Hunter Says Adapt or Be Gone

During his appearance earlier this week on an investor’s conference call, CSX CEO E. Hunter Harrison spoke about the challenges of changing the railroad’s corporate culture.

And he also had a message for the rank and file who were or were not listening in.

“We can’t carry dead weight. Everybody’s got to do their job, everybody’s got to do their part,” Harrison said.

And for those who are unable to adapt to the change in direction that Harrison has brought to CSX, he had simple message.

Adapt or else the company will get rid of you. As it is, CSX has already been reducing its workforce although not always to get rid of a few bad apples.

The railroad had 25,495 employees at the end of June, a decline of 2,200 when compared to June 2016.

Harrison expects 800 more positions to be trimmed before the end of 2017.
Harrison said changing the CSX culture has been more of a challenge than changing the operational plan.

He said that employees need to adapt to a new way of doing things. However, he acknowledged that some workers may be confused after being subjected to the several different strategies and operating philosophies that CSX has used over the years.

There have also been changes in management, too. Harrison said during that call that CSX has hired two “rock stars” in operations and 15 “top-notch” people from railroads he would not name.

However, media reports have indicated that the newly-hired managers worked with Harrison at Canadian National and will replace mid-level operating CSX officials who have been fired.

He indicated that the new hires understand his philosophy of precision scheduled railroading.

Harrison will conduct what are termed “Hunter Camps” during which he will explain the principles of precision scheduled railroading.

The first of these will be held in late July for a group of operating officials.

“A railroad this size has got a lot of smart people who want to be successful, who want to do well,” Harrison said. “It’s our job to find them.”

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