67% of the CEO
I worked at James Hardie Building Products
Pros – As a mid-size company, I had access to upped management and the chance for my ideas to be heard. They made decisions quickly and didn't wait months or years to act, as I had experienced in a Fortune 50 company previously. Most of my co-workers were very smart, competent and fun to work with. (Of course, there are always a few exceptions, no matter where you work.) Overall, I enjoyed working there and would go back if the opportunity presented itself.
Cons – The biggest downside was since they can act quickly, some decisions are made by a small group with little input from others. In a few instances, this was very detrimental to projects or personnel.
2011-10-23 17:50 PDT
5 people found this helpful
I worked at James Hardie Building Products full-time for more than 5 years
Pros – James Hardie has a good product that provides a true performance advantage over other building products. The company pays well and has good health insurance benefits. You are given a fair amount of responsibility and can really make a lot of difference if you are motivated.
Cons – James Hardie has a corporate culture that goes beyond professional candor to scary behavior in the name of accountability. The executive management lacks any sort of tact or decorum and are regularly verbally abusive to the employees. In the early days there were employees threatened with 2 x 4s in their performance reviews and taken outside to settle matters. National sales meetings were essentially bachelor parties. Today things are more tame but it is still very much a good ol' boys club with an alpha male complex. Employees are pitted against one another to compete and the winner is the survivor.
Advice to Senior Management – Most of the management team today has only ever worked for James Hardie. I think it would do them good to work for another company and learn how to lead people with professional decorum.
2012-10-09 20:11 PDT
11 people found this helpful
I have been working at James Hardie Building Products full-time for more than 8 years
Pros – The environment is truly dynamic, many might say chaotic. There is always a crisis or a problem to solve. If you are involved in the right project you will be allowed to take charge and make decisions. If you like a high-pressure environment, this may be a place for you - for a while. The product is at the top of the market - mainly because there is not a really solid company competing with them. If politics is your game, you are willing to work hard, step on others, and can still sleep at night, you will progress into management. Those that are the best at it will rise quickly.
Benefits are quite good. The medical/prescription/dental plan is one of the best in the industry. Bonus system helps the mediocre salaries.
Cons – The culture is harsh and can be extremely abusive. Upper managers will dress down employees publicly. This may be done by simple, unprofessional, sideways insults or full-blown screaming fits punctuated with 'F' words. If there is a "Hardie" word, it begins with 'F'. It is not uncommon to be in a company meeting with over 50 people and have a senior manager drop a half-dozen 'F'-bombs. Some seem to do it to maintain a folksy persona, some do it just because they want to have the maximum degrading impact. "Operate with Respect" is one of the company values and is pushed hard on everyone at the bottom of the food chain. Many "individual contributors" or team leads have been demoted, fired, or sent to Anger Management for similar behavior. For some reason those above the first level of management get a pass on this behavior.
Salary structure is highly skewed. Similar to the rules for behavior, all individual contributors top out in salary at moderate levels. Upper management does not play by these same rules. The only true skill valued at Hardie is what the call "Leadership", which has absolutely no link to empathy.
Technology is mediocre. The method of development is usually so rushed that the shot-gun approach is the most used method of development - fire lots of blasts in the air and hope to hit something. The company fell into a market in the late 90s that was so hungry for the product, they could sell every scrap they made. Growth was by sheer dumb luck driven by extreme bullies. Production rate was key at all times. Quality was the minimum we could get away with. That philosophy still prevails in a lot of places.
Safety is discussed a lot and there are lots of numerical measures for behavior. Everyone has to fill out so many cards or on-line forms every week identifying safe or unsafe behavior. Unfortunately, if engineering controls will fix a truly unsafe situation, and they require significant effort or investment, the fix will typically be ignored. The first response to any accident or incident is to "look for the root cause Behavior", in other words, "who's fault was it?"
Finally, management does not like anyone they believe to be smarter than they are. Even if one does not flaunt it or push it in their faces, they are intimidated by it. Jokes will be made at project reviews about "ask the 150-IQ guys", with a sneer. Those in technology-driven careers are not really respected (see salary caps), they are tools to be used and discarded. If you are truly good at what you do, eventually you will "get the stink on you" (a phrase coined by several engineers and scientists when referring to treatment by management once you intimidate one of them). Once that happens, you will find your duties and responsibilities reduced, be ignored or openly insulted, your ideas will be discarded...
Advice to Senior Management – Upper management at Hardie will never take advice from individuals outside of their clique but this may influence others in the company or someone considering taking a job there...
Many people in the company (we are talking about engineers, scientists, low-level managers) consider you to be sociopaths, completely lacking in empathy, valuing individuals as machines or tools. My faith in humanity keeps me from believing this. Maybe you are just unaware of this perception. Please take a solid look at yourself, your values, your behavior and the good people around you. The recession is not going to last forever. When it is over, your core strength will flee, like I am doing soon.
No, I would not recommend this company to a friend
2012-07-19 07:55 PDT
4 people found this helpful
I worked at James Hardie Building Products
Pros – Even with the housing market at its lowest point in years, James Hardie is still profitable. They are a good company and offer exceptional benefits including fabulous heath care insurance, 6% matching 401K, and even free lunch on Fridays (although that may be disappearing). They hire high caliber employees and look to hire the very best.
Cons – When downsizing 22 corporate positions, they gave the staff NO advance notice. A meeting with HR and you were walked out the door -- not even a chance to say good-bye to friends. Good luck trying to get all of your personal effects back.
Advice to Senior Management – Have respect for the people that gave their all for the company for years. Give them notice of planned lay-offs and thank them for their service and let them leave with dignity.
Yes, I would recommend this company to a friend
2009-03-27 17:30 PDT
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