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CEOs Who Invite Email From All Employees 226

Posted by Hemos
from the the-glories-of-the-corporate-world dept.
Carl Bialik from the WSJ writes "Cinergy Corp. CEO James E. Rogers, who at 11 one evening was reading email from employees at home while nursing a vodka, is the norm, not the exception at major U.S. companies, the Wall Street Journal reports. 'Advocates say such a policy is a powerful leadership tool that can nip crises in the bud, boost morale, uncover new ideas, and cut through corporate red tape. In the post-Enron era of CEO accountability, reading employee email helps the boss appear hands-on and accessible. But reading and replying to dozens of employee messages each day takes time that could be spent doing something else. Skeptics say the practice distracts CEOs from more-pressing work -- and extends already long workdays.' Of course, portable email devices have made it easier to sift through dozens or hundreds of employee messages each day. While being driven to meetings, Pfizer's CEO says, 'I don't look out the window. I use my BlackBerry and answer my email.'"
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CEOs Who Invite Email From All Employees

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  • D'oh! (Score:5, Funny)

    by rovingeyes (575063) on Monday October 10, 2005 @12:01PM (#13757158)
    Pfizer's CEO says, 'I don't look out the window. I use my BlackBerry and answer my email.'"

    Uh oh, he is screwed [slashdot.org]

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 10, 2005 @12:02PM (#13757163)
    If he's only 11 why is he sitting at home drinking vodka????
  • it's more self-aggrandizing egotistical behavior... than anything else.

    You know what? I worked for a company, one of the telcoms that went through the upheaval of crooked leadership during the Enron days. One of our CEO's walked away with $500M, and they're still chasing him down -- I predict they'll NEVER get him. Our stock went from over $50 to under $2.

    Then our shining knight on a white horse rode into town. He had a reputation for coming in and slashing jobs, but he had genuine likability and charisma about him. He also had an open e-mail policy, claimed he read and answered his e-mail. Guess what? He did!

    I exchanged a few e-mails with him, and he always responded. Cool... two administrations before I'd always had pretty direct access at that level (I was pretty senior), and now it appeared the company was back to bidnez. His responses were short and non-expansive, but, hey, he IS the CEO.

    Then, 9a.m. one morning about a year ago I got marched into a little room and set free. For a previous post with more info, look here [slashdot.org].

    Yeah, he read and answered his e-mail... but he always signed it (and I'm not making this up), "dick".

  • by RubberDogBone (851604) on Monday October 10, 2005 @12:04PM (#13757183)
    That's why they have flunkies to do: listen to the employees, put their comments in the circular file, and make sure to record a bad mark for the next annual review.

    "Too ambitious. Emailed C*O about a new process that would cut costs and save the company."
  • Irony (Score:5, Funny)

    by gowen (141411) <gwowen@gmail.com> on Monday October 10, 2005 @12:05PM (#13757191) Homepage Journal
    Pfizer's CEO says, 'I don't look out the window. I use my BlackBerry and answer my email.'"
    Most of the time his replies read: "Funnily enough, I can get actual Viagra for the price you're selling fake C1AL1S. I'm the CEO of f**king Pfizer, you morons."
  • by toupsie (88295) on Monday October 10, 2005 @12:06PM (#13757196) Homepage
    "Cinergy Corp. CEO James E. Rogers, who at 11 one evening was reading email from employees at home while nursing a vodka, is the norm, not the exception at major U.S. companies, the Wall Street Journal reports. 'Advocates say such a policy is a powerful leadership tool that can nip crises in the bud, boost morale, uncover new ideas, and cut through corporate red tape.

    Who knew that drinking vodka could nip crises in the bud, boost morale, uncover new ideas and cut through corporate red tape. I always thought Bourbon [jimbeam.com] was a better choice for that. Guess its Bloody Marys for me!

    • by dswan69 (317119) on Monday October 10, 2005 @12:45PM (#13757514)
      Would it be OK if he was nursing a joint? Just wondering if only addictive, toxic drugs are acceptable for CEOs.
    • I dont know about you but i would like my CEO to be sober while he reads my genuine ideas ... otherwise he will end up thinking that these ideas are good (because i was drunk while i wrote the e-mail to him too :p) and i will have to make these ideas into projects and make profits ... from ideas like a flying coffee cup and freezing microwave ... (this means i would have to get the clients drunk to make them buy this stuff...)

