The Case of Bad News
The new CEO of a corporation learns that he has inherited problems with growth and profitability. A four-day workweek and, eventually, layoffs prove necessary. Who is the CEO obligated to inform and when? By Gil Amelio
Responding to a Business Downturn
George Anderson was just a few months beyond his 40th birthday on the day he became CEO of Astratech Communications International (ACI). What an upper! He was still basking in the glow of his good fortune, eager to try out his skills as the CEO. He hoped to get the chairmanship one day when the company's founder, Mike Marcus, decided to step down. Life was good. ACI was a leading supplier of fiber optic transceiver components for the telecommunications industry. It sold to companies like Alcatel, Northern Telecom, and Ericsson, who put ACI's components into the lightwave equipment they manufactured. The company was based in Irvine, Calif., a great place to live, work, and raise a family. ACI's annual sales were around $500 million with 2,500 employees in locations in Mexico and Scotland, in addition to its Southern California headquarters. All of ACI's hourly employees in the United States and abroad were represented by the IBEW, a union with a history of good working relationships with management. The Mexican operation was launched to take advantage of lower labor costs and close proximity to headquarters. The Scotland plant gave the company relief from onerous European tariffs. Both offshore facilities enjoyed excellent employee relations. After settling into his new position, George busied himself identifying the major issues facing the company. Coming in, he had realized that ACI's growth and profitability were problems, but he wasn't sure if the source was the management team, product development, marketing and sales, or something else. After several months, George was clear that it wasn't the people. Sure, there were a few problem...