In Plain Sight Behind Closed Doors

Dan Weedin Unleashed-40On Sunday, the Pittsburgh Steelers defeated the Kansas City Chief in an exciting National Football League playoff game, sending them to the AFC Championship match up against the New England Patriots. After the game, Head Coach Mike Tomlin gave a rousing speech to his team; full of praise for their efforts and encouraging them to now move on and pull off the upset of the favored Patriots team the next week.

Coach Tomlin’s inspired words included a few expletives and exhortations that are normal in post-game locker rooms at any level of play. They are normally expressed behind closed doors and private. That’s what Coach Tomlin thought they were. Turns out that star player Antonio Brown was off to the side of the locker room recording everything on the moment on Facebook LIVE for the world to see.

Aside from the fact that it’s a violation of both team and NFL rules, there are huge issues here that pertain to your business.

  1. There was a well-communicated rule about the privacy of the locker room. What’s said within the walls (before the press is allowed in) was for those players and coaches. Brown blatantly and selfishly violated that rule using a live stream social media platform. What rules do you have about privacy in your company? What rules apply to the sharing of: employee compensation, bonuses, disciplinary actions, intellectual property, proprietary information, client and prospect lists, technology, and other “classified” materials? How do you know your “locker room” is safe?
  2. If you’ve seen the stream (now playing at your local Internet), you see Brown is around the corner from the coach and other players. He’s not listening or being part of the team. He’s more concerned about preening in front of the camera for 18 minutes (45 seconds of Tomlin’s speech included). While your employee meetings may not use the same format, how many of your employees are listening when you speak? Ever see any vacant eyes, distracted stares, peeking at text messages and email under the desk? 
  3. Antonio Brown is one of the star players. From all I’ve heard, he’s a hard worker and good teammate. He got caught up in the moment, thought of himself first, and then willingly broke rules. How many of your best and brightest employees are capable of bad behavior that could damage your company in some way? Don’t say “none.” I’ve had a situation where a client’s bookkeepers stole tens of thousands of dollars from under his nose over the course of several years before getting caught. Smart and successful business owner (just as Tomlin is a smart and successful coach) who placed trust in someone.

Here’s today’s takeaways:

  1. Don’t get caught being looking behind every rock for an employee behaving badly. The majority are doing the right things for you. However, being consistent in your message about what is expected and required is critical; even if you think you’ve got it under control.
  2. Your private company conversations, resources, information, etc. are all more at risk than ever. Cyber issues – whether it be crime or just social media – can put your company and your reputation at risk. You need to have a plan.
  3. Develop strong leaders to police yourselves. Give them autonomy to be your eyes and ears.

For most small and mid-size companies, these actions rarely get taken due to time and energy constraints. This is an investment of your time, energy, and money. In order to avoid both your “dirty and clean laundry” from being exposed to the world (and your clients), then you need to create a resiliency plan. Doing this will keep you from yelling expletives in the privacy of your office!

Need help creating a resiliency plan to prevent and mitigate crisis, and protect your reputation and profits? Contact me at (360) 271-1592 or dan@danweedin.com and let’s talk.

 

© 2017 Toro Consulting, Inc. All Rights Reserved

 

Crisis…your name is Charlie Sheen

Charlie Sheen

I just received a New York Times e-mail notice that Charlie Sheen was fired from CBS’s sitcom “Two and a Half Men.” Sheen was the lead character and highest paid television star. He recently made big news for all the wrong reasons. His troubles with the law, bizarre behavior, and recent antics on television and radio was finally too much for CBS. They canned the troubled star today, probably putting the final nails in the coffin for the show and the rest of the cast. This situation isn’t too unlike Tiger Woods’s travails in November of 2009. His auto accident which led to his dirty laundry of exploits resulted in many of his sponsors dumping him. You can throw in Pittsburgh Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger, who was suspended for 4 games this year for embarrassing his team and the NFL after accusations (of which he was never formally found guilty of) were levied against him by a woman he met in a bar (sound familiar?).

Reputation is one of my 5 key areas of impact when it comes to crisis management. Make no mistake about it…this was a crisis for CBS. Media outlets are always vulnerable to reputation hits from their “stars.” Corporations who sponsor celebrity athletes, move stars, and the like are in the same boat. How they handle these crises will ultimately determine how they are preceived, and how badly the crisis will hurt.

CBS wasted very little time. Sheen spent last week making a fool of himself to any media outlet that would give him time. CBS at some point has made a decision on how it wants to be perceived and held the line with its biggest (by dollar amount at least) star. Their crisis management decision has huge implications – loss of revenue, legal action from cast members or employees, loss of fans, etc. However, in their organization, they set a standard of appropriate behavior for their employees.

These types of decisions can’t be made on the fly. Your organization must determine it’s own vulnerabilities and decide to make commitments to action in advance, not in real time. You may not ever have the same exposure of a renegade television star. However, you may have employees who can get into their own behavior problems. How do you deal with substance abuse, driving while intoxicated, criminal charges, public humiliation, libel, slander, or other issues? Are you willing to fire your best employee for conduct detrimental to your organization? Do you have a policy stating that?

Recently, Washington State University benched its star basketball player, Klay Thompson just before a huge game against UCLA for possession of marijuana. I’m not saying it was the right or wrong move; too much or too little. What I am saying is that they have a policy that includes everyone and they are prepared to deal with behavior crises on their team.

My question for you is this – are you?

© 2011 Dan Weedin. All Rights Reserved