Some of you professional football fans may have heard that earlier this week the Washington Redskins suspended their All-Pro defensive lineman, Albert Haynesworth, without pay for the rest of the season.
You see, Haynesworth and Redskins' head coach Mike Shanahan have been feuding since the pre-season, when Haynesworth skipped off-season workouts, refused to attend a mandatory minicamp, and reported to the team vastly out of shape and unable to pass the team's fitness test. It seems that Haynesworth didn't want to play the position necessitated by the new 3-4 defense the team was employing.
The relationship between Haynesworth and Shanahan deteriorated to the point that the player informed the club's general manager that he would no longer speak to Shanahan, his boss. Haynesworth's own teammates became critical of him for his unwillingness to work within the team concept and his frequent absences.
So, ultimately the Redskins suspend Haynesworth for "conduct detrimental to the club."
My first reaction was, "What took you so long?" This guy has been a distraction for months. But, of course, that's easy for me to say. NFL players are represented by a union, and it's likely that Haynesworth will appeal the suspension.
So let's look at the situation:
- Haynesworth's employer decided to make a change in the way it does business (changing from a 4-3 to a 3-4 defense).
- Haynesworth didn't like how those changes might affect him personally, despite the fact that he would continue to receive his full salary as part of his $41 million guaranteed contract.
- In an effort to show his disagreement, and possibly convince management to revert to its old way of doing business, Haynesworth decided to give less than his best effort on behalf of his employer.
Any employer would have fired Haynesworth long ago. Let's assume for a minute that one of your direct reports decides he doesn't agree with the company's plan for the coming year. He voices disapproval and you confirm your commitment to the direction stated in the plan. Now the employee begins to skip meetings related to the execution of the plan and even refuses to perform his duties related to the successful implementation of the plan. What do you do?
I have no problem with Haynesworth voicing his disagreement with the plan. Of course, it sounds like his disapproval wasn't because he thought it was a bad plan for the team but rather was a bad plan for him personally. Regardless, he can voice his disagreement. When the Redskins made the decision to move forward, however, Haynesworth had a choice to make. He could either get with the program or he could leave. Since he was being paid handsomely for his services, I would have suggested he get with the program. But he didn't. Nor did he choose to leave. He decided to do neither, instead choosing to pout!
Any employee who disagrees with the direction of a company or his role in the business is free to leave. In fact, I would commend him for standing up for what he believes in and having the courage of those convictions when he chooses to leave instead of doing something he disagrees with. But to assume that the tail is going to wag the dog is foolish — as Haynesworth seems to have found out. Of course, it was an expensive lesson for the Redskins, too, who have already paid the player millions and likely will pay millions more before this is settled.
Thanks to Dan Oswald / HR Hero