      On the other hand, i know dudes who would answer to e-mails politely 24/7 if they
  • http://finance.yahoo.com/q?s=CIN&d=t [yahoo.com] based on the Stock Reports he should drink a little less (or maybe more!!!). ;) He's down .69 today already.
    • by Brushfireb (635997) on Monday October 10, 2005 @12:48PM (#13757543)
      Good CEO's dont care about day to day, or even quarter to quarter fluctuations in their stock price, provided its not ridiculously drastic.

      Good CEO's look long term. So should you.
      • not anymore. CEO terms are becoming shorter than political terms in many instances. there is no vested interest in CEOs thinking long term, especially when long term interests often conflict with short term interests, i.e. return on investment. This is especially true for publically traded companies.

        i guess my point is, the idea of what a good CEO is... is a very relative term.

        For example, Steve Jobs has become a wall street darling because he has evolved from being a good private company CEO to a good publ
        • He did say "good" CEO's. Not everyday, average, run of the mill CEO's.
          You know. The kind that is extremely rare. :-)
          • My point is this: good to whom? A good CEO to investors is not necessarily considered a good CEO by employees. That "good" CEO might significantly downsize the R&D department to reduces costs and increase ROI, which would make him a bad CEO by many employees, but a coveted employee by stockholders. This same CEO is not vested in the company's long term survival, but short term health. In that regard, what is meant by a "good" CEO?

            This is my point. The market's idea of a good CEO can be different from an
    • You need to find out when the interview was conducted. Maybe last night
      was a no vodka night for him, and that is why the stock is down. Maybe
      he needs more, not less.

      I propose a full study. Grouped by types of alcohol and amounts, measured
      against the company stock price.
  • Long Workdays (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Chuckstar (799005) on Monday October 10, 2005 @12:08PM (#13757216)
    "and extends already long workdays"

    Oh, cry me a river. So a guy making hundreds of millions has to extend his workday. Isn't that the price you pay for having that job? You want an easier job, just be some other senior executive, make 20-25% as much money, and have an easier life.
    • Re:Long Workdays (Score:5, Insightful)

      by iluvcapra (782887) on Monday October 10, 2005 @01:22PM (#13757813)
      Skeptics say the practice distracts CEOs from more-pressing work -- and extends already long workdays

      For 420 times the employee base salary (for reals, not hyperbole), he might be able to reply to a few dozen emails every night.

      • I've long wondered this. What is it about a CEO's job that makes them worth 400 times what I make? No one yet has been able to even explain to me what a CEO does, yet alone be able to justify the grandiose pay scale beyond the banal company-prestige argument (you're not a Fortune 500 company unless your CEO makes X million dollars).
        • It's supply and demand -- the same market factors that make A-Rod worth 400 times what you make. The CEO is often the most publicly-visible representative for your corporation, and his ability to make decisions about the operations of a company is just as important as his ability to go on CNBC and say something that makes people buy your stock. Someone needs an ideal mix of education, connections, public-relations acumen, and management experience to be a good CEO. After all, when you're the most public
  • by Wireless Joe (604314) on Monday October 10, 2005 @12:09PM (#13757217) Homepage
    But reading and replying to dozens of employee messages each day takes time that could be spent doing something else.

    Yes, and I'd be glad to hear that my CEO was returning email instead of (or at least while) taking place in the latest pro-am or attending other "promotional" company-paid vacations.
    Skeptics say the practice distracts CEOs from more-pressing work -- and extends already long workdays.'

    Again, I would expect nothing less from a competent CEO. I work 10-12 hour days, and at 50-100 times my salary, I would expect the same from them.
  • While being driven to meetings, Pfizer's CEO says, 'I don't look out the window. I use my BlackBerry and answer my email.'"

