Should I cringe or is it just the way it is going to be?

So an ex-co-worker who became a friend of mine when we worked together wrote in his blog a couple weeks ago a question “Who does a company’s board really represent?”

He was proposing that CEO’s shouldn’t be on the board of directors for companies. We had a pretty good discussion in his comments about the subject.

What made me think of that discussion was a speculation report in Bob Cringely’s Blog about IBM planning to layoff 150,000 employees. YEA, you read that right — 150,000 out of 350,000 employees.

Before Tony (my ex-co-worker) left for better pastures, he and I made it through about twenty-two layoff in the former MCI-Worldcom-MCI, now Verizon Business. Trust me when I say that we understand what bad management and good management is all about. We had our share of both.

So you see, I have a close and personal relationship with uncertainty on the job. Fifty years ago when manufacturing was king in the US job security wasn’t even in the minds of workers. The working “middle” class worried more about getting better benefits and better pay and a better place to live.

But today’s working landscape for the “Information” age worker is totally different. What many people in America haven’t figured out is that we are not competing with labor resources within our borders anymore. Our competition is in India and the other developing countries where the average salary is two-thirds less than it is here.

Like the manufacturing job exodus in the 70’s and 80’s we are seeing the “information age” job exodus in the 90’s and 2000’s.

But there is good news! Highly skilled, educated and above all, highly intelligent workers no matter what their trade are always in demand. Look at how car manufacturers are coming back to America because we do have highly skilled workers who are not as unionized or socialized as much as European workers and are willing to work hard.

IBM laying off 150,000 employees is truly devastating for the 150,000 employee who will get the axe — no doubt about it. IBM may be cutting off their left leg to make a short term profit – time will tell that story. And IBM’s executives for sure will reap a crap-load of money from doing this dirty deed. But on a macro level IBM will either succeed with this strategy or they will fail.

On the micro level, these 150,000 people will have to adapt. Some will retire, some will change careers, some will fail and some will turn this mis-fortune into success somewhere else.

I have accepted that the days of working 30 years for a caring, supportive company are OVER! I have realized that I am responsible for my life, my retirement, my career and my future.

Global economics and competition will continue to affect me and my fellow countrymen. But we will have to adapt and over-come these pressures to maintain our standard of life. Sometimes we will be affected by decisions of other men and women. And some of these decisions will be plainly stupid.

But in the long term, if we fail as individuals and as a nation, we have only ourselves to blame. So when I hear news like this I still cringe because people’s, human beings like me, lives are affected. But I have faith in the people of the United States to work through these troubles and to succeed.

From what I understand Tony is successful where he is today. I suspect he would be successful anywhere because he knows his shit and adds value for his employer. For most of my co-workers and myself I feel the same way — they are so capable of being successful anywhere they go!

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