A Noble HR Myth: The Forced Resignation That Avoids a Tough Talk

This week, I read a story on ESPN.com about how Mack Brown, longtime coach of the University of Texas Longhorn football team, is going to resign this week:

The source reiterated Brown would not be coaching at Texas in 2014.

By the end of the week, that will be the outcome,” the source told ESPN. “That will happen. It’s a shame after 16 years he’s not able to do it on his own with dignity and grace.”

Parting on your own terms? It’s corporate double-talk

I have no idea if it will actually happen, but that part about doing it on his own terms, with dignity and grace? Yeah I’ve heard that song and dance before.

Coaches get fired and hired all of the time. In fact, Mack Brown’s case is an anomaly.

A run of 16 years at one school, as head coach, is damn near impossible. The guy they want to hire — Alabama head coach Nick Saban — has had four jobs in that same time period. It’s also not the first time people have probably wanted him gone, either.

The idea that Mack Brown deserves the grace and dignity to part on his own terms (or should have come to the conclusion on his own and fallen on his sword) is a mythology rooted in faux “We Care” corporate double-talk, though.

Avoiding the tough conversation

Here’s the real deal: When you’re the second highest paid college football coach in the country, and you perform worse than many of the guys making half (or less) of your salary, it’s probably time for the university to cut you loose.

A forced resignation, an encouraged resignation, or a resignation that Texas allows Brown to do on his own terms? It’s a transparent attempt by a weak organization to shirk their decision-making responsibilities.

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I’ve been a part of conversations where I’ve encouraged people to look for a new job (after, obviously, many months of working with them). I’ve also been a part of conversations where managers want to let legacy employees hang around while they look for new digs (or, even worse, await retirement).

They deserve it, they’ll say. In reality, they don’t want to have the tough conversations or take responsibility. They hope the employee will feel enough guilt to leave on their own or they’ll find something new.

There’s nothing noble in forcing a resignation to keep your own slate clean. Own your decision and make it.

This originally appeared at Lance Haun’s (Life Between the Brackets) blog.

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