    And that reason alone, is why I will never feel sorry for CEOs long work days. Besides, everybody knows that CEOs are figureheads and the real work is done by the managers looking for promotions into more cushy jobs and getting the little guys to work their asses off to deliver the given product/service on a deadline that means THEIR job.

    Yea.. fuck CEOs. Until I am one -- and then I wi
    • by Rogerborg (306625) on Monday October 10, 2005 @12:15PM (#13757264) Homepage
      First you tell your driver to take you to your mistresses' apartment, then when you're good and ready you tell him to take you to the office.
    • No offense, but if someone's attention is costing a business millions of dollars a year, it seems like a good idea to hire someone to handle the more mundane stuff so they don't have to take their mind off of what they're working on.

      What's a half-hour of a CEO's time worth? If it's more than the cost of a driver's, then someone else had better be behind the wheel.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Bugger that.

      I don't know if you're trying to be funny here. My dad is the CEO of a medium-sized, recently listed manufacturing company (not in the States). I may be biased, but I don't know anyone who works harder.

      He gets up at 7 every morning, and if he isn't out entertaining clients (all right, it's an Asian country) til 2-3am, he's back at 8pm. That's Monday to Saturday, Sunday the office is closed but he usually ends up checking up on the factory anyway.

      He handles everything, from finding new markets, m
      • I agree entirely. Let me add one more point.

        If, as people seem to think, a CEO does nothing in a public company. There's a board of directors who would boot him/her out. Major companies don't make money by paying people obscene salaries to sit on their butts all day.

        True, if you want to run a successful company, you have to delegate a lot of tasks to other people. This should be done, however, so that you can handle more imporant issues.

        Bearing this in mind, I think that an open-inbox policy is a
  • Good idea (Score:5, Insightful)

    by twiddlingbits (707452) on Monday October 10, 2005 @12:09PM (#13757224)
    I always thought a CEO should know as much as possible about what is going on in his/her firm. Sounds like this guy thinks that way too. And he does it HIMSELF, not via his admin assistant. Some CEOs couldn't even turn on a Blackberry, and others don't give a rat's ass what is going on as long as they get thier way and thier bonuses.

    The downside of actually reading his email is that he can't say "I didn't know" if the Feds come asking questions about his company's actions or financial statements.

    Employees shouldn't be dropping him emails when the towels are out in the restroom. Only really imporant issues/crises should be sent to him.

    • by moviepig.com (745183) on Monday October 10, 2005 @12:22PM (#13757344) Homepage
      ...Only really imporant issues/crises should be sent to him.

      Maybe the other employees should be able to mod each other's eMails up and down. Hey, wait...

    • Traditionally, most managers are of the mindset that they need to make the people under them fix problems, and sugarcoat everything to the people above them. A lot of problems get filtered out on the way up the chain, nothing gets done because there's no funding or poor planning, morale suffers, etc.

      This is a good way to bypass that whole problem. I would suspect that companies where the C*O has open email policies, managers and directors will be less likely to leave out pertinent info and to just tell it
      • I'm much like you are, however IMNSHO "... end up at the executive level..." is not likely to happen to either of us. I've spent 22+ yrs in Software/Systems and also have an MBA from a top school, but I've been told I need to be less assertive about right/wrong to make it further up the food chain. Those who rise to the top are the ones who will 1)suck up in the most politically correct way or 2) have horrible ethics but always seem to win the business (means justify the ends) or 3) Will use/abuse anyone to
  • Sifted (Score:5, Insightful)

    by oconnorcjo (242077) * on Monday October 10, 2005 @12:10PM (#13757233) Journal
    I think that if I was in a CEO position, I would have my email sifted through by a secretary and then only the real meat forwarded to me; giving me more time to do other things. A CEO who spends large amounts of time reading email feels like a micromanager and would give me less confidence in the leadership of the company.
    • Re:Sifted (Score:5, Insightful)

      by angelo (21182) on Monday October 10, 2005 @12:34PM (#13757430) Homepage
      As opposed to the 'sifter' micro-managing and reducing morale. It speaks better to the CEO's commitment if they read/reply personally instead of pushing it off to someone else. That's the whole point of this.
    • Yay, then only issues that are important to the Seceretary get forwarded along. It'd be just like the US Government!
    • I agreee with you on several points.

