While researching organizational motivation I came upon many articles on General Electric’s (GE) Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Jack Welch. When Jack Welch became CEO of GE in 1981, he was “the youngest CEO in GE’s history” (When Jack Welch took over); as CEO he set out to reenergize one of America’s largest companies. How would he go about doing it? Jack had an approach with three main areas: Setting goals and preparing the company for its competitive challenges, Empowering employees at all levels of the organization, and Communicating his goals and vision through the entire organization.
The goal of this paper is to explain those areas used to motivated GE into becoming one of the world’s most successful companies. So let’s first define motivation. Motivation is defined “as forces within the individual that account for the direction, level and persistence of a person’s effort expended at work” (Schermerhorn, Osborn, and et al). Setting goals and preparing the company for its competitive challenges. An underlying theme for Jack Welch’s tenure as CEO of GE was his use of goal setting to motivate higher levels of achievement throughout the company.
Welch set companywide goals, as well as specific performance objectives for individual companies and divisions. He often supplemented his goal setting by creating a sense of competition within the organization, as well as against all competitors. Welch consistently set far reaching goals in an attempt to move the company in the direction he wanted. While not all goals may be reached, Welch reinforced the notion that advancing towards those goals was still considered success and rewarded managers accordingly.
He quickly realized that he could motivate higher levels of performance by setting goals that were much higher than the managers would have set for themselves. Empowering employees at all levels of the organization. “Some leaders seem to view their power as a fixed resource that, when shared with others (like cutting a pie into pieces), reduces their own portion” (Hughes, Ginnett, and Curphy 134). When Welch took over GE, he had a vision of creating an organization where people at all levels could be held responsible for their own work, and in the end make decisions for the betterment of their job.
The goal was not to control workers, but instead to liberate them. Welch characterized this as creating a boundary-less organization in which empowered employees were self-directed and motivated to effectively reach their goals. Empowerment is defined as “a process by which managers help others to acquire and use the power needed to make decisions affecting themselves and their work” (Schermerhorn, Osborn, and et al 275). No matter how intelligent a business manager may be, he/she cannot plan to make all of the decisions for the company by himself/herself and still expect that the company will be successful.
I think empowerment is essential to becoming a successful leader and the difference between being a manager and a leader. Communicating his goals and vision through the entire organization. “According to Welch, a leader in an organization should not only create a vision but also make sure that the employees at each and every level of the organization also live with that vision” (Tozluyurt 7). As CEO he encouraged input from every employee, from the factory floor to the executive suite and to facilitate goal setting and empowerment within GE, Welch established clear lines of communication within the organization.
He realized that employees come to GE with many different experiences and backgrounds so one of his objectives was to motivate people to think outside the box and challenge the status quo. Bass “defined communication effectiveness as the degree to which someone tells others something and ensures that they understand what was said” (Hughes, Ginnett, and Curphy 283). I believe effective leaders must be able to not only communicate effectively to their employees they must be great listeners to understand what is going on in the organization.
In my research I discovered that there are many ways to effectively manage and motivate an organization. “Jack Welch is one of the world's most respected and celebrated CEOs, known for his unmatched track record of success, enormous love of people, fierce passion for winning, and unbridled desire to change the world for the better using his unique management practices, which are collectively called The Welch Way” (Jack Welch). His no nonsense approach to managing General Electric was instrumental in reenergizing, which he set out to do in 1981, the organization over the past decade.
Welch once said “The biggest advice I give to people is that you cannot do all this by yourself. You will sure be better off with the brightest people in your team” (Tozluyurt 5). My research shows that his approaches of setting goals and preparing the company for its competitive challenges, empowering employees at all levels of the organization, and communicating his goals and vision through the entire organization were successful and what made GE the world leader it is today. Today’s leaders would be just as successful in their endeavors if they adopted similar approaches. Works Cited "Jack Welch - Jack Welch Management Institute.
" Jack Welch Management Institute. N. p. , n. d. Web. 18 June 2013. Hughes, Richard L. , Robert C. Ginnett, and Gordon J. Curphy. Leadership: enhancing the lessons of experience. 7th ed. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2012. Print. Schermerhorn, John, Richard Osborn, et al. Organizational Behavior. 12. New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons, Inc. , 2012. Print. "When Jack Welch took over GE in 1981 and became the youngest CEO in GE. docx. " Scribd. N. p. , n. d. Web. 19 June 2013. Tozluyurt, Erkan. "JACK WELCH’S LEADERSHIP APPROACH & GE’S WAY. " . TEM Management Development Services Inc, 20 JUNE 2011. Web. 20 Jun 2013.