Sometimes, it’s best to “cut bait.” This is a Midwest term for gently saying it’s time to allow an employee to find a new future. My wife, Mary Kay, is the best at this. Over the years she has shared with me how important this is when you are building an organization.
I’ve previously written about my favorite sports coach Joe Maddon of the Chicago Cubs. Last week he had an interesting challenge. Depending who you talk to, Jake Arietta is the most valuable Cubs pitcher. In fact, he won the Cy Young award in 2015, All Star team in 2016, as well as a World Series champion last year.
On June 27, he had a bad outing. Think about it in our own lives: We’ve all had bad days. Imagine being a professional athlete. When one is a professional athlete, in any sport, imagine the pressure. Imagine millions of people watching your every move—second by second. Imagine doing your job in front of a national camera while the world watches and judges your every move.
Last week, just days after Arietta’s best outing of the year, he had a bad day.
In that game, the opposing team stole seven bases. Those seven steals are the most the Washington Nationals have tallied in a single game since the franchise moved to Washington in 2005 and is tied for their franchise record—most recently accomplished when they were the Montreal Expos on May 7, 1986.
After the game, catcher Miguel Montero blamed Arietta for everything. In fact, he said everything you wouldn’t want anyone on your team to say. He refused to take any of the blame, even though the opposing team has stolen 31 bases in 31 attempts on Montero this year. As I watched this interview on TV, I wondered how the coach would handle this.
The next day, Maddon cut him. SB Nation reported, “Maddon’s main concern Wednesday was that his young players would internalize exactly what they heard come out of Montero’s mouth the night before, when the catcher publicly criticized starter Jake Arrieta for his slow delivery leading to Washington’s seven stolen bases. The decision to cut Montero Wednesday afternoon wasn’t aimed at preventing friction between the catcher’s teammates like Arrieta or Anthony Rizzo; it was meant to send a clear message to the young core of Cubs who witnessed the fallout.”
Maddon was about sending a message to every player on the team. Montero had a .286 career batting average. Last year Buster Posey, All-Star catcher for the San Francisco Giants, had a .288 average. My point? Montero was valuable to the team.
Look back in your own life as a leader. Do you wish that you would have done the same thing at one point? Did you have a disruptive player on your team that refused to take responsibility for anything he or she did? Do you still have that person on staff today?
I know I’ve made that mistake! Almost without exception, I found out that our team did better WITHOUT that person when they eventually left the company.
Take a look at your own team. Is there anyone you think needs to find a new career? Maybe, as MK says, you should consider freeing up their future!