      Micro-managing bosses don't inspire confidence. I also agree that sifting through countless emails would be time consuming, especially in large companies with very strong hiring practices (which would mean fielding a good number of seemingly pertinent and thought provoking emails on a regular basis; imagine what Eric Schmidt's inbox looks like at the end of the day). I agree with an email filter. I don't think it should be the secretary though. Not to denigrate secretarie
    • Yeah that's what I want in a company: a CEO who completely distances himself from the workers near the bottom of the ladder. That's the problem with corporations, there is a class structure near the top that rarely interacts with the majority of workers, making those workers feel like they don't matter. I'd pick a company where the top brass is visible and accessible to the workers over one where the CEO is some guy you hear about but never see and can never reach.

      Besides, if reading email is taking too m
    • A CEO who spends large amounts of time reading email feels like a micromanager...

      I think there's a subtle but important difference. A micromanager interferes with your work in an uninvited fashion, you have to encourange them let you get on with your job yourself. This guy only reads the email that employees have chosen to send him. Since sensible employees would only send him something really important he can't really be accused of micromanagement for simply allowing employees to email him.

  • by nharmon (97591) on Monday October 10, 2005 @12:11PM (#13757234) Homepage
    Half of me thinks that if the middle-managers can't be trusted to take employee e-mails concerning business-related things, they should be replaced. The other half of me thinks that if technology gives the CEO greater span-of-control, then perhaps the middle-managers should be eliminated.
    • There would be times when it makes sense to go over the head of your manager in communications.

      1)Is of course when the idea that you have is not in the field of expertise of your manager. It could be an idea for a different department, or??? Specialization is such that you can NOT expect every manager to have a firm grasp on every task.

      2)Your direct manager may simply be too busy to deal with the problem, and knowing that adding this task to his load may result in unacceptable short term reductions i
    • CEOs should think in very broad strokes - industry wide paradigms.

      lower level employees are pointillists, they are paid to think in detail, painstakingly small and acute dimensions.

      these are inherently different languages; few people speak both. It's why most engineers make less than successful CEOs and why most CEOs were mediocre students/entry level workers/etc. That is the benefit and the bane of the middle manager. The good middle manager understands the engineer and can explain his perspective to the b
    • The solution, of sorts, is that the president shouldn't be micromanaging, although should be 1. aware of all the goings-on in the company, and 2. able to excersize veto power. It's the middle managers responsibility to both make business decisions as per their standing within the company and their authority, and to forward a carbon copy of said decisions to the boss so that the boss is kept in the loop and can excersize veto power as necessary.

      That's my two cents, anyhow.
  • CEO is the norm ? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by star_aas (828539)
    Cinergy Corp. CEO James E. Rogers, who at 11 one evening was reading email from employees at home while nursing a vodka, is the norm,

    So, this guy is the norm ? What the hell does that even mean ?

    Maybe you meant "For Cinergy Corp. CEO James E. Rogers, reading email from employees at home while nursing a vodka at 11 in the evening is the norm.

    Sorry, couldn't help it

  • Appearances? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Franklinstein (909568) on Monday October 10, 2005 @12:12PM (#13757246)
    "reading employee email helps the boss appear hands-on and accessible"

    And here's what it comes down to...appearances. Yes, I understand that it can have some effect, but how useful is putting on the appearance of being hands-on and accessible when they're really not?

    • Re:Appearances? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by rhetoric (735114) <rhetoric@co[ ]bus.rr.com ['lum' in gap]> on Monday October 10, 2005 @12:22PM (#13757351)
      here's another gem from TA:

      Last year, an hourly worker at a manufacturing plant sent Mr. Parkinson an email asking about Baxter's policy for supplementing the pay of employees called up to active military duty. The CEO discovered the subsidy ended after 24 weeks, even though some Baxter employees were serving on longer assignments. He ordered the differential extended to 50 weeks and made the change retroactive to January 2003. A company spokeswoman says the move affected relatively few employees but boosted overall morale. [emphasis obviously added]


      I'd say that about sums it up...
      • What a bastard! He found a way to help employees in the service AND boost overall morale without it costing the company a lot of extra money.

