Dr. Z Nearly Lost His Job

Bertel Schmitt
by Bertel Schmitt
dr z nearly lost his job

“Dieter Zetsche is lucky that he can stay for three more years,” writes Der Spiegel in Germany. The labor side of Daimler’s Supervisory Board had demanded Dr. Z’s head, the magazine writes. After long debates with Daimler’s Supervisory Board Chairman Manfred Bischoff, a compromise was found.

Says Der Spiegel:

“Early in the year, Daimler Works Council chief Erich Klemm and metalworker union boss Thomas Klebe approached Bischoff. They announced that the labor side of the Supervisory Board will unanimously vote against an extension of CEO Zetsches’ contract.”

Labor, but also management criticized Zetsche’s style, or rather the lack thereof. Bischoff threatened that he could veto the decision. In a large German corporation, the Supervisory Board consists of 50 percent representatives of labor, the other half represent the capital. If votes are tied, the Chairman can break the tie.

Instead, a compromise was reached. Zetsche’s contract was extended only for three years instead of five. Wolfgang Bernhard, unloved by the unions for his gruff style, was sent to manage trucks.

For everybody’s edification, a German Supervisory Board is not a Board of Management. The Supervisory Board supervises, it does not manage. The Supervisory Board cannot tell management what to do. All it can is approve or disapprove management’s proposals.

Join the conversation
  • Buickman Buickman on Feb 25, 2013

    thanks for the explanation and insight into what seemed rather odd.

  • Pgcooldad Pgcooldad on Feb 25, 2013

    Unfortunately the labor side of the Supervisory Board doesn't see the value in Wolfgang Bernhard. He was the only German Exec when at Chrysler that actually had talent. Down at the unionized plant floor they liked his gruff style. Got to meet him once and he has a personality fit to lead a company in need of change in culture, especially MB.

  • Gentle Ted Gentle Ted on Feb 25, 2013

    I think people in North America like his appearance rather than his Policies, it's hard to keep a active Man down is it not?

  • Jimboy Jimboy on Feb 25, 2013

    "The supervisory board cannot tell management what to do. All it can do is approve or disapprove managements proposals." That is ONE BIG PILE of hairsplitting, Bertel.

    • See 1 previous
    • Lorenzo Lorenzo on Feb 26, 2013

      It's not really hairsplitting. Daimler has a Supervisory Board AND a Board of Management. The relationships are tricky, and unlike any American corporate structure. I think you may be thinking the Supervisory Board is like an American Board of Directors. It's not.