LEADERSHIP: How The 1998 Chicago Bulls Eliminated Dissension and Reached Their Goal....

I'm not a big gimmick/team-building exercise guy.  I find most team-building stuff to be a little forced, although I will say that I always dread it and emerge from it with some type of positive.  The positive I get is usually empathy towards a team member that I didn't necessarily like or feel close to.

I ran across a team building/unity exercise yesterday and wanted to share.  It's from the the 1998 Chicago Bulls, who had won 5 titles and where getting ready to start the playoffs for what everyone was sure would be their final run. Jackson

Their season was full of distraction, arguments and distrust.  Here what Phil Jackson, the legendary coach, did to quiet the noise and circle the wagons one last time.   More from Bill Simmons at The Ringer:

Jackson gathered players, coaches and trainers for a special meeting before the 1998 playoffs, asking everyone to write a message about what that final season meant to them. A poem, a sentence, a song, whatever. It had to be 50 words or fewer. Everyone obliged. They went around the room reading their messages, even Jordan, and when they finished, Jackson burned them in a coffee can. All the chaos and dissension burned away with it. They banded together for eight weeks and prevailed again, for a lot of reasons, but mainly because they employed the greatest player ever.

Before you kill me - I get it - this exercise doesn't work for most of the team building needs you have.

But I like this one a lot for teams who are getting ready to have to come together for a big challenge, teams that maybe could be fired if the next month or two doesn't go well, and especially if those teams are generally bitchy towards each other.

50 words or less.  Maybe you frame it as what your job means to you.  Who knows what comes out of these people's heads, right?  Could be stupid stuff, or it could be fascinating.

One thing's for sure - no one is going to try and look stupid if they have the floor and they've had some time to think about it.

What I love about this exercise is that it gets you into the head of your teammate.  Maybe it's someone you don't like very much.  What happens when they try and have a serious moment is what I mentioned before - empathy from others.

Ahhhh.  That's who you are.  Got it.  With empathy and understanding comes a couple of other things.  Patience.  A little bit of trust.

Can you use this exercise today?  Probably not. Should you be looking for ways to make your team more empathetic to each other?  Absolutely.

The Bulls won their 6th title in 1998, primary because they had Michael Jordan.

But a little bit of that title belongs to Jackson, who kept the lid on long enough to make the last title run with Jordan.

Don't forgot to burn the paper your people bring in.

When Your Boss Acts Like a Dinosaur and You Just Serve Up The Brontosaurus...

In case you missed it, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is the latest leader VP level FTE of the free world to espouse the benefits of having his underlings print stuff out for him to chew on.  Damn kids!  Where's my digital information printed out on something I can take notes on?  Or use to throw away my gum?  BTW, I'm almost out of Big Red - send the intern to the store. 

OK, let's look at the quote and analyze it after the jump.  More from Newsweek:

"Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has said that he prints out President Donald Trump's tweets and uses them to inform decision-making on foreign policy. Tillerson

The Texan was speaking to his predecessor Condeleezza Rice at a Stanford University event on Wednesday, at which he said the president is "world-class at social media," on which he reaches millions of people via Twitter, Instagram and Facebook with messages that sometimes even his own team remain unaware of. 

"The challenge is getting caught up because I don't even have a Twitter account that I can follow what he is tweeting, so my staff usually has to print his tweets out and hand them to me," Tillerson told Rice."

Random and at times, astute thoughts on this:

1.  Condi is pressing her tongue against her teeth - or whatever method she uses - not to laugh out loud at Tillerson thinking he's being cool with this response.

2.  It's hard when you have an otherwise talented boss ask you for something stupid.  Sometimes the caveman just wants to eat, and it's easier to serve him the Brontosaurus than walk him through the issues.

3.  There would be A LOT MORE DINOSAURS in the world receiving this level of service.  But most of us saw administrative assistants go away in the 1990s, never to return.  So while this type of story is rare, it would be more common had the great OD plague of the 1990 not wiped 80% of the admins from the face of the earth.