        The blind, anti-corporate cynicism onSlashdot is sometimes stupefying.
  • by frank_adrian314159 (469671) on Monday October 10, 2005 @12:16PM (#13757274) Homepage
    ... while nursing a vodka...

    Why? Was it sick?

    No! It was just a down in the mouth!

    Thank you folks! I'll be here all week! Try the veal!

  • by Gallvs (784291) on Monday October 10, 2005 @12:16PM (#13757282)

    But reading and replying to dozens of employee messages each day takes time that could be spent doing something else. Skeptics say the practice distracts CEOs from more-pressing work

    Well, just use this procmail recipe to filter 90% of messages out:

    :0
    * ^From.*mycompany.com
    * ^Subject.*raise
    /dev/null

  • by lewp (95638) *
    There's probably a dozen pay grades between me and the company's CEO. I didn't even remember his name until I looked it up, and I'm sure he doesn't know mine since we've never met. We don't work in the same state, we've never been in the same room, and in 3 years working here I have, in fact, never seen him in person once.

    Who cares if he reads his email?
    • I met my CEO once at the company Christmas party. I had just stolen a centerpiece off a table at the party, which was a nice floral arrangement, and was going to take it up to my room in the hotel where the party was, as a surprise for my girlfriend. I was a bit nervous from having stolen the centerpiece, so I got into the elevator quickly. Before I realized who else was in there, the doors closed. It was the CEO and his secretary (or maybe his mistress? definitely not his wife). We shook hands and made sma
      • lol, I temped once at this company, and a lot of the entry level/temp/freelance guys went outside to work on a freshly rolled fattie. This was also at a Christmas party.

        The CEO stepped outside for a breath of fresh air. He inhaled deeply, closed his eyes for a moment, and looked at us. By this time, the joint was hidden out of sight.

        He looked at me and said, "so are you going to pass that or what?" I sheepishly passed it, and he hogged it while shooting the shit with us. It was never discussed; but we were
    • It's good to know the name of the head of the company.

      It keeps you from replying to a message that says:

      Memo from (someone)

      (yes, that was the entire ASCII body of the email, although with a real name in it), with an MS Word document attached)

      So, when you get one of those messages, you don't reply back with a snotty comment about how you don't know who the sender is, you don't know who the person who the memo's from, and you don't read MS Word attachments.

      Of course, I quickly found out that the sender was th

    • Hey, everyone's situation is different. The last company I worked for, the CEO said something in an office-wide meeting during a visit, and afterwards I sent him an email and said "If you really have that personnel information [about performance vs pay scale], I want to see where I fall." It took a few months to coordinate, but HE kept following up with ME, and eventually sat down with me for an hour or so. Keep in mind I was sub-director, sub-architect, sub-manager.

      He gave me the information I asked for, a
  • by Red Flayer (890720) on Monday October 10, 2005 @12:19PM (#13757312) Journal
    ""Cinergy Corp. CEO James E. Rogers, who at 11 one evening was reading email from employees at home while nursing a vodka, is the norm, not the exception at major U.S. companies, the Wall Street Journal reports."

    Well, first, it's about time someone makes a big stink about all the long hours that justify the ever-growing disparity between executives' and workers' salaries. I was beginning to feel like the Joe Sixpacks at the plant were beginning to resent my Rolls Royce. Thanks for sticking up for us, Rogers!

    OTOH, why is Rogers allowed to drink while managing employee relations? Last time I tried that, I got slapped with a lawsuit for breach of due diligence, among other things. I mean, sure, I wasn't exactly nursing the vodka so much as slamming it, and the employee relations were more in the nature of physical contact, not email, but really... Some shareholder should call his lawyer.
  • by davidwr (791652) on Monday October 10, 2005 @12:19PM (#13757315) Homepage Journal
    1) have a whitelist of senders you always read
    2) have a spam-filter to filter out non-humans
    3) everything else goes to the "let my assistants handle it."

