Be tough, urged Jack Welch, the colorful former CEO of General Electric, at the Las Vegas Hilton on Sunday afternoon.Welch stressed the behavior that earned him the nickname “Neutron Jack,” telling execs not to be afraid to weed out non-performers, either working to improve their output or else letting them go.
“You’ve got to be constantly raising the bar. Finding that thing that makes you win has to keep being escalated all the time, ”Welch, author of a newly released book, “Winning,” told conference-goers. Welch believes that 20 percent of the employees in any organization are the stars, another 70 percent are steady performers, and the bottom 10 percent are weak performers, who can drag down overall performance of the group.
“The manager that doesn’t tell people where they stand is the weakest kind of manager. You have an obligation to let every person who works in your place know exactly where they stand. And you should do it two, three or four times a year. There should never be a surprise. Everything should be on the table,” said Welch.
“Candor” is a missing element in Corporate America today, Welch believes. “To make the right decisions, a company needs healthy debate,” he said. “Unfortunately in big corporations, there is too little debate. The hierarchy gets in the way of helpful debate. I have a belief that I’ve held since my first days in business that people closest to the work know the work best.” He urged shopping center executives to tap their employees for good ideas and reward them accordingly. “You get the behavior that you reward.”