Imagine a world in which professional sports were not transparent – a world in which the general public didn’t pay attention to games or matches. Instead, every few days we would get news on wins, loses, rankings, and team value. We would have no context for what a win meant, because we would not have seen the blood, sweat, and tears that went into the victory.
Fortunately, that is not the world we live in. In our world, sports are hyper transparent, and the fan base has a lot of influence. We have the ability, and are encouraged to pay attention to training, injuries, statistics, and salaries. If a player or a manager is underperforming it is often the fans that speak first – calling for removal on every social media platform available. If someone is not pulling their weight or lacks the right skillset to help the team achieve a larger goal of victory, then they are cut. There are no apologies and no need for an explanation because everyone watched and knew exactly what happened along the way that led to that decision.
Businesses are nothing like that. Businesses live in the world I laid out up top. The world pays attention to over all wins, loses, and value, but they have no idea what actually happens on the field. When an under-performer is cut, the general public has no insight into why.
A CEO friend of mine recently faced a tough situation in which a man was let go for all the right reasons, rooted in his lack of ability and poor work ethic. The terminated employee turned around and beat up the company on Glass Door. 25 years ago, that man would have complained to his family, a few select friends, and the few unfortunate souls who happen to be sitting at happy hour that day, but his cries of injustice would have stopped there. Today everyone has a platform and when context is lacking, one loud voice on a far-reaching platform can quickly and easily shift public opinion - often painting a picture that is not even close to accurate. The United States Constitution grants us all with the ability to confront our accusers but certain public forums enable accusers to remain anonymous, further exacerbating the issue.
The hyper transparency our society has been moving toward over the past ten years is dramatically more good than bad. With every generation, societal culture shifts. Right now, the zeitgeist is all about calling attention to injustices that have long been suffered in silence. I think it is fantastic. Between a path of transparency and a path of suppression, the transparent path is the right choice 100% of the time. But just as every bad situation has a silver lining, every great situation has a subtle drawback. In this case, people suffering from a victim-complex can have their voices heard more than ever before. The player left on the bench or cut from the team can whine all he wants – and since the public isn’t seeing what actually happens on the field, and the coach’s reason for his decision, there is no reason not to believe the player.
I advised my friend to run his business like a sports team. If someone isn’t pulling their weight, they have to go, plain and simple. Any subsequent social media rant will just have to be suffered. It is the price to pay, but it should have no bearing on how you play the game in the future.
After all, if you don’t make the right cuts, the only person who will get cut is you.