Chrysler fears edgy executives will bolt

Chrysler fears edgy executives will bolt http://www.detnews.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20070808/AUTO01/708080379/1148
WASHINGTON -- Chrysler LLC is discouraging white-collar employees from
applying for jobs at former parent Daimler AG or its Chrysler Financial unit in a bid to keep jittery workers from leaving the automaker during its transition under a new owner and a new chief executive.
Requests to interview for positions at Chrysler Financial and other Daimler units, including Mercedes-Benz USA, "are currently not advised," Rita C. Rinner, Chrysler's manager of global staff, wrote to senior Chrysler employees Monday in an e-mail obtained by The Detroit News. "Any exceptions must receive prior approval and should be channeled through HR."
While the note was sent to senior-level employees and aimed primarily at them, the directive applies to all white-collar employees and their staffs.
The move came the same day new parent Cerberus Capital Management LP announced it had named former Home Depot chairman and CEO Bob Nardelli chairman and CEO of Chrysler, replacing Tom LaSorda, who will remain as president and become vice chairman. Cerberus's $7.4 billion purchase of Chrysler was finalized Friday.
Nardelli is known for aggressive cost cutting and has vowed to quickly improve efficiency at Chrysler. His hiring has prompted nervousness among some employees, who took note of his record of cutbacks at Home Depot and General Electric Co. Nardelli earned his management stripes at GE, then moved to Home Depot after losing out on the top job at GE.
Chrysler spokesman Jason Vines said the "moratorium" is temporary and motivated by Chrysler's status as a company in transition.
"Hold still," he said. "We have a lot of other things to worry about. We are a new company with a new boss. Let's get through the next few months."
Dave Elshoff, another Chrysler spokesman, said the memo was aimed largely at people in the financial and accounting departments at Chrysler. "The idea is to build some stability while we are in a transition period," Elshoff said. The move is to "hold them to their current responsibilities until we get through the beginning of the new Chrysler."
The e-mail said exceptions to the policy could be made "when there is a good business reason to do so," such as when a department must cut a job and an employee wants to leave. Also, employees "not succeeding in their current assignment" could pursue a job that "is a better fit" at Daimler or Chrysler Financial, Rinner wrote.
The transition is moving quickly at Chrysler.
Nardelli will take LaSorda's old office at the top of Auburn Hills headquarters. LaSorda will move into the office of Eric Ridenhour, who was chief operating officer until he resigned Friday.
Nardelli returned to a family vacation in Mexico after the announcement Monday. LaSorda had delayed the start of a vacation in California meant to celebrate his 30th wedding anniversary. Both will be back at work next week.
On Monday, Chrysler also announced it had promoted a long-time financial employee, Ronald Kolka, to chief financial officer. Chrysler has made accounting and cash management a key priority under Cerberus. LaSorda said Monday that the firm instituted "daily cash" accounting after Cerberus announced it had agreed to buy 80.1 percent of Chrysler in May.
Daimler, said spokesman Han Tjan, had no policy barring Chrysler staff from applying for jobs. "We don't have a policy of discriminating," he said. "We try to get the most suitable employee." Daimler, which retains 19.9 percent ownership in Chrysler LLC, wants to maintain a "collegial" relationship with Chrysler, Tjan said.
"From a collegiality standpoint, you wouldn't try to poach key people from each other, but I think everybody would look for a mutual solution" if someone wanted to move from one company to the other, Tjan said.
Human resources experts questioned whether Chrysler would be able to enforce its requirement that employees seek prior approval.
Dave Ulrich, a business professor at the University of Michigan, said the memo could lead to good employees leaving. "What they need to do is create a clear process for dealing with all employees," Ulrich said. "In the face of employment ambiguity, bad thing happen. The best employees who have choices elsewhere, leave and take jobs with another firm."
"It behooves leaders to design a clear process for jobs and to communicate and then over-communicate what is happening to employees. If talented employees walk out the door, Chrysler is in trouble."
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Nardelli is known for incompetent management of Home Depot, IIRC.
I believe he was pushed out by angry stockholders.
Not a good start in the revitalization of Chrysler.
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Well let us all have a great "Bronx Cheer" for the "New Chrysler". If anything that memo should be a wake up call to EVERY employee at Chrysler as to the look of things to come.
Read Peter DeLorenzo's editorial in today's (08/08/07) at http://www.autoextremist.com - he says it all and says it well.
Regards, Bill Bowen Sacramento, CA
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William H. Bowen wrote:

R.I.P. for the first of the Detroit Three, unfortunately none of the folks on the floor can do anything other than try their best to survive-and make a Plan B ASAP.
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Another case of the "good old boy" system of management, where those on top take care of their friends on top. Everybody else gets "trickled down upon".
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No stockholders to worry about this time. He's only their to shutdown chrysler's North American manufacturing & ship the aasembly line equipmment off to China for big $$$$$.
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With all of that BS, I'd be buying a bus ticket out of town. I can't see a single good thing happening with Nardelli.
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