4.  Tillerson has a legitimate security concern in not having a twitter account.  But I'm pretty sure that there's an analyst at the State Department that can set up autoforwarding to his smart phone via email or even a secure app - let's name it Sexy Rexy - and have it pop the minute Trump tweets.

5.  And yes, someone close to Tillerson has to tell him how bad this makes him look and help him at least have the appearance of looking digital.

It's one thing to have Marge print out the tweets.  It's another thing to tell the world you're on top of twitter and use it for policy by - wait for it - printing stuff from "The Twitter Thing" out.



Can HR Be Trusted to Lockdown Vulnerability and Secrets From the Employee Base?

At the end of the day, employees have to trust any HR pro enough to come forward and share bad stuff with said HR pro.  What type of bad stuff?  What type of bad stuff do your employees have?

Hate. Addiction. Family Dysfunction. Ambition. Concerns about others.  Just to name a few.

All these things and more are filed under topics that employees would love to talk to someone about. Due to the role of HR, a good HR pro is a likely target for an employee to vent to.  But before they make the decision to confide in you, they have to evaluate whether you can be trusted.

More from Jennifer McClure at Unbridled Talent:

"But I do recall a conversation I had one day with an employee who was experiencing some issues at work. When I offered to listen and provide support, she said “Unfortunately, I can’t talk to you about this. It’s not that I don’t trust you personally. It’s the chair that you sit in. You have the authority to fire me. And I can’t risk that.”

After she left my office, I thought about what she’d said. I wanted to be offended. But I kinda understood where she was coming from. While it was frustrating that she wouldn’t allow me to try to help out just because of my position in the organization, I also knew that sometimes it was part of my role to be involved in making decisions about her career. So sharing a weakness or performance problem with someone who has that type of influence could be perceived as a risk."

Go read Jennifer's post.  Then think about the kind of HR pro you are.  I'd tell you that when it comes to employees considering whether they want to confide in you on a deep level, there are 3 types of HR pros:

  1. No way, no how. You've got a reputation for sharing information about others with the wrong people. You talk too much, and this is most commonly manifested by you talking about other employees to... you guessed it.... their peers - other rank and file employees.  Which causes them to wonder what you would do if they shared something deep about themselves that they're struggling with.
  2. You haven't ####ed it up yet. They look at you as an HR pro and see someone they shouldn't distrust, but you haven't earned your stripes yet as someone that can go on lockdown and be fully trusted.  At some point, someone's going to test that, seeking to trust you and ask you for advice.  When that day comes, you'll have to listen, offer advice, put the info in a lockbox (shoutout to Al Gore, inventor of the internet) and not share with anyone.  You know, be trustworthy.
  3. The Rock. Employees have trusted you with some bad stuff about themselves in the past. You listened, offered advice and then most importantly, locked it down.  You didn't talk to other employees and just as importantly, didn't share the info with their boss, other senior team members in your unit, etc.  As a result, employees talk. You've got a reputation as someone that can be trusted, even though the employees who share that opinion never talk about what they shared with you.

HR pros earn their reps with results - either negative or positive - when employees choose to trust them. Like the rest of the human race, some HR pros are great building and maintaining trust, some aren't.

My advice for any HR pro is to develop a quick script to share with any employee that approaches you and tells you they're about to go deep.  My favorite is something related to confidentiality that suggests, "if you're asking for confidentiality, I can tell you I can deliver that with the exception of things that are legal issues or would negatively impact our business."

My experience is that the best HR pros usually have quite a bit of stuff on lockdown.  Do employees trust you?  That's a fair question any HR pro should ask themselves.


Male HR Manager Takes Down Female Congressional Candidate with Harassment Claim... #metoo

As warranted by the stupid, inappropriate behavior of some men, the #metoo movement has mostly outed those men for the harassers they are.  But now, we have our first public female victim of the #metoo movement.

