During a company meeting, General Motors CEO Dan Akerson said that the automaker has made progress in shrinking its bureaucracy. He also urged employees to take initiative and become problem-solvers in the quest for change.
“You shouldn’t stand around waiting for somebody to tell you where we’re going to go,” said Akerson, reports The Associated Press. “We’ve got to get this company and the culture into the 21st Century.”
In the firm message, he revealed that GM is behind the competition in a few key areas. According to Akerson, the automaker needs to update its engine and transmission technology. While GM cars typically use six-speed transmissions, competitors are using up to ten gears. With improved transmissions, GM will be able to increase fuel efficiency across the lineup. Akerson also noted that there is not enough standardization of parts in GM cars. While GM uses 30 door latches, Toyota only uses five, Akerson said as an example.
Akerson also expressed disappointment at the lack of loyalty in some GM workers. Those unwilling to act with integrity should “work somewhere else.”
“It’s unfortunate when those among us don’t live up to those standards,” Akerson said, reports The Detroit News.
Akerson urged workers not to leak information to the press. He addressed an incident when one worker leaked images of GM’s new 2014 Chevrolet Silverado before the car’s official debut.
“We have to stop leaking in this company. It’s an act of treason,” Akerson said, according to the reports. “It undercuts our competitive position.”
Akerson’s impassioned speech comes during a time of difficulty for GM. It has lost its crown as the world’s top-selling automaker this year to Toyota after disappointing profit in the last few months. The company has also posted a huge loss of $361 million in Europe last quarter.
On top of this, major management shake-ups have rattled the public’s confidence in GM. Recently, global brand expert Dave Lyon abruptly left the company, as well as Karl-Friedrich Stracke from GM’s struggling European operations. GM marketing head Joel Ewanick was reportedly given the boot after not properly disclosing a third of the cost of a $559 million sponsorship deal with Manchester United.
Despite these struggles, there is a light at the end of the tunnel for GM. On a positive note, Akerson expressed his confidence in the company’s future longevity. He plans on fixing struggling European operations and moving management in a direction that is more focused on the brand and customers.
“We want to build this company so that it is the lion of the industry at the end of this decade and going forward,” he said, according to the AP.
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