How many people can you know well? (Guest commentary)

GE’s head of HR says he and CEO Jack Welch knew their top 600 managers intimately — and I believe them
By Dave Crisp
|Canadian HR Reporter|Last Updated: 12/14/2010

Among the growing group of us who fight to change how HR is approached in organizations, David Creelman is a staunch thinker who scouts out some of the most thought-provoking pieces. He recently spoke with Bill Conaty (former top HR person at General Electric) about his latest book (with another GE grad, Ram Charan) called The Talent Masters.

Creelman has an unerring way of zeroing in on the most interesting or controversial points, in this case, Conaty’s assertion that he and CEO Jack Welch knew their top 600 managers “intimately.”

That last word means knowing considerably more than their names. In a work sense, it includes knowing their career aspirations, strengths and developmental needs. It should include having enough of a relationship to understand their growth trajectory, not just to pigeon-hole them in a convenient category such as “will never make senior management” as many top teams tend to do.