CategorySports Stuff

I Can’t Imagine

Imagine for a moment that you discovered the employees in a division of your company were stealing. You had them all on video tape red-handed … except one.

The other thiefs said the one was in on it, too — but video never showed the one taking anything. The one vehemently denied any involvement. The one was an excellent employee — an award-winning, top performer who was respected not only in your organization but by your entire industry.

Would you fire the one? And if you were the one fired, would you protest?

If you were the US Anti-Doping Agency (USADA), apparently you would. And if you were the superstar 7-time Tour de France champion Lance Armstrong, apparently you wouldn’t protest.

And, if you were me, the whole thing would leave you feeling … some kind of way.

You can read all the details HERE — but the gist is, despite hundreds of negative drug test results, the USADA is convinced Armstrong used performance-enhancers because the other top racers during his era tested positive and all say Armstrong did it, too. Now the USADA wants to remove Armstrong from the record books and ban him from racing forever. On Thursday, Armstrong announced he is done defending himself and participating in the investigation process to clear his name.

I can see both sides of the issue:

  • For Armstrong, he feels nothing he says or does at this point will change anything. People have already made up their minds — including the USADA. Continuing to spend his time and money fighting a seemingly losing battle doesn’t make a whole lot of common sense. So he is choosing to walk away. Some will say this discredits him and makes him weak. Others will say it takes tremendous courage and confidence. I think it is a little bit of both there. My friend Susan Avello wrote a great article about this on her blog, HR Virtual Cafe. Take a moment to read it.


  • For the USADA, it has to be hard to let this go. Armstrong was able to be the best and beat the best at a time when it has been proven that all of the best were using performance enhancers. It makse sense to conclude he was doing it too and just figured out a way to beat the tests.  Some will say it’s a wasteful witch-hunt. Others will say they are doing their job. I think it’s a little of both there, too.

What strikes me is that these are the types of issues we face in HR all the time. At least, I deal with these types of issues all the time … Circumstantial employee issues where you cannot without a doubt prove guilt but total innocence just doesn’t make sense under the circumstances. Theft. Harassment. Safety incident. Missed deadlines. Procedural fail. Like I said in my post the other day, most of the time, there is no smoking gun and we just have to do the best we can with the information we have.

So I asked myself: what I would do if a claim like Armstrong’s hit my desk?  After thinking about it for a couple days, I’m still unsure. I can’t imagine not taking some sort of serious action with all that circumstantial evidence … but I can’t imagine permanently banning someone who never failed a drug test, either. As an employer, that would be a monstrous risk without some kind of separation or severance agreement to fall back on to preclude separation litigation … But when you’re the US government, I guess you don’t worry about that kind of stuff.

What would you do with a “Lance Armstrong” HR claim?

Leave Lammy Alone!!

I am a fan of NBA Basketball and I’ve hated the Lakers since the mid-90s. I am also a fan of pop-culture and I am completely enamored by the Kardashian phenomenon.

So I took a special interest in the trade which sent reigning Sixth Man of the Year, Lamar Odom, from LA to the defending NBA Champion Dallas Mavericks after the lockout.

Fast-forward a few months into the abbreviated season and Odom is struggling to find his rhythm and place in Dallas, on and off the court. Sports analysts and tabloids alike seem baffled and miffed by Odom’s inability to “get over” the trade and play to the level everyone has become accustomed to.

This all came to a head about two weeks ago in the Mavs locker-room when owner Mark Cuban confronts Odom, asking that he either commit or quit. The following day, Odom was declared “inactive” for the remainder of the season. He and wife Khloe packed up and headed back to LA.

Now, the analysts are calling Odom “soft” and blaming his newfound notoriety in the Kardashian machine for the collapse. Then I read this article calling Odom unprofessional for his actions and I had enough …


When was the last time your employer decided they didn’t want you to work for them anymore — and got to choose your next job for you without any input from you?? Probably never.

And I am guessing if your employer did that after you were a top performer for years, you’d be pretty upset. It might take you a little while to get over it — especially if you had a family and built a life for yourself in one place only to have to move a couple thousand miles and time zones away. And you wouldn’t take too kindly to people questioning your dedication to your profession because of it.

Yeah. That’s what I thought. So leave Lammy alone.

I am all for analogies between sports, management, business and HR. I’ve written quite a few posts about it, as a matter of fact. However, just like in real HR where we preach about not losing the “human in our resources”, the same rules have to apply when we’re analyzing other professions. And when it comes to trades, we should back off a little with our criticism and judgment of the players … Free agents who block off an hour of network time to announce their decision to leave a franchise? That’s fair game. But a guy who had no real choice in where he ended up and when? That’s not really comparing apples to oranges.

So leave Lammy alone.

The one HR lesson I do find surrounds the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Because if you’ve been paying attention, Odom has had some major life events going on in the last year that may be contributing to his performance problems on the court. He had death in his family and was involved in a car accident that killed a teenager on his way back from that funeral. He and Khloe are having fertility problems. He suffers from insomnia. He is late for practice and has been described as unfocused and melancholy … What does that sound like to you? Cuz it sounds like it could be depression to me. And that is a condition protected by quite a few laws!

The new ADA regulations are requiring employers to be more proactive in identifying, addressing and accommodating these types of issues. Terminating someone who runs into a rough patch after a series of person challenges could land you in some serious trouble if an employee pursues a claim.

Beyond that, why would anyone want to be the type of employer who would not allow employees time and opportunity to get help and heal? Whether it is a long-term employee who has consistently performed or a new employee whom you have invested a lot of time, money and effort to bring onboard — there is a case to be made on both accounts to work with employees to help them through their issues and bring them back to a place of productivity. Perhaps that’s why the Mavs chose not to send Odom to the D-League and make him inactive at this time … although, I kinda doubt that.