This one is juicy folks, because as HR pros, you know more about this one than anyone else in the world.  Read on, analysis after the clip below.  More from the Washington Post: Andrea-ramsey-congress

A Democratic candidate hoping to flip a hotly contested congressional seat in Kansas has dropped out of the race after allegations that she sexually harassed a male subordinate resurfaced during her campaign.  Andrea Ramsey, 57, who was running to unseat Republican Kevin Yoder in a district that includes Kansas City in 2018, is one of the few, if only, women in public life to step down thus far amid a national conversation about sex and power dynamics in the workplace.

The allegations against Ramsey were outlined in a 2005 lawsuit and a complaint filed by a dismissed employee, Gary Funkhouser, to the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, when Ramsey was working as an executive vice president of human resources at medical testing company LabOne, according to the Kansas City Star.

In the federal complaint about sex discrimination and retaliation, Funkhouser accused Ramsey, then Andrea Thomas, according to the Star, of making “unwelcome and inappropriate sexual comments and innuendos” when he was a human resources manager for LabOne.

Funkhouser alleged that he had suffered consequences at work because he had rebuffed an advance he said she made during a business trip in 2005.

“After I told her I was not interested in having a sexual relationship with her, she stopped talking to me,” he wrote, according to documents filed in court. “In the office, she completely ignored me and avoided having any contact with me.”

The EEOC closed its investigation in 2005, saying that it was “unable to conclude that the information obtained establishes violations of the statutes.” Though Ramsey was not charged directly in the lawsuit, she had been named in the complaint. It was settled by the company after mediation in 2006 and had begun to be discussed in political circles recently, the Star reported.

Without naming Funkhouser, Ramsey said that a man decided to bring a lawsuit against the company after she eliminated his position.

“He named me in the allegations, claiming I fired him because he refused to have sex with me,” she wrote. “That is a lie.”

Hell hath no fury like a HR pro fired, especially one that thought he/she was on the inside, only to be on the outside.  Do I know the guy made it up?  Do I think Ramsey hit on the guy on the road?

I don't know what happened, but here's what I know:

1--The fact that it was an HR pro bringing the claim makes it different from any we have seen.

2--HR pros know things.  Things like how to bring EEOC claims - their awareness of how to do things like this is higher than almost everyone else's in your company, mainly because they have defended those claims.  They also know those claims are usually settled.

3--Ramsey didn't have to directly hit on him to have this coming.  It's possible that the HR manager in question felt like he was being harassed in other ways and just made that "she wanted to sleep with me on the road" detail up.  Or - as we've learned so many times with harassment, he may have interpreted her offer to come have a drink in the hotel lobby as a solicitation to get busy.  Maybe it was.  #funkhousertoo

4--She apparently didn't open her door in a partially open robe like Weinstein when she asked him to come up and "pick up the comp study to read for the meeting in the morning".  At least I didn't read that detail.  LOL.

5--The name Funkhouser is cool.  If you're wondering where you heard that before, Marty Funkhouser is a recurring character on HBO's Curb Your Enthusiasm.  Imagine being at that company and saying, "Did you hear about the Funkhouser lawsuit against Andrea?"

The bottom line is this. Hell hath no fury like an HR pro fired or caught up in a reorganization.  The savvy HR leader knows the answer - Andrea Ramsey should have loaded up young Funkhouser with an exceptional severance package on the way out.  

I'll repeat one of my core sayings - "In America, allegations are free."  Anyone can file a claim.   And it's that fact that we all should remember as HR leaders as we go through various reorganizations.

Anyone can file a claim, but HR pros?  They know more about how to do it and the process that happens afterwords than anyone in the world.





Publicly Shaming Good People Removes Them From the Conversation on Change...

Look - I get it - there's a lot of stuff going on in the world that's been a long time coming for society in general:

--Protests against police brutality and the impact of that on minorities - check. Duncan

--the #metoo movement and shining a light on the pig-like behavior and conduct of way too many men in our society - check.

--Equal rights for the GLBTQ community - check.

