The Era of “Effective Immediately”

Effective Immediately

Never has the figurative sense of two words meant so much more than the literally sense as “Effective Immediately.” (OK, I’ll concede that “I Do” is also up there in the two-worder club).

Google It

I just Googled “Effective Immediately.”

Yikes.  I didn’t do the math, and I wouldn’t say that I performed any scientifically supported statistical analysis on the use of this term, but it seems that it’s most likely used when someone messes up BIG(Yeah yeah, I know– it’s also used in the legitimate sense, too, like when a plumbing problem occurs and the bathroom is “off limits, effective immediately… that’s not what I’m talking about here, folks).

The PROBLEM is that when “Effective Immediately” is used these days, that anything preceding or following this cute little phrase usually has little to do with WHY something is effective immediately, and more to do with handling the issue at hand.

Just what is “handling” you might ask?  I’d say… my own definition that is… well… “almost lying to make sure it doesn’t stay in the public’s eyes for longer than we want it to.”

But that’s just me.

Bad Eggs

Former HP CEO Mark Hurd

We’ve seen more and more of “Effective Immediately” in the last 10 years, haven’t we?  Every single time a leader goes rogue, every single time someone makes an unethical decision, every single time someone is fired, every single time a leader fails, every time someone says some disastrous statement highlighting how disconnected he/she is with society… what do we see?

  • Announcing retirement, “effective immediately
  • Stepping down, “effective immediately
  • Assuming new role, “effective immediately

And just like the proverbial tequila shot after the swig of beer, the next line usually reads:

  • “Thank him for the last X years”
  • “Wish her well in future endeavors”
  • “Look to our future…”

Blah blah blah. As an individual, I’ve been impacted by this “effective immediately” fluff phrase twice in the last six months– both time with former leaders I knew, and both times following the realization that the leaders were “un-fit to lead(which most people knew already, it’s just that coincidence and character finally caught up with them). What a joke!!  Talk about placating the public and allowing bad behavior to continue, and for what?  How much have you seen this also?   Do you feel the same as I do?

Thinking Clearly

Another ShotIn the age of transparency (cough, hack, wheeze… excuse me while I take another swig of tequila), should we consider it an insult to us when we see these niceties lavished on leaders-gone-wrong when he/she is finally ousted for behaving in ways that used to mean the public stocks?

We almost always know what REALLY happened, so why pretend that nothing occurred or that what did occur wasn’t as bad?

Why allow the bad habits and poor decisions that got these leaders into trouble in the first place continue on because of the “effective immediately” era?

Let’s face it, that’s what usually happened when you see a PR-laced announcement ladled with a hefty dose of damage control.  C’mon, readers, do people really think we are stupid when it comes to these things?  Why not force the point by making leaders settle-up to his or her constituents, followers, and admirers afar with something more REAL… something more TRUE… something more AUTHENTIC?

Open Invitation

And so I extend an invitation for authenticity to anyone out there who has the guts to give us the truth straight-out.  Instead of letting us hear about the truth and then several months later give us an “effective immediately” ticket that we probably paid waaaaay too much for to begin with, try something like this:

“Due to the horrendous abuse of power, arrogant nature, political cut-throat behavior, and all-around poor personal value system that we’ve all witnessed to date, not to mention the terrible nose-dive in the company’s stock [or other responsibility to the public or community], the Board of Directors [or other governing party] has decided that the CEO [or other leader title] is no longer fit to lead and has been fired.

Though there were plenty of moments when this leader helped our organization along, the plain truth is that we reaped plenty of benefit along the way and unfortunately fell asleep at the wheel during a time when we should have been questioning more and relaxing less.  We recognize that this termination is likely overdue, and so as the governing party, we take full responsibility and will do our best to maintain the trust and respect of our constituents and stakeholders alike, effective immediately.”

Now THERE’s an organization I’d invest in 100%…

(Centola) Dhimo, President & Founder,
via Best Practices
She helps clients by aligning human capital performance with business results

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