    Of #3, read:
    a) everything your assistants mark for your attention
    b) a RANDOM selection of everything else, so you can get a feel for what people are sending you. Don't spend too much time on these, maybe 15-60 minutes a day. Since your assistants are already doing the replies you don't even need to compose replies.

    3b is very important in the life of a CEO - it helps keep you informed of what your suborninates - at least those who are bold enough to email you - are thinking.

    If the George W. Bush did this, he'd have a better idea of what people are thinking. Damn thing is he probably IS reading a sample of letters/faxes/emails but not a RANDOM sample.
    • by glesga_kiss (596639) on Monday October 10, 2005 @01:14PM (#13757750)
      Damn thing is he probably IS reading a sample of letters/faxes/emails but not a RANDOM sample.

      This is a common problem when you have peons filtering for you, in fact it happens whenever you let anyone filter your information, be it commercial television, unethical staff, or simply those who spend way too much time watching their own asses!

      The problem is worse when you select people based on their filters. Environmental policy for one; the guy at the head of the US office used to work for asbestos and power industry! That's like hiring Dogbert to action the employee morale suggestion box...

    • If the George W. Bush did this, he'd have a better idea of what people are thinking. Damn thing is he probably IS reading a sample of letters/faxes/emails but not a RANDOM sample.

      Indeed, he only reads the ones with drawings and pictures, written in large letters (avoiding the dificult ones like 'x' and 'q').

      • by Hoi Polloi (522990) on Monday October 10, 2005 @01:50PM (#13758036) Journal
        God - Cease and Desist notice
        Amazon.com - Your order ("The Baby-sitters Club") has been shipped
        FCC - Revised naughty word list for your approval (added "bottom")
        New Orleans - HELP!
        CIA - Update: Still looking for WMDs
        Disney Corp. - Re: Extending copyrights to "end of time"
        Tom DeLay - Master, why have you forsaken me?
        Osama Bin Laden - Nyaah Nyaah!
        Southern Baptists - Correction, Earth is only 500 years old (not 5000)
        Satan - As per our agreement
        Iraq - LAST NOTICE: You still owe $50,000,000,000
        God - I did NOT tell you to bomb ANYONE!
        RNC - Shuttle trips for doners? What do you think?
  • by woodsrunner (746751) on Monday October 10, 2005 @12:20PM (#13757318) Journal
    I'd like to see those emails... they were probably like most late night alcoholic inspirations -- really great until the booze wore off.
  • by bytesmythe (58644) <bytesmythe@gmai l . com> on Monday October 10, 2005 @12:22PM (#13757352)
    Cinergy Corp. CEO James E. Rogers, who at 11 one evening was reading email from employees at home while nursing a vodka...

    After drinking for a solid hour, he started sending pathetic messages to former employees about how sorry he is they couldn't stay together and how he hopes they aren't bitter and if so then too bad because, hey, *HE'S* the one who dumped *THEM* and if they can't handle that then f*ck off, but maybe he can get together with them some weekend for a little "fun" sometime.

    He then passed out at the keyboard in a puddle of drool.

  • Wait... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by AugstWest (79042) on Monday October 10, 2005 @12:25PM (#13757368)
    There's post-Enron CEO accountability?

    In what alternate universe?
  • If you're the CEO... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Irish_Samurai (224931) on Monday October 10, 2005 @12:27PM (#13757380)
    ...Isn't it your job to make the company run smoother and more efficiently? SO if you have to work longer hours to do that, you're getting screwed?

    "I can't fathom how investors would accept that as a [good] way to spend your time," says David D'Alessandro, who ran John Hancock Financial Services Inc. until shortly after its 2004 acquisition by Manulife Financial Corp.

    Notice he doesn't run that company anymore. He writes books instead. He may be a little out of the loop on what C-level culture has turned into.

    I work with C-levels in my business, so emailing them and getting a response is not that big a deal. I can see how it would really boost morale, and keep everyone on their toes, if the drones feel they could skip the middle man and go to the top with an idea or complaint. They will get direct credit for an idea, and won't have complaint's filtered by "buddy system" middle management.
  • Uhuumm (Score:2, Funny)

    by dorkygeek (898295)
    reading employee email helps the boss appear hands-on and accessible

    Which proves: we should all give the mailserver passwords to our bosses. Uh oh, wait a minute, he only reads the mails sent to him explicitely?! Sorry, misread that article again...