There's more, but I'll stop there.  Us talking about those things and hopefully course correcting are good things on all levels.  But what's become a by-product of that process is going after people with good intentions by a form of public shaming, and that shaming is focused on calling out people as being non-friendly to any or all of the groups in question.

Of course, social media makes the shaming easy to do.  And the shaming is subtle - it rarely calls someone a racist, a harasser or a bigot in general directly - it simply accuses you of not being as sensitive as you should, which implies that the target of the shaming is any or all of the things I just mentioned.

Here's what happens when you call out a normal, good person with good intent and try to shame them - You push them away from the conversation.  They'll leave the arena, usually never to reengage. And if it's change you seek, that's not a good thing.

Quick story - was doing a webinar a couple of weeks ago for about 400 people.  Going through some slides, and had a shamer hijack the Q&A section by suggesting that my slides didn't have enough diversity.  That's fair on the surface (my slides did include diversity, with about 25% of the slides including non-white people as one form of measuring diversity, and my case study featured a woman), but the intent was clear - the commenter felt one way and tried to hijack the show.

Meanwhile - and I can't make this stuff up - the webinar was slides plus video of the presenter and the following is true....

Behind me on my wall (I'm the presenter) was a canvas oil painting of Tim Duncan (that painting is pictured to the right of this post).  Tim Duncan happens to be black, and he was in my video frame and visible to all participants for 55 MINUTES OF THE WEBINAR.

Translation - my webinar had diversity visible for the entire show.  But the shamers came out.  Lucky for me my skin is thicker than a rhino.

But most people in our workplace don't have my skin thickness and haven't put themselves out there for criticism like I have.  Most of the good faith/good effort people we know will withdraw from any type of risk - and therefore meaningful conversation - as soon as they are shamed.

Shaming shines a light on the obvious bigots.  But when you shame normal people, I'm here to tell you that you're reducing the level of conversation - and probably guaranteeing we don't progress as quickly as we could in our society.

Change is good in the all the areas listed. Be careful you aren't eliminating great people from the conversation by attempting to publicly shame.


Sit Down Old People - I'd Hire You, But You're Not "Digitally Native"....

Thoughts from the road.

Let's talk about old people.  No BS, no talking around it, let's just talk about old people in the workplace.
I'm coming off some leadership training with a client. Great people, and when I do that type of training I'm always reminded how most people who obtain any type of leadership position with a company (first-level managers and up) are talented and want to do great things.  
Here's another observation. The older managers in my group this week were great.  They were engaged, thoughtful, talented - and among the people I would trust the most to try and put the conversation techniques we we teaching in play at their company.
So why don't more companies want to employ older workers?  I'm convinced that this is probably THE undervalued sector in the employment marketplace right now. The-bucket-list
Why is this on my mind?  Mainly due to this article I spotted on the road from Inc, detailing the new codewords tech companies are putting into job descriptions to try and eliminate older workers from consideration.  Take a look at this bull#### (Inc reporting is solid, so I'm talking about the subjects of the reporting):

People would be rightly shocked if a job description for a high-tech position said: "whites and South Asians only" or "women need not apply." They'd be shocked not because racism and sexism aren't rampant in these firms, but because the company would be explicitly acknowledging that the racism and the sexism exists.

However, whilst they're sensitive about being outwardly racist and sexist, high tech firms are total fine with discriminating against one type of job candidate: anyone born before 1985. To express this, high-tech firms use the dog-whistle "digital native" which basically means "nobody older than 36 need apply." Here's an example from the Mountain View-based TapInfluence:

"As an Influencer Marketing Accounts Coordinator, you are an eager and ambitious can-do-er. You are bright, creative and won't stop until both you and your customers (marketers and influencers) are successful. You are a digital native who loves everything about social media and who keeps up with all the rising social trends." (Emphasis mine.)

The term "digital native" comes from a 2001 article suggesting that "children raised in a digital, media-saturated world require a media-rich learning environment to hold their attention." Over time, this highly-questionable notion that millennials are particularly prone to ADD and ADHD has morphed into the even-more-questionable notion that millennials are better adapted to the digital world.

