Since I’m a lifelong Connecticut resident (and big UConn basketball fan), it seems almost a requirement that I dedicate a post today to the Huskies’ NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament championship last night.

And of course, this being an employment law blog, I’ve spent some time thinking that there must be a way to translate that victory into lessons for employers.  (After all, if we can learn lessons from a Yankees victory, surely there are some nuggets to pull from last night.)

So here are a few things employers can learn from this year’s Huskies:

1.   Experience is great, but hard work and determination can carry the day. 

Overall, the Huskies were a young and inexperienced team. But they still won. Why? In part because of the hard work and determination that they put in.  When dealing with employment law issues, it’s great to have some experience, but there’s no substitute for hard work and effort to ensure compliance.  You can always learn the new laws but without the work behind it, that knowledge may not be enough.

2.  Even great leaders can be disciplined.

There is no doubt in my mind that Jim Calhoun is one of the greatest basketball coaches of this era.  But sadly, his legacy will be forever tied with the findings that he broke the NCAA rules by failing to oversee his program.  And ultimately, he has been disciplined for those violations (by being suspended for the start of the Big East season in 2011-2012).  For employers, it is an important lesson that even your superstar — your head coach — is not above the law or rules.   It is no doubt painful to watch, but rules are rules and when they broken, there have to be consequences.  

3.  Even with discipline, life can and must go on.

For some, it seems incongruous that we are celebrating the Huskies and Jim Calhoun, even in light of the NCAA findings.  But this merely illustrates another important point: discipline need not be a death penalty.  Employers may have to discipline their top employees or even shuffle the organization, but ultimately, life and the business must go on.  "Business as usual" must prevail. Otherwise, your employees — and your organization — will be left without closure only to have those problems fester and reappear down the road.  When you’ve instituted your penalty, follow through but don’t let it hang over your organization forever. As some point, there’s an end.

4.  March Madness Still Rules

The last few weeks have been downright fun.  Everyone’s office pools are a mess, but overall, the tourney has given everyone something fun to enjoy.  Within your own company, it’s easy to get caught up in the day-to-day grind.  Every once in a while, it’s ok to have some fun.  Not everything your company does (a holiday party, or office pool) is going to lead to a lawsuit. 

UConn had its ups and downs this year, but their post-season run (an incredible 11 wins in a row in a do-or-die format) has truly been inspirational.  As all of Connecticut grabs an extra cup of coffee this morning for another late night, I raise mine to salute them. 

  • This post is better than last night’s game. Congratulations to UCONN!