Last year, Chrysler quality chief Doug Betts praised boss Sergio Marchionne, saying the CEO’s culture of accountability was just what the automaker needed.
Last week, Betts became an unwitting poster child for Marchionne’s methods. He was let go a day after Consumer Reports ranked four of Chrysler’s brands at the bottom of an annual scorecard on reliability.
Critics of the Detroit 3 have long lamented the lack of consequences for failure. But there’s no question that Marchionne, CEO of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, believes in public accountability.
The automaker declined to comment on the reason for Betts’ departure. But Marchionne shed light on the situation in a conference call a day after the departure: “It was pure mismanagement of the process on our part,” Marchionne told analysts during a discussion of FCA’s earnings.
The quality “function is being restructured. I’m not taking issue with the survey itself, other than it is clear that we have focused on the wrong things.”
One source with direct knowledge of Marchionne’s management style said the CEO understands that everyone is going to have a bad day and make mistakes.
“But if you’re unable to rectify the situation, then there are consequences,” the source said.
The source said Marchionne drills into his executives that each must do his or her job and deliver, or “the whole thing can fall apart. The pressure to deliver on your goals and business plan is intense."