Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Steelers, Maddox and the managerial dilemma

It was a tough loss. Worse than the New England games. They should have won and they would have won if Tommy Maddox had not played horribly. In some ways it was a repeat of the Texan nightmare from 2002.

Steelers fans on the radio are irate and are finished with Maddox. We are a fickle bunch. A few years ago Tommy was The Man and we could not wait to throw Kordell Stewart over the side of the boat. Now it is Maddox’s turn.

In fairness, Maddox never performed as well as Kordell did at his best. Nor was he any more consistent than Slash. The Steelers and their fans had simply lost patience with Stewart after the loss to New England in the AFC title game. They were ready for a change and Maddox represented change.

Cowher now faces a common managerial dilemma. He has a team member whose self-assessment is wildly inflated. Listening to Maddox after the game, it is clear that he does not think he played all that poorly.

It would be easy to resolve this if it was clear that Batch is better than Maddox. But we cannot be certain of that.

I bet most managers can sympathize with Cowher. One of the most delicately difficult problems to deal with is a valuable employee who over-estimates their skills. It is not that you want rid of them or that they lack potential. But they stubbornly insist that they are already good at something that is, in reality, an area where they need improvement. You want them to see that need for improvement, but you do not want to break their spirit or antagonize them.

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