The 8 Man Rotation: A Look At Sports and HR The 2012 Season By Steve Boese Kris Dunn Lance Haun Tim Sackett Matthew Stollak
Table of Contents Foreword by China Gorman and Dwane Lay Introduction HR Planning and Strategy “HR’s Unwritten Rules” by Tim Sackett “You Want A Jerry Jones Type Owner” by Tim Sackett “The LA Riots and How Sports Can Help Understand the World Beyond It” by Lance Haun Staffing and Career Considerations “How’s Your Network with Talented Middle School Kids?” by Steve Boese “He Toyed with Me. He Lied to Me. He Intimidated Me.” by Steve Boese “Three Stories You Should Be Able To Tell Candidates” by Steve Boese “Should You Give the Assessment if You Don’t Care About the Results?” by Steve Boese “The Academic Version of “Unemployed Need Not Apply” by Matthew Stollak “Why I’d Hire A Penn State Football Player” by Matthew Stollak “Why Tom Izzo and Mark Hollis Get It” by Matthew Stollak “Some Hiring Managers Rate the Attractiveness of Your Spouse…” by Kris Dunn “Hiring Former Athletes as a Recruiting Strategy – Genius of a Cop-‐Out?” by Kris Dunn “How Not to Hire a D1 Football Coach in the Big Ten” by Tim Sackett Training and Development “10 Years Later, Still Talkin’ About Practice” by Steve Boese “MAMBA OUT: Leadership and Likability” by Steve Boese “Want to Be a Great People Manager? Don’t Watch the Ball…” by Kris Dunn “Don’t Send Me Your Kid and Expect Me to Fix the Big Problems…” by Kris Dunn “It’s Hard, But It’s Fair” by Tim Sackett “Are You Really Giving 100% -‐ Super Bowl Edition” by Tim Sackett Performance and Talent Management “Step Stone or Destination? If You are not Sure, the Talent Will Let You Know” by Steve Boese “In the Interview, Talk About Your Talent Plan” by Steve Boese
“The Future Performance Enhanced Workplace” by Steve Boese “Tuesday, Rain, and Playing the Long Game” by Steve Boese “French Fried and Who Takes the Heat When You Reach for Talent” by Steve Boese “Value, Pricing and Early Retirement” by Steve Boese “I Feel Alright” by Matthew Stollak “King for a Day” by Matthew Stollak “Late at Night” by Matthew Stollak “When to Bet Your Future on a Single FTE…” by Kris Dunn “The NFL Bounty System: Mama Said Knock You Out…” by Kris Dunn “Rob Gronkowski is That Young HiPo Who’s Either Going to End up Running Your Company, Or…” by Kris Dunn “Trying Not To Lose in HR” by Tim Sackett “The HR Olympics” by Tim Sackett “Moneyball, Talent, And Where This Is All Going” by Lance Haun “The Difference Talent at the Top Makes” by Lance Haun “Doin’ Work: Looking Beyond Social Influence” by Lance Haun “Billy Beane and the Science of Talent Management, The Moneyball Way” “Super Bowl Hangover? Yes, Employees May Be Less Productive on Monday by Lance Haun Total Compensation “Bad Habits, Pressure and Results” by Steve Boese “When is Gutting Payroll the Right Thing?” by Tim Sackett “The First Lie You Hear in HR” by Tim Sackett Employee and Labor Relations “What We Learn About Replacement Labor from the NFL” by Matthew Stollak “Radiation” by Matthew Stollak “Great Places to Work are Like Great Sports Franchises” by Steve Boese “Regretful Turnover and Saying Goodbye to the NJ Nets” by Steve Boese “HOW TO GET FIRED: Miss a Deliverable and Come to the Meeting with Urkel Glasses with No Lenses” by Kris Dunn “If I Were Starting A Union, Here’s What I’d Do…” by Kris Dunn “Reasonable Accommodation: A Cautionary Tale” by Kris Dunn “Moving Out A Legend Employee” by Tim Sackett “Wrong for the Right Reasons? When It Comes to Employee Discipline, You Have to Get It All Right” by Lance Haun “David Petraeus, Mike Leach, and the Art of the Investigation” by Lance Haun “Unwritten Rules, Sports Fandom and Company Culture” by Lance Haun
Special Jeremy Lin Section “The One Thing You Bring to the (Operating) Table” by Steve Boese “Anticipating Regret and Chasing a Sure Thing” by Steve Boese “Hoops, Race, and Workplace Stereotypes: Why I’m Ordering a Jeremy Lin T-‐Shirt Today…” by Kris Dunn “Do You Have A Jeremy Lin On Your Staff?” by Tim Sackett “Think You Should Launch Your Product At A Conference? Maybe….Or Maybe Not” by Lance Haun “To Hype Or Not To Hype, That’s (Always) The Question” by Lance Haun Special Tim Tebow Section “Tebow: How Many Leaders are too Many?” by Steve Boese “Losing Your Job – Tebow Style” by Tim Sackett “Employee Communication 101 – Tebow Style” by Tim Sackett Special Bobby Petrino Section “How Many Bad Decisions Can You Get Away with – Motorcycle Crash Edition” by Steve Boese “GIVE IT UP: Here’s How You Get Someone To Admit They Took $20,000 From a Boss They Were Having an Affair With…” by Kris Dunn “Bobby Petrino, Hiring Manager, Though HR Was Way Too Slow” by Kris Dunn About the Authors Cover logo by Lizzie Maldonado