So either leave Lammy alone — or try to get him some help. But stop calling him names because you’re mad that he’s making millions and you’re not. Making a lot of money doesn’t mean you don’t get to hate your job, resent your employer or have personal crisis. And none of that makes you unprofessional. It makes you human.

Office Pool Rules

I participated in and won 3 pools for the NCAA Men’s Basketball “March Madness” challenge this year!! Yay me!!

It’s the next best thing to winning the record-setting Mega Millions jackpot from last week (more on that in a moment).


I arrived at work today to collect my winnings from our “commissioner” to find the winner’s pot had been reduced because a few people failed to pay their part. Our group is private — so the only way to get in is for someone to add you and give you the password. It is rare that anyone doesn’t pay and/or disappears without a trace and/or no one else in the group says “I know DrHoopenstein90210 —  I will cover him.” So rare that it hasn’t happened in over a decade!

But it happened this year. And my winnings suffered because of it!


Shame on you, DrHoopenstein90210, whoever and wherever you are!!

Remember THIS kid from the movie “Better Off Dead”??

That’s gonna be me if I ever find out who you are …


Sorry. Where was I ? … Oh yeah. Office pools.

After I learned of the issue in my March Madness pool, I read THIS article about the woman in Maryland who claims she won the Mega Millions. Only issue is 1) she hasn’t produced the winning ticket yet and B) she was apart of an office pool who bought tickets as a group so, if she has the winning ticket, the winnings may not solely belong to her. When she’s not giving interviews to the local media, she’s apparently hiding out from her co-workers in fear.

What a mess!!!

Office pools are supposed to be fun. They build camaraderie and healthy competition and help lighten the mood of the staff. But if you can’t pay, don’t play! And if you can’t resist the temptation to dip into or keep all the winnings for yourself, just say no! And if you can’t be a gracious winner or loser, find another group!

The last thing you want is to damage your reputation among your co-workers and colleagues over something so seemingly insignificant that really has nothing to do with the work you do.

Pool Law

No Shame in the Game

A friend of mine posted this video and article from the Huffington Post a little over a week ago.

In the video, tennis star Serena Williams says she isn’t feeling especially passionate about tennis and marvels at how she became a pro athlete because she hates sports, exercise, etc.

Then writer Peter Bodo basically rips her a new one for it, calling her “unprofessional” and “discouraging” and “unaware.”

Well, I say “Shame on you!” to Mr. Bodo and those who agree with him.

  • Mr. Bodo says Serena Williams should have realized 20 years ago that tennis wasn’t her interest to save everyone the time spent supporting her.

Uh … 20 years ago, she was a child. She really didn’t have a choice.

  • Mr. Bodo says Serena Williams isn’t a professional because she doesn’t know “the unwritten part of the definition is the mandate to continue doing whatever it is you’re good at, and to do it at an extremely high level, even though it can no longer be called ‘fun’ and it’s no longer something you ‘love’ in the most romantic, infatuated sense of the word”

Um … What kind of definition is that?!?

  • Mr. Bodo says Serena Williams should just suck it up and keep playing because “backtracking isn’t an option.”

Urr … Since when?!?

I think Bodo should replace the D in his name with another consonant because he’s acting like a clown!

It’s clear to me from watching the video that Williams had a bad day. She clearly says “I don’t love tennis today … but I’m here. And I couldn’t live without [tennis].”

Who hasn’t had a day like that?? I just had one last week (Read about it)! It wasn’t the first and it won’t be the last. It happens to all professionals — and it’s OK!

There is no shame in the game!

No shame in making a career change. The person we are and the things we want to do at 20 are not necessarily the same person and things at 35 or 45. There’s nothing wrong with that. With proper planning, patience and time, it is possible to make a successful transition from one career to something new and different.

No shame in having a bad day. Or a string of bad days. In Serena’s case, she plays a sport that is physically demanding and it’s taking a toll on her body. I would imagine she’s in pain a lot and that her body doesn’t do what it did when she stepped on the scene 10+ years ago … I can’t do what I used to do 10 years ago, either! I worked 60-80 hours and never felt tired back then. I was able to work faster, remember more in the short-term and grind harder. Now, I have greater responsibilities and years of HR stuff rolling around in my head. My perspective is different. I am wiser and my grind is different. I love what I do — but there are days when I’m not in love with it. There are bad days. Really, really bad days.

No shame in expressing frustration. I get frustrated with newbies who don’t know what I know and can’t do what I do and don’t want to invest the energy to learn. I get frustrated with those who criticize and tear down HR without fully understanding how and why it works. I vent to my co-workers and my friends and I send tweets and status updates about my frustrations. So what?!?

Perhaps Mr. Bodo can’t understand this because he’s from a different generation? In his day, you got a job at something you were good at and you worked that job until you retired, no matter how much you hated it or wanted to do something else. Those days are gone though. These days, people reinvent themselves. These days, people have multiple careers — sometimes at the same time. Sure, times are tough — but there is still a lot of opportunity out there.

But none of that matters for Serena Williams because I seriously doubt she’s quitting tennis. She just had a bad day. And since then, she’s pulled it together and she’s back to kicking ass and taking names on the tennis court.

You and I, on the other hand, might seriously be ready for a change. The HR grind is a tough one and burnout is all too real! Here are some signs.

Just know that you are not stuck as Mr. Bodo would have you believe. There are opportunities! We can talk about them, if you want. Holla at me.

There is no shame in the game.

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