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back to article Axe falls: Virgin Media plans to kill 600 management jobs

Virgin Media is shedding up to 600 management jobs in the wake of Liberty Global's takeover of the British telco. The Register understands that the cost-cutting restructure is intended to help the company focus on growth. A source close to the situation told us that, in the coming months, most of the other UK-based positions – …

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Gud!

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I expect to be greeting them soon

My organisation thinks the solution to everything is more management, and the higher the level the better. Still the same number of worker bees, now crowded into less space as yet another office has to be carved out of the floor area. So Virgin management bods need not desapir.

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Meh

Re: I expect to be greeting them soon - DITTO!

Whilst I wouldn't rejoice at anyone losing their job to redundancy, especially in the current climate, the burgeoning managment culture (at the expense of those who actually have to deliver) is a big problem in sectors with semi-monopolies and some parts of the public sector. It has certainly had a signicant role in the recent debacles at places like the BBC, the Mid Staffs NHS Trust and the generally poor performance of our privatised utilities.

Will this help improve Virgin Media? Well it's better than sacking the few remaining decent UK-based support and engineering staff! Fingers crossed...

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Re: I expect to be greeting them soon - DITTO!

It certainly made me wince when the BBC were interviewing someone in the last couple of days about the plans to sort out failing hospitals and the talking head was stating how important it was to get top level managers in place. No doubt these are going to be managers plucked from the business world with no clue about medical matters so I see them as more of a burden than a help.

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Re: I expect to be greeting them soon - DITTO!

the burgeoning managment culture (at the expense of those who actually have to deliver) is a big problem in sectors with semi-monopolies and some parts of the public sector. It has certainly had a signicant role in the recent debacles at places like the BBC, the Mid Staffs NHS Trust and the generally poor performance of our privatised utilities.

Sorry to burst your bubble, but on the subject of utilities and their "burgeoning management culture", I can speak from some experience, having both worked in a number, and for companies in the shareholder and privately held sectors. And, what's more I've run third party programmes to benchmark the performance of the utilities, with the finding that they are CONSIDERABLY leaner in management than most public held firms. Privately held firms are leaner still, but that's both because the owner-managers do more and take more out, and because IME they will take the choice to be riskier (for example on audit or compliance) and pocket the savings.

We can argue the toss about the other cases you claim - personally I'd argue that the problem in both cases was poor quality of management, not too much of it, and that also fed into a poor organisational culture.

This won't help VM, because it's been US managed for some years now, and its unlikely that there's many hundreds of superfluous middle managers doing nothing. What this is about is an obscenely rich Yank billionaire taking it private and reasoning that yes, it will fuck customer service, but what the hell, he needs the £30m quid these people are collectively paid more than they do.

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HMB
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Re: I expect to be greeting them soon - DITTO!

@Ledswinger

I think you've for the large part made an interesting and reasonably well structured counter argument that I found interesting and compelling....

But...

What this is about is an obscenely rich Yank billionaire taking it private and reasoning that yes, it will fuck customer service, but what the hell, he needs the £30m quid these people are collectively paid more than they do.

That just ruined it all for me! Do you really think he's going to do anything to harm the business after he just bought it for £15 Bn?! He isn't going to be a billionaire for very long if he buys up businesses for that much then ruins them over a measly £30 Mill. Isn't it just possible he knows how to improve VM? Give the guy a chance. He's been in the industry for a long time.

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Re: I expect to be greeting them soon - DITTO!

That just ruined it all for me! Do you really think he's going to do anything to harm the business after he just bought it for £15 Bn?! He isn't going to be a billionaire for very long if he buys up businesses for that much then ruins them over a measly £30 Mill. Isn't it just possible he knows how to improve VM? Give the guy a chance. He's been in the industry for a long time.

Well actually I've seen this happen. I worked for Torex Retail when the then directors blew it apart in an attempt to defraud the shareholders. The company went bust, and was bought by venture capitalists backed by Cerberus. The big knobs of the deal were already multi-millionaires -one of them lived in tax exile in Switzerland, for example, and all had ERP/software backgrounds. They splurged a load of their own money, Cerberus' money, and debt on buying the company (itself a suspect transaction, but that's another long story that may yet make the headlines), and promptly fired all of the middle and senior management. After about four years of losses and no growth they had to sell the business on to Micros (the US based EPOS specialist) and take a big hit. If you're reading this Greenough, Cooksley, three words for you: Ha ha ha.

An example you'll have seen is when Debenhams was taken private, and the new owners pillaged the business, made the service worse, tried to rip off the balance sheet through property sale and leasebacks, and then they tried to refloat it, hoping to offload the cash strapped hulk on dopey investors. They did float it, but not at the price they hoped for.

