I work in corporate America for a very large company and have for the last eight years and 7 months. With this perspective, I started to consider whether I might fire Bruce Boudreau today.
As some of you have picked up, I have consistently been against firing Boudreau, but am starting to come around that firing Boudreau may be what we need. Although the Caps are not bound by the same rules as corporate America, I used that perspective to help make a decision.
So - why might we fire/release or find another job for Boudreau if he worked at my company?
- Gross Misconduct. As the many lawyers on this board will attest, there are many things an employee can do to be subject to summary termination. This includes things like failing a drug test, surfing port, stealing a computer, cursing out the CEO, etc.
- Technology/Outsourcing. We find a cheaper/more effective way to do what someone does.
- Repeated Failure to Meet Performance Objectives: I used the word "repeated" for a reason. We typically won't fire someone for one quarter or sometimes even one year of missed objectives.
- Poor People Leadership. If you have direct reports, you need to be a good people manager. You need to develop people, get their best efforts. If a person was meeting goals, but just wasn't a good people manager, we'd move them into a position without direct reports.
- Person Isn't Adding Value: This is more vague, but if removing someone has zero impact on team performance, then we have to ask why they are there. This typically happens over time, but I have seen it happen. When it does, their team usually then reports directly to their old boss. This is the definition of "addition by subtraction."
- We Know We Can Do Better: This doesn't happen often, but sometimes we have an opportunity to move someone else into an occupied role, knowing we'll get better results. The person being removed (usually transferred) may have done nothing overtly wrong.
- We Made a Hiring Mistake: This happens to us all, but you usually figure it out quickly. Talk that John McLean should be fired in New Jersey is in this category. It could be that Lamoriello just made a bad hiring decision.
With the exception of #1, #2 and #6, we usually will put the person on a Performance Improvement Plan (a PIP), which outlines where they need to improve and the time frame in which we need to see the improvement.
#3 assumes that we have worked together to define scorecards in the appropriate time frame. For some jobs, monthly metrics are important, for others it might be quarterly or annual.
In terms of Boudreau, let's presume that #1, #2 and #7 are off the table:
- (#3) Has Boudreau repeatedly missed performance objectives? I'm not sure. It depends on what the objectives are. If it is winning the Cup, then he's missed for two years, but is also one of 29 coaches to do so. If he's judged based on quarterly or monthly records, that could be different. Right now, he can still win the Cup, if that's how he's judged.
- (#4) I think you can question his people leadership, by asking whether he's getting the most out of his team. What none of us can see from our vantage points is whether his players listen to him, respect him, play for him, etc. If they don't do any of those, you may need to make a change.
- (#5) This is also abstract. Does GMGM think he could coach better? If BB wasn't there, would the team play better without a coach? Tough to say. I'd vote no.
- (#6) Does GMGM have someone in mind that he knows is better for this team right now. Hitchcock? Keenan? Hartley? Hunter? Hard to say. If the answer to #4 is that he is getting the most out of his players, it's harder to justify #6.
Based on this quick analysis (and from my vantage point), I don't see grounds for firing him now. I see grounds, perhaps for putting him on a PIP, which I assume GMGM is doing in his own way.
In closing, let me add one final thought which I gleaned from a Jack Welch (ex-head of GE) in the past. Welch believes that you don't fire anyone without immediately putting in a viable replacement. I agree for a number of reasons, not the least of which are continuity and reduced uncertainty. I don't like "interim" tags on coaches. So, regardless of an objective analysis, if GMGM doesn't have an immediate replacement that he thinks will last for a few years, I wouldn't make the move now.
But - talk to me again in late December, if the poor performance continues.