When I was a TV news intern back in the analog days, I remember being told by one of the managers that there were two kinds of news directors. There were “those who have been fired and there are those who will be fired.” The same is true in many industries where high-profile businesspeople get fired all the time. It comes with the territory.
As we have written before, so many of the communications surrounding those firings is pure bull****. Statements around those firings are filled with euphemisms, vagueness and, often, downright lies. They rarely, if ever, answer the question that all audiences want to know – “why?”
But here’s an example from sports, where firings are talked about much more openly than they are in the rest of business. Over the weekend, the University of Florida fired its Head Football Coach, Will Muschamp. The simple reason is that his teams didn’t win enough games, and that was clearly reflected in Athletic Director Jeremy Foley’s statement. This is how the firing was communicated to public audiences:
“Upon evaluation of our football program, we are not where the program needs to be and should be. I’ve always said that our goal at the University of Florida is to compete for championships on a regular basis,” Foley said. “Coach Muschamp was dedicated to developing young men both on and off the field. Our student-athletes showed tremendous growth socially and academically under his leadership. His players were involved in campus activities, engaged with the local community and represented the University of Florida with pride.”
Sometimes, it takes a forensic scientist to decipher statements when an executive is fired. In this case, it’s abundantly clear. It is handled with distinct lack of bull****. Also, a statement like this helps both parties move forward. It helps position Florida as place with high-expections, but where coaches can be treated well. It also lets potential employers know that Muschamp has potential to succeed otherwise, elsewhere. The lawyers should even be happy with this one.
This should be a model for this type of communication. Yes, you can be classy, clear and controversy-free.