Digital native.  Nice. New buzzword for old.  It used to be "energy", but everybody's probably on to that, so we changed it. Everyone take a bite of the turd sandwich that phrase is. Also, the article points out that Facebook diversity statement includes consideration for every protected group under the sun except - you guessed it - old people:

High tech firms, though, have so thoroughly embraced this "digital native" junk science that many don't even feel it necessary mention age in their pro-forma diversity statements. Like Facebook, for instance:

"As part of our dedication to the diversity of our workforce, Facebook is committed to Equal Employment Opportunity without regard for race, color, national origin, ethnicity, gender, protected veteran status, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity, or religion."

So that quote is the diversity footer on Facebook's posts on LinkedIn.  I'm not a big "let's be politically correct" person, so I really don't want to shame post on Facebook.
But **** it - shame on you Facebook.  You'll include every other protected class but the old folks?  Damn.
Old folks use tech products.  Old folks also trend more politically conservative, so If I was Fox News, I'd do a segment claiming that political leaning is the real reason you don't keep age top of mind as a protected class.  
But I'm not Fox News.  So I'll assume the reason you don't want old people is because you think they can't hang.  A lot of times, you might be right.
But older workers are a value play in the talent marketplace right now.  If you're looking for great talent, you might want to figure out a way to sort the player/non-player thing out across older workers.  I'd hire all of the older people I saw this week - without hesitation.  
Are they "digital native"?  I don't know.  But if you're discounting the whole class due to that factor, I've only got one thing to say:
Up yours. 
You're wrong.  Run a ####ing algorithm to figure out which of the older folks can hang.  That's what you do, right?  Use data to make smarter decisions?  Try that with older people and hire a few of them - the talented ones - and see what happens. 
I bet it's positive.

Kid Rock, Innovation and Resistance to Change...

Show love to those who come real with it
Life's a b**ch , but I deal with it
I'm in it to win it like Yzerman
Can drink about fifteen Heinekins
I'm not born again but if I was
I'd ask to come back with a little more love
Puffin the Winston, drinkin' a four-oh
Kid Rock and I'm a let you know...

Wasting Time --Kid Rock


We’re all a little bit scared of change, aren’t we?

The year is 1998.  I turn on the MTV music awards and a see a white guy with long hair, a funky hat and a red suede sweatsuit jumping around stage, rapping and screaming.  The scene around him is surreal – there’s Kid rock a midget bouncing around on stage with him, the music behind him is 90% provided by a rock band with a bassist and lead guitarist who look like bikers and a middle-age black woman on drums. 

My conclusion.  This sucks.  It will never last.  Why are they on the MTV music awards.  WTF?

Well, it turns out that dirty white hippie was Kid Rock.  The world had it right early, I had it wrong.  I became a fan over time.  I was late to the game.

Love him or hate him, Kid Rock arrived.  Some of you never liked him.  Most of the world eventually did. 

We see things that interrupt our pattern, and our first instinct is to protect what we know – even if the new thing is better.  Need another example?

Messaging.  If you’re Gen X like me, texting came online at a time when I didn’t need another way to communicate.  Like a lot of people in their 30’s at the time, I WAS KILLING IN IT CORPORATE AMERICA VIA EMAIL.  I didn’t want or need texting.  My kids were young and without phones – I didn’t see what the big deal was. DID I MENTION MY EMAIL GAME WAS SICK?

Turns out, I missed a channel of immediacy with those I most wanted to communicate with.  Now I can’t think of life without the immediacy of text – although that responsiveness will go down over time.

You’ve got your own stories about how you resisted change in your life and now look back and feel stupid, right?  Hit me with those stories in the comments.

The point?  We are resistant to change, so we often are slow to see the benefits of new innovations that appear before us.  To be sure, not all new things are going to break through like texting – or like Kid Rock.

But it really doesn't matter.  Most of us are resistant enough to all change that we’re slow on everything – including the ones that really matter. 

