Inside GM: "Fear, Terror and Panic"

Robert Farago
by Robert Farago
inside gm fear terror and panic

In all this talk about GM’s financial health, the most important element of any potential turnaround has been woefully neglected: the company’s corporate culture. GM’s is so utterly dysfunctional that it makes John Wayne Gacey’s home life seem like Peter Brady’s. There is no way– no way whatsoever— that GM can recover with its current management. Be that as it is, I’ve been contacting recently “liberated” GM employees to get a glimpse of life inside the belly of the beast. And pretty it’s not. “I remember walking my dogs and literally dropping to my knees and praying to God I would get out of GM,” one ex-exec told me. “I’ve seen people throwing-up in the bathrooms because of the overwhelming atmosphere of fear, terror and panic… It’s the most warped and bizarre thing I’ve ever seen in my life.” This from an employee with over 20-years of industry experience in several large companies.

Our man tells us that GM’s incestuous culture is stuffed with spies– people employed by management (e.g. supplier supremo Bo Anderson) whose main function is to secretly uncover and report dissension in the ranks. Dissent? “There is no dissent allowed,” he reports flatly. “None. Only good news is reported upwards. You’d think it would be different now that GM’s admitted its problems to Congress. It isn’t. It’s worse.”

Our contact tells us that the culture stifles creativity on every level. And “nothing less than a complete regime change can fix this. Nothing. They all have to go. Wagoner, Lutz, Henderson, all of them.”

I asked the longtime TTAC reader why he didn’t come forward sooner, and why he doesn’t use his real name given that he’s recently severed his employment with GM. “These people are vindictive. I’ve seen them go after pensions and benefits of people they’ve fired. I’ve seen careers clubbed like baby seals.”

[If any other GM employees would like to come forward with their impressions– good or bad or mixed– please contact me at]

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2 of 46 comments
  • Angler Angler on Dec 04, 2008

    The story is on the money. And the most maddening truth is it's been going on for at least 40 years. Read the fascinating "On A Clear Day You Can See General Motors" (published 1979, you can buy it used on Amazon for almost nothing), which is Delorean's astonishing take on GM's toxic management culture in the sixties and seventies. Bickering, backbiting, arrogance and a tenacious determination to maintain the status quo. There is not the faintest bit of evidence that anything has changed.

  • TireGuy TireGuy on Dec 04, 2008
    oldyak : December 3rd, 2008 at 7:55 pm a ‘Pulitzer’ Is that like a ‘pilsner’ beer.. I`ll drink to that!! If Robert does not get a Pulitzer - I will be happy to buy him a Pilsener when he visits Germany next time ;-)

  • Jpolicke Manufacturers put such little effort into making AM reception sound like anything tolerable to listen to, they may as well drop the pretense and eliminate it altogether. Maybe it's not coincidental that my last car that had decent reception also had a traditional metal stick for its antenna.
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  • Irvingklaws Still listen to AM from time to time. Mostly just to find what's out there, often just after something has cleared all my presets. Lots of christian and rightwing politic talk shows, but there's still music, local news, traffic, and weather. I've found lots of non-English (as a primary language) stations as well. Kind of like local access cable. You can find more local content that can't get air time on the big stations. It can be fun to explore on trips just seek/scanning up and down the dial.
  • Oberkanone AM is choice for traffic reports, local news, and sports. FM is choice for music. I don't own a cell phone. How often is AM radio accessed? Over 90% of drives I use AM at some point.
  • Art Vandelay So half of them voted for the same people that were selling them out and taking bribes? Wow