Marco, Cody, Darren, and Brent hang out together when they have free time. Strangely enough, they all managed to get hired by the same national retail store here in Las Vegas. As it turns out, Brent was hired first then over a period of about six weeks, managed to refer Darren who referred Marco. Marco referred Cody and Viola! They all work together, different departments, same ultra conservative employer.
I say ultra conservative because like many national retailers, image is everything. The idea is to serve the customer. The store in Las Vegas attracts customers from all over the country. When they are in Las Vegas, they pop in to see the latest the Las Vegas store has to offer. Customers enjoy the shopping experience and it is no secret they are comparing it to the store they know back home. The store knows this too and so the onus is on Las Vegas to be the best it can be. So what else is new?
Marco excelled early on in his employment. Before too long he was considered a key high potential player. Normally, once you are noticed like this you are asked to interview when there are promotional opportunities. The company likes to identify and develop talent. Within six months, Marco was promoted to department manager.
Department manager means a lot of different things to different companies. At least it is considered a leadership role where ever you are. Leadership tasks are steeped in setting expectations, solving problems, and getting results. A leadership role in Marco’s company reveals a manager’s communication skills. Department managers are asked to lead meetings, make comments to the overall group and take the lead in product knowledge training. Consequently, Marco found himself in the spotlight.
Have you ever watched a hip hop video? If you answered yes, then you probably know that hip hop Artists have developed a distinct way of moving to the beat while they perform. The upper torso jerks forward and back while the Artist slaps and chops at the air with open hands. In some ways, the moves define the art form. Young fans of hip hop are greatly influenced by these moves. Hip Hop defines behaviors and fashion. Funny enough, Marco has picked up these moves and has even brought them to work.
During several recent meetings, Marco was asked to speak in front of the store associates to introduce new products. To the amazement of the group, when Marco spoke, he begin to speak in a syncopated rhythm and without realizing it, began to make the familiar hip hop moves with his hands, elbow, tilts of the head, a quick lift of the foot. The crowd was a little shocked and some of the older workers were uncomfortable with his “business communication skills.”
More than a few workers made comments to the managers about Marco’s “performance.” They came forward to describe his actions as unprofessional, not living the company values, and poor judgment in a leadership role. Marco was stunned when he first heard about the uproar. When it was time to discuss it with the boss and HR manager, Marco became defensive. He tried to hold his ground. Later in the discussion, Marco grew impatient and told the managers, “This is who I am, like it or not, this is me.”
The managers slowly began to work on coaching Marco to make more professional presentations. Nothing seemed to work. Much to the dismay of his managers, Marco’s mannerisms seemed to be burned in.One of the managers commented. ”Hip Hop at work doesn’t work!”