Office Politics

The curse. The cancer. The soul destroyer. Call it by whatever descriptor you wish but it makes going to work a very difficult chore. Office politics.


Talk to any manager and one of the most difficult tasks is taking over an organization that has been successful, with several senior staffers set in their ways. The company that has undergone a major change with mass resignations of their management team going to greener pastures. You come in, with your own ideas and want to be effective. There is resistance. It shows up in several ways, small at first. Comments are made, “Why are we doing it this way now? Why change everything?” It percolates for a bit and then your senior people begin challenging you, rolling their eyes and muttering in cliques. Trouble is brewing. Then something occurs. A negative downturn in your new company’s performance, a crisis of some sort. And then you have mutiny, minus the scurvy.


Now let’s take this scenario into the clubhouse of the Montreal Alouettes. We don’t need to rehash all of the gory set-up details. Quietly brilliant head coach Marc Trestman leaving along with several assistants. The hiring of a bit of a “carnie” coach in Dan Hawkins with a loud personality and a lack of experience in coaching professionals,  Quarterback Calvillo remains, the 41-year-old senior staffer, a year older and more stationary than ever and very set in his ways. A new playbook, a new way of doing things. And by Week 2, all hell has broken loose. It is clear by statements and certainly by Calvillo’s body language that he is not buying into this change one iota. And he does not seem concerned about that being known far and wide.


It’s difficult not to take sides in this ugliness from afar and one can only imagine the divisiveness inside the room. But it is becoming clear that the new approach does not suit Calvillo’s declining skill set. It very much reminds me of the mess that Jimmy Johnson inherited when he took over the struggling Miami Dolphins in the mid 1990’s with iconic Dan Marino lumbering around back there in the darkening twilight of his career. As Johnson recalled years later, “How do you fix this? How do you change the format without replacing the aging idol?” Indeed, how?


This situation will not end well in Montreal. If Calvillo is petulant in this, as he has shown with his storming around, then what do they do? Can you bench him? Do you try and revert back to the old playbook? One or the other has to happen as it seems that he will not withstand the punishment that is being dished out. The coaching staff seems to want to scrap the quick release west coast offense opting for a more vertical attack. However some mobility is required for this to occur. And Anthony has very little of that at this stage. We should not be fooled with the damage control public relations fluff coming out. There is real trouble looming.


This week will be a telling foreshadow. They are facing a tough squad in Calgary with perhaps their own politics filling their spare time. Drew Tate is clearly a very talented quarterback who behaves like the entitled rich kid in the front of the class tattling on every supposed transgression. His arm waving tirades, running to school principal John Hufnagel to tell him of a poorly run route, has to be wearing thin. He has all of nine starts under his belt and seems fragile in body and mind, hardly the history that permits his behavior. It is a wonder that street-tough Nik Lewis wouldn’t just tell him to sit in the hallway and make room for calm and professional Kevin Glenn. We may see that switch occur yet, either through recent tendonitis in his throwing arm, perhaps another perpetual injury or a thorough throttling by annoyed teammates.


Oh… to be a fly on the walls of either of these squads this week. But first I have a whining group of staff I have to deal with. Sigh.