Having said all that, I didn't say he'd ruin the the company, I said he'd ruin the customer service. Given the crappy competition there is from BT broadband, he won't harm the financial value of his asset for some years. In fact, I fully expect to see some form of "price restructuring" that will put my VM bills up. I've dealt with a couple of billionaires, and they don't do fripperies like customer service, or value for money.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: I expect to be greeting them soon

Same where I am. We had one manager quit because they were positioning a director above him. Net result being nobody extra, one person doing the same job for more money who won't be doing anything productive for a few months.

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h3
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Re: I expect to be greeting them soon

Companies that are trying to get bought do that to make the organisational chart look impressive so the buyers think the company is bigger than it is.

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ACx

As a long suffering customer, I am surprised they have 600 people, let alone 600 to fire.

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Anonymous Coward

They ain't people ...

They are Management.

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Hoping

I have to say that I hope that they ditch the Indian team as they don't seem to understand that I am I am not phoning because I wish to buy additional service or because I am generally wishing to increase the size of my VM bill.

When I say I do NOT want these additional services, I am not being coy, I honestly don't want some irrelevance that only costs me £3.50 per month for the first 3.742 months of the 700 year contract you wish me to take

Apart from that (and the very expensive land line costs) VM have been OK.

The Scottish folks who have had to fix the upset that the Indian team causes have been very good and I hope nobody annoys them

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Unhappy

Re: Hoping

"I have to say that I hope that they ditch the Indian team"

Sure they will.

If they can find someone cheaper.

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Re: Hoping

"If they can find someone cheaper."

Africa seem to be the place of choice for new and cheap(er) call centres. Probably built and funded by the Chinese and filled with Huwei tech.

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Anonymous Coward

Not only staff

They have finally got round to deleting my old NTL Email account and giving me the hassle of changing it in all those sites where it is my registered contact address. Bastards!

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Re: Not only staff

Oh, that's where my spam trap went...

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Anonymous Coward

Wil things change?

As others have commented it is upsetting that people are losing their jobs, but as a former ntl/virgin planner/engineer, I have never known an organisation with so many worthless mid and senior managers. Lots of people who want to stick their oar into everything little detail of every little job, but add no benefit whatsoever.

At least the new senior bod seems to realise that you need lots of folks on the ground actually doing things, and less people above them on 50-100K salaries, plus cars, pensions, healthcare, benefits, who do nothing to bring in bottom line revenue. The fact they can shed 600 positions and still expect to function perfectly well gives some indication of how bloated the middle layers are.

After my experience there, I dread to think how bloated previously mentioned places like BT/NHS/BBC are - it all shows in their disfunctionality.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Wil things change?

"Lots of people who want to stick their oar into everything little detail of every little job, but add no benefit whatsoever."

That's what my operations colleagues often say. Unfortunately when they act accordingly, they bugger up our common systems for other users, because they made important changes without consulting others affected. Or they removed "a little bit of bureaucracy that slows us up", when in fact they've removed an important regulatory requirement for which we can be fined vast amounts, or leave us in breach of some clause on the thousands of pages of tax and company law that we are subject to. Or they "needed to act fast", did their own thing without asking anybody, and as a result we ended up buying far more of X than we needed, at a higher price than we need have paid. Or they sidestepped the property team to speed things up, and signed a very long lease for a large office in the middle of nowhere, but insufficient car parking, with few lease break points and on a ludicrous fully serviced basis at high cost.

I might also remind those who share the apparent contempt for middle managers, that IT (and most support functions, or any parallel business divisions) are invariably viewed in exactly the same terms - as an obstruction, as a force of inertia and delay, of pitiful excuses for not doing what the requestor wants.

It's all very well dismissing the activity of others as "worthless", but that all too often means the commentator doesn't understand what these people do or why they do it. I've been with VM for better part of twenty years, and of late it has been better and more stable than ever before. I don't believe you can remove 600 management staff from an adequately performing business and make it better, so I reason that things are going to get worse.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Wil things change?

If you worked for VM you would be aware of their previous 'purges' and how utterly useless they tend to be at shedding headcounts. Yes they make a bunch of people redundant but then find out they actually needed those people and have to hire back people (although not the same people because they can't due to the redundancy payment) or are just outsourcing the positions.

Add up all the headline numbers for job losses since the tw reverse acquisition and compare to the headcount now including offshoring. The numbers are nowhere near close.

VM like any decent sized company has its fair share of decent and pathetic staff at all levels, the problem is the protection of the useless ones in management. They lost some truly excellent managers and they were often replaced with some useless shower of piss who could play golf. Whilst the decent ones were off trying to patch up the crap the useless ones were making chaos, making a career of covering their ass, and got noticed more by everyone else.

