Do You Have a “Dennis Rodman” Working for You?

Posted by Bernie Reifkind on January 13, 2014

If you do not already know who Dennis Rodman is, let me explain.

Dennis Rodman is a former professional basketball player in the NBA and had a statistically successful career, especially playing defense.  He was an extremely gifted and talented athlete.

Dennis Rodman is also remembered for exhibiting strange behavior both on and off the basketball court.  If you have a few minutes to spare, “Google” Dennis Rodman and read about his basketball career along with his other antics.

Unless you live in a cave, you probably know that Dennis Rodman is all over the news right now due to his controversial relationship with North Korea’s dictator Kim Jong-un.

Why is this such a big deal?  Just simply think about why most people stare at car accidents.

Curiosity, perhaps.

Most people would agree that for as long as Dennis Rodman has been a public figure, he has been a polarizing figure with conduct issues.  But most importantly, Mr. Rodman loves publicity anyway that he can find it.

During his playing days in the NBA, a case could be made that Mr. Rodman (as talented as he was) “walked to the beat of his own drum.” He was never one to follow the rules.

During his career the casual basketball fan wondered what Dennis Rodman would do next.

Mr. Rodman’s erratic behavior on and off the court was amusing at first and then quickly became exhausting.

Just imagine if Dennis Rodman was an employee of your organization.

Many organizations have employees and managers that exhibit strange and “off the wall behavior.”

When Mr. Rodman was at the peak of his career, people allowed for such nonsense because at times Mr. Rodman could dominate some the best basketball players in the league.  He was the reason many basketball games were won.

If you have an employee like Mr. Rodman, what is keeping you from terminating the relationship?

Let’s further examine Dennis Rodman’s employment career.  Though let us also remember that professional sports is show business plain and simple.

Dennis Rodman was very fortunate to have been coached by perhaps the most successful coach of all time in Phil Jackson.

Mr. Jackson knew how to manage Dennis Rodman to benefit the team, even though Mr. Jackson knew that he was working with an athlete/employee that was capable of bizarre acts of behavior.

Do you have a “Dennis Rodman” employee working for you?  Someone with extreme talent but exhibits extreme attitude and behavior issues?

If so, you might want to take a cue from Phil Jackson in the way that he managed Dennis Rodman during the 1996-1997 Chicago Bull season.

Phil Jackson describes in his book “Eleven Rings” about an incident during the 1996-1997 season in which the Chicago Bulls had many key player injuries and that the team was in trouble.  The team needed Dennis Rodman to step up.

Mr. Jackson states that at a critical point in the season, Michael Jordan (arguably the greatest basketball player of all time and teammate) called Rodman out.

Mr. Jackson writes that Michael Jordan said to Dennis Rodman, “Look, I know your antics.  I know you like getting technicals (getting ejected from games).  I know the image you try to project.  but man, I need you to stay in the game.  That means that you are going to have to lead upfront.”

Michael Jordan (a teammate-not a coach or a boss) was fed up and took it upon himself to reign Dennis Rodman in because the team needed him.  Mr. Jordan was respectful but poignant. In other words: KNOCK IT OFF.

And it worked.  Not continuously throughout the season, but when it mattered most. Dennis Rodman played well and followed the rules……for awhile.

Dennis Rodman responded to his teammate not the coach about how much he was needed. More importantly, Michael Jordan was letting Rodman know that he was “on to him.” He was fed up.

The takeaway on this for employers and business owners is that when an employee that is talented and vital to an organization but exhibits erratic or behavioral issues, trust that other members of your team are well aware of what is going on.

Allowing another key employee to “call out” erratic and poor behavior in a Dennis Rodman type employee is an extremely effective management tool.

Some employees do not respond to authority figures but they will respond to the needs of those they work with and respect.

In summary, management is not a “one size fits all” proposition and people need to be managed differently.  If the decision is to not terminate a talented key employee (who brings qualitative value to an organization) than perhaps another key employee can be quite useful in getting through to what is expected.

Of course if things do not straighten out, than termination is a must.  Not only for the success of the operation, but for the company morale.

Do you really need a “Dennis Rodman” on your team?


I am Bernie Reifkind, CEO and founder of Premier Search, Inc. I can be reached at 1-(800) 801-1400 or by email at  I welcome your phone call.

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