back to article IBM memo to staff: Our CEO Ginni is visiting so please 'act normally!'

Marketing folk in IBM's offices in Austin, Texas, were treated to a visit by CEO Ginni Rometty this week – but not before they were handed a list of things not to do in her presence, including taking selfies or using the loo at the same time. Rometty, also Big Blue's president and chairman as well as chief exec, dropped by the …

  1. kain preacher Silver badge

    The boss is coming, quick act normal and busy.

  2. d3vy Silver badge

    Choose one, I can't do both.

  3. Duffaboy
    Trollface

    where i work

    this is achieved by walking around with a bit of paper in your hand.

  4. theExecutive

    The boss is <finallly> coming, quick act normal and busy.

  5. MyffyW Silver badge

    fly casual

  6. kain preacher Silver badge

    Then act sane . :)

  7. BillG Silver badge
    Happy

    Re: where i work

    I wonder if the Austin office has a lot of young employees that aren't aware of protocol when a C-level executive shows up.

    Reminds me of the Dilbert where Asok fantasizes: "I can meet the CEO in the rest room and give him my opinions! And he'll be so impressed with me, he'll promote me to Special Assistant To The CEO! That'll show my boss and co-workers how smart I really am!"

  8. Mark 85 Silver badge

    Re: where i work

    And in many ways, this like a visit to the troops from some general. Clean up, spruce up, and beautify. So will she see the "real" Austin? Probably not, even if she is actually in the office for more than 10 minutes.

    They should probably just rent a building and put some actors in it for "official" visits. Fly the boss in and out. Repaint, move some desks, and fly the boss back in telling her it's an office in another city.

  9. Terry 6 Silver badge

    Re: where i work

    Years ago I worked briefly for a mail order company as a file clerk.The job was ghastly, requiring little slips of paper cut from magazines and posted in to be filed tightly into plastic wallets that cut into our fingers. Most of the files were well out of order because after the first week the clerks would just give up trying. It was a temporary job, but I got fired before I could leave, as did everyone who was hired at the same time, we were taken into HR and fired on the spot..

    The difference between us was that I deserved to be fired. I'd spent most of the previous two weeks walking round the building holding a clipboard and pen and waving some sheets of paper.

  10. bpfh
    Paris Hilton

    The boss is coming? I can carry on watching cat videos until she finishes then...

  11. Mark 85 Silver badge

    Re: where i work

    I'm surprised that no one has an LBK (Look Busy Kit).. It usually consists of a number of books, printouts, engineering drawings, and some scribbled notes on a pad of paper. Set it up each day, change the way the piles look, say every hour and managlement will think you're really I'll leave it as an exercise for the reader to determine what should be on computer screen as that depends on where you work and your job.

  12. Brenda McViking

    Re: where i work

    During a graduate placement I used to browse websites such as el reg in a browser resized to exactly match the email preview window in outlook. I read a lot about various MIT hacker court cases and read several air accident investigation reports cover to cover.

    Never did work out what I was supposed to be doing in those 8 weeks. My manager up'd and left on day 2 saying he was going abroad and would be back soon, and I never saw him again. HR couldn't move me as I was on scheduled rotation without 'bringing the entire graduate system to a halt,' so I was only able to move on when my next manager called me up to make arrangments for the next placement - I asked if I could start immediately and he agreed.

  13. davemcwish

    The boss is coming, quick act normal and busy.

  14. macjules Silver badge

    2 words: Potemkin Village

  15. FrankAlphaXII Silver badge

    Re: where i work

    Mark, when I was in the Army and still enlisted before I got my warrant to avoid that kind of bullshit, we were supposedly going to get a visit from either the INSCOM CG or maybe the CENTCOM CG or G2 (Don't recall which). I wound up being stuck on a detail to sweep the sand. In the middle of the Central Highlands which is a desert in the part of hell (some call it Afghanistan, same thing) I was in. I ran a broom over it for 10 minutes and then went and fucked off in my CHU for a couple hours til I needed to go to the SCIF and get on the knobs and get some actual work done. Supposed General never showed up. I got complimented for my attention to detail from some 22 year old 2LT that was supposedly my supervisor all the same.