  • Wow, with all those employee messages flooding in, when do they find time to read Slashdot?!
  • What exactly is it that CEOs do that they /shouldn't/ be reading email from their employees? Maybe I'm just uninformed, but don't CEOs merely preside over the company, while setting a direction and tone? It's not as if they spend all day coding or conducting experiments. What mission-critical function does the CEO serve such that reading employee email is a waste of time?

    I guess I'm asking what, exactly, a CEO should be doing instead of reading employee email?
    • I guess I'm asking what, exactly, a CEO should be doing instead of reading employee email?

      Spending hundreds of hours with accounting and legal teams dealing with mergers and acquisitions. Spending hundreds of hours making sure the right regional/departmental people are plugged into the right management jobs. Spending hundreds of hours being a face to investors (including institutional investors that can end up owning large portions of the company, and impact the stock price dramatically if they get the w
      • Spending hundreds of hours being a face to investors

        Well, crap, I could do that, although my face might scare them away. Maybe I could hire myself out as a poison pill for companies fighting hostile takeovers.

    • Schmoozing. And I honestly don't mean that in a bad way. It's important for a company to keep contacts with the other companies they work with, or are considering entering into business with. When a CEO makes a deal, that deal is made with the other CEO, not the entire business (at least psychologically.) The CEO therefore wants to be someone that the other can relate to socially.

      Woah, that leads to another odd thought. Most people have a very hard time sociallizing with someone much lower than them
      • I recently freelanced for a financial services firm on wall street that's on the downslope. The CEO (and namesake) of that company, is the laughing stock of the industry. His CEO "friends" no longer return his calls, and previously friendly requests for meetings and luncheons are now seen as acts of desperation by the beleaguered head of a floundering firm. As a consequence of his misfortunes, this CEO (not a bad guy in my estimation) has not taken a salary for two years, diverted some of his own wealth to
  • by faloi (738831) on Monday October 10, 2005 @12:42PM (#13757487)
    Skeptics say the practice distracts CEOs from more-pressing work -- and extends already long workdays

    But it's ok for the employees that get stuff out the door to be required to stay up until the wee hours of the morning to participate in a conference call with some people across the globe? Or for employees to spend all day answering emails and then start actually working round about 5? Don't expect me to cry a river for CEO's any time soon.
  • "already adds to their long workdays..."

    Geez, I feel real sorry for someone making 1,000 times as much as I do.
  • that nobody who's trustworthy would work directly for them.

    Either that, or that nobody who reports to one of these CEOs should trust them.

    These are the only reasons why a CEO should be unable to trust his direct subordinates to handle these matters.

    Kaoru Ishikawa once said something to the effect that when quality becomes the overriding concern in a company, then falsehood disappears. The reason is when you strip out the machismo and self-aggrandizement, bad news can betreated as important management info
  • Email takes way too much valuable time. See this post from Marc Eisenstadt who collected 8 years of personal email data.

    http://www.corante.com/getreal/archives/2005/02/11 /eight_years_of_email_stats_pass_1.php [corante.com]

    He doesn't get much mail, but it still adds up to 2.5 hours per day, assuming you are very disciplined about it. And we all know that we are not.
  • 'I don't look out the window. I use my BlackBerry and answer my email.'"
    'utility-industry veteran keeps his BlackBerry by his bed. Before going to sleep, he says, "you don't say your prayers. You check your email."'
    When he has trouble sleeping on a business trip, he adds, "I get up at 5 in the morning. I do the BlackBerry."

    The question then becomes what happens when you have no Blackberry due to service interruption or copyright infringement suits?

