Bloated management was one factor in an "unhealthy" workplace environment in a Southern California Edison department where a shooting rampage occurred in December, an investigation found, prompting the utility to cut 20% of the department's managers.
"This is a difficult but necessary step in IT's efforts to streamline decision-making, communication and the way IT provides and supports technology to enable the overall business to succeed," Southern California Edison's president, Ronald L. Litzinger, wrote to employees last week in an email obtained by The Times.
In the Dec. 16 rampage, Andre Turner, 48, who worked in the information technology department, appeared to target supervisors at its offices on Rivergrade Road in Irwindale. He killed two — Robert Lindsay, 53, and Henry Serrano, 56 — and wounded another supervisor and a contractor before fatally shooting himself.
Los Angeles County sheriff's detectives said Turner had been reprimanded for missing an audit deadline.
After the shootings, Edison commissioned an independent audit of the work environment in the IT department to "provide the company with a candid assessment" and suggest improvements, Edison spokesman Steve Conroy said.
The report by the independent auditors, completed in May, was highly critical of the workplace climate at the facility.
It noted "key issues which include workplace climate and culture concerns and stressors related primarily to a fundamental lack of leadership in many areas, and resulting in loss of trust, lack of respect, fear of retaliation, inefficient decision-making processes, poor communication, lack of work/life balance, abusive management styles, lack of management accountability, perceived absence of fairness and a shortage of recognition."
The auditors also wrote that many employees complained that the department was "top-heavy," with too many managers: "In the employees' views, excess managers drive costs up without adding value, yet supervisors and managers seem to be a protected, invincible group in what some employees term the 'caste' system."
They suggested reducing the middle management layer as one step toward a healthier workplace.
Conroy said Edison has already implemented some of the report's suggestions, including enhancing security measures, workplace violence prevention and crisis response programs; augmenting management training programs; and reviewing the performance appraisal process.
"The company deeply regrets what happened," Conroy said of the shooting. But, he added, "there is nothing in the company's work environment that caused this tragedy, and there is no way anyone could have anticipated these actions."
Employees at the Rivergrade facility who spoke to a Times reporter but would not give their names gave mixed reviews of the work environment. Some said they saw no evidence of mistreatment; others said the climate had been hostile at one time but had improved as changes were implemented in the wake of the shootings.
"There was an expectation to work all evening and sometimes on the weekends, and there was no gratitude. It was more of an order, not a request," said one man who identified himself as a programmer. "But now things are changing for the better."
Litzinger's email said the management cuts would take place by late November.
In August, Edison announced plans to cut 730 jobs at the San Onofre nuclear plant, which has been closed for nearly eight months because of equipment problems.
A company spokeswoman said no job cuts are planned in other departments.