It's sad to see people made redundant, but from experience I fear it will be the decent managers who go and the leg humpers who get to stay.

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VBF

Re: Wil things change?

I was also with Virgin for about 20 years until this year but I was getting increasingly annoyed at their poor service, slow broadband and unreliable connections (I'm on ADSL) which they denied were their fault. I only really stayed to keep an email address which had become essential to me. So, I bit the bullet, updated my email address to a portable one and changed ISP. Result - 40% increase in speed using the same router, a connection that stays up for weeks as opposed to days, a helpdesk in the UK staffed by technical people instead of script-reading idiots. So as far as I'm concerned - good riddance!

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Anonymous Coward

600 Managers? That's a lot of middle management...

Though saying that in the past 3 re-orgs my company has had (this being the solution to all their failures) We've gone from 1 IT director and an IT Operations manager to IT Director, "Global" IT Operations Director, "Global" Service desk manager, IT Projects team manager, and 4 team leaders. While the same time the headcount of people doing things has gone down (from 19 to 14 if you count the team leaders amongst heads lost).

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Anonymous Coward

why the venom?

These are people, why wish someone out of their job? There is no mention as to which tier of management this targets, for all we know this could be from the lowest of the managerial level roles. And does this cover roles, or people, because there's a whole lot of difference between 600 affected job roles, and 600 affected people.

I've never read a press-release or a published article to tell the whole truth when redundancies are concerned, there's always a hefty dose of spin attached.

I for one wish anyone affected by this news all the best.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: why the venom?

Why, because there were two types of manager at vm. One group of hard working decent humans who were talented at their jobs and believed in doing the right thing. Another group of managers (previously fired from double glazing telesales for a lack of moral fiber) spent their working lives covering their own asses whilst taking credit for other peoples work. These were the ones who would always hit their targets no matter what they had to do to the figures to make that happen. The crap that has gone down at that company over the years is shocking, especially around the time they wanted the vm brand and also when they consolidated systems.

Just looking at the names of the senior members that left and who remained gives you a good idea of who remains and who gets kicked. I had the honour of working with some great people there, people who restored my faith in senior management (well at least that not all of them deserved drowning), not one of them remains employed.

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Anonymous Coward

fewer people

doing more work

for less money

= we're all in it, innit (say the bosses)

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I told you so.......

Prices have risen and CS is pants.

The shareholders are already baying for ROI.

Has it occured to anyone?

Such mega takeovers are in no ones interest, cos it ultimately the punters who end up paying for the privileged few !

Prove me wrong.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: I told you so.......

I'd also say that money flows out of the country, but it probably does already to some tax haven.

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Virgin Mobile have staff?

I though VM, like all beardy's other businesses was just a marketing front end for another major player?

Here VM is just Rogers for the cool kids at a lower price.

Wasn't it the same for Virgin Megastores, Money and airline?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Virgin Mobile have staff?

The Virgin brand is or at least has been a mix between branding licenses and actual companies (sometimes using their own infrastructure and sometimes effectively reselling) they start. Virgin Media is basically a brand licenses from Virgin and used by the company formed by the joined NTL, Telewest and Virgin Mobile (mvno).

When it comes down to it, Richard is in it (and it can be practically anything that wouldn't diminish the value of the Virgin brand) for the money. He put NTL through the ringer when they wanted the Virgin brand, he set a range of kpi's (for example complaint numbers, response times, satisfaction levels) they had to meet and provided support in meeting them (when I say he, I mean his staff). The Virgin brand has value and with external companies thats what he offers.

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Re: Virgin Mobile have staff?

Always seemed a brilliant business proposition.

Hello Mr boring 3rd tier bank/airline/phone company - nobody has ever heard of you on the internet, so buy some of the Virgin brand. All the cool kids will go there and every time beardy does something daft in a balloon you get the publicity.

You understand how to run a bank/airline/phone company -we understand how to keep the brand in the headlines - everybody wins.

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Anonymous Coward

Good News...

but only if they get rid of the person/team who thought the SuperHub is fit for purpose to give to customers. The rest of the people I feel sorry for.

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Unhappy

So HR going to America then...

What did you think the phrase "centralize the back office functions" meant?

BTW There are I gather about 450 UK ISP's.

AFAIK all the top 5 (by customers) are s**t.

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Anonymous Coward

Will this mean

It is even harder to get put through to a call-centre manager if you are not satisfied with the answers you are getting?

The call-takers don't even try to trouble-shoot any more - all they seem to do is book engineers. A couple of months ago, I lost my TV/Internet signal, and they booked an engineer for 8 days time (!) After being transfered to two other people, someone actually did some (basic) troubleshooting, and then said the same thing. The signal came back 2 hours later, so it was obviously a fault at their end.

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