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Lakers Saga Take II: Culture Clash!


A few weeks ago, I wrote about the drama that took place this year within the L.A. Lakers organization. Since then there has been a seemingly endless news cycle involving the various figureheads.


I would like to focus on one aspect of the dysfunction, and that is culture. There has been some reporting that Magic was “tough” on the employees. He said, “Never disrespected nobody, never did anything bad," "Now, am I tough? Hell yeah, I am. You work for me, I'm demanding. That's who I am. But at the same time, I'm fair.” What I am about to write is speculation, but the concept holds true.


When an organization brings in new talent, there will be often be some sort of culture clash. It’s no secret that the Lakers were dysfunctional long before Magic arrived. It’s also no secret that as a professional athlete and successful businessman Magic was hard working and demanding. Maybe the employees had gotten lazy? Maybe they weren’t used to the pace he was running at? Magic was CEO of a business empire. He probably wasn’t used to dealing with some of the minutia that was involved in running the Lakers so he may simply have missed an important step in the managerial process leading to the complaints.


When a new manager arrives anywhere, one of the most important things to do is set expectations. Expectations with their own manager, with their employee and their colleagues. Often there is just a different work culture that one side isn’t accustomed to which can rub people the wrong way if not addressed openly at the start. An even better idea would be to learn about the culture before you accept a position to make sure it’s aligned with your values. This is of tantamount important when you are at the top and setting the tone for everyone else. But it’s important at any level of management. If your cultural expectations aren’t aligned with those around you, it can be frustrating for both parties.


Magic has been a public persona for nearly 40 years and there’s been few if no complaints about him. So, this would seem to be the case of some employees being rubbed the wrong way and then whining about it to the media as opposed to taking it up directly with the appropriate party. In an event even with Magic gone, the drama is still going on so it would appear at face value there are some deep seeded issues within the organization. (Sorry LeBron.)

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