One of the great thing about the onset of the fall season is that football is back. Now, I realize for some of you, it’s not a big deal. In fact, it may be an annoyance, as some spouses/significant others might find their attention swayed by the game many weekends. For me, it’s a fun pastime, even though I have less free time these days.
Anyway, the draw for me – and suspect most people – is the actual game action. Not to mention being a part of a fantasy football league, which is fun But one part of football that I had rarely thought about was the referees. They have always been a necessary part of the game, but not in any way the attraction. They were just there to facilitate the game being played within the rules. They were never noticed unless they messed up.
Well, at the beginning of this current pro football season, the regular refs were not on the field. Locked in negotiations for a labor deal, they didn’t have the right deal in place at the beginning of the season. Thus, they were replaced on the field on an interim basis by “replacement refs”, as commonly described by fans and many in the media.
The thing is, the replacement refs were not the “real” refs. Their work on the field, in the view of those aforementioned fans and the media, was often considered to be sub-par compared to the usual standard. When questionable calls started to influence the outcome of games, many people got highly critical.
When progress was made on the labor deal, and the real refs came back, people were happy. They actually got an ovation at their first game back.
I took away a few lessons from this:
1) Sometimes, the people you take for granted can be more valuable than you think.
This can apply in business, or even life in general. With the business perspective, think of an employee who does work that is counted on by everyone, but whose position isn’t really seen as what’s bringing in revenue or a senior leadership role. That person may be taken for granted, and not really thought of as essential.
However, when this individual is out on vacation, extended leave, or quits – work starts to break down. People who took “old reliable” for granted, or didn’t value the role itself, find themselves scrambling to cover for him or her. They quickly start to realize how much they really relied on that person.
Bottom line – no matter what your role in a company, try to do it exceptionally well, while differentiating yourself and becoming indispensable.
2) A negative situation can snowball quickly
In the case of the replacement refs, they clearly weren’t the real thing. However, this wasn’t something that caused the average fan much angst. But when a few sketchy calls were made in important situations, and started to potentially impact results, people took notice. Blame was assigned as people got up in arms.
It snowballed within a few weeks, to the point where these people were viewed highly negatively by many. They were quite unpopular, it seemed, with many fans, journalists, and maybe even people active in the game.
The thing is, what exactly did they do wrong? They didn’t create any possible labor disputes between the real refs and their employers. It was those other groups who couldn’t come up with a deal. Their inability to do so was the real issue, and where the real blame for the situation resided. The replacement refs were just a byproduct of those apparently unsuccessful negotiations.
Yet, they became the target.
Bottom line – when things go bad, things can quickly snowball. Fingers can be pointed unfairly, as life isn’t always fair. Be street smart about recognizing the potential for such things to happen.
My Questions for You
Have you ever experienced a situation – while working or otherwise – where a person was generally taken for granted, but his or her true value was discovered later when gone?
Have you ever situation where things went bad quickly, blame was assigned, and stuff got out of hand?