Nortel Insider – by Desk Jockey

The view from one Desk Jockey

Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice…

with 10 comments

foolWith quiet news of layoffs that have taken place and rumors of more to come in the first week of March, morale has continued to fall. Management has done nothing to calm these fears and in fact their stunning silence is only bringing about more talk around the water cooler. If they would just be straightforward for once and stop treating us like children this would do much for their status and respect.

However the situation is more complicated than that. This Business Week article (written back on the date of the filing, so it may be out of date) claims a $300 million cash burn rate per quarter and $2.6 billion cash on hand for Nortel at the date of filing. But really, because of the secrecy of it all no one really knows. Nortel upper management seems to take secrecy and information control above all else, so as usual they are leaving employees in the dark and hoping they won’t find out.

This has left employees on their own, as they are now forced to peruse the Ernst & Young Court Monitor Documents on their own to try to find out what’s going on. This is causing more heartaches and more troubles as rumors start and spread due to things people infer from these reports.

My point is this: Upper management should be more forthcoming. But even if they were to start telling the truth right now, no one would believe them. I myself have witnessed many employees go through the phases of denial, first trying to ignore the situation and now expressing remorse and enmity for the lying actions of management. This is only natural. People are able to cope only so much with the type of stress the executive has caused.

No one believes them anymore. As you read their communiques each week you get a sense of deja vu because they are basically the same talking points thrown together with different corp/PR speak and padded with extra words to increase the length and make it seem like they care. Instead of focusing on spin, they should focus on the truth.

But as this letter so graciously points out, they have consistently shown contempt for the truth:

On October 16, in a video message to all Nortel employees discussing the upcoming announcements around restructuring, Mike Zafirovski said: “There are no current plans to change our guidelines around severance packages. …I do understand that the last few weeks have been extremely difficult for all of you. I can only assure you that these actions will be unfolded with the utmost respect for Nortel’s people.”

The weasel wording is detestable. “No current plans… to change… severance” This basically means that they decided to do away with severance right after writing this message and justify it by saying their financial advisers told them to do so. This highlights another feature of upper management: The total abdication of responsibility for the mess they’ve created.

Basically, when they say nothing is “imminent”, “current” or “planned” it most certainly means that very item is in the works! This is a simple yet effective rule for translating upper management corp/PR speak.

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Written by Desk Jockey

February 22, 2009 at 8:15 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Tagged with ,

10 Responses

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  1. Quite true…

    Morale has all but been destroyed, and thankfully z-man did not send a z-mail on Friday — one can only hope that he has run out of corporate speak.

    People don’t want to hear from the z-man because he lacks substance and credibility. Maybe he has finally figured this out and realizes that he is inconsequential (apart from his huge salary and KEIP bonus) and that his words mean N-O-T-H-I-N-G.

    Of course, it would be a step in the right direction if the executive leadership could find it in themselves to communicate clearly and truthfully with the employee base. But this will never happen, especially with z-man and his executive minions, especially now.

    Reality Strikes

    February 23, 2009 at 12:08 am

  2. Textbook case of double speak. In the same paragraph:

    “There are no current plans to change our guidelines around severance packages.” (ie we’ll fire you and let you hang dry) and “…these actions will be unfolded with the utmost respect for Nortel’s people.”

    Call me a visionary, but this reminds me of my “We come in peace” bit in “Mars Attack” seems an appropriate analogy.

    Tim Burton

    February 23, 2009 at 8:58 am

  3. Bitter experience shows that the less information we have, the worse the eventual outcome for us peasants.

    I dread to think what’s around the corner – how drastic is the restructuring and job-cutting going to be?

    We need the WSJ to do some more super-sleuthing for us….

    nortelgirl

    February 24, 2009 at 3:34 pm

  4. Can any folks in the South Florida office comment on what they expect in layoffs next week?

    Nortel watcher

    February 24, 2009 at 6:10 pm

  5. Nortel employees are mushrooms.
    We know we are mushrooms.
    Executive Management and the Board keep us in the dark and feed us manure.

    A.Friend

    February 25, 2009 at 3:14 pm

  6. Deks Jockey, I had expected to see something from you about the current Nortel annoucements (3200 layoffs etc).

    NortelEmployee

    February 26, 2009 at 10:52 pm

  7. Are there any readers of the Nortel Insider website who are terminated Nortel employees, who wish to have representation in the Nortel Canadian Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act Proceedings that will fight vigorously using all the tools available under CCAA in the courtroom and other strategies outside of the court to have your termination payments, severance payments and other amounts due to you paid in full? If so e-mail me at urquhart@rogers.com.

    We have recently won a $190 million full cash settlement for 1,770 families owning Non Bank Asset Backed Commercial Paper, the only group of owners who did so in Canada’s largest CCAA proceeding that restructured $32 billion of credit in 20 Non Bank ABCP trusts.

    When you e-mail me, I can provide more details about our plan.

    Diane Urquhart

    March 8, 2009 at 7:50 pm

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