The Trouble With Tenure

9 05 2013

1236266Sir Alex Ferguson announced his retirement as manager of Manchester United yesterday. Immediately the questions were being asked as to who would take his place.  I am formally removing my name as a candidate because of my dislike of the UK climate, and the British refusal to use ice in drinks.  David Moyes seems the likely choice to me, but I’m sure it will not be a quick process.  It is clear is that Sir Alex will play a major role in picking his successor, and rightly so. Given his success, he deserves that respect.

Joe Paterno never got that chance, although he was equally deserving. I can hear you all grumbling already about the Sandusky case, but even without that dark cloud JoePa wasn’t going to be involved. There was a movement within the university to remove him for years, which certainly would have translated into a sad exit. And it happened anyway.

Similarly, a local high school coach with a successful resume has retired, and through some behind the scenes machinations has been denied the transition he had hoped. I know this man fairly well, and am very disappointed that the (what I perceive to be) right thing wasn’t done. He is a good man at heart, but has certainly rubbed some people wrong along the way. But does that make it right?

Now that I’ve presented three sports related scenarios, I’ll ask the question… What’s the point of tenure? I don’t think we will see the likes of these three again… people who do a great job in one place for decades. Our attention span won’t allow it. We are always looking for the next thing, and the one after that, and so on… It’s a world of instant gratification.

The same thing applies for people like us.  I’ve been with the same company off and on for almost 30 years. You might think that longevity and a bunch of white hair would make me the wise, elder statesman. Not so much…

I was recently dubbed a social media “expert” in our company. Although I’ve had the skills and knowledge for some time, it wasn’t really recognized until another expert outside the company pointed it out.  No biggie… I get that it isn’t always easy to see something right in front of you.  But I was suddenly aware that I’ve been guilty of this myself, and I’ve recently had several conversations about this very subject.  While the years don’t entitle one to special treatment, the increasing perception that longer tenured employees lack new and exciting ideas is disappointing.  And while we say there is value in experience, our actions sometime say something different.

I’m going to make myself a promise to first look inside, then outside the box. Seems fair to me.

UPDATE:  As I said in my first blog… Writing is difficult for me.  I started this entry 12 hours ago.  Since then it was announced that David Moyes is the new manager at Manchester United.  Of course I will be gracious and wish him the best.

Glory, Glory Man United!

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2 responses

20 05 2013
Ron Steinmetz

I agree about a tenured coach being a part of picking their replacement in certain levels to a degree. If that person only wants to be a part of it because they want their son to take over the kingdom, then I feel they should not be part of the conversation. My 2 cents:)

11 05 2013
Rose Marie

Very good read John! Thanks for Sharing your thoughts! Just wanted you to know that…. cause that’s what friends are for!

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