General Electric is one of the most respected companies in the world. Under former CEO, Jack Welch, there was a huge focus on people and talent.
Welch says that he spent 50% of his time on talent issues.
His famous quote is:
“People First, Strategy and Everything Else Second”
He spent 50% of his time on talent issues, partly because he said that many leaders would hide their low performers.
However, every day, in millions of companies, managers hold performance appraisals and talent reviews where they hide mediocre performers.
Why? They may not have the managerial courage to handle it. They may have figured that replacing low performers is too time consuming or too risky – the new hires may too turn out to be low performers. They may be constrained by the organisation culture in some cases or by employment law considerations in other cases.
Welch recommended being a tough leader — to sit in on those meetings and when you see managers covering for mediocre performers, not tolerate it. He said that employee wanted, based on employee surveys in GE, a tough and fair approach. Employees wanted to be working in a high performance environment where high performance was it and under-performance wasn’t tolerated.
Thus, Welch would encourage you NOT to wimp out!
He says, we must hold managers more accountable for maintaining teams of all high performers.