Ten or so years ago, I was talking with a business friend of mine about joining his consulting firm. While he had always been great when I had interviewed him and in social situations, this guy must have taken one of those “win every time in any situation” negotiating courses: Although he had contacted me about coming to work for him, his “recruiting” strategy was a combination of telling me how little I was worth and how few skills I actually had.
As you might imagine, I was a bit miffed—and more than a little confused—by this approach. I didn’t take the job. In hindsight, I’m glad I got to see the guy in action before I took the job, and have been happy working for myself ever since (I pay better, and I’m a lot more fun). But I’m still baffled about what he hoped to gain from that approach.
I was reminded of that experience earlier this week as I was reading Michael Silver’s column on NFL.com about the current dustup between the owner of the San Francisco 49ers football team, Jed York, and head coach Jim Harbaugh. After taking the helm of the 6 win -10 loss 49ers three years ago (the Niners hadn’t had a winning season since 2002), Harbaugh’s team has gone 13-3, 11-4-1, and 12-4. The team has played in the NFC championship game three consecutive times during his tenure as coach, with one trip to the Super Bowl.
Apparently, Harbaugh believes he’s proven that he is one of the best coaches in football today (quite reasonably, to my mind), and would like to renegotiate his contract accordingly. According to Silver, the 49ers are offering “significantly less.” Even more troubling, here’s how the 49ers’ front office is characterizing their position: “General manager Trent Baalke has assembled a talented team and is likely to continue making smart roster decisions, and Harbaugh is hardly the only person who could coach this team to a championship.”
This is how they’re talking about the guy who’s going to lead their team next year? I have to believe that their relationship is strained, and owner York would prefer if Harbaugh left. Or maybe he believes he has the upper hand because it’s too late for Harbaugh to get another top coaching job for the 2014 season.
But I don’t understand why he would make statements that Harbaugh will never forget and that will ‘inspire’ him to look for another team that will appreciate his contributions. Seems as if it would be smarter to either fire Harbaugh or negotiate a deal close to what he wants to keep him happy. An unhappy middle ground isn’t doing anything to help the team.