NFL Black Monday – A Lesson in Accountability

Every time this year, on this particular Monday following the last regular season games in the NFL, comes Black Monday. This day of reckoning is the day that NFL GM’s, Head Coaches and Assistants are like clockwork sent packing. Of course, this isn’t what happens to all NFL Coaches and GM’s. Rather this is what happens to the leaders that fail to meet or exceed their expectations. In the NFL the numbers are pretty simple. Most often the decision on who stays and who goes are based on wins and losses. While there are other factors for each team, it is very rare that a coach that wins more than he loses is fired. On this particular Monday, December 30, 2013 there was another slew of ousted coaches. The Washington Redskins, Cleveland Browns, Minnesota Vikings and others cleaned out their Head Coaches and in some cases the General Managers went with them. Simply put, these coaches missed the mark and they paid for their shortcomings by losing their job. Accountability at its best.

The NFL Offers A Lesson in Accountability for Business

One of the topics I love to cover for business is the importance of setting expectations. I find that far too often employees from top to bottom don’t have enough clarity on what is expected of them. This lack of performance accountability leads to too much subjectivity and not enough quick action by businesses when things aren’t working out. While it is hard to feel too bad for a head coach making millions of dollars who loses their job, there is a nice little lesson for business owners everywhere. When things aren’t working, change is necessary. The other lesson here is that clear expectations make tough change more palatable.

You Knew What Was Expected of You

When professionals have a clear understanding of what they need to do, it is much more realistic to measure their results. It only took two extremely uncomfortable terminations for me to learn to set much clearer expectations up front with employees. The conversations don’t get much easier, but the unfortunate recipients of the news rarely have a leg to stand on when you say “Here was the mark, here is where you are…” That is pretty much how Black Monday works in the NFL. The coaches and GM’s on the way out are rarely surprised. As leaders they had a job to do and due to a vast number of controllable and sometimes uncontrollable circumstances they didn’t make it. Nevertheless they are out. The teams will move on and so will the coaches and GM’s. The lesson here for business is simple. Set expectations, measure accordingly and take action when things aren’t working out. Change like this is never comfortable, nor easy. For a business it is a must. Start with better expectations and don’t wait to make changes that are needed to keep your organization moving forward.

What accountability or other lessons can your organization learn from Black Monday?

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