    Rather than nurse, I prefer to down my vodka in
  • Bob Lutz, while not the CEO of GM is pretty high up and is pretty much there last hope as a company. He started keeping a blog and reads responses (similar to email). During an interview he likes it because it puts him in touch with people he'd never hear from. Gets him out of his management world view bubble so he says. He sees from product announcement 1) some people hate GMs products alway 2) somepeople alway like the products 3) some people give generally great insight into things. Lots of auto journa
  • Of course, there are only 10 people in the entire company.
  • Hey, I own the intellectual property to Blackberry's you insensitive clod!
    - useless US IP whore
  • So... (Score:3, Funny)

    by idlake (850372) on Monday October 10, 2005 @01:22PM (#13757811)
    who at 11 one evening was reading email from employees at home while nursing a vodka

    So, one wonders: had those E-mails actually been sent to him, or was he just spying on their mailboxes?
  • by Brunellus (875635) on Monday October 10, 2005 @01:24PM (#13757831) Homepage

    A similar program was used to great success in the Philippines during the communist insurgency of the Hukbalahap between 1945 and 1952. Then-Secretary of Defense Ramon Magsaysay made it known that anyone could send a telegram to his office, free of charge, for almost any reason--to report military misconduct, corruption, rebel activity, etc.

    Thousands of telegrams came flooding in from rural stations. In one way, the program served as an extension of his famous random inspections of military units in the field--a move that increased effectiveness and readiness among those units. More importantly, it was a tremendous propaganda tool, giving even the most lowly peasant the chance to appeal to the very highest levels of the government--undercutting the mass base of the insurgents.

    This sort of policy, then, would be a great way of keeping a lid on corporate unhappiness, if combined with enlightened & effective management. Well we can dream, right?

  • "While being driven to meetings, Pfizer's CEO says, 'I don't look out the window. I use my BlackBerry and answer my email.'"

    I do that too! Unfortunately, since I'm the one driving myself to meetings, the cops aren't particularly nice. Hmm, maybe I should email our CEO and ask for a personal driver, too, so that I can email while being driven to meetings.
  • Okay, so I had this internship at IBM. One of my fellow interns went to email the lab's administative assistant, who's called "Sam", over some trivial matter.

    As it turns out, Lotus Notes knows about everyone at IBM, and so if you want to send an email to Sam, it really does send an email straight to Sam [wikipedia.org], who also has an 'open inbox' policy.

    Fortunately, his personal secretary intercepted the message. :)

  • by kingsqueak (18917) on Monday October 10, 2005 @02:44PM (#13758455)
    I think it's a good idea to have an open channel to the top, and I've worked with many principals that really do listen. However from what I've seen, most employees should think long and hard before clicking on 'send'.

    From what I've seen in quite small companies with principals open to direct communication, the majority of the employees do themselves more harm than good simply because they have no real perspective as to where they fit in the business.

    An example. Recently at a company 'meet and greet' dinner so that the local engineers can meet each other and find out what skillsets are there, a co-worker completely confused his place and what was to be gained with the meeting. The CEO, COO, and CTO were present along with a bunch of co-workers from local client sites.

    The co-worker babbled on and on about petty nonsense that was specific to our one particular site. Nothing to do with the other engineers' situations. Nothing having to do with company business at all, just petty political issues and generally self-serving complaints. Basically the co-worker saw what he did as "I showed them, I'm nobody's fool and they will see how powerful and valuable I am". The net result was that the CEO referred to the co-worker as 'a cancer on the company that should be removed at all costs'. The co-worker just doesn't have a clue about what it means to own and run a business and what his place is as an asset to the company.

    This isn't uncommon from what I've seen. People have this weird utopian view of how things should be, without any reality in the mix. Though ultimately it is only the fault of the employee, a direct channel to the top is only the express to unemployment for many confused people.

    If you can't clearly see the role of your CEO, you'd better think carefully before you click 'send'.
  • by Maxo-Texas (864189) on Monday October 10, 2005 @03:10PM (#13758634)
    Instead of direct email, they need to have a board pretty much like slashdot.
    New employees would start off with little Karma but could be modded up if they make a good suggestion.

    The CEO could choose to read "3" or "5" posts depending on their free time.
    I'd keep everything- even meta moderating.

It is not every question that deserves an answer. -- Publilius Syrus

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