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Telling it like it is (or how to adopt an air of resignation)

 

Blog headlines

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Thursday, 28 January 2016

Telling it like it is (or how to adopt an air of resignation)

We spend a lot of time worrying about the dignity of patients but rarely spare a thought for the feelings of chief executives ejected from their posts with humiliating regularity.

They face ridicule, embarrassing pay-offs and, in extreme cases, re-employment and the dismal prospect of another trip round the board.

When your turn comes, don’t be fobbed off with any of the stock excuses. No one seriously believes you want to spend more time with your family. Nor will they be convinced by your long-suppressed desire to do more gardening or the appeal of unspecified new career opportunities. Use any of these and you rob yourself of the chance to go out in a blaze of mediocrity.

Why do we keep doing it? What is the purpose of the euphemistic, cliché ridden note pinned to the victim’s body? 

“She was pursuing a life-long interest in plank-walking when she decided to step off and explore the bottom of the ocean.”

“He was cleaning his sword when he felt an irresistible urge to find out what it felt like to fall on it.”

The cover story is ostensibly designed to spare the feelings of the individual and allow them to move from one career blunder to the next with a bit of dignity, but actually it is part of the punishment.

The flimsy narrative spun by HR or corporate communications, presented as a face-saving kindness, merely confirms that the departing chief executive is not only incompetent but a ludicrous excuse-monger.

All that remains is for the chair to issue a statement of mock regret.  “We are sad that so-and-so has decided to leave, but very pleased that he will now have time to get to know his children and tend his allotment.”  

This is followed by faint praise for so-and-so’s “achievements” and “lasting contribution”.  There is no need to mention the balls-up that got him sacked: it has already been splashed across the newspapers.

There is a better way. A full-frontal declaration of culpability is a winning tactic for anyone in the firing line. “I was the responsible officer. It happened on my watch. It’s only right that I should go. I’d like to make it clear that the great work of this organisation is more important than any personal regret I may feel. Did I make a mess of things? You bet.”

Conclude with “I’d like to thank my fellow directors for their unfailing loyalty and support”, which emphasises that they haven’t shown you any.

A frank admission of guilt will always get you off, however heinous the crime. Your failure will no longer be unforgivable but heroic. We all love a repentant sinner.

It may be counter-intuitive to take responsibility, but the more you protest that it’s all your fault, the more readily suspicion will attach to your mealy-mouthed colleagues on the board. Never let anyone forget they were there.

Draw attention to their blamelessness at every possible opportunity. It’s nothing less than the treacherous bastards deserve.

Careers editor: Julian Patterson

@jtweeterson
julian.patterson@networks.nhs.uk

 
Owen R Rumble
Owen R Rumble says:
Jan 29, 2016 12:58 PM

"For Brutus is an honourable man; So are they all, all honourable men."
"Julius Caesar" Act 3, Sc. 2, William Shakespeare.

Julian Patterson
Julian Patterson says:
Jan 29, 2016 01:17 PM

Et tu, Owen?
On a slightly different tack, here's a relevant notion for NHS managers, not to mention Lord Carter and his paymasters:
"I'll take fifty percent efficiency to get one hundred percent loyalty."
Samuel Goldwyn