DJ Harrington and Dan Messina
Reacting to Problems
By Dan Messina

I’m sure that if you were watching the news for the past month or so, it was nothing but Ray Rice and how he abused his wife and what a problem it created for the NFL. Everyone got involved, and everyone offered their opinion. I watched different talk shows and they had guests on each day talking about what was done, or what should have been done. The bottom line is the people they talked to all agreed on what was finally done. He is out of football, and now they are going after the commissioner of the NFL for his involvement or lack of involvement with the incident.

I’m going to look at this through the eyes of the NFL and how I would have handled it if I was running that business. Let’s first look at what they did.

  1. A two game suspension, and they based it on other incidents with other players.
  2. Then the NFL came out and said they handled it all wrong and they wanted a do-over.
  3. Then came the ugly video from the inside of the elevator and that changed everything.
  4. Ray Rice was suspended indefinitely.
  5. The general public is after the commissioner’s job.

If this were my business, I would not have reacted, but I would have done some investigating before I passed judgment. I feel once these steps took place, the media went crazy, and they probably had a good reason to do what they did. In this scenario, there were no winners. There will be an impact on several people’s lives forever. What Ray Rice did was wrong, and there should be major penalties assessed, but make sure when the punishment comes down, there is some good involved. Here are the results of the actions that took place:

  1. You have a young lady that has been publicly humiliated. She has to live this over and over every time she saw it on TV
  2. The young lady is now Ray Rice’s wife and her life will be impacted financially since her husband lost a $10 million a year job.
  3. There is no guarantee that this action could happen again since there was nothing that says Mr. Rice has to get some type of counseling.
  4. The NFL is taking a public relations hit because of the actions they took.
  5. It’s possible that the NFL will be looking for a new commissioner.

We work in an industry that this type of action could happen to any of us. If you were faced with this type of problem, you, the owner of the business, will have to be prepared to face the consequences of your actions.

I remember having several incidents at work where there was a fight over a child. It was a fight in the office between a driver and his wife, and they each had a hold of the child and were pulling. I separated them had a talk with each employee. There was a long history of fighting between the husband and wife, and I was new to the towing industry, so this was new to me.

They were instructed to get help, and they both eventually left the company because of the rules I put in place. When something like this happens, and these problems are often brought into the workplace, it is a major distraction. Employees take sides, and a bad working environment is created.

The rules I put in place were strict and fair to both sides. As an owner, I wanted to make sure there was no favoritism to the husband or wife, male or female. It must have worked, because for the next seven years, I never had any type of problem like this again.

Getting back to the NFL problems I think I would have handled it in the following manner:

  1. I would have suspended Ray Rice indefinitely while an investigation took place.
  2. I would have made sure that if he ever wanted to play in the NFL again that he would have to get help. This could comfort his wife knowing that with help it may never happen again.
  3. Ray Rice would have to donate $250,000 to some type of shelter for battered woman. This would set a standard for other players that if you are involved in this type of problem it going to cost you.
  4. I would make the owner also donate $250,000 to a shelter. The owner should control his employees. If there is a penalty on the owner, they will take steps to avoid these problems in the future, and take action to correct the problem if they know they have this type of problem.
  5. The shelters benefit because they have a revenue stream that will allow them to make improvements at their shelters.
  6. This would also send a message to any player that if he has a problem he better get it addressed before it becomes serious
  7. The media may not have been so hard if these types of actions were taken; therefore, they would not have been all over the TV
  8. PR for the NFL would not have taken such a big hit.
  9. The commissioner gets to keep his job.

As this problem ends, another problem arises with a child abuse case brought against one of the premier running backs in the NFL. It will be interesting to see how this plays out and if the NFL learned anything from the first experience.

This problem is only going to grow and roll over into the workplace. As a business owner, you might want to start establishing rules on how you will handle this type of problem should it occur. I guarantee you if this happened in my company my competitor would be calling on all my customers telling them how bad I was. Start talking to your employees about these problems and offer help if any of your employees are going through something like this.

If something like this occurs in your company, what you don’t want to do is pass judgment immediately without investigating. Good employees are hard to come by, and you don’t want to fire someone who doesn’t deserve to be fired. Keep an open line of communication with your employees and let them know they can come and talk to you about their problems, before they become your problems.

Owners in our industry will be facing all kinds of issues they never faced before, so don’t react when a problem occurs. Think first, talk to an outside source if you have to; this will allow you to make the right decision.

If you need help, can be of assistance.

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