Monday, February 21, 2005

Working at the "Will of the Director"

From Anonymous:

This comment [on working "at the will" of the director] is not quite correct. UC issued a new policy for positions determined by the directors of their three labs in early January. This new policy calls for "at will" of the employee not just the managerial title. The policy says that any "at will" can be terminated with 60 days sevrence pay -- although efforts can be made to find the employee another position in the lab, there is no obligation. In effect, a manager gives up TSM status when they become a division leader (in the UC system this is like giving up tenure to take the position of Dean -- which is unthinkable). This policy was pushed from Los Alamos -- it was one of Nanos' priorities when he first came on because he believed that when leaders were terminated they often hung around with bad attitude. That is probably true! Although this change in policy may sound subtle, it is scary to managers because it is soley at the discretion of the Director -- and the Director has a 2.5 year documented history of disregard for rationale though.

Examples: Tom Meyer was teminated because the Director did not think he fit on the team (probably a valid point), so he was terminated. All within the Director's rights. What is disconcerting is that Nanos never meet with Meyer in the six months between his removal as ADSR and his ultimate resignation. Never - what kind of leader is that?

Al Sattleberger was terminated because of the C Divsion laser accident. One could argue that responsiblity resides with the DL, but this is not a simple case. Sattleberger was leading a new safety approach, but an employee did not follow the rules.
Worth removal as DL? In subsequent discussions, Sattleberger was promised some things at LANL, but the director backtracks because he has personal dislike for the former head of C division. Lab Leadership?

Promotion of Micheline Devaurs to ADSR was stunning. Although Devaurs is a fine person, there is nothing in her background that says "scientist", nor any leadership skills for science. But, she had the confidence of the director because she did what ever he asked, and made no waves, and kept science down. Devaurs routinely goes through the motions of an AD -- goes to meetings, etc., but is amazingly clueless. This is not her fault - it is like asking Sig Hecker to run an aircraft carrier.

"... what kind of leader is that?"

I think Sig would have done a pretty credible job on the aircraft carrier.
Regarding Tom Meyer's firing, there was a rumor shortly afterward that Nanos did not personally fire Meyer, but demanded that one of the other Division Directors (Terry Wallace of EES Div) do it for him! Can anyone verify this? This sort of action speaks much about Nanos, if true.
Nanos just did the same thing 10 days ago when he left NMT Division to explain to N-2 and N-5 why they were now reporting to NMT-4. Nanos just gave the "atta-boys" and left the meeting before the shock wave hit.
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