It has been said many times that running a football club is a lot different to normal business. And that’s a lucky thing because otherwise our economy would truly be down the toilet.

Let’s look at people management AFL-style for a moment – or, to put it another way, put yourself in Geelong coach Mark Thompson’s shoes.

Let’s say that you are an accountant. It gets out, through the usual workplace gossip, that your company’s Board is having a long look at your performance. You don’t know if that’s true or not, but you’ve been with the company for seven years and your output has been pretty good but not necessarily outstanding. You start to feel nervous and ask your boss if your position is safe.

Now you really start to worry because he won’t commit to you, privately or publicly. In front of everybody, and in print in the company newsletter, he announces a “full review” of the accounting practice is underway, being run by the CEO, who suddenly takes to sitting over your left shoulder while you’re at your desk, crunching the usual tax numbers.

Now rumours start swirling that the Board is split, 50-50, on whether you’re any good. The entire company is leaking like the Titanic, post-iceberg, with claims that the review has found your communication skills are terrible, your assistants aren’t up to it, the other accountants are divided on whether they want to hear your voice at WIP meetings.

You stagger off for a holiday (good luck relaxing!) while this endless review continues. The CEO furrows his brow and announces he’ll need another week or two. Hardly an endorsement. An old accountant, not even part of your company, tells a business breakfast that he’s heard you’re gone.

Where does this leave you? Even if the review finally says you’re still employed, you know you’re a dead man walking in every sense but your pay cheque. One or two bad BAS forms in a row in the first quarter of next year and the calls for your head will start all over again.

Welcome to Mark Thompson’s world. This Geelong review has gone for so long and been so divisive, with so many parlour whispers, that it has rendered the Geelong coach next to impotent. The latest talk is that he’ll limp over the line and be allowed to stay on. It might be kinder, by now, to put him out of his misery and cop the payout.

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
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