The Kaepernick Conundrum: Should I hire a distraction?
Let’s skip the argument whether Colin Kaepernick has the talent level to play in the NFL and pretend he does. Should a manager hire someone they know will be a distraction and or not 100% focused on their job?
Presumably, everyone has an interest outside the office. Some people play organized sports, volunteer, paint, or surf. However, there is also the presumption that these hobbies won’t negatively impact their performance in the office. Just the opposite, a healthy dose of exercise or extracurricular activity is just the thing some people need to rejuvenate their minds and bodies.
However, when it comes to political opinions it gets somewhat dicier, especially in this day and age of negative discourse. It’s commendable to hire people featuring a wide range of beliefs and views, but if you know those beliefs are antithetical to your cooperate culture for example, should you still hire them? (I am not getting into the legal ramifications, simply food for thought) Perhaps, if they were the most qualified candidate by far it’s worth the “risk”, but if they are some run of the mill marketer or programmer, is there any reason to take a chance they will be a divisive voice within your team? Is it any different than if you were looking for someone who is a team player and you disqualify a candidate because they are more of a loner?
One can argue that professional athletes are different. Their passion should be their sport and all the energy they have during the season should be putting themselves in a position to perform at the highest levels. However, they do have days off and should be allowed to focus their energy on any pursuit they deem important, be it a side hobby or social agenda.
So should an NFL team hire Kaepernick? Maybe, but I totally understand why they wouldn’t. The NFL is a grueling 16 game season where every game is of paramount importance. With so much at stake, why take a chance on a guy who has declared he isn’t focused on the game, brings a three-ring circus with him, and alienates a portion of the fan base by kneeling during the national anthem.
True, this might not be fair, but, there are dozens of other ways to promote social justice agenda’s that don’t alienate the fan base and won’t divide a locker room. There are literally HUNDREDS of players who are all doing outstanding social justice projects and are playing in the NFL.
I don’t think there is a clear-cut answer regarding this issue. But it does show that when hiring, one should take a holistic view of the candidate and not just a slice of their specific skill set. Hopefully you’re the type of manager who is able to assemble a team built around true mutual respect of a multitude of opinions and views, and enable all people to feel welcome!
Next week we'll revisit my post Super Bowl prediction for the Patriots upcoming season.