(Originally posted August 7; comments at end of article)
As one who was deeply involved in the building of Allianz Life of North America, I am especially saddened to witness the precipitous decline in the performance of the company and the conscious destruction of its entrepreneurial culture.
The latest blow came with an announcement in the Minneapolis StarTribune (August 4, 2008) that the company will eliminate some 200 more jobs. This is on top of several other downsizing and outsourcing actions.
Less than three years ago Allianz Life was a flourishing, vibrant and profitable company with a unique culture that challenged, motivated, recognized and rewarded employees who worked to make themselves and the company better.
Today Allianz Life is a mere shadow of its former self and may be wounded beyond repair. Production has steadily fallen while employee morale is defined by frustration, fear, lack of candid communication and uncertainty about the future.
Barely a week goes by without someone from the company calling me to seek advice as to how they could leave the company for a better opportunity. Top field producers have fled the company and those remaining, fearful of poor service or rejections of business are gun-shy about submitting business. Most Field Marketing Organizations, the backbone of company production, are now producing less business with Allianz Life while directing increased volumes to other competing companies. Few if any new production sources are being recruited by the company.
How can a company, once so successful, fall so far so fast? The answer is simple: A full-blown bureaucratic management system has been substituted for an entrepreneurial culture. Bureaucratic managers have infiltrated the company bringing with them the calcifying taint of the bureaucratic culture.
The corrupting influence of bureaucracy can easily be seen in the recent announcement of employee layoffs. Typical of a bureaucratic company, instead of the company leader having the integrity and courage to personally make the announcement, the company trots out a third-string bureaucrat to speak for the company and take the heat. (click here to continue)