How to Get Fired in Less Than a Year September 23 2011 4 responses
There are a lot of things you could say about the board of directors at Hewlett Packard but being afraid to pull the trigger is not one of them. With its dismissal of Leo Apotheker, the HP board has fired three CEOs in the past six years. Apotheker lasted 11 months at HP. He came to the company from the enterprise software giant SAP and had a vision of transforming HP from primarily a hardware manufacturer to a software services and cloud computing leader.
Earlier this week, I wrote a post called How to Save Your Change Management Program from Cancellation. Of course, the first step to keeping it from getting cancelled is to avoid getting cancelled yourself. Apotheker is the second high profile CEO I can think of to get fired this year after less than 12 months on the job. The first was Jack Griffin, the former CEO of Time Inc.
Together, the stories of Griffin and Apotheker represent the top two reasons managers fail as determined in a study conducted by the Kelley School of Business at Indiana University. In Griffin’s case, it was failure to demonstrate the relationship and interpersonal skills needed to lead significant change in a complex environment. I shared my lessons learned from his tenure in Five Ways to Avoid Being Fired in Five Months. The headlines back then were:
1. Do Your Homework
2. Pace Yourself
3. Genuflect When Necessary
4. Build Allies
5. Don’t Paint Targets on Your Back
One or more of those factors may have been in play at HP. Based on the reporting around Apotheker’s case, though, it sounds like one of the big reasons he got the boot because of the number one reason managers fail – ineffective communications skills and practices.