How To Fire An NFL Head Coach: 5 Most Effective Ways

Posted by Bernie Reifkind on December 13, 2011

Why would a healthcare recruiter write an essay about how to fire a sports head coach?   The easy answer is that the method of firing a head coach is relevant to anyone with a job.

In every business (especially in the healthcare industry) people get terminated from their jobs just like football coaches.

Why should you care about how to fire an NFL football coach?  If you are in business, you better care. 

Firing a key employee (like a head coach) is tricky at best regardless if your business is healthcare or professional sports.

Watching sports is one of America’s favorite past times.   Very few things in life are as exciting as watching a good old fashioned football game. 

But do not delude yourself: the world of sports is BIG BUSINESS, with dynamics similar to all businesses.

We must also realize that the world of sports is run and played by human beings that share the same human emotions as we all do about our work.  Owners, managers, coaches and players are in fact working hard at their job, even if they are playing a game. 

Just like the rest of us, our sports heroes and their coaches exchange their expertise for a salary.  In most cases a huge salary.

In recent weeks, the very public firing of high profile head coaches in both college and professional football have appeared to share a common denominator: public humiliation.

Come on.

When a head coach needs to be fired, isn’t that enough humiliation? 

Coaches are held accountable for their success and failure just like the rest of us who show up every day for work.  The difference is that head coaches are on TV or in the news.

Getting fired hurts, no matter who you are or what you do.  When a head coach gets fired, it’s rejection on a grand scale not only because huge salaries are involved but because of the news media.  It is completely embarrassing no matter how thick a skin can be.

Listen up owners and managers in all industries and apply the following transferable actions to your own business:

How To Fire An NFL Head Coach: 5 Most Effective Ways:

1.  Communicate clearly defined expectations at the hiring stage (such as how  you measure success and in what time frame) so that termination should not be by complete surprise.  Then do the deed, without guilt.

2.  Terminate in the “off season” – timing is everything.  In business, terminate someone at a quiet time of your business season so as not to distract your staff and disrupt your operation.

3.  Assume full responsibility for both the hiring and firing.  Avoid playing the “blame game.”  That is a game in which everyone loses.

4.  Maintain honor by communicating openly and sincerely with your staff and your clients, customers and fans and show appreciation for their patience during this time of transition.

5.  Show some class.  If you are the boss or an owner, look the person in the eye and explain exactly why this person is being terminated.  Never let someone else fire a key employee.  In addition, let the person know exactly how you expect the person to conduct themselves during the transition period.

I am Bernie Reifkind, CEO and founder of Premier Search, Inc.  I can be reached at 1(800) 801-1400 or email at  I welcome your phone call.

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