Before the Chicago Bears played the Green Bay Packers in the NFC Championship game in January, car salesman John Stone wore a Packers necktie to work at Chicago’s Webb Chevrolet.
General Manager Jerry Roberts asked Stone to remove the tie. He refused. Roberts was worried about alienating Bears fans—and also about the $20,000 the dealership spent on advertising with the Bears. Webb Chevrolet also sometimes provides Bears players with free loaner vehicles.
Within hours, Roberts’ request became an ultimatum: lose the tie or lose your job. Stone didn’t—and was soon unemployed.
Stone, a successful salesman, was quickly picked up by a rival dealership. Over the next several days, details emerged. Stone was wearing the tie to honor his grandmother, a diehard Packers fan, who had passed away two days before the incident. When Roberts learned of Stone’s reason for wearing the tie, he offered him his job back.
By then Stone had already packed up to move to rival Chevrolet of Homewood.
A lesson: Lack of communications on both sides led to the needless loss of a valuable employee. If the two had just huddled to discuss the matter, Stone would have learned Roberts wasn’t joking and Roberts would have seen the tie as a sign of respect for a departed relative, not an attempt to undermine the company.