    It's still better than the most sham detail I ever got put on, which was dress-right-dressing rocks at the NTC on Fort Irwin because some NASA bureaucrat from Houston was coming to Goldstone, which is on the Fort Irwin cantonment, and sometimes they'd tour the regimental facilities. It was like 130 degrees that day and myself and 15 other Soldiers are outside making the rocks look organized, however in the fuck you do that.

  16. ROC

    but do keep it zipped!

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Ginni Rometty looks like a monster

    ...a beauty OP gone wrong.

    > please inform the manager... so we can fill your seat while the guests are in town.

    Haha. All faked

    > We are a fun and vibrant team of marketeers

    I am sure you are, lol. Watsooooon

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: where i work

    In the forces the reason for an inspection is to check everything is ready for action as it has to be clean and in working order at all times. The B******* factor was used to ensure troops knew every part of their equipment intimately and had pride in it's readiness which usually saves lives when the real SHTF.

  19. Doctor Huh?

    IBM memo to staff: Our CEO Ginni is visiting so please 'act normally!'

    2 words: Potemkin Village

    1 acronym: IBM

  20. Dan 55 Silver badge
    Devil

    "Act normally! Ginni and the team are here to see what Austin is really like."

    But tidy the place up, throw stuff that reminds her of how better IBM was before away, wear these clothes, don't go near her, don't touch stuff, don't be on holiday.

    "We are a fun and vibrant team of marketeers... but one step wrong and you're out."

  21. LDS Silver badge

    Re: "Act normally! Ginni and the team are here to see what Austin is really like."

    That's why true entrepreneurs show up unexpected and look at how things really work.

    CEOs now think they are some kind of kings and queens and have to be treated accordingly by serfs.

    They are building a "Potemkin office" - and what is worse, they aren't aware of it...

  22. James Anderson

    Re: "Act normally! Ginni and the team are here to see what Austin is really like."

    Potempkin office --> great historical reference.

    However I think Ginny more resembles this lady - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Empress_Dowager_Cixi -

    She ruthlessly wielded absolute power over her disintegrating empire.

  23. steviebuk Silver badge

    Re: "Act normally! Ginni and the team are here to see what Austin is really like."

    Got there before me.

    This is everything that is wrong with big companies. Treating the CEO like they are a god.

    If I had the confidence to run my own company and be the CEO of my own company, I would want people to feel they don't have to kiss arse around me.

    In the words of Alan Sugar

    "I Don't Like Liars, I Don't Like Cheats,I Don't Like Bullshitters,I Don't Like Scmoozers, I Don't Like Arse-Lickers"

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: "Act normally! Ginni and the team are here to see what Austin is really like."

    @LDS; I suspect most of them *are* perfectly aware of what they're doing and are just going along with the bullshit expected of them.

  25. Voyna i Mor Silver badge

    Re: "Act normally! Ginni and the team are here to see what Austin is really like."

    "In the words of Alan Sugar"

    Is that the same Lord Sugar who once said "I'm not a difficult boss, some of the staff have been here eighteen months"?

    I read that shortly before being offered an interview at Amstrad, which I declined.

  26. Billius

    Re: "Act normally! Ginni and the team are here to see what Austin is really like."

    "I Don't Like Arse-Lickers"

    He's missing out.

  27. GIRZiM

    Re: In the words of Alan Sugar

    Great self-promotion from the man himself - well, he's a salesman first and foremost.

    Now ask the people who (have) work(ed) for him what he's really like.

  28. NerryTutkins

    Re: "Act normally! Ginni and the team are here to see what Austin is really like."

    Only of course lord sugar seems to love bullshitters and arse lickers, judging by the candidates he ends up with.

  29. IT Hack

    Re: "Act normally! Ginni and the team are here to see what Austin is really like."

    LDS - That's why true entrepreneurs show up unexpected and look at how things really work.