Foreword By China Gorman What the heck is the Eight Man Rotation and what does it have to do with HR? The legendary, old-‐school, Cleveland Browns Head Football Coach, Sam Rutigliano, was often heard saying, “It doesn’t matter what I say. It only matters what they hear.” Smart guy. Great coach. When you’re talking about HR and people and organizational challenges, using language, stories and metaphors that people can understand and hear is not just critical, it’s everything. Like the coach said, it doesn’t matter what words you use – all that matters is what the players hear. In other words, tune your language so that your audience will actually hear your message. That’s what so cool about the Eight Man Rotation. It’s a collection of blog posts by 5 HR bloggers – all guys, all sports crazy (and I do mean crazy!) and all great story tellers. Each of the posts included are about HR, organization effectiveness or people management. And each of the posts uses sports as the backdrop so that the readers actually relate to and “hear” the content. It really works if you’re a guy. Or if you’re a woman like me whose husband is a former NFL football coach. If you’re not a sports-‐minded person – male or female – then the analogies and examples might not be that compelling. But the points are still valid and the irrepressible voices of Matt Stollak, Kris Dunn, Lance Haun, Steve Boese and Tim Sackett are still worth listening to. So take a read of this incredible compendium of sports-‐themed HR posts from 2012. It’s not just about HR – it’s a 2012 sports retrospective seen through the eyes of some pretty great HR guys who are also pretty great story tellers. By Dwane Lay In these cold winter months between the World Series and Spring Training, when daylight and warmth have been equally scarce, and in a year with no National Hockey League, there has been more than a little consternation about possible entertainment options. With political strife dividing the nation and the end of the NFL well within sight, where would masses look for hope? Books? Far too long for the American attention span. Movies? All remakes and sequels. And far too long until the JLA film is expected. The NBA? Certainly the Geneva Convention would provide some protection from that.
And then, as if the clouds had parted and goodness rained down, came the 2012 edition of the 8 Man Rotation. Sure, the name has roots in basketball, but don’t let that scare you off. There is real talent and real content contained within. This collection of concise content, specifically structured to supply synaptic stimulation, will warm your heart, relax your tension and bring you hope for a better tomorrow. Or, at the very least, will keep you entertained for upwards of ten minutes. Enjoy, then, this new edition for the new year. And rest easy knowing you won’t have to face the rest of the year alone.
Introduction From the rise of an unknown talent in New York that led to the fever pitch of “Linsanity” to the trials and tribulations of Tim Tebow in two towns (Denver and New York), 2012 proved to be a pivotal one in the nexus between the world of human resources and sports. Once again, the 8 Man Rotation refers to, in basketball parlance, the five starters and 3 reserves that play the most minutes in a game. Just as the coach wants to find that combination of players that will maximize the team’s likelihood of success, the starting five of Steve Boese, Kris Dunn, Lance Haun, Tim Sackett , and Matthew Stollak provide within the strongest writing on sports and HR that you’ll find anywhere. 2012 was so strong a year in sports and HR that it sparked a writing fervor amongst our authors unmatched in previous years. Culled from the electronic pages of the HR Capitalist, Fistful of Talent, LanceHaun.com, Steve Boese’s HR Technology, the Tim Sackett Project, and True Faith HR, the authors bring you the largest edition yet of “The 8 Man Rotation.” Of particular note, three stories spurred multiple posts from your vaunted authors, so