Saturday, April 16, 2016

They call it "The Hospice" - the office building of the former grandees of Deutsche Bank

The blogster came to "The Hospice" via a detour, and we will take you along the same route because there is both correlation and causation there. It is not a coincidence either that the route to The Hospice led through the reader comments section of an article in German zeitonline.

You should call it The Yellow Prick Road, said the K-Landnews TheEditor in an unusually soft tone of voice. It's the appropriate thing to do when you talk about people at the end of life.

The original article described how managers get fired in 21st century Germany. The title says Companies treat managers like criminals.

No comment, mumbled TheEditor, as if it* knew where we were headed. The Zeit article is just one of many exposes on the harsh, punishing realities at work in the fourth largest economy of the world. Over the years of living in Germany, the blogster has heard and read that life has become colder, more self centered, often ruthless. Personal descriptions came from members of the rural communities we call home, workers, small employers.
In the media, the big complainers are those who have much more power, and that's what the Zeit article, among others, illustrates.

There, a lawyer specializing in employment law recounts a long list of methods companies use to get rid of undesired managers.

Undesirables get stripped of a team, get banished to a remote corner of the building, lose their company car. If and when they get fired after refusing to take the hint to resign, the laid off managers are given a few minutes in the office to collect personal stuff under the watchful eye of a security guard, and then they are escorted off the premises.

Wait, that's new around here?

It's how companies have done it in the US for a long time.

Nothing to write home about, but then there were the reader comments. They corroborated a shift to more corrosive work environments, and one of them had the link to The Hospice.

The Hospice is the nickname of a small, non-descript office building in the shadows of the bank highrises in Frankfurt, Germany. The Hospice is where almost all of the former CEOs of Deutsche Bank have their offices after retiring or after having been ousted from the bank's top floor.

It is there that people like Rolf Breuer end up after decades of a career which led them to the very top of one of the world's most powerful banks. In other companies, equivalent offices exist, nicknamed with equivalent cruelty or irony, like elephant cemetery, or burial chamber.

Some of the residents of The Hospice decided to talk to the Zeit reporters, most of them beginning the interview with "This talk never happened".

The old men, all are men, tell about the fierce power struggles, about the need to "use truth and lies in a strategic manner", about "the satisfaction to see some else get hammered", about "savvy tactics".

Some openly admit how they would abstain or even vote in favor of a decision despite being fundamentally opposed to a proposed change or measure. They would form ever shifting alliances to get more power, to maintain their status, to shift blame onto someone else.

One put it this way: When the board of Deutsche Bank was making a decision that affected the future of the bank, no board member would think of the bank's future. You would think of your own future, your own power.

The article is one of a handful or so the blogster would recommend reading, both for the deep insights into the workings and trappings of power at the very top of companies and for the quality of the journalistic writing. So, get a German friend to read it for you.

The blogster found it almost incredible to read how these old men go to their tiny, prison cell size offices every morning to face empty schedules and void, but then remembered old dogs and old horses from the years on the farm.

Each and everyone worth many millions of Euros, the old bankers cling to the past. Only rarely does one get out and leave the decades of frenemies behind.

Why don't they go enjoy themselves, sail around the world, do charity work, help the homeless?

Well, that's one reason why you will never be one of them, smiled TheEditor.

* We are gender neutral.
[Update] A couple of small grammar edits. Note: the German term used is Sterbehaus, a place were people go to die.  "The hospice" is as close as we could translate.

No comments:

Post a Comment