Sports Night and Onboarding

I’m rewatching Sports Night, an Aaron Sorkin show from 1998. Some prime time names were on their way up in this show (Felicity Huffman, Peter Krause), as well as an established television veteran in Robert Guillaume. It only lasted on season, but you can see some of the great styling of Sorkin being sharpened on this show. If you are a fan of his work, including The West Wing, Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, and The Social Network for example, you should check it out. Please excuse the oddly placed, subdued laugh track. Its awkward, but I think we can chalk it up as a “learning experience.” Also, The Show Killer (Ted McGinnley) makes an appearance in eight episodes, starting with number four. Should have seen it coming, I suppose.

The third episode features my favorite scene of the show, which you can watch below. The run up is about the young staffer (Jeremy, played by Joshua Malina) being sent to cover a hunting show, which he does reluctantly. He chooses not to bring up his own feelings towards the activity because he is new in the role and afraid that speaking out would be a career limiting move. Things go poorly, as you may expect. In this scene, he explains the events, but the really important part starts at about 4:45, when Isaac (Guillaume) explains how things work in his office. My favorite line from the series, which I’ve used here once or twice, is at the 6:00 mark. (Sorry, YouTube has disabled embedding for this video. It’s worth the click-through, I promise.)

Sports Night Episode 3 Part 3

I want to work in this office, or at least in this environment. Imagine knowing that even if you are the newest member of the team, you are expected to not only contribute, but to speak your mind and voice your opinions. And imagine finding it out in such a clear, concise way.

We lose far too much valuable time getting new team members on-boarded, showing them the office, the bathroom, the cafeteria. We send them through online training. We introduce them around. We take them to lunch. All very important, don’t get me wrong. But we are also indoctrinating them into our culture intentionally, when what we sometimes really need are outside voices to speak up. How much time to we put into getting new team members to be part of the important conversations and, more to the point, speak up in disagreement.

Anybody have that on their on-boarding checklist?


  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Michael Carty, Dwane Lay. Dwane Lay said: New at LeanHRBlog: Sports Night and Onboarding Featuring one of my favorite quotes on management. #hr #hrblogs […]

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