    I wonder. I suspect you are right that many CEO's have a bit of a delusion going on when it comes to visits. Some not so much.

    I used to work in a tech support centre for US based storage appliance company a few years, ok a lot of years back. Our CEO was coming to visit the place (not only the support centre but also euro HQ). I was (don't hate me!) a tech support manager there and was working to the of shift with the guys and we started talking about the CEO and the visit. On of the team said the CEO would never come up to the centre to see them hard at work as the clock headed towards 7pm. The company made a big thing of being a team etc so thought bugger it.

    I went down to the reception area where the great and mighty had congregated and was lucky enough to catch the CEO sort of by himself at the buffet. Now not really having much truck with this kind of thing I asked him if he'd like to visit the tech centre. He readily agreed and I must say the look on the faces of the people in reception as I ascended like some tech support god (ok ok...maybe not but I enjoyed the look of horror/shock on my local compatriots assorted EVPs, SVPs and senior leadership very much). I engaged in some small talk on the way up, mainly about my team.

    So we reach our floor and I introduce the CEO to the team. Who then went around to each of my engineers shook hands and spent a good twenty minutes chatting with the guys. He then went around the rest of the centre and met the other teams also working late shift.

    Frankly if you cannot approach execs then there is a major problem.

  30. jmch Silver badge
    Terminator

    Re: "Act normally! Ginni and the team are here to see what Austin is really like."

    "Act normally! Ginni and the team are here to see what Austin is really like. "

    "We expect 100% occupancy during the visit," he said. "If you sit in Building 906, 5th floor and will not be here due to vacation or work travel, please inform [the relevant manager]... so we can fill your seat while the guests are in town."

    DOES... NOT... COMPUTE:::

  31. JohnFen Silver badge

    Re: "Act normally! Ginni and the team are here to see what Austin is really like."

    If they're aware of it and allow it to continue, then they are truly terrible at their jobs.

  32. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: "Act normally! Ginni and the team are here to see what Austin is really like."

    So this bathroom policy thing... Are they trying to conceal any suggestion their leader is producing sh**

  33. DonM.

    Re: "Act normally! Ginni and the team are here to see what Austin is really like."

    In ancient Hawaii, a commoners life was forfeit if his shadow intersected with the Kings shadow.

    I wonder why I thought of that when reading this article .....

  34. MonkeyCee Silver badge

    Re: "Act normally! Ginni and the team are here to see what Austin is really like."

    "Frankly if you cannot approach execs then there is a major problem."

    In my experience the execs and HoDs that are any good are not only approachable, but will make active efforts to be so.

    It's all the middle manglement that are desperate to cut of the information flow either way, since they don't have the ability to do either the top job or work at the coal face.

    Email is nice for that. While not every suggestion I've made to a CEO has been taken up, they do seem to take the valid concerns on board and try and address them.

  35. Robert Helpmann?? Silver badge

    Re: "Act normally! Ginni and the team are here to see what Austin is really like."

    This is everything that is wrong with big companies. Treating the CEO like they are a god.

    I don't know about treating CEOs as if they were gods, but I finally got to watch The Death of Stalin last weekend and for some reason this memo reminded me of that.

  36. usbac

    Re: "Act normally! Ginni and the team are here to see what Austin is really like."

    @IT Hack

    Our CEO eats his self-packed lunch in the break room with the rest of the staff.

    Everyone shares the same tables, from VP's to forklift drivers in the warehouse. None of this elitist bullshit here!

  37. Chris King Silver badge

    Re: "Act normally! Ginni and the team are here to see what Austin is really like."

    "That's why true entrepreneurs show up unexpected and look at how things really work."

    Anyone who declares themselves to be an "entrepreneur", "thought leader" or "visionary" is not the real deal. If you have to claim a title, you are usually not worthy of it.

  38. Denarius Silver badge
    Meh

    Re: "Act normally! Ginni and the team are here to see what Austin is really like."

