FilterSterling Heights, MI
I worked at Getrag Transmission Corporation (More than 5 years)
great products introduced to the right market in the right time
the change of the company leader has too much impact on the daily work and causes lots of anxiety in the workforce
Advice to Management
focus on the main thing instead of office politics
I have been working at Getrag Transmission Corporation full-time (More than 5 years)
Fun atmosphere, Ok benefits, great travel opportunities, challenging atmosphere, great compensation.
No personal development program or training opportunities. Absolute no upward mobility. Poor treatment of employees compared to German headquarters - i.e travel standards & holidays.
Advice to Management
Treat all employees equal... GLOBALLY.
Talented engineers, interesting products to work on
Promotion is difficult. What you hire in for is where you stay; very compartmentalized.
Initial satrt up looked promissing, with great plans and projects.
Very heavy Management board structure, no possibilities to growth. Headquarters in Germany not always supporting of the US business.
Advice to Management
Leave your former company behing and start thinking as GETRAG.
Getrag was a very good place to work. It had a family feel, probably because it was a reasonably small company, connected to a much larger company. All employees were treated quite well by the managers and the top leaders had an open door policy. It was a fun and supportive place to work.
The medical benefit package was amazing, akin to Ford Motor Company in the 80's or 90's. The company offered a no charge middle of the road plan that was quite generous. I think it was Blue Cross Community Blue. The HR Manager was very knowledgeable and a few times caught provider companies such as ING saying mistatements during open enrollment presentations. And pointed them out. The HR Manger was an advocate for the employees and wanted to share as much of her knowlege with others to help them understand all of the sticky HR legalize for health care and 401K.
The HR had an open door policy and was great friendly people to work with. They were very helpful, but most of all had a very pleasant attitude. I had not seen that before.
Company office supplies were very generous. The company bought many good quality tools for the shop also.
The managers did not have an administrative assistant to "filter out" questions and requests for meetings. You could ask your boss anything.
The managers were good engineers and good people. Management put alot of faith and trust in the decisions of the employees on the projects they were running. The managers supported the employees fiercely when the OEM's had criticisms if work was going slower than they liked. I have not see this before.
The HR department set up a comprehensive workshop to train all employees in the new corporate rules. Each member of Senior management spent a long amount of time meeting the employees and speaking of their vision and plans for the company. Each leader was handpicked and a good person.
The entire corporate umbrella and many sub companies were owned by a single german man. He flew to the united states many times to meet with a panel of regular employees to understand the challenges and attitudes of the employees. He really cared what they thought. This is again unheard of in other companies.
As the company came across hard times, the upper management very personally informed everyone of changes and news promply. There was no secrets or whispering.
When the chrysler contract was canceled, the company treated everyone like human beings. There was no security walking people out. Everyone was offered the option to return to their desks, write emails of goodbye and say their personal goodbyes and clean out their desks slowly. The whole office vacated by 3pm and everyone was sad. This treatment was the direct result of a human caring management.
The management offered a 1 month salary separation package and a generous 3 months of Job Consulting and placement assistance with Right Management. The consulting cost $4000 per employee and that is very generous considering the very low amount of money available at the time.
The management truly cared about the welfare of its employees
Getrag began to change as it grew from its start-up status. It began as a really bright, open and friendly place. The company was very generous, sending many engineers to Germany for many weeks of training at considerable expense.
However as time progressed the cash supply dwindled and the company became much more conservative decreasing the opportunities to travel and learn from the german experts.
In the beginning, the company gave great flexibility and freedom to the employees. But as the company began its second year it became more "corporate" with restrictions on the ability to buy tools and supplies necessary to complete the tasks at hand. It also restricted the ability of engineers to buy lunch or small gifts for OEM engineers they worked with. These gifts help improve working relationships in preparation for the tough times. Midyear, each employee had to log each of their work hours in SAP for billing purposes for the Client. It unfortunately felt demeaning after the openness before. The philosophical question arose of "Are the employees paid to complete the important task, with the freedom to leave early if they are efficient?" (Like the parent german company), or "Are the employees paid for 8 hours of work?" (Typical Americanism). The answer was unclear, but appeared to be "You are paid to compete the task and dont leave before 8 hours of work". This casual overtime attitude that is a big problem at Ford Motor Company, where many Getrag Employees came from.
Because so many leaders and employees came from Ford Motor Company, the soul of the company seemed to have to struggle at times to not become a little blue oval (Ford). It seemed that many large corporate policies echoed strongly of Ford Motor Company, and for no obvious reason why. The company struggled to be the best people of Ford, without all the negativism of Ford Corporate Culture. And sometimes it was a struggle. It seemed at times that the solutions to new office processes and prcedures were the former processes of Ford. I wish other ideas came forward to compete against them.
In the second year of Getrag, as the company changed, the processes of doing internal business changed and perhaps improved many times. But this became a bit confusing. And the September 2008 processes became more detailed with large legal words that were hard to understand and requiring more steps. It began taking more effort on the part of the employee to "push through" their request. This is most likely because one employee's specific job to develop and write policies for management's approval. The employee was very smart and good at his job, resulting in more than 10 multistep technically written processes with many checks. This really didnt help make work easier for the engineers.
The company credit card was a poor choice. It placed all of the liability on the employee to pay the bill and none on the employer. The employee essentially had a personal platinum credit card with the company name on it. The bill had to be paid in full in 45 days and employees had to pay attention to dates to ensure that they were compensated by the company before the credit car was due. It was tedious because you had to have the expense form signed by wed and submitted. Then the manager had to send it to HR by friday for payment the following week in a direct deposit. Many of the managers were quite busy working at their responsibilities and, as humans, sometimes didnt see the reports among their many emails. The system could have been much improved using an administrative assistant to help.
The managers were good engineers and good people. But gosh they were so very busy. The were frequently out of the country in Germany for extended periods of time to work on truly important problems, or to plan the future growth of the company. This was also true of the top management. The company had a great open door policy when it came to top management. But it was really hard to get a moment of the manager or VP's time becase they were so busy. The good news was that they truly cared about the employees and really wanted to hear their thoughts.
Because the top management was away so often, it was hard to process the financial paperwork necessary to buy critical supplies.
The very good thing about the constant travel was the management put alot of faith in the decisions of the employees on the projects they were running. The managers supported the employees fiercely when the OEM's had criticisms if work was going slower than they liked. I have not see this before.
The most visual turning point of the company from friendly start up to more cold corporate was when the contract staff was no longer welcome in the all hands meetings. From that point forward there was a increased feeling in the office that Getrag Transmission Corporation was loosing its German spark and friendliness and becoming more american corporate. More Cold. It is a significant shame.
Advice to Management
Please continue your caring relationship for the employees and products. Please return more towards the German Roots of the company in the way employees are treated. These roots and their values are increasingly rare in American companies and are such a blessing to employees.
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