By on November 11, 2009

Walkin' boss.

GM’s government-appointed Chairman of the Board was out and about last night, speechifying at Texas Lutheran University. Ed Whitacre used the occasion to plea for the “modification” of Pay Czar Kenneth’s Feinberg’s pay caps. To recap the caps, the nationalized automaker’s top 25 executives took a 31 percent hair cut since joining the federal payroll. Aside from CEO Fritz “Opel Eyes” Henderson, that is, who had his cash compensation trimmed by just 25 percent (from $1.26 million to a paltry $950,000). Leaving only one other unnamed GM executive—cough, transparency, cough—who will “earn” more than $500,000 cash money for 2009. ‘Cause $500,000′s the new limit. And Ed’s not happy about that. “To find top-level people where you need them, that’s a more difficult thing to do at that salary level,” Whitacre said. “I don’t think [the caps] will be lifted, but hopefully they’ll be modified.” Now there’s a man who knows the value of politics. As for the value of GM stock, same deal. Or, in this case, no deal.

Whitacre shot down his own not-so-highly-paid executives’ promises of a 2010 GM stock offering—the planned method for returning U.S. taxpayer’s $52 billion (plus) investment in GM. “It depends on how quickly we become profitable. I think we can see that on the horizon, but I can’t promise a date.”

Now that’s what I call GM speak! Lots of promises, no firm targets and zero accountability. Looks like Ed’s fitting right in.

Oh, and don’t worry about that dropped IPO. Ed’s gonna maybe kinda sorta ensure that GM makes an unspecified payment to the feds at some unspecified date (ahead of the 2010 mid-term elections, presumably). “It’s conceivable we could pay back some of the loans before the end of the year,” he kinda sorta maybe promised.

Now that’s what I call GM speak! Lots of promises, no firm targets and zero accountability. Looks like Ed’s fitting right in.

Oh, and don’t worry about that cultural change thing. Whitacre said GM isn’t “rushing” to hire outside executives. “GM has made several inside changes recently,” the Detroit News paraphrases, “and the move to bring in new blood will be meted out slowly, he said, without giving timing.”

Now that’s what I call GM speak! Lots of promises, no firm targets and zero accountability. Looks like Ed’s fitting right in.

Oh, and don’t worry about all that talk about increasing market share. Despite his insistence upon protecting GM’s piece of the American new car sales pie, Ed says GM hasn’t set a specific market share goal and doesn’t want to add significantly to incentives. “We are just looking at ways to sell more vehicles, and it’s a very competitive market. We need to strike a balance.

Now that’s what I call GM speak! Lots of promises, no firm targets and zero accountability. Looks like Ed’s fitting right in.

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12 Comments on “GM Chairman Ed Whitacre: Fitting In Already...”


  • avatar
    becurb

    “To find top-level people where you need them, that’s a more difficult thing to do at that salary level,”

    So, Ed, just exactly what was the talent of all those “top-level peeps” that GM amassed? You know, aside from driving GM into the brick wall, that is. And being unaccountable. And not specific. And vague. And clueless. You know, the antithesis of you. Oh wait…
    Besides, you got the Lutzyputzy. Now that is some top talent!
    Bruce

  • avatar
    FleetofWheel

    “To find top-level people where you need them, that’s a more difficult thing to do at that salary level.”
    Surely there are talented progressives within the auto industry who will step up and work at GM for much less than they could make elsewhere. They would be putting the greater good of this grand government/union-led effort ahead off their own personal monetary interests.

  • avatar
    YZS

    Occasionally,  TTAC will unfairly bash GM. 

    This is not one of those times. 

    If I can just get my tax money back, I will kick them down a long flight of stairs myself. 

  • avatar
    zerofoo

    What skills do these executives possess that entitles them to half a million, to a million dollars per year of compensation?

    Do these guys walk on water?  Judging by the state of GM, none of the executive staff has any skill set worth this kind of money.

    I have a hard time believing, that in this economy, there is no executive talent willing to work for $500,000/yr.

    How much would these executives have been paid if the company went under? – Let me answer that question for you – zip, nada, bupkus.

    Give the jobs to up and coming executives willing to risk their careers on fixing GM.  A low salary until the ship stops sinking might be the motivation these guys need.

    Pay the guys that fixed GM a kings ransom for all I care – but that’s the catch – they must first fix GM before the financial rewards can be given out.
     
    -ted
     

  • avatar
    John Horner

    Maybe GM should go looking for management talent in Silicon Valley. $500k / year buys a lot fancier lifestyle in Detroit than it does in Palo Alto.

  • avatar
    mtymsi

    One thing is for certain, Whitacre needs to recruit some topflight outside talent and the fact that he’s talking about it publicly is IMO good news. Whitacre certainly can not be blamed for any of the current top level GM management nor can he change it completely overnight. It would appear thusfar he’s done pretty well with Lutz going to Germany and LaNeve gone. I do believe Henderson’s on his way out as well. I think it’s just a matter of Whitacre recruiting the right replacement. In terms of compensation GM could offer future stock options to compensate for the $500k cap. If potential outside high level management recruits didn’t think there was future value in the stock options they’re not the right hires anyway.
     
    I think it is very premature to criticize Whitacre, he simply hasn’t been there long enough. Once again TTAC’s editorial slant needs a more balanced approach.

  • avatar

    mtymsi

    To quote Stevie Wonder,

    But we are sick and tired of hearing your song
    Telling how you are gonna change right from wrong
    ‘Cause if you really want to hear our views
    “You haven’t done nothing”

  • avatar
    jkross22

    I know 2 people who are the type of leaders that GM needs.  They are both ass-kickers who do not tolerate excuses.  One of the two is a female executive who is regularly called a ball busting bitch, and the other is a guy steam rolls people  who can’t stand up for themselves and prove their worth.  They both share outstanding abilities at creating a vision and have enough operational knowledge on how to get there.
    Oh, and they’re both earning around 300k now.
    Does GM have ANY people like this?

  • avatar
    rnc

    Most of you are making the same mistake that cerberus made, those detroit people are just idiots, it’s easy, we’ll show them how.  And how did that work out?.  There’s a reason top level E’s make what they do, you make not like it and you can sit back and armchair it all you want, but the reality is not many people can do it (Getting a multi-national, multi-hundred billion $ corporation to move in one direction).  I mean if it was so easy than companies like Sony wouldn’t be going down the tubes right now (and Sony is small compared to GM)

    • 0 avatar
      Mark out West

      A – friggin -men.  I love twenty somethings with a freshly minted degree in sociology spewing about how they or their buddies could run GM.  You guys would be quivering lumps of Jello after a week of trying to connect, and keep connected, the millions of dots needed to produce a car.  After two weeks, you’d be run over by the constant level of controlled chaos that is a multinational corporation.

      As my friend said after running a marathon, “It’s way harder than it looks.”

  • avatar
    Steven02

    Whitacre has been there 5 months.  He has done great things at other companies.  Maybe giving him more time to see if it works out would be better than just posting sensationalism.
    It will take a good amount of time for him to fix what is wrong at GM.  5 months isn’t long enough.

  • avatar
    dilbert

    5 months is long enough to set some general goals and coming up with a plan.  He has no goals and seems to be dodging his responsibility.


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