    Cixi also tried to move the cumbersome ruins of the then Chinese government to a goal of constitutional monarchy. However, as much of Chinese history was written by egomaniacs worthy of any modern CEO, only more evil, her reputation was besmirched. As for IBM, pretending to fool the boss is a routine ritual of the PHB class in all companies.

  39. DuchessofDukeStreet

    Re: "Act normally! Ginni and the team are here to see what Austin is really like."

    Back in the days when I worked in construction, we had a long and successful tradition of promoting internally so that the Chief Exec was invariably a man who'd started his career in a hard hat and muddy safety boots (it all went a bit wrong when we started hiring in folks in smart suits instead, but that's a different story....). Banksman on a major site saw someone he didn't recognise in civvies on the site and offered a "robust" challenge to the intruder to "suggest" that he vacate the area. There was no objection raised to this but as they walked together towards the exit gate they bumped into one of the senior site engineers, who went a bit pale and demanded to know what the banksman was doing manhandling the CEO...

    CEO's response was that he'd been walking around the site for 30 minutes and no-one had challenged him until the banksman, who he was very impressed by - but less impressed by the site manager's approach to security or public safety.

  40. tim 13

    Re: "Act normally! Ginni and the team are here to see what Austin is really like."

    Cheers, read that and the the wiki page on the Boxer Rebellion. Friday afternoon well wasted!

  41. ROC

    Re: "Act normally! Ginni and the team are here to see what Austin is really like."

    Damn! No OS/2 or "VM Bigot" stickers?

  42. ROC

    Re: "Act normally! Ginni and the team are here to see what Austin is really like."

    Yeah - what about the last few rounds of layoffs, or did they escape them somehow? Oh, right marketing is more essential than what IS marketed...

  43. Mpeler
    Pirate

    Re: "Act normally! Ginni and the team are here to see what Austin is really like."

    "So this bathroom policy thing... Are they trying to conceal any suggestion their leader is producing sh**"

    Nah. To avoid cried of "Gina has a wina"...

  44. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: "Act normally! Ginni and the team are here to see what Austin is really like."

    If I had the confidence to run my own company and be the CEO of my own company, I would want people to feel they don't have to kiss arse around me.

    Which is why I'm certain Ginny would *NEVER* appear on a show like "Undercover Boss" That would require her and the rest of her staff to actually give a shit what goes on in the company.

    "Act normally"? That would require me to slouch in my chair and loudly bitch to my co-workers what a shit company IBM is, and how I look forward to their eventual Chapter 7 bankruptcy.

  45. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: "Act normally! Ginni and the team are here to see what Austin is really like."

    Hey, if I'm not allowed to go to the loo, I'm sure I can resolve the "filling an empty seat" issue quite well on my own...

  46. GruntyMcPugh Silver badge

    Desks should be clear anyway,...

    ... we operated a clean desk policy during my time with IBM, and weren't really allowed much to be on show, no lists of phone numbers, no family photos, no personal items (I wouldn't get away with the cacti I have on my current desk.) I got dinged for having a floppy disk on my desk. I can't remember what it had on it now, but I'd lent it to someone, who had returned it, and put it on my desk when I wasn't there. We got audited, I got bollocked.

  47. Antron Argaiv Silver badge
    Windows

    Re: Desks should be clear anyway,...

    Looking at my desk this morning, I don't think I'd make it through my first week in a place with a "clean desk" policy.

    "A clean desk is the sign of a sick mind"

  48. Fred Flintstone Gold badge

    Re: Desks should be clear anyway,...

    I've always maintained that my desk remained perfectly clean underneath precisely because of the stuff on top.

    :)

  49. m0rt Silver badge

    Re: Desks should be clear anyway,...

    Oh good. I'm positively brimming with mental health, then. I should tell my therapist(s).

  50. anothercynic Silver badge
    Angel

    Re: Desks should be clear anyway,...

    Hmmm, I wonder how much time they allocate in their day to maintain the clean desk policy? An hour? Two? Three? All day? ;)

Page:

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2018