That has to spill over into your ability to innovate at work, right?

If we’re slow to adopt changes that obviously improve the status quo, how could we possibly be expected to innovate on our own at work?


Sure you are, Sparky.  Sure your are.


BHAGs: You're Afraid. Elon Musk is Not...

BHAGs are visionary, strategy statements designed to focus a group of people around a common initiative. They differ from our other goal setting techniques because BHAGS are positioned toward by a large group (rather than individuals) and they typically span a large amount of time than any of our other goals. They’re huge.

BHAGs can come in several flavors. Most are focused on one of four broad categories: reaching a defined target or metric, competition, organizational change, or reputation. Here are a few examples from some companies Elon-musk-mars you’ve probably never heard of…

-Reaching a defined target

“Attain 1 billion customers worldwide” – Citicorp, 1990s


“Crush Adidas” – Nike, 1960s

-Organizational Change

“Transform this company from a chemical manufacturer into one of preeminent drug-making companies in the world.” –Merck, 1930s


“Become the company most known for changing the worldwide poor-quality image of Japanese products” – Sony, 1950s

Wait - Nike wasn't always the leader? Japanese products were once considered low quality before Japan was kicking our ass in the 80's?

Well, before the world as we know it at Nike and Sony became the reality, leaders at those companies created a BHAG as a single unified vision for their people to rally around.

You know who else is good at BHAGs?  Elon Musk.  Musk basically BHAG'd his way into Tesla and Space X becoming great companies.  

Electric Car with quality and luxury?  BHAG.

Reusable rockets with segments that can land back on earth on pads?  B-freaking-HAG.

Well, here comes Musk again, probably the most adept user of BHAGs in the world.  The topic is Mars - more from The Guardian:

Elon Musk has unveiled plans for a new spacecraft that he says would allow his company SpaceX to colonise Mars, build a base on the moon, and allow commercial travel to anywhere on Earth in under an hour. The spacecraft is currently still codenamed the BFR (Big Fucking Rocket). Musk says the company hopes to have the first launch by 2022, and then have four flying to Mars by 2024.

Last year Musk proposed an earlier plan for the spacecraft, but at the time had not developed a way of funding the project. Speaking at the International Astronautical Congress in Adelaide Australia on Friday, Musk said the company had figured out a way to pay for the project.

The key, he said, was to “cannibalise” all of SpaceX’s other products. Instead of operating a number of smaller spacecrafts to deliver satellites into orbit and supply the International Space Station, Musk said the BFR would eventually be used to complete all of its missions. “If we can do that then all the resources that are used for Falcon9, Dragon and Heavy can by applied to this system,” he said.

BFR.  Musk isn't messing around.  The BHAG is set.

If history tells us nothing else, it tells us that Musk will probably make it happen.  Maybe not by 2024, but you can't have a BHAG without making it seem impossible.

Social Loafing - Do People Give Less Effort When You Add More Resources To a Team?

Social Loafing -the phenomenon of a person exerting less effort to achieve a goal when they work in a group than when they work alone.



From a book I'm reading...

One of the first scientists to explore the dynamics of group effort was a guy named Maximilien Ringelmann.  In 1913, Ringelmann conducted an experiment in which he asked Social loafingstudents to pull on a rope, both individually and in groups, while he measured the force they exerted.  The conventional view was that people in a group would have more power collectively than they did alone - in other words, adding people to the pulling group would have a multiplying effect on the force.

But the results were surprising - While the force applied did grow with every new person added, the average force applied by each by each person fell.  Rather than amplifying the power of individuals, the act of pulling as a team caused each person to pull less hard than they had while pulling alone.  Later researchers coined a name to the phenomenon.  They called it social loafing.

A later Fordham study decided to look at whether social loafing could be overcome.  They wanted to see whether one person giving a maximum effort could incite other to improve their performances. The scientists grouped their shouters in pairs and, before they began shouting, told them that their partner was a high effort performer. In these situations, something interesting happened. The pairs screamed just as hard together as they had alone. The knowledge that a teammate was giving it their all was enough to prompt people to give more themselves.

