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By Nick Wakeman

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Nick Wakeman

Lockheed 600: Stars or deadwood?

Reaction to the large number of executives leaving Lockheed Martin as part of a buyout program has ranged from ‘good riddance’ to “send me your résumé.”

Lockheed Martin said more than 600 executives, or 25 percent of its executive ranks, have taken a buyout and will be leaving the company.  And I blogged that that this could be a rich recruiting pool for other companies and the start of a Lockheed Martin network across the market.


Lockheed opens doors to executive departures

Lockheed prepares for new IT era

Why Lockheed gave up $1.3 billion

First, thanks for the comments that have come in. They have been very interesting and mostly positive about Lockheed Martin’s move but not so positive about the people leaving the company.

M from Reston, Va.: “This is a great idea. … To be honest, I am surprised that a stodgy company like Lockheed would take such a positive and unconventional step.”

Radarman in Florida said, “The areas these execs are coming from are probably in areas that are decreasing in business. Example — Space, Planes. F-35 is transitioning into production, space business is dead,…good move on LMCO’s part.”

He continued: “Happy employees don’t jump at these offers. Deadwood and retired-in-place persons do.”

That sounds harsh, but others supported his comments.

Someone claiming to be a former Lockheed Martin employee said the company could afford to lose another 600 “without any major effects other than the pluses of getting rid of a lot of middle management clutter.”

The former employee said there were directors reporting to directors and vice presidents reporting to vice presidents, “all doing nothing more than perpetuating each others' jobs.”

In my blog, I worked on the assumption that a third, or 200, of the departing execs were dead weight. Several thought I was too kind. “Generously conservative” is how one put it.

But that didn’t discourage Chris Simmons of Washington, D.C., who shared his phone number in an effort to recruit consultants.

Another counterpoint to my blog was my idea that Lockheed Martin could benefit from having a network of former employees at other companies. “On the other hand,” one commenter wrote, “this could result in a cadre of disgruntled ex-employees.”

I would still like to hear from some of the 600. I guess the jobs they get in the coming months will tell their story.

Posted by Nick Wakeman on Sep 10, 2010 at 9:43 AM

Reader Comments

Wed, Sep 22, 2010 NoVA

I'm a 47 year old Director. I didn't have a problem finding a new position. I look forward to competing against LMC and the individuals I developed and tutored, as I know the kinks-in-the-armour and I possess the customer intimacy. Trust is granted, not earned. It took years of working with these customers before they granted me their trust. It wasn't the Corporation.

Wed, Sep 15, 2010

I am just below the level the buy-out was offered to, which is one point to make: this was only offered to Director and higher levels so it is not any lower ranks as suggested in one of the comments (LMC in most positions has titles that ranks us one level behind our counterparts also, so these are definitely high level positions). While over time there certainly was some multi-exec layering, as with any company our size, (& the same for some Fortune 1,000 & 5,000s), I do not think it was a major issue at LMC. They have not released all the names yet but to date I see many of those leaving as being great talent but in the twilight of their career. Were they holding on to jack up retirement $$ after losing up to 30% of thier portfolio in the last few years?? could be, but they are moving on now under a program that seems to be in part seeking that result. No doubt there is some dead wood but it does a great disservice to speculate or to broad brush those who have been exemplary employees and have talents that can be used elsewhere as dead wood. For those hiring out there, do your due diligence to assure your company you are hiring the best LMC alumni. Many will be missed yet there is talent ready to move up. This is company wide to meet Gates new mandate and bring the best, cost-effective solutions to the tax payer.

Tue, Sep 14, 2010

My husband is one of the executives who decided to take the buyout. I won't divulge his name because it would be one known to current and past employees. Suffice it to say, he's far from "deadwood". The company has gotten their deadbeats to take the buyout but they also got something they didn't bargain for.....top performers. Holes will be left for a long time and experience is walking out the door at a crucial time. My husband got countless calls the day after from headhunters. He has several opportunities as do many that have choses this path. The negative comments come from people that weren't eligible and therefore exhibit sour grapes. No matter. The people that chose this got a great deal and can contribute their talents elsewhere while enjoying a nice monetary perk. Oh, and for the information of those commenting, the ones leaving aren't from the underpreforming businesses. It's across the board company wise and even at the corporate level.

Tue, Sep 14, 2010 rgoad Dayton

The key will be the level the people taking the buy-out are coming from. If it's the middle or lower executive ranks, Lockheed is the one in trouble. If it's senior ranks, then the deal is sweetened for the deadwood and the young guns are waiting for the openings to move up. In a poor economy deadwood tends to remain in place until forced out because they do not want to pound the street looking for a job and would rather extend their full pay and benefits as far as possible. Conversely, stars can sense rot in the deck of the ship and leave the sinking ship first; that ability to sense ahead of others is part of why they are stars. So Lockheed has an opportunity to self assess based on the population that is making this move.

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