Managers' Top Priority Is Communication, Guru Says; Management Leader Welch Stresses Candor, Honesty with Employees

Article excerpt

Byline: TIMOTHY J. GIBBONS, The Times-Union

Former General Electric head Jack Welch touted the value of transparency, candor and self-confidence during a speech Tuesday night at the Florida Theatre in which he challenged managers to communicate with their workers and told employees they have to shine.

"The real test of stuff is how you handle adversity," Welch said. "You can't ever let yourself be a victim."

Welch spent 40 years at GE, taking over as its youngest chief executive officer and chairman in 1981.

Famed for his management techniques, Welch spent a good part of the evening talking about the importance of candor in both large and small businesses, saying that the most important responsibility of managers is letting their employees know where they stand.

"Your job is to tell them what you like about what they're doing and how they can improve," he said. "You have to be sure you're telling people exactly what you think of them."

This is especially important if you have to get rid of some employees, as Welch had to early in his tenure as CEO, where his firing of thousands of workers earned him the nickname "Neutron Jack." Neither firings nor promotions should come as a surprise, he said.

For employees to get the type of feedback that they want, they have to deliver results, he added, making their boss look good and the company more competitive.

"Performance is your best weapon -- overperforming," he said. …