By Jack and Suzy Welch
FORMER GENERAL Electric CEO Jack Welch and
his wife, Suzy, a business journalist, have written a
new book. In The Real-Life MBA: Your No-BS
Guide to Winning the Game, Building a Team, and
Growing Your Career, the two address the biggest
problems facing modern management and offer suggestions for overcoming those issues.
In this Connection exclusive, the Welches touch
on one of the topics addressed in the new book.
—Stephanie E. Ponder
. • .
Not too long ago, one of our children called us
in an ebullient mood. She’d just opened her pay stub
for the week and, much to her surprise and delight,
she’d received a raise. Not a large one, mind you, but
one big enough to make her day—and ours.
“That’s great!” we told her, “What was it for?”
“I don’t really know,” she replied. “It just showed
Not wanting to dampen the mood, we cheered
her on for a few minutes more, and then gently sug-
gested she catch a moment with her boss in the near
future to ask what had earned her the extra income.
“That’s so awkward,” she pushed back. “Shouldn’t he
just tell me?”
The answer to that plaint is, “Of course he
But the truth of the matter is, bosses too often
keep their opinions to themselves. Sure, they con-
duct performance reviews of every employee—but
only in their heads. Why? Well, some worry that
candid feedback takes too much time away from
“real work.” Others fear that such conversations will
be uncomfortable or “unkind.”
We beg to differ! Candid feedback, we would
say, is the kindest thing a manager can do in any
situation. If it’s positive, the employee deserves to
know. If it’s not, he or she should know that too, in
order to plan for the future.
That said, this article is about those situations
where candid feedback is not forthcoming, as is too
often the case, and it proposes three quick questions
to ask yourself to help approximate what your boss
is probably thinking of you.
Am I aligned with the team’s mission and values?
Now, “alignment” may sound like an academic
word, but we believe it’s anything but. Alignment
takes the grind out of the game of business. It
means everyone, no matter what level or position,
is on the same page about where the organization
is strategically headed and the behaviors required
from each person to get it there, such as, say, great
customer service, speed to market or innovation.
Unfortunately, many of us know what an
unaligned team or company looks like: everyone
operating with a different agenda. By contrast, in
an aligned organization, everyone shares—and
demonstrates—a common purpose. Bosses love
those people. Are you one of them?
Am I contributing to an atmosphere of truth and trust?
All good bosses know that their organization
works more productively when there’s a healthy culture, one where people say what they mean and do
what they say. Sure, sometimes bosses give a free pass
to the jerks who don’t, usually because they’re star
performers. Ultimately, bosses value employees who
show integrity by seeking and speaking the truth,
and always acting in ways that enhance transparency
and confidence. Do you meet that standard?
Am I delivering results, or over-delivering?
There was a time when giving your boss what
he or she asked for was enough. Your company
would say, “Sell 200 widgets by March 1,” and
you did. But competition today is too fierce for
such “check box” behavior. Instead of selling x
product by y date, you need to think about ways to
sell more and different products through new
channels, and sooner than anyone could imagine.
You need to think about your job in ways that
make it bigger, and, with your output, make your
organization smarter and more successful. That’s
We hope these three questions have given you a
bit of insight into what your boss really thinks of
you. After all, you should know. C
What does my boss
really think of me?
Business advice from the experts
The Real-Life MBA is available
in most Costco warehouses.
(Item #991653, 4/14)
RA2STUDIO / SHUTTERSTOCK
Candid feedback … is the
can do in
—Jack and Suzy Welch