Thanks For Doing a Good Job, Now Here’s Your Pink Slip

In Miami, the ticket staff of the Heat was laid off for doing TOO good a job. (Photo by

The Miami Heat are at it again.

After LeBron James’ controversial move to air his decision to go to the Heat on ESPN earlier this month, maybe you thought the team would lay low and let some of the negative pressure of the news wear off?

Not so fast. Late last week, news leaked that the team was laying off 30 of its season ticket sales staff. Why? Because all of the tickets got sold. And not only that, they have a waiting list for tickets so they really don’t need those ticket sales staff now.

Until they need them again of course.

A tough place to work

If you think working in a sport team’s front office is tough where decisions are made by the millions of dollars, try working on the business side. Even for teams that are well off, the business side of a sports franchise is often a penny pinching, budget focused place. People’s passion for the game and some of the perks make up for the long hours, low pay, and some up and down business practices.

So people that worked for the Miami Heat the last couple of years probably thought it was a good gig. The team was a bit up and down and the fan base is generally dispassionate about basketball. After the LeBron acquisition though, the job was really quite good for a couple of weeks — until you ran out of tickets to sell.

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Of course, the Heat are doing what they can for the folks they let go. They are offering severance and outplacement services for the impacted employees according to the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. Though there have been stories about the unemployed having a hard time getting past the label of being laid off, I have a feeling these folks might not have that problem.

A no-win situation

That being said, knowing that you could lose your job if your employer does well (and that you might get your job back if they start losing again) isn’t the best situation to put your employees in. People aren’t wired to root against the success of the company that writes their paycheck, but if you are in season ticket sales, wouldn’t you be better off on the team of a perennial loser?

It seems counter-intuitive but that’s the position many of these sorts of people face. When the Heat starts to decline at some point, they will rehire more season ticket sales representatives so that they can sell those seats. Here’s hoping they remember what happened to the last group of people who did their job a little too well.

The good thing for these folks is that South Florida is full of many professional and semi-professional teams that can employ them. Or as NPR suggested, they might need some of these people’s talents up in Cleveland for the upcoming season.

Lance Haun is the practice director of strategy and insights for The Starr Conspiracy, where he focuses on researching and writing about work technology. He is also a former editor for ERE Media, broadly covering the world of human resources, recruiting, and sourcing. 
He has been featured as a work expert in publications like the Harvard Business Review, The Wall Street Journal, Fortune, MSNBC, Fast Company, and other HR and business websites.
He's based in his Vancouver, Wash., home office with his wife and adorable daughter. You can reach him by email or find him off-topic on Twitter.