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Monday, Jun 5, 2023
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The Chargers Fumble the Business Decisions

Chip Conley, founder and former CEO of Joie de Vivre Hospitality, has recently written a book titled, “Emotional Equations.” Here is one equation that may resonate with fans of the San Diego Chargers:

Disappointment = Expectations minus Reality.

The team got off to a great start, winning four of the first five games. The next six games were all losses. For the second year in a row, the Chargers missed the playoffs. With a record of 4-7 the multitude begins clamoring for the dismissal of head coach Norv Turner and General Manager A.J. Smith.

At season’s end, following a 4-1 record, Chargers’ Chairman of the Board and President Dean Spanos’ announcement that he would retain both coach and general manager was rationalized.

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Mitigating circumstances: The Chargers were hard hit by injuries, especially to the offensive line. When everyone was healthy, the team performed.

Support from the players: Turner’s stock in the locker room runs high, especially with Philip Rivers. Turner is a “players’ coach.”

Short-term mediocre goal: Apparently Smith and Turner are the pair entrusted with “getting us back to the playoffs.” Not win a Super Bowl … just get the Chargers back in the playoffs.

Spanos’ Play Calling

There are a number of business lessons to be learned by examining Spanos’ decision.

Substitute a highly compensated sales team for the Chargers and dissect the issues. Simply put, the team underperformed. As the owner of the business, you have a number of options. The first is to look at the sales manager and judge the effectiveness of how the team has been led. The second is to examine the sales team members. Are they motivated? Do they have the right skills? How do they perform when the business climate is tough?

A team that doesn’t perform, yet lauds the manager, usually indicates that the leader is not holding the group accountable. There are few consequences for not achieving goals. At times, the inmates are running the asylum.

The equivalent of injuries in business is turnover. Leaders understand that if a key employee leaves the company the tasks, activities and responsibilities of that employee do not disappear. Cross-training is essential. Someone needs to immediately step in and perform at an equally high level. Good leaders always have a bench or prospective employees that can be recruited. Great leaders examine what drove the turnover.

Lowering Expectations

One of the signs of a poorly run business is reducing goals and expectations to better reflect results. In other words, one simply lowers expectations. Didn’t achieve the new account goal? Let’s lower the number for next month, quarter or year. Don’t meet the goal again? Lower it further.

If you owned a business with equivalent results and made the same decision as Spanos did, you would be courting disaster. You might lose your customers. Without customers you might lose the business.

But of course, in the National Football League no one “loses the business.” They merely shop the franchise to another city.

Jim Tenuto is the CEO of Renaissance Executive Forums, a peer advisory board service for entrepreneurs.

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