Is social loafing real in the workplace? I'd say 100% it is.  While high performing teams can do amazing things, the question is what does it take to be a high performing team?

You know some of the answers, right?  Goal setting, consistent feedback, task and role clarity within the team, etc.  Read deeper on social loafing and you'll find that the lack of clarity related to individual expectations causes many team members to assume/rationalize that other team members will do certain activities - so there's no need for them to act.

The impact of a reported high performer in the Fordham study is interesting as well.  Let's say you're at your company (ACME) and while you're a talented gal, you've had it on cruise control for awhile - the work is mundane, the people are mundane and even though some of your work teams aren't producing stellar results, you're still considered a high performer.

Why work harder? You're in a rut. 

Suddenly, a new hire shows up and you're told they're from a progressive company and are considered a key hire.  They're inserted into 2 of the 4 work groups you participate in at ACME and damn, they start trying to shake things up and get more done - even if it means doing more themselves than others are doing.

What do you do in those circumstances?  Deadbeats who are already long gone from an effort perspective might let them do it.  But anyone who still has ambition and a desire to be a high performer is forced to step up their game.

Social loafing exists in your company until you create some type of competition to wake people up.  

What type of competition is required?  Depends on your culture and your team.  Could be a key new hire, could be a project chart showing what people are working on or an overall scoreboard that puts the team in direct competition with others - or simply with themselves.

If you want to stop social loafing, introduce competition.  Competition is not a dirty word.  Don't let a sleepy culture at your company tell you otherwise.



ESPN Prez Wades Into Employee Political Identities with Jemele Hill Memo...

If you follow the media game (and in today's political environment where every outlet has a slant, it's hard not to), you might have seen that ESPN's Jemele Hill was out on her personal Twitter account calling the current POTUS a "white supremacist".

Here's the tweet (click through it you don't see it below, email subscribers):


Of course, that led to a bunch of posturing, including conservatives wondering why someone like Linda Cohn (another ESPN anchor) was sent home/suspended for merely stating she thought the media outlet should be less focused on politics, while the Hill tweets were largely unaddressed by ESPN.  

From an HR perspective, I'm most interested in the intersection of someone's professional life and personal views, and how an organization navigates that.  Could Jemele Hill have been suspended or even fired?  Sure - but good luck with that with Trump as the target of her controversial comments. 

So ESPN is in a rough spot - highly visible employee makes comments sure to frustrate some of the base, but what can they do?  Well, ESPN did their best to continue to try and get in front of it with an internal memo.  More from the NY Post:

"ESPN president John Skipper sent a memo to all of the company’s employees late Friday afternoon (9/15/17), outlining his wish that ESPN remain an apolitical organization, regardless of outside perception.

“I want to remind everyone about fundamental principles at ESPN. ESPN is about sports. … We show highlights and report scores and tell stories and break down plays.”

“In light of recent events, we need to remind ourselves that we are a journalistic organization and that we should not do anything that undermines that position,” Skipper wrote in a memo obtained by Sports Illustrated. “We also know that ESPN is a special place and that our success is based on you and your colleagues’ work. Let’s not let the public narrative re-write who we are or what we stand for. Let’s not be divided in that pursuit. I will need your support if we are to succeed.”

Translation - your public views, even as a private citizen, can impact our success as a business.  And hey, I'm asking now - maybe next time I don't ask.  #stopplease

It's a well known fact of life that freedom of speech is alive and well - but just because that right is protected constitutionally doesn't mean your employer can't fire you if your stated views cause them problems with their client/customer base.

But as this column from former ESPN columnist Bill Simmons notes (once suspended himself for comments made publicly), the crazier the political environment gets, the harder it is to suspend/fire individuals for comments that might harm the business.

Interesting times.  Hit me in the comments with any craziness from employees you're seeing related to what I'll kindly call "this Trump thing"....