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Outspoken new chairman's blunt talk rocks GM execs

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Ed Whitacre Jr., the blunt-speaking new chairman of General Motors Co., is clearly rattling the long-too-comfy cages of GM's management ranks.

On Wednesday, Whitacre told a group of GM salaried staff -- in one of several "diagonal slice" meetings, so called because they mix people from all levels -- that he expects to see lots of changes in the next 12 weeks. Changes every day.

And that if progress on fixing GM doesn't come rapidly, there will be consequences.

"I found it stunning," one GM executive told me Thursday, after hearing that Whitacre had spoken so pointedly to the employee group about the urgency of producing visible changes in 12 weeks. A week earlier, he had told Bloomberg News that Chief Executive Officer Fritz Henderson was the right leader for GM "at this point in time" and said the board had not set a deadline for judging Henderson's success.

Another GM officer described Whitacre as "frighteningly direct" in conversation, making it clear that every top executive's job at the automaker is on the line, and that heads could roll in the next two or three months if there's not significant progress in vehicle sales, market share and profitability.

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Good. Thats the way to get thier asses in gear.

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