Remembering Jack Welch: 4 of His Methods Can Work for You, Too

Jack Welch, CEO of General Electric from 1981-2001, passed away this week. He was a great leader and he left a huge impact on the business world. One of the things that made Jack such a strong leader was the hiring methods he used to pack his team, and the entire company, with A Players.

Jack was my #1 client for 13 years. How he Topgraded is a model that you can follow. With Topgrading, hiring at GE exploded from 25% A Players hired to over 80%, and GE’s market cap shot up from $39B to $574B at its peak, making GE the most valuable company in the world at the time, and the incubator for business leaders that would go on to run major companies.

In this blog, you’ll learn four Topgrading methods that you can copy from Jack and achieve what he did: unprecedented success hiring A Players, and greater career success.

My GE Story

In the 1980s, Jack was frustrated with hiring only 25% A Players. He sent out an army of HR pros to find a better methodology. They found me, and Jack told HR to roll out Topgrading across the whole company of 300,000 employees.

Jack owned the Topgrading process, and everyone in GE leadership knew it. HR would do the heavy lifting, but Jack repeatedly said, “I’m the top HR person here – do NOT cut corners on Topgrading!”

Lesson #1: The CEO, not HR, has to be seen as driving Topgrading. Though HR does the heavy lifting and gets unprecedented respect and credit, the CEO has to be the one to set performance standards. The CEO has – and must have – HR’s back when managers try to cut corners on the methods.

Jack and HR loved the thoroughness of the chronological Topgrading Interview. GE’s success hiring A Players doubled to 50% using this interview method — probably better than any other Fortune 500 company.

Lesson #2: Conduct very thorough chronological interviews. Ask our 10 basic questions about every job to spot patterns in candidates’ behaviors that indicate whether they will be a good fit for the role and the company culture.

Teams at GE also loved the Topgrading truth motivator: Telling candidates at the start of the hiring process that they will have to eventually arrange reference calls with their managers.

Lesson #3: Use the Topgrading truth motivator, the Threat of Reference Check (TORC) Technique. Low performers drop out before you spend any time assessing them.

Everyone was thrilled with the newfound hiring success, but I saw GE leaders — sharp to be sure — struggling to conduct the long interview. So, I experimented with adding a second interviewer, and soon the Tandem Topgrading Interview became standard. The results of this new interviewing strategy were 80%+ A Players hired.

Lesson #4: Use the Tandem Chronological Interview. Two heads really are better than one. The Tandem Topgrading Interview allows interviewers to incorporate both of their career perspectives, take more thorough notes, support each other in asking follow-up questions, and not miss any essential information.

Through his thorough implementation, and insistence upon excellence, Jack Welch helped make Topgrading into the uniquely proven methodology that it is today. With these four tips, you can bring unprecedented success to your organization’s hiring. So, there is one more lesson, the one that can turbo boost your career.

Lesson #5: Thank Jack Welch for proving YOU can achieve 80%+ success hiring high performers and pack YOUR team with A Players.

To learn more, please don’t hesitate to contact us. We want to help your company succeed, and help you achieve career success, through improved hiring.

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