Planespotting: With Jack (And Suzy?) Welch

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Jack Welch: Charlottesville Albemarle to Somerset (NJ) on his Mooney M20R
(We've been waiting for the right moment to tell you that the whole Ask Jack and Suzy advice column in BusinessWeek (AKA The Welch Way) is a bit of a sham and now seems like as good a time as any. For those who seek the truth-- read on.)
“How do you weed out the bad apples in an organization?”
David Michalek, Bartlett, Ill.
Let me first ask you this, David—did you at least buy something good with it? The money, I mean, that you clearly pilfered from your company? C’mon, you didn’t really think I don’t know the old “act like you’re ratting someone out before you can get ratted out yourself” trick, did you? Please, child, I’ve been around the block. Anyhow, you better have some wild stories about the hookers you put on payroll or the quality smack you scored with your secretary’s pension. Because, honestly, like I’ve always said, if you don’t have anything good to show for it, you might as well have not stolen the money at all. First thing they teach you at Wharton. Truly. Anyway, get back to me about those hookers. Days get pretty slow around here, the internet’s on the fritz and…yeah, I just want some good hooker stories. Sue me.
Now, let me answer your so-called question with a question— are you some sort of Jesus-freak? Bad ‘apples’—c’mon. I can smell your Catholic-guilt a mile away. You might as well be standing next to a guy with one of those shirts with the arrows that points to the guy standing next to him (you) and says “I’m with the guy who got taken for a ride by the Catholic church.” None of this is your fault, per se, but it’s a good thing I got here when I did because, boy, you need to get off the J-train. You know what the second thing they teach you at Wharton is? There are no bad apples. Not in any garden and not in any business. Let me break it down for you—in the biz you have four kinds of individuals. The first is the guy who performs well but is kind of morally debased. Never comes to the company barbeque, harasses his co-workers, etc, etc. Now, I know what you’re thinking—“this guy sounds like a ‘bad apple’,” are you not? You are. But that’s just the Jesus talking. But Jesus isn’t here, I’m here and I’m saying, “who gives an f if this guy’s a prick?” What, did he steal your lunch money? Listen, David, if you want to be a winner, you’re going to have to deal with some so-called “pricks” along the way. Honestly, suck it up, my friend. It’ll be good for you.


Next we have your weak performer but “nice guy” guy. Kind of a douche but basically harmless. He isn’t a candidate for your “weeding” program either because this is the type of guy who, after being fired by you, would still invite you over to watch the game, still ask how your kids are doing, still this, still that. You’re a jerk if you fire him and Jesus does not look kindly upon jerks (I’m weaning you off, we’re not going cold turkey, here). Third is an employee who not only doesn’t earn his keep, results-wise, but also really just sucks at life in general. This is a cut and dry case of “get rid of this guy and who’s going to make you look good?” You see what I’m getting at with this one. Last, you have the employees who are are good workers and good people. They always have their reports done on time and genuinley nice guys and I hate these pansies as much as you do but until we can catch them with their pants around their ankles, there’s not much we can do about them.
Finally, don’t think I missed the underlying issue at hand here, which is your obvious anti-Semitism. “Weed out” the “bad apples” from an “organization”? Why don’t you just skip the niceties and say what you’re really thinking—“How do I exterminate the Jews from, first, Europe, and, later, the world?”
--Jack

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