GM Terminates 15 People

GM is cleaning house, hoping to rid itself of criticism about delaying recalls, which caused 13 deaths. CEO Mary Barra announced the decision after an internal investigation revealed that several executives knew about an ignition switch problem for years and avoided a fix that would have cost 57 cents.

In a message to employees, captured on video, Barra says she is guided by two principles: "doing the right thing for those who were harmed" and taking responsibility "to make sure this never happens again." She also blames the actions of "a few people," a strategic move to separate the company from a few bad apples who have since left.

Fifteen people were terminated and another five were disciplined, some for misconduct and others for not taking enough action. One email showed that several people were aware of the problem, which persisted for another nine years. A GM parts manufacturer wrote, Chevy "Cobalt is blowing up in their face in regards to turning the car off."

Discussion Starters:

  • How do you assess GM's decision to terminate 15 people and discipline another five? Is this enough?
  • What other persuasive strategies is Barra using in her presentation to employees? What key messages do you take from the video?