lunes, 7 de enero de 2013

BusinessWeek: La Peor Compañía para Trabajar en 2012/The Worst Company to work for in 2012

Dish Network, the Meanest Company in America

Charlie Ergen, chairman and co-founder of Dish Network

Charlie Ergen, chairman and co-founder of Dish Network

For 2012, the website 24/7 Wall St. determined that the worst company to work for in America was the Dish Network (DISH), the Englewood (Colo.)-based company that provides satellite TV to more than 14 million subscribers. To pick its winner, the site began by sifting entries on, an online service where people gossip about their jobs. It was hardly the most scientific of methods. Still, the volume of miserable tales about Dish is impressive; 346 former or current employees had taken the time to write not-so-nice things about the company. On a scale of 1 to 5, they ranked their company an average of 2.2, beating Dillard’s (DDS) and RadioShack (RSH) for the spot at the bottom.
The most common complaints were long hours, lack of paid holidays, and way too much mandatory overtime. Some posts suggest that merely setting foot in Dish’s headquarters is a danger to the soul. “Quit” was the recommendation to one Dish employee who sought management advice. “You’re part of a poisonous environment … go find a job where you can use your talents for good rather than evil.” The roundup noted one other thing: The share price was up more than 30 percent for most of the year.
Ergen, circa 1999, with his satellite dish, the first to offer 500 channels
Photograph by Steve Marcus/ReutersErgen, circa 1999, with his satellite dish, the first to offer 500 channels
Much of the malice, and value generation, can be traced to one man: Charlie Ergen, 59, the founder and chairman of Dish. Although he turned over the role of chief executive officer to former Sirius XM Radio (SIRI) head Joseph Clayton in 2011, Ergen remains the core of Dish—and its largest shareholder, with 53.2 percent of the outstanding shares and 90.4 percent of the voting rights.
Ergen founded Dish more than 30 years ago, installing satellite systems with partner Jim DeFranco. Dish is now the second-largest satellite TV provider in the U.S., with 26,000 employees. Ergen, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, has an estimated net worth of $11 billion. That puts him among the world’s richest men and makes him one of America’s greatest entrepreneurial success stories. He’s also a living rebuke to a library of management textbooks that suggest fostering happy, self-actualized employees in a transparent environment of trust and communal effort is the path to wealth. 
Michael Neuman knew the risks going in when he accepted Ergen’s offer to be Dish’s president and chief operating officer in 2005. Before Neuman, no president had lasted more than four years. Still, for Neuman, a man who’d known Ergen for more than a decade and had run a Dish-like satellite service in Canada, the opportunity was too tempting to pass up. Unlike its major competitor,DirecTV (DTV), Dish was fully integrated: It engineered, built, and sold all its own set-top boxes and ran its own installation fleet and customer service. (The company split in 2008, with EchoStar (SATS) building the boxes and Dish doing everything else. Ergen remains chairman of both companies.) “If you’re a student of management like I am, it was irresistible,” says Neuman.

At first, Neuman loved working at Dish. The company had attracted cable subscribers for a decade by offering clearer picture and sound for a cheaper price. Dish was so notorious for undercutting its competition, especially when it came to the cost of satellite dishes, that Preston Padden, former CEO of rival Rupert Murdoch’s American Sky Broadcasting, joked that the company’s slogan would one day be “Take this free dish, and we’ll buy a house to bolt it onto.” Digital cable had somewhat leveled the playing field, and for Neuman’s first few months on the job every day seemed to bring a new challenge.
Over time, Neuman says, he came to realize why former presidents such as John Reardon, who lasted less than a year, described Ergen as “pounding people into submission.” The hours were long, yes, but it was Ergen’s habit of unilaterally making decisions that most irked Neuman.
Although Dish had more than 100 people employed in its marketing department and reams of customer data to analyze, when it came time to figure out how much it was going to charge for satellite service, Ergen went into his office and came up with the final number alone. “It would be like the CEO of Kraft (KRFT) getting up in the morning and determining how much they were going to charge at retail for 12 slices of American cheese,” says Neuman. “It wasn’t that he didn’t invite input or share his thought process, because he did both. It’s just that he’d had his hands on the wheel for so long that he trusted his own judgment the best.”
For the whole story, go to: BusinessWeek
Hannan is a Bloomberg Businessweek contributor.

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