We were sitting in one of the most frustrating meetings of all time. It was probably the fourth senior staff meeting discussing the same things concerning the building and planning of the new stadium. There was a lot of back and forth about analysis and the planning mode; the whole meeting was just making me nuts. A bunch of department managers were in over their heads and didn’t have a clue on how to get their area to the next level. I just couldn’t take the lack of urgency any longer, and I blurted out, “While everyone else is screwing around trying to get their act together, Marketing is in ‘Do Mode’!”
Yeah, once again Lou’s not playing well with the other kids. The fact of the matter was that at the time, the Patriots organization was in Sports Business purgatory. We were working on departing from the old ways of crappy, old Foxborough Stadium, yet many of the managers were only equipped for the old ways of doing things, and never were going to be able to make the cut as we migrated into the new building. But the organization operated in a manner in which everyone was given a chance to rise to the occasion. Thus, Sports Business Purgatory. I repeated to the group, “I’m in Do Mode.” Let’s face it, at some point, it becomes paralysis by analysis, and we just needed to get going.
Now, many of you reading this might ask, “Lou, how about a little tolerance and support for your co-workers?” And while that is a special thought, at a certain point, you’ve just got to cut the dead wood and move on. If you are in a job for over fifteen years, the likelihood is that you probably have out-lived your usefulness and over-stayed your welcome (that is assuming you are not remaking yourself each and every year and bringing something new to the table). Folks, the fact of the matter is, no matter how productive you have been, at some point in time you just have to say goodbye; for both your own good and the good of the organization you work for. Brett Favre, I hope you’re listening, dude – time to let go.
The funny thing is that you’re fooling no one when you are not keeping up with the necessary work. Everyone knows when an organization is beyond someone’s abilities, and when there needs to be a change. Most of the time, the person also knows this deep down, but just doesn’t want to admit it. You have to be honest with yourself. If you have been with an organization for more than ten years, you really should take stock of the situation and weigh out the facts. Over the past two years there have been a lot of layoffs; many of the people who were let go had been with their companies for 15, 20 or 25 years, complained and asked how could they do that to them. Well, I will tell you why – you made yourself expendable. The economy produced the result, but you most likely produced the reason.
Unless you are getting promoted and taking on new responsibilities in an organization, you need to start thinking about moving on and making a change if you’ve been there too long. Getting a new gig is not a bad thing. Make the move while you are in control of the situation, and take the leverage out of your employer’s hands. Don’t worry, you can and will be replaced; and after a few months, no one will probably notice the difference. Get over yourself and move on.
The fact of the matter is that most of the department heads from that senior staff meeting were replaced or put in a different position better suited for their ability. It wasn’t until then that we really started to accomplish our climb out of purgatory. Here’s another factual statement: when I left the Patriots organization years later, the marketing group didn’t miss a beat. The department that I built, person by person, tactic by tactic, and initiative by initiative didn’t look back, and performed like the marketing machine it had always been.
Everyone is expendable – everyone. My advice to you is to leave while you are on top and have nothing exceptional left to contribute.