Were Jameis Winston a fourth-string punter rather than a first-string quarterback, he almost certainly would have long since been kicked off the Florida State football team, probably for good. Instead, the Heisman Trophy-winning problem child is being protected by his university and athletics department for the worst reason possible. He is being coddled because of what he can do for them.
It’s easy to get outraged when you look at how the FSU athletic department, the school administration, the local police, and other “responsible” entities are behaving here. They are enabling bad behavior. The folks in the athletic department at FSU, unfortunately, aren’t that different from many of us and how we deal with problem individuals in our businesses. Let me explain.
Any of us who have ever managed or worked with other people realize that some of them have issues. Those issues may run the gamut from a bad attitude or incompetence all the way to serious drug problems or criminal behavior. Try as we might in the hiring process, people with issues slip through our screen and end up on our teams. Maybe we inherited them. In any event, what happens next – or doesn’t – is critical.
Some of us think that the problem, once we’ve identified it, will fix itself. It won’t. Maybe we weigh the pain of confrontation and disruption with the pain of maintaining the status quo. Perhaps we’re in state of equilibrium – other people have picked up the slack caused by the problem child and everyone is coping. Every one of those rationalizations is wrong and cowardly. More importantly, they’re holding back both your business and the individual involved.
You can’t hope to isolate the problem. Others on the team will see that the high standards you set are lies and are not adhered to by everyone and bad behavior is rewarded or at least not punished. Eventually, a major crisis hits as the individuals involved hit bottom. The solution is to identify the problem, document it, and put the individuals on notice that you’re aware there is an issue. Offer to help in any way you can but make it clear that with or without that help you expect the person involved to stop the bad behavior. Now. Otherwise, you’re an enabler and part of the problem.