Jack Welch, the colorful former CEO of General Electric, likes to use analogies when discussing the competitive challenges facing Corporate America. “Business is no different than a sport. The team that fields the best players wins,” Welch told several hundred shopping center convention attendees gathered at the International Council of Shopping Center's conference in Las Vegas on Sunday afternoon.
Brit Hume, managing editor and chief Washington correspondent for FOX News, conducted a one-on-one interview with Welch, author of a newly released book, “Winning,” designed to help employees and managers reach their potential.
“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 told conference-goers. Part of that process involves weeding out non-performers. Welch believes that 20% of the employees in any organization are the stars, another 70% are steady performers, and the bottom 10% are weak performers, who can drag down overall performance of the group. The strong manager needs to work vigilantly to improve the non-performers or let them go, he insists.
“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.”