Thursday, March 17, 2011

Timing IS everything

I love it when I'm scheduled to give a speech, and someone more famous than I (that doesn't take much, mind you) gives me fodder to present as an example.

This time, it's my speech on dealing with the borderline employee. One of the building blocks I recommend to my audience is the concept of time. More specifically, I encourage the audience to review the calendar before it metes out discipline or informs an employee of his/her termination from the job. It isn't wise to terminate close to a holiday or on an employee's birthday, as examples.

Enter The University of Tennessee Athletic Director Mike Hamilton.

Mr. Hamilton has experienced his share of gray-hair-making moments since he hired Lane Kiffin to be football coach in 2009. Most of those occurred on the football side of operations until men's basketball coach Bruce Pearl was caught in a lie to NCAA investigators during a 17-month investigation of the program.

The AD has done a respectable job of making appropriate comments concerning the future of the basketball program and its big personality coach in Pearl. That all changed on Wednesday, though. During a radio interview on a Knoxville station, Hamilton stated that he was unsure of Pearl's future with the program. This is the first departure from the stoic support received by Pearl since the NCAA investigation was revealed.

Search the words "Mike Hamilton Coach Pearl", and you'll be directed to a page-worth of articles concerning the "uncertainty" of Pearl's future, how it appears that the Vols' foes extend beyond their first-round tournament match-up with Michigan, that the "jury is out" on Pearl's job. . . you get the idea.

Timing really is everything. I can't help but scratch my head and wonder what motivated Mr. Hamilton to make those comments this close to the Vols' NCAA tournament appearance. Many sports analysts stated that the Vols needed to make a deep run in the tournament in order for UT's fans to be appeased (i.e., give Mr. Hamilton any shot at making the case for Pearl to keep his job, regardless of the velocity of sanctions that are forthcoming from the NCAA).

Prior to those comments, most would have thought that UT was more than fair to Pearl in extending him the grace it has thus far. Mr. Hamilton might have timed his comments well enough to now place the martyr crown on Pearl's head. And those who attended my presentation today know that doing that serves to take away power from the employer and give it to the borderline employee.

It will be interesting to see what unfolds from all of this. The possible gains from the timing of this statement are lost on this employment counselor, but that doesn't mean they don't exist. I just can't imagine what they are (save from someone already informing Mr. Hamilton that he has lost his job and he feels that he has nothing to lose). Mr. Hamilton has given the predictable, "My comments were misinterpreted" explanation for the internet wildfire that surrounds him. Maybe I'll send an invite to Mr. Hamilton next time I give the presentation. It's the least I owe him after he provided me with such fine material.

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