If you follow sports recently you can’t get away from Lavar Ball, the overbearing Dad of three really talented basketball-playing sons. His oldest, Lonzo, is a really talented rookie in the NBA with the Lakers, his middle son was at UCLA as a freshman, got suspended from the team for shoplifting, and his youngest was a top recruit in high school.
Lavar took the two youngest kids out of school and took them to Lithuania to play professional basketball.
Lavar was back in the news this week when he told ESPN that Luke Walton, the Lakers Head Coach, wasn’t doing his job and should be fired. Luke Walton is considered by many to be one of the top young coaches in the NBA and is highly regarded by both players and other NBA coaches. The NBA coaches came to his defense in a big way.
One, in particular, was Steve Kerr, considered the top coach in the NBA, and Luke Walton’s mentor. Here’s what Kerr had to say:
“This is the world we live in now. I was thinking about ESPN and they laid off, I don’t know 100 people…many of whom were really talented journalists covering the NBA. So this is not an ESPN judgment, it’s a societal thing more than anything…I’ve talked to people in the media and said ‘Why do you guys have to cover that guy.’ They say ‘We don’t want to. Nobody wants to. But our bosses tell us we have to because of the ratings and the readership.’
So somewhere, I guess in Lithuania, LaVar Ball is laughing. People are eating out his hands for no apparent reason. Other than he’s become like the Kardashian of the NBA or something and that sells. That’s true in politics and entertainment and now sports. It doesn’t matter if there’s any substance involved with an issue. It’s just ‘Can we make it really interesting.’ For no apparent reason. There’s nothing interesting about that story. You know how many parents of my players have probably been at home thinking ‘Why isn’t he playing my kid.’ Yet we’re sticking a microphone in front of his face because apparently, it gets ratings. I don’t know who cares, but people must care or ESPN wouldn’t be spending whatever they’re spending to send reporters to Lithuania when they laid off people who were writing really substantial pieces…”
Don’t think this ends here.
We can already find examples and stories from corporate America of parents getting involved in their kids work-life. In the past, a couple of decades ago, you would have never heard of a parent saying anything about how their kids were getting managed.
Now we live in a world where everyone has a platform and the ‘threat’ of this happening to you, your organization, to one of your managers, is very real.
It’s easy to say that you wouldn’t engage. That you would only work through the ’employee’ in this manner. That’s what the majority will say. But, what do you do when that parent has a larger platform than your brand? When ‘that’ parent finds others willing to listen. How are you prepared to react?
I can foresee a time in the near future where HR leaders will be meeting with parents to discuss issues. It happens in what part of society, politics, entertainment, sports, etc. before it filters into other parts of normal, everyday society. You can ignore it, but those who do will probably be the least prepared to handle this when it hits them over the head.
I’m ready. Bring Big Momma into the office, let’s talk this out!
The fact of the matter is if I’m transparent about performance there will be nothing I haven’t said to your child that I won’t be willing to say to you. I’ll first ask the kid if they want Big Momma to come in, which I’m guessing they’ll say “no”, but if they do, let’s do this!
There’s one part of our society that is ready for this and it’s teachers!
Teachers have been dealing with overbearing parents who think little Jimmy walks on water for years. You know what teachers do? They do the exact same thing you and your managers do. You sit them down, all together, you give very specific examples of behavior and performance, and you shut up and wait for a reaction.
When I taught, I found most overbearing parents, when presented with facts, would actually support me and help me get better performance. In teaching, and in the real work world, I’ll take any help I can get to get better performance!
In Lavar Ball’s case, he’s just an idiot with a stage.
Tim, it’s already happening / happened. When I was in manufacturing, I’d get the comments around “well my dad says I should put this on my CV” and the phone call from a mom when their kid (24) didn’t get the job, and asking me to explain my decision. At the time, this was centred around entry level production work. As I’ve moved through more complex organizations, I’m seeing it in advocacy around grievances or other complaints, and in general, it’s hurting the process for everyone for two reasons: 1) There currently isn’t a place in many of the processes for that; and 2) They only have enough information and knowledge to give weak advice to their kids, even if their hearts are in the best place possible.
I’ve always believed it takes a village to raise a child – perhaps soon it will be the village that helps them work, as the stock answer of “this is between your kid and the employer” isn’t going to resonate much longer.
I so agree with you.
It’s easy to say “I will never”. It’s much harder to look at the current state of affairs and ask “how could this help us?”.
I’ve seen this in youth coaching where it was in the past a parent didn’t question coaches. Now, I see, even at the college level, the best coaches understand how to manage parents and actually involve them in a way that is positive to better outcomes.
I shudder at the thought of this actually happening…I’ve dealt with the parent thing in recruiting and it’s painful enough.
Get ready for it! I’m not scared, I think we can actually use this to our benefit. Ultimately, I want high performance. I don’t care how I get it. If the manager can’t get it, maybe mom and dad can help me! 😉