“Why I Disagree with Jack Welch”
by Tony DiLeonardi
Recently on CNBC's "Morning Joe," Jack and Suzy
Welch talked about their new book,The Real-Life MBA: Your No-BS
Guide to Winning the Game, Building a Team, and Growing Your
While I haven't read the book yet (although I did order it), I
enjoyed the interview. The discussion focused on how employee
engagement in American business is at an all-time low.
This particularly caught my attention because this is a topic that
we have presented to audiences around the country for several years
now. The numbers truly are alarming.
According to Gallup's 2014 "State of the American Workplace"
survey, 70 percent of U.S. workers are not engaged at work.
This disengagement costs the U.S. $450 to $550 billion in lost
production each year because employees are emotionally disconnected
from the workplace.
Jack and Suzy discussed how the numbers of an unsatisfied
workforce are dire. They also said the impact it will
have on our global economy may be staggering. These
points, I completely agree with.
They also spoke eloquently about the two principles of
successful leadership today, which aretruthandtrust. I
agree wholeheartedly. For organizations to have
impactful leadership, leaders must be truthful - truthful to
themselves, their teams and the public. This may be
difficult in large, public companies or for those seeking to gain
only publicity and career "advancement." But
truthfulness, defined as "no spin," will allow an organization to
move quickly, earn trust and gain public
support. Truthfulness leads to trust.
I was particularly intrigued when Joe Scarborough asked Jack
Welch if this "new" unengaged employee phenomenon has existed for
the last 40 years. His response truly surprised
me. It was "no." He said that the disengaged employee
problem is a result of the 2008 recession. He continued
to explain that business has become "no fun."
Even though the Gallup research may support Welch's view, this
is where I respectfully disagree with Jack Welch. I believe
that some things worth measuring are un-measurable, and some things
that are measurable, don't matter!
While I do agree that the 2008 recession did create havoc both
in the marketplace and in Americans' personal lives, I don't
believe the challenges we face with emotionally disconnected
employees are a direct result of the recession.
Think about it. If business and business success can only
be "fun" when those things that can be measured are strong and
profitable, then who is to say when "tough times" come our way,
life is unproductive, no fun and worth getting unengaged
in? I believe that happiness and engagement are not
simply about money and the state of the economy. There
are plenty of Americans who love what they do and don't receive the
big pay checks of corporate America or Wall Street, yet they are
fully engaged and happy in their work. I believe this is
not a capitalism challenge, this is a human capital challenge.
In order to create a truly engaged workforce, I believe it takes
both strong leadership and focusing on creating intimacy with
employees, which takes truthfulness and
vulnerability. When you have a culture and work
environment that fosters intimacy, having purpose and a feeling of
connectedness among employees, you will increase employee
engagement. As a result, employee production and
organizational health will increase, regardless of the economic
environment. Let's start measuring what's worth
measuring and not just measure the bottom line!