Dec 12, 2009

LANS "Engagement Survey" Analysis Summary

Thanks to the two of you who took the time to analyze the LANS Morale Survey. I'm sure the LANS "Communications Office" (have you noticed how I tend to use quotes to denote an ironic misnomer?) will come out with their own attempt to spin the survey as being positive, but the numbers tell us the Real Story.

I got a call from an Albuquerque Journal reporter on Thursday who was looking for some kind of quantifiable proof of the degrading morale among LANL staff over the years, but I was only able to give him my own subjective opinions. Thanks to 9:22's contribution on the "Survey Rollout" post we now have some solid comparison numbers:

Well, having supplied the data to Doug for posting, I have to say I'm really disappointed you all have been so lazy about analyzing results. (Maybe it's true all the A students have left?) Some of the old survey data is still available from the Newsbulletin archives. So for example:

"I am proud to be associated with the Laboratory"
1997: 82% agree
2004: 79% agree
2009: 66% agree (now "I am proud to tell people I work for the Laboratory")

"Morale in my group is high"
1997: 45%
2004: 40%
2009: 28% ("Morale of my coworkers is good" - note the bar appears to be lowered from "high" to "good").

2009: 46% agree that "My morale at work is good."
2004: 78% "My work gives me a sense of personal accomplishment"
2009: 66% "My work is rewarding"

2004: 66% "Employees are treated with respect, regardless of position"
2009: 49% "Employees are treated with respect"

2004: 60% "Satisfied with my overall compensation incl benefits
2009: 62% "Satisfied with my overall compensation incl benefits"
(Perhaps the only category that's held steady)

2004: 64% "Lab keeps me informed about matters affecting me"
2009: 49% "I feel well-informed about events/decisions/news that affect my job"

2004: 69% "Would recommend Los Alamos as good place to work
2009: 63% "The Laboratory is a good place to work"

Also, 1:28 AM pointed out that most of the lowest-rated responses are a direct reflection of the quality of LANL's current "management team" (there I go with the quotes again):

Let's cut to the quick. Here are the key percentages that register in this document as "Agree"...

The leadership team is working together to advance the Laboratory mission. : 37.75 %

Career opportunities at the Laboratory are good. : 33.73 %

Laboratory managers set good examples. : 27.58%

I have confidence in the leadership of the Laboratory. : 28.69 %

The morale of my co-workers is good. : 27.75 %

Laboratory managers consult employees about decisions that affect them. : 25.42 %

The Laboratory rewards those who contribute most. : 23.57 %

I believe that action will be taken on the results of this survey. : 17.30 %

In most organizations, abysmal ratings like this would result the the sudden resignation of the executive management. It indicates a total failure of leadership and severe lack of trust of the employees in their top management team. However, with LANS you can be almost certain that there will be no real outcome for their poor leadership skills. PBIs, baby! That's all that matters to NNSA.

Thanks to who ever handed this data off to Doug. Have no doubt, you did the right thing and the many blog readers appreciate the risk you must have taken. God bless you, my friend!



Anonymous said...

Los Alamos National Security (LANS) expects technical excellence and sets the bar extremely high for workers. On the other hand, when LANS management requests input on their performance, they only need to meet a "good" standard, yes or no. Not excellent, but good. It was very obvious that critical questions on morale (personal and co-worker), career opportunities, and Lab management, the standard was only "good. The questions were very carefully crafted to sway the results with no scale from 1 to 5 (to the tenth) that we (staff) are rated on. The critical question I didn't see was: Laboratory Management is Providing Leadership; no accident we didn't see this question. Overall, the survey was set at a "low bar" because that is the only bar that LANS management can ATTEMPT to stumble over!

Anonymous said...

I certainly would not recommend LANL as a place of employment to any person that has other options.

Anonymous said...

"Los Alamos National Security (LANS) expects technical excellence and sets the bar extremely high for workers."

Would you care to support this opinion with some data?

Anonymous said...

Oh 1:47 PM, technical excellence is only set high for those people that management wants to get rid of and who are not part of the F&FP (friends and family plan).

Anonymous said...

Face it. LANS is a joke. What was once the backbone of US and to lesser degree international security, science, and technical excellence has become a joke. Harold Agnew once said that Livermore was the world's expert at being shit upon. Now I know how they feel. LANS cannot wipe its own ass.

Anonymous said...

One should point out the results are actually biased more favorably. The way the 'survey' was done only those with a somewhat positive (<50% of employees) outlook filled it out. The others were either totally disgusted or afraid it would be traced back to them. You can guess what their responses would have been.

Anonymous said...

Good job comparing the numbers, this really puts things in perspective. Thanks!

What do these numbers tell us? Not only that things are bad now - we knew that already - but that the slope is pointing sharply downward. If you think you can't get any work done now, just wait five years as LANS continues their "heroic efforts" of placating and pleasuring the NNSA.

The corollary of this observation is that LANS can do us a great favor by simply doing nothing. By merely sitting in their offices, twiddling their thumbs, chatting about the upcoming baseball season and browsing porn all day, the upper managers can considerably improve the forecast for LANL's future.

Anonymous said...

What is quite telling is that following the 2004 shutdown morale was bad. These data show that LANS is doing worse than Nanos. Amazing, simply amazing.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous at 12/13/09 4:10 PM said...

"These data show that LANS is doing worse than Nanos."

Nanos, in spite of his abusive behavior, was a strong supporter of LANL. He wanted us to do well. That cannot be said of LANS management.

Anonymous said...

"Nanos, in spite of his abusive behavior, was a strong supporter of LANL. He wanted us to do well. "

Yes, that's why he shut the entire place down for nearly 7 months over a security violation that never occurred, costing the tax payers $357 million dollars; forever losing the good will of uncounted WFO sponsors, and permanently driving off thousands of talented staff.

