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Paid Suspensions: You Don't Use Them Unless You're Pretty Sure They're Not Coming Back...

One of the reasons I refer to sports so much in this blog is due to the fact that decisions are so transparent in the sports world.  Talent decisions are made, articles are written and HR lessons are transparent for anyone who wants to talk about it. Nice!

Take the case of former Texas Tech football coach, Mike Leach.  Leach was a successful coach at Texas Tech, but during Christmas week of 2009 he ran into a snag.  Here's a quick rundown from ESPN:Mike leach

"Texas Tech suspended coach Mike Leach indefinitely after a player and his family filed a complaint about the player's treatment after an injury. (note - he was fired a couple of days after this)

The player, Adam James, is a redshirt sophomore wide receiver for the Red Raiders and the son of ESPN college football analyst Craig James. A source close to the family said James sustained a concussion on Dec. 16, was examined on Dec. 17 and told not to practice because of the concussion and an elevated heart rate. The source said Leach called a trainer and directed him to move James "to the darkest place, to clean out the equipment and to make sure that he could not sit or lean. He was confined for three hours."

The lessons from the Mike Leach story are pretty simple, but valuable:

1.  Employees generally don't get suspended with pay unless those doing the investigation feel that the employee in question is going to be terminated.  It's just too hard to bring them back into the fold once they've been taken out of the workplace for days, if not weeks.  Leach forced Texas Tech's hand by pushing legal action on his own behalf to be reinstated.  Rather than live with an outcome of reinstatement, Tech did what they likely would have done in a week had they had the time to investigate fully - they fired Leach.

2. Employees usually don't get suspended with pay unless it's impossible for them to remain while the investigation ensues.  In this case, Leach is the boss, and based on the circumstances, it's hard to believe the investigation could have been completed without him out of the way.

3.  Outlandish behavior, if publicized, can put an organization in a spot where they feel they have no choice but to term you..  Everybody, in sports and in business, wants to win.  With that in mind, most organizations allow high performers to stretch the rules a bit.  However, when you're in charge and you put someone in a dark closet to stand for hours at a time?  Let's just say you're not leaving them much of a choice.

Paid suspensions.  A tool to be used only when you feel like the person in question probably isn't going to be with your organization long term.

What's that? Your company uses paid suspensions all the time and no one ever ends up being fired?  There are two types of organizations that do that: Dysfunctional or unionized.

Come to think of it, those are probably the same thing. I'm out...



Surely the point here is that you should only suspend if termination is one of the likely outcomes, otherwise why the hell bother.....just sack them.

Any organisation that feels they need to terminate because they have suspended is not the sort of organisation I would wan't to be associated with.

Judge and jury is so last year.


Totally agree with THEHRD's comment.

Kris Dunn


Not sure why you're confused about the point. The title is "Paid Suspensions: You Don't Use Them Unless You're Pretty Sure They're Not Coming Back". That's pretty clear of what the point of the post is, right?

People don't use them unless they are 95% sure. But they use them because they need time to wrap up an investigation and don't want the person to remain in the environment.



Kris - I didn't intend to be critical...just provocative! I guess my point is that sometimes you need to suspend when you just don't know, but it could be that someone has to leave. It is not always a case of being 95% certain. And we should never be afraid of bringing the person back in.

Kris Dunn


I think we're closer than we think on this. Let's say you're not sure, but the mere presence of the person makes it impossible for you to investigate, so you have to suspend. The difficult part is the stigma when they get brought back...

So I agree you can bring them back, but most people don't use it unless they're 90% sure...

Have a good weekend...


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