By: Holly Horning
Studies done within the communications field show that most people believe they communicate well. But in reality, few actually do. And thus, it’s no surprise the Tigers have been involved in a series of snafus dating back months and triggering a whole avalanche of ill-timed events.
How did this all unravel so quickly? Let’s start at the beginning, shall we?
The trigger point was the absence of a contract extension for Dave Dombrowski. In his lame duck year, Dave had to know that a complete lack of contract negotiations did not favor his return to the Tigers next year.
So it comes as no surprise that multiple reports suggest Dave was using back-door channels to look for a new job while still employed by the Tigers. While we learned that Dave and Mr. I bumped heads over Brad Ausmus, now there is widespread speculation that Dave’s perceived lack of loyalty was the final straw for Mr. I and resulted in his release.
But could this messy in-season departure have been avoided if these two had discussions about performance and expectations months ago? Did one or both wish to avoid these discussions knowing what unwelcome news could be shared? How could the two of them not know what each other was thinking?
Dave Dombrowski maintained his usual professional public stance in the aftermath, but could the Tigers’ silence on his departure been an equally polite gesture to keep from revealing why they allowed Dave to leave? It could likely be – but unfortunately, the organization took the hit publicly on this one.
Fast forward to Friday when no less than three individuals vied for the “scoop” on the Tigers releasing Ausmus at the end of the year. And this is where it gets truly messy because of the way the info was revealed and how many people it consumed in its aftermath.
It’s not about the information released, or that Brad had to know he would be gone, it’s all about ignoring the channels of proper communication and blindsiding all parties involved. It’s about bypassing expected communication protocols for purposes of gaining notoriety and enhancing careers at the expense of others.
Let’s assume that there is someone within the Tigers organization who leaked the conversation. He or she admitted that they had no authority to give the information, yet did so anyway. From all accounts, this would not have happened under Dave’s watch. And it is typical that when power changes hands, there will always be those who will want to test the new guy.
Sadly, neither the tv reporter, the major newspaper or the independent blogger called either Ausmus or Al Avila before publishing their news. No phone call to give them a head’s up. No phone call to ask for confirmation. No phone call to ask for a rebuttal, clarification or comment. Apparently, for them one-way communication was an acceptable way of doing business.
No matter how one feels about Ausmus, he does not deserve this treatment. Neither does Al Avila or the rest of the Tiger organization. (Save for the leaker, who will hopefully receive his just desserts soon.)
And this is what happens when you have not just poor communication, but a complete lack of it. People are thrust into the uncomfortable limelight. Others are thrown into the wolves’ den with no time to prepare a response. All of them are made to look foolish and guilty when they really had little or nothing to do with the situation.
And ironically, we are seeing the rest of the media swarming all over the Tigers with accusations of unprofessional behavior. The same industry that created this firestorm. They should not be the ones casting this first stone. They should be looking inward.
As fans, we should be incensed that the drive for personal profit has taken priority over proper protocol. That a good man and his family have been embarrassed – and that this same man’s power as manager has essentially been rendered officially ineffective now.
We should also be angry that our team has taken an undeserved hit by the media for an attack by their own kind. An attack with the sole purpose of generating news by demeaning specific employees and an entire organization.
Unfortunately, Al Avila now has to turn his attention away from strengthening this team to issues in-house. Let’s hope he establishes clear patterns of communication as he defines his role.
But in the meantime, will there be anyone within the media who will hold their own accountable when they refuse to participate in acceptable and understood levels of communication?