GM CEO Rick Wagoner

Auto Industry Bailout Moves Ahead – What do Employees Think?

2008-12-10 11:52:17

Auto Workers of Big 3 Sound off about life within…and too many layers of management…

While nearly half (44%) of Americans disapprove of an auto industry bailout, according to a recent CBS poll , the Big 3 auto manufacturers are seemingly on their way to receiving emergency loans from the government to stay afloat based on a tentative agreement reach Tuesday between the White House and house Democrats.

While we could certainly contribute to the continuing debate over the pros and cons of government intervention, we thought it more appropriate for to take a look at what employees of General Motors, Ford and Chrysler have to say about working inside one of the most talked about – and uncertain — industries today.

When reading the hundreds of reviews employees from these Big 3 companies have contributed to Glassdoor to date (take a look at the November review of the month to start), we found a mix of sentiment: many have pride for their jobs and work but are frustrated – and even embarrassed — with the current situation, the number of management layers and poor decision-making processes.  Just look at some of these excerpts from auto industry employees:

A General Motors Journeyman/Trainer tells management:

A Ford Senior Engineer/Six Sigma Master says:

“Ford is a top heavy company with too many chiefs and not enough workers. We have managers for managers. Every time I turn around there is another layer of management to meet with to get my job done. If I could change one thing I would reduce the numbers of management starting at the top by cutting 50%. Then every level down I would cut 5% less than the previous level. This would not only streamline processes (reduce the crazy meetings for approvals) but would reduce our pay structure by millions.”


Chrysler CEO Bob Nardelli

 Chrysler Product Engineer offers this advice:

“The company should focus on the core business with a defined plan going forward. Continue to focus on the customer and their needs and wants in the products. Build cars and trucks the customers want to buy. Remove the amount of tracking and reporting as it detracts from the core job functions. Examine the working levels to improve efficiencies in order to have a smaller, more productive company”

In times of Congressional hearings, endless media inquiries, and ranting from franchises and accounts receivable departments, it can be easy for management to get consumed by the external world, but many auto workers advise senior management to not forget the people at its core – its employees.  As one Grand Rapids GM employee advises senior management:

“Be honest with employees. Knowledge is power, true, but shared knowledge is even more power. Stop giving lip service, if you say it MEAN it and LIVE it yourselves. Respect your hourly employees enough to treat them the way you would wish to be treated.”

Are the CEOs and senior management listening?  We certainly hope so, but given the recent PR snafu of taking frivolous private jets to Congressional hearings concerning multi-million dollar bailouts, we really got to wonder!

Below is a snapshot of how these companies and the respective CEOs stack up.  Not surprising – Chrysler employees are least satisfied with their employer, giving an overall company rating of 2.6.  They also have a very low opinion of CEO Bob Nardelli, who is also among the lowest rated CEOs on Glassdoor with just a 17% approval rating (two out of three – or 66% — actually disapprove of his leadership).  He remains on Glassdoor’s current “CEO Watch List” for a potential ousting.  While Ford and GM are neck and neck at 3.1 and 3.2 respectively, Ford’s CEO Alan Mulally is rated much higher by Ford employees.  Once you dive into reviews for these companies you can get a glimmer of the rationale.

Top 3 US Automakers Comparison (data based on employee sentiment)
Company Rating
(Max: 5 Pts.)
CEO CEO Approval
CEO Disapproval
Chrysler 2.6 Bob Nardelli 17% 66%
Ford 3.1 Alan R. Mulally 63% 14%
GM 3.2 Rick Wagoner 42% 32%

Since Glassdoor launched in June, carmaker employees have been suggesting a universal theme: companies need to restructure, improve decision making and flatten the organization.  While this one continues to play out in the public arena, we think management – and Congress – would be well served by visiting Glassdoor and looking at some sound advice from the people who know best – the employees on the inside.

Categories: In the News