Anonymous said...

5:06, with friends like that...

Anonymous said...

Morale is getting worse even after Nanos left because, with LANS (aka Bechtel) now firmly in charge, staff are finally getting the message that there is no hope left for this laboratory. The path that LANL is on will not diverge and the slope is ever downward.

My heart goes out to the younger scientific staff members who had planned to serve a long career at this lab. Good luck with that.

Anonymous said...

I don't want to sound like a supporter of Nanos, but, in fairness, that stand-down was done with the full agreement of the DOE. I can't recall the source, but I was told that Nanos was told by the DOE to either initiate a stand-down or the DOE would do so.

Anonymous said...

I'm retired now, but I was there during the shutdown. It was Nanos who told staff that if he didn't initiate the stand-down, DOE would. We only have his word for that, and his word is not good enough for me.

Anonymous said...

According to another poster ... these results are just due to misunderstandings by the employees. Also, our comments were not anonymous. Each AD has a direct line to each employees comments. There you have it - bend over folks!

Anonymous said...

You forgot to mention the one statement everyone who took the survey agreed with.

Richard Marquez' sexual harassment exploits in the workplace underscore the Director's true character.

100% agreement

Anonymous said...

I was there for the Nanos stand down as well. Nanos was absolutely disgusting in the way he spoke to employees (the whole cowboys and buttheads discussion). I don't doubt that DOE was quite happy to shut the lab down at that point though, although the reasoning behind it I have always disagreed with. Look - we had the Wen Ho Lee debacle in the late 90s (what an absolute mess), and various security and safety issues in the early 00s -- none of which justified a shut down, but the big problem was that they all put us on the radar of folks in congress and in DOE who were not big fans of LANL. They jumped on these often small opportunities, and we got the grand Cowboy/Butthead shutdown. And then St. Pete stepped down, and the vultures moved in.

That's when I quit. I, unlike many of the blog commenters here, didn't blame LANS. It wasn't LANS that killed LANL -- it was politicians who detected a weakness and went in for the kill. Quite honestly, the dependence on St. Pete was the fatal addiction that ultimately killed the lab. LANS is just a secondary infection.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous at12/14/09 7:08 AM said...

"I'm retired now, but I was there during the shutdown. It was Nanos who told staff that if he didn't initiate the stand-down, DOE would. We only have his word for that, and his word is not good enough for me."

You don't really think that Nanos shut the place down without the full concurrence of the DOE do you?

Anonymous said...


No, I'm sure Nanos convinced DOE that there had been "egregious" security and safety incidents. Had he not lied about the DX CREM non-issue, DOE would have never even considered shutting LANL down.

Remember, all of LANL upper management knew within *days*, if not hours of the DX CREM non-event that it was a flaw in the LANL CREM bookkeeping system, and not an incident involving actual missing CREM. Nanos jumped the gun big time, and then tried to cover his ass by selling NNSA and DOE on the concept that a real security event had occurred. Seven months later the FBI report made the real story public. By then, Nanos was history.

Anonymous said...

By then, Nanos was history.

Unfortunately, for the tax-payer, an expensive history, with a golden parachute from UC and a well paid job at DTRA.

Anonymous said...

Not to be Outdone by Alan Bishop. From the Physics Division Leader Doug Fulton

Many of you participated in the all-employee survey of the work
climate at the Lab in October. Over the past three weeks, all of the division leaders have spent one-day sessions with the ADs discussing the results of the survey and brainstorming what actions we could take to resolve employees concerns. The Lab-wide results are now posted (see
employee_survey_responsesbyquestion.pdf), with the most negative
response being to the assertion: “I believe that action will be taken on the results of this survey.” Only 17.3% responded in the affirmative to this assertion. I interpret this response to mean a fairly complete lack of confidence that we will take meaningful action on the results of this survey; we have already started work, but we must translate that into concrete results that improve employee work
conditions. There will be a half-day meeting in January, where all division leaders will meet together with Mike Anastasio and the senior management team to roll out the results of the one-day meetings that we just finished. The intent is to focus on a few actionable items and get the division leaders engaged to implement them. I will then engage
the group leaders and first-line managers (aka team leaders) on these few topics. I have to say that my experience with the one-day meeting was positive, with a clear recognition by all involved that we needed to take some concrete steps to benefit the employees. Of course, as you read this, I am guessing that most of you are rightly skeptical as to the outcome; you will have to hold my feet to the fire.

Anonymous said...

Ohhhh that I COULD hold your feet to the fire, Doug.

Anonymous said...

"Only 17.3% responded in the affirmative to this assertion. I interpret this response to mean a fairly complete lack of confidence that we will take meaningful action on the results of this survey"

There's some incisive analysis. Must be why he's paid the big bucks.

Anonymous said...

Wow. LANL management is meeting like crazy on the results from the survey. There are meetings everywhere, retreats, conference calls, e-mails, video teleconferencing, Division/Group meetings, brainstorming sessions, etc. The Director is even going to actually meet with us next week to review the results.

Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain ,..., the lolipop kid, the lolipop kid, follow the yellow brick road, ...there's no place like home, there's no place like home, .....

Anonymous said...

One question that should have been asked would address the issue of our confidence in the NNSA!

Anonymous said...

The man behind the curtain is Sir Marquez, and his hand is on the lever (his own lever that is). Survey or no survey, a man's got to do what a man's got to do.

Anonymous said...

If that's Marquez behind the curtain it's not a "lever" his fondling, it's Dorothy (and Toto too).

Anonymous said...

No the man behind the curtain is certainly Anastasio. He's got everyone snookered inside Oz. Mikey wants DiAgostinos' broom to have real power and wealth. He wants it all, he wants all.