BBC Breakfast News
How to deal with redundancy
Corinne Mills and Ed Smith Interview.
May 31st 2011
NEWS READER: Ed Smith, who’s a feature writer for The Times along with Corinne Mills who runs a career advice company, Good Morning
CORINNE AND ED: Good morning
NEWS READER: So, basic principles of resignation or not, when should you be sticking your ground and when should you be saying ok, I’ll go.
CORINNE MILLS: If the organisation is determined to get rid of you, it’s not if you’re going to go, it’s when and how and I think in those respects, get out with dignity. Thrash out a deal, go out with an agreed reference, a pay out and go out and find another job. I think you can stay and fight, but if the organisation really wants to get rid of you, it’s just a mature of when.
NEWS READER: What about when the public wants to get rid of you? Ed, what’s your view?
ED SMITH: I was the captain of a cricket team in Middlesex and the really interesting thing about leadership is, that over time leaders can make a huge difference, there is no doubt that, there’s often a disagreement into the extent in which they are actually in control of what’s happened that has caused the controversy. I think what you often get in sports, and I think it’s the same in business and politics is, was the leader actually the cause of what’s gone wrong? It always amazes me in sports how the fans always blame the manager for a defeat every Saturday but when in actually fact, on any given day, sure over a 5 year a period a manager can get the structures and the players he wants to see but on a Saturday he can’t actually play the game for Ryan Giggs, for Wayne Rooney, he’s not actually responsible so when people call for resignations after quite such short periods of time, you think how much is that person actually responsible?
NEWS READER: Doesn’t it come down to this simple question Corinne, am I doing more damage to the organisation by staying than going? Which is the better thing to do, regardless of the pressure from other people, what’s best for the organisation.
CORINNE MILLS: I think there’s two things here, what’s best for the organisation and what is best in your own career interests and it is always what is best in your own career interests and its always in your own best career interest to go quietly, with dignity and go and get yourself another job. It never does anybody any good to have a public slanging match.
NEWS READER: You just raised a good question, do you think there is a difference between business and sport and when someone should go?
ED SMITH Well not particularly, I think in that sense its quite a transferable issue.
But you’re saying the manager can’t always be responsible?
ED SMITH: Well it’s the same in business
NEWS READER: Really? If there are structural internal problems within an organisation, who do you think should take responsibility if there is a problem within the organisation?
ED SMITH: Well that’s where corporate governments become very important but I don’t think a Chief Executive or a Gen, let’s take Blatter for example, he is clearly responsible for at least some of the shambles that has happened at FIFA, he’s been there for a long time so at the very least he has turned a blind eye, at worst, a lot worse than that. But if a new chief exec came into FIFA in one years’ time or 6 months’ time, if they hadn’t sorted it out, I don’t think that is necessarily a fair amount of time so it’s a governance issue and you have to look at the structures behind the leader.
CORINNE MILLS: My view is you’re a senior manager, your paid a lot of money to add value to an organisation and make sure it’s more ethicent. If you’re not doing your job its absolutely right that you should be made to go and be made accountable for it.
NEWS READER: In Mr Blatters case, though, he’s effectively looking for a vote of confidence in the election tomorrow, he’s the only candidate and he will get that.
CORINNE MILLS: Well the problem there is you have to have credibility going in or you’re going to have problems further down the line, so it’s a short-term win really.
NEWS READER: You mentioned if your organisation want you to go, you will go, but what about if the public wants you to go, what happens then?
CORINNE MILLS: I think it depends on the circumstance, sometimes, there is a baying crowd wanting blood, now it might not be right that you are the person responsible for that and in many cases, perhaps it wasn’t fair that you’re the person that was perhaps scapegoated or had to take the blame, but you have to take a view, actually, is it better at this time to fall on the sword, thrash out a deal with your organisation, a compromise agreement, perhaps get some outplacement support on the way out to help you get another job, than it is to stay and fight.
NEWS READER: The trouble is you get in certain situations when it comes to the issue of legacy and how you want to be remembered. People might say, ‘I don’t want to be the guy who resigned in the middle of that crisis, I want to be remembered as the guy who tried to turn things around, for better or for worse.
ED SMITH: Well, as long as you feel you can turn things around. I think what’s interesting about the case with FIFA is there’s actually no prospect, or a very small prospect of Blatter turning it around, so going back to the question earlier on, there’s a choice to be made, what’s in the institutions interests, there’s no doubt he must know rationally it’s in the institutions interest for him to resign, it’s purely in self-interest for him to cling on.
NEWS READER: Generally, what do you both think about how much ego must play in lots of these cases?
CORINNE AND ED: Lots.
NEWS READER: There’s a certain amount of humility required in order to have to step down, is it stronger sometimes to step down, than to stay?
CORINNE MILLS: I think humility is often in your best interest, just make a clean break and go in a dignified way. I think sometimes what happens is, understandably, it gets quite personal, people get very personally invested, they want to get vindicated and fight their case. Actually, quit, just get a clean break and go.
ED SMITH: That’s true, I also think that ego plays a great role in good leadership too, so it’s not surprising if people have big egos to make big decisions, live under pressure sometimes find it hard to answer to the facts.
NEWS READER: And when you stepped down as captain, were you push or?
ED SMITH: Well that’s a good question, I had a broken ankle but you would have to pay me a lot more money to get personal confessions out of me, (laughs), no it’s a really interesting question, but I think Blatter or Parsley towards resignation.
NEWS READER: Thank you both very much.
CORINNE MILLS: Yes, thank you indeed.