GM's hiring headache

CEO Fritz Henderson says he'd love to bring in talented outsiders, but he can't until GM and the government reach salary agreements.

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by Peter Valdes-Dapena, CNNMoney.com senior writer

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GM CEO Fritz Henderson hasn't brought in outside talent, he said, because he still has to negotiate pay scales with the government.

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NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- If you think General Motors should bring in some "new blood" to shake up its hidebound corporate culture, CEO Fritz Henderson agrees with you. He just has one problem.

"I would say, in regard to the ability to attract from the outside, we do need to get final confirmation on how we pay people," Henderson said during a recent interview in the carmaker's New York City offices.

Since its government-backed restructuring, GM has not been able to get pay packages for the company's top 25 employees approved from the Treasury Department.

In order to make GM more competitive, industry analysts and even the Treasury Department say that the company needs to change its rigid corporate culture.

But GM's hands seem tied when it comes to bringing in outsiders.

Just last week Henderson said he was considering an outsider to replace departing sales executive Mark LaNeve, who left on Oct. 15.

Hours after saying that, he named Susan Docherty, a long-time GM employee who had been head of the Buick and GMC brands.

Henderson defended that move on practical grounds, though.

"I didn't think bringing someone new into a sales function was particularly wise," he said, "because you'd better know everything, including all the history, or you're just going to trip over a bunch of land mines every single day."

Docherty's promotion leaves open the position of general manager of GM's Buck and GMC brands. Henderson said he would like to find an outsider for that position but, until pay guidelines are finalized, that will be challenging.

GM is working with the Treasury Department to try to get those terms finalized, he said.

GM also needs the government's OK for general pay guidelines even for the company's rank and file white-collar workers.

"We're confident we're going to reach a good outcome, a reasonable outcome, very soon," he said. To top of page

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