When Jack Welch was named CEO of General Electric, Welch saw a company in trouble even though the business world saw GE as an intrinsically healthy corporation, secure in its position as a world industrial leader. Welch knew that the company was too large to fail yet GE was too unwieldy to adapt for further growth. The changes he instituted restructured and revolutionized GE and made Welch the most respected CEO in business today. After reading the book there were three parts that really stood out for me.
Chapter 3: Cultivate managers who share your vision was the most important chapter to me. It talks about putting the right managers in the right positions. Welch says, "What we are looking for
who can energize, excite, and control rather than enervate, depress, and control" (p. 35). Managers in a company should bursting with energy and are able to develop and implement a vision and not just talk about those visions. They must also know how to spread enthusiasm throughout the entire company. One of the keys to being a great business leader is getting employees excited about their work. One of the ways to get employees excited about their work is to allow employees more freedom and responsibility then they have now. In order to make this happen, middle managers have to be team members and coaches. They need to facilitate more than control. Managers should be energizers and not enervators. Welch suggests that the only way to last at GE is to get on board, to become a team player, and to adapt oneself to the company's values and culture when describing the different types of managers that will or will not succeed. The first type of manager delivers on commitments and shares the company's values. The second type does not meet commitments and does not share the company's values. The third type misses commitments but does share the company's values. Welch himself cares more that a manager sticks to the company's values than meets the numbers. The fourth type delivers on the commitments but does not subscribe to the company's values. Welch broke these managers into three categories, type A, type B, and type C managers. Type A managers were defined as team players that subscribe to the company's values. People trust them; they make impacts on decisions, and are leaders who seek to develop high value in other leaders below them. They were to be kept and promoted. Type B managers make sure that they are productive and can continue to grow. They are to be nurtured in the hope that might improve. Type C managers were to be fired. They were defined as blah and neutral who are afraid of A's and they do not know they are C's.
In that past restaurant I worked at we used the A, B, C system not only for managers but for all staff as well. Everyone thought it was a bad idea at first but after two months they thought it was useful. We had an unbelievable staff after the system was in place. I have worked with A, B, and C managers and it can make the workplace frustrating if you do not have the right people in the right places.
The second most important chapter to me was Chapter 5: Be simple, be consistent and hammer your message home. This chapter talks about consistency can help get your message across to many people. "The only was to change people's minds is with consistency," (p. 51) states Welch who believes in relentless consistency in everything. Since GE's values are so important to Welch, he had them inscribed and distributed to every single GE employee. He states:
"There isn't a human being in GE that wouldn't have the Values Guide with them. In their wallet, in their purse. It means everything and we live it. And we remove people who don't have those values, even when they post great results" (p. 53).
The values on GE's Value Guide are:
Always with Unyielding Integrity:
Have a Passion for Excellence and Hate Bureaucracy
Are Open to Ideas from...
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