Crisis Leadership: Bullying in the Workplace

The ongoing saga of the Miami Dolphins and their workplace bullying situation has exploded into the board room and water cooler conversations. A new level of consciousness is now being raised because of what happened between two very large guys in a locker room. The Richie Incognito (alleged bully) and Jonathan Martin (alleged victim) is a microcosm of hat can happen in your world. Here are some thoughts from me from 25,000 feet, which may apply to your professional life…

  • The NFL locker room is a way different culture that whatever organization you are in. One of my high school friends quipped that “America isn’t ready to hear what happens in a high school locker room, much less an NFL locker room.” He is right. We can all debate as to whether any of it is ethical or morale or sensitive; but we can’t draw direct correlations because it’s so different.
  • What you can do is be better tuned in to what happens in your business. “Bullying” is defined in many ways when it comes to occupational hazards. In the end, if it’s your business that is on the line, you’d better have your own definition. And, just like art, the real definition is in the eye of the “beholder.”
  • The worst forms you are most likely to see are dealing with passive-aggressive behavior; discrimination (age, gender); sexual harassment (including jokes that someone doesn’t find amusing); inappropriate language; and retaliation.

Donald Ross, the owner of the Dolphins, just appeared on national television on Monday Night Football. He did and said the obvious. He was appalled. He wanted to reach out to the victim. He’s holding an all out investigation with several former players and coaches leading the charge. On the surface, it’s all admirable. Bottom line – it’s too late. The Dolphins season is now in shambles and that affects all the players. Some of them may even get pained with the same brush as Incognito before it’s all over. Coaches and executives are likely to be fired. And in three months, nobody will be talking about it anymore.

In your business, you may not get away as “lucky.” In the business world, people get sued. Business owners lose repute and money. Insurance companies do investigations. Business close down and employees have to find new jobs. Think I’m overstating things? Talk to someone that has been through an employee lawsuit and then talk to me. You probably aren’t as able to financially rebound and recover as Donald Ross is.

You need to be a good communicator and observer. How your culture is created is up to you and the leaders in your “locker room.” The last thing you want to be is surprised. There are tactics and strategies that you can take to reduce your risk (can’t be eliminated unless you don’t need employees). Maybe that’s a realistic and better 2o14 resolution than going to the gym more often…

© 2013 Dan Weedin. All Rights Reserved

Pass the Pizza

Nate Burleson (courtesy of Associated Press)
Nate Burleson (courtesy of Associated Press)

There is a story coming out of Detroit that former Seahawks and current Detroit Lions player, Nate Burleson broke his car in a single-car accident late Monday night after watching Monday Night Football at the home of one if his teammates. Any time you hear of a late night, single car accident, your mind goes to alcohol or drugs. Happily in this case, that is not an issue. However, there is always a reason for a single car accident. Sometimes it has to do with the uncontrollable like a deer running out in the road. More often than not it deals with something much more basic and in our control. For Nate Burleson, it was about pepperoni and cheese.

According to an Associated Press story, Burleson was distracted by trying to keep two boxes of pizza from falling off the passenger seat. He reached to keep them from dumping on the floor and in so doing, dumped himself into a ditch, breaking his arm in the process. The consequences are severe. For him, he’s going to lose at least 8-10 weeks of his season. In terms of the brevity of an NFL career, this is significant and he will never regain that time. For his team, they lose a key member of the team to the sideline where he can’t help them.

If you think my moral of the story is about distracted driving, you’d be wrong (although having it as a sub-plot is certainly a smart thing to remember)…

I have three business applications for all of you who own a business, or are responsible for business continuation of one:

1. The Lions now need a backup plan for Burleson. I’m sure they have one in place because he could just as easily have been injured playing football. That’s good business for them. It’s also good business for you, except most of the business owners I speak to have a poor to non-existent crisis plan in case bad things happen. What’s yours?

2. Nate Burleson is a smart guy who made a dumb decision. A floorboard filled with pepperoni beats out a broken arm any day. In all candor, I’ve been known to make the same mistake, too; yet have not ended up with the same result. I’ve been lucky. Your employees do dumb things sometimes. More often than not, they are just lapses in judgement (like this). Sometimes you just have bad people working for you. Education, training, and good hiring procedures are critical to avoiding disasters to begin with. How often are you doing those things in your business?

3. Burleson knows that taking his eye off the ball in a football game leads to a dropped pass. Taking your eyes off the road leads to broken bones and a broken car. Taking your eyes off your business objectives leads running off your own road and path. How well focused on the ball are you in your business?

Oh by the way, you don’t have to be running your own business to take something away from this story. How often do we as individuals make bad priority decisions in that split second? Can we train ourselves to strategize in advance for contingencies, or will we go through life making sure the pizza is the priority.

Just me…

© 2013 Dan Weedin. All Rights Reserved

Extra Points – Chasing the Rabbit

Chasing the Rabbit

Captain Jack
Captain Jack

I admit to being an NFL geek. I watched the NFL Draft on Saturday as the Seahawks had about a gazillion picks to make. It was worth it when I heard former NFL head coach and ESPN Monday Night Football announcer, Jon Gruden tell a rookie quarterback…

“If the dog hadn’t stopped to take a crap, he would have caught the rabbit.”

Now, THAT is wisdom!

Here’s why. The dog takes off on a mission to catch the rabbit. The rabbit himself is fast and tough to catch to begin with. The dog stops to do his duty and the rabbit speeds on. The dog misses out on the rabbit and the rewards of catching the rabbit.

You start off on a new mission/objective/goal/initiative/dream (you pick one). The objective is going to be tough to attain to begin with. You are going fast and then something distracts or stops you. Seems like it’s important at the time. By the time you get going back again, you’ve lost momentum; lost passion; lost direction; and ultimately lost your rabbit and reward.

You, in your professional and personal life, are constantly setting goals and objectives. Too bad you’re allowing things to distract you and keep you from reaching them. More often than not, these distractions are of your own doing. It doesn’t have to be that way. You have control, you just need to be resilient, focused, and passionate. There’s always time to ‘um…”take a crap” later!

Go catch that rabbit!

© 2013 Dan Weedin. All Rights Reserved

This week’s quote –
“It is even harder for the average ape to believe that he has descended from man.”
– H. L. Mencken

Boston Journal #2

Boston is quickly becoming a new favorite city for me.

Yesterday, the girls and I went to Fenway Park and watched the Red Sox win 2-1 over Baltimore. The game came down to the last batter being struck out with the bases loaded. Perfect weather, competitive game, hanging out with my daughters… With apologies to MasterCard, this was priceless.

After the game, we met with my colleagues from Alan Weiss’s consulting community. We all went out to dinner at a terrific Italian restaurant downtown near the Boston Garden. Afterwards, three of us found a cool, underground cigar bar and shared a cigar and scotch together. We then caught up with the others and ate dessert from Mike’s Pastries. This is a new group that has been formed within Alan’s community, and the chance to build relationships by eating and having fun together is, well, also priceless. It was a real treat to include my adult daughters in the evening.

Today was our day with Alan. We discussed a myriad of strategy and tactics related to our consulting careers. The best way to improve and grow is to learn from your peers. It was a value laden day. The girls spent the day touring Boston. I am a little jealous, but plan to do some catch up tomorrow!

Tonight, we watch the Seahawks play on Monday Night Football. A real treat to watch our home town team play on a national stage from the other side of the country. We are meeting one of my daughter’s classmates, who I also coached in basketball in high school. She went to college here, and is now working in this great city.

Full day, with more fun ahead. Stay tuned to tomorrow for more!