February 23, 2015 By Dave Chase

Jack Welch recently wrote about this unique question, Do You Have a Jerk Problem.  While I never worked for Jack directly, I did work for his #2 man Larry Bossidy, who came and ran AlliedSignal/Honeywell quite successfully for many years.  Many of Jack’s philosophies, including his four types of employees, were engrained in our culture with Larry.


Twice a year managers were engaged in a process whereby we classified every employee into one of these four types of employees (without using Jack’s now more colorful titles):

  • Winners:  Good behaviors and results
  • Show them the door: poor behaviors and results
  • Second chancers: good behaviors and poor results
  • Jerks: good results but poor behaviors

Classifying them this way simplified the focus of where we must spend out time developing each employee.  The toughest challenge, as Jack points out in the article, are the jerks.

These high performers can be mean, secretive, or arrogant. Very often they kiss up and kick down.

Frequently, these types of employees are left alone because it seems dangerous to deal with them.  The right answer isn’t necessarily booting them out the door, but neither can we ignore jerks.  Working with them requires a more studied approach.  The proper course of action with each may differ depending on their personality and work style.  The only good answer is that a manager needs to be open and direct and willing to put the effort in to helping them change.

Dealing with type 4 employees can be one of a manager’s greatest challenges.  Yes these conversations are extraordinarily difficult, but you must lead. Leadership is hard and takes a real commitment to spend the time necessary to drive change.

David Chase, Managing Partner at Advanced CFO Solutions, has experience in small to medium private companies and large public companies as a senior operational and financial leader.  With 15 years in finance, a CFO of multiple entities and divisional EVP experience, Dave has a breadth of experience.  Dave has led or been instrumental in raising multiple rounds of equity and debt in excess of $450 million.

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