a radical cultural change. Though at least two people made sure that Lutz saw this summary, and even pieces of the report, I didn't expect GM to make such a large change. On the mood inside the organization ten years ago: my report stated that the dominant mood within the organization then was frustration. There's nothing any of us thinks that at least 100 people inside GM aren't already thinking. But it was very hard then for anyone, even a senior exec, to get anything done. And it's probably the same name. I have been planning a couple of editorials. I have some long plane flights in the next few weeks--maybe then.

  • IOtheworldaliving IOtheworldaliving on Dec 05, 2008

    @Michael Karesh: I just downloaded the summary. About to board a plane and will read while airborne.

  • ToolGuy Here is an interesting graphic, if you're into that sort of thing.
  • ToolGuy Nice website you got there (even the glitches have glitches)
  • Namesakeone Actually, per the IIHS ratings, "Acceptable" is second best, not second worst. The ratings are "Good," "Acceptable," "Marginal" and "Poor."
  • Inside Looking Out "And safety was enhanced generally via new reversing lamps and turn signals fitted as standard equipment."Did not get it, turn signals were optional in 1954?
  • Lorenzo As long as Grenadier is just a name, and it doesn't actually grenade like Chrysler UltraDrive transmissions. Still, how big is the market for grossly overpriced vehicles? A name like INEOS doesn't have the snobbobile cachet yet. The bulk of the auto market is people who need a reliable, economical car to get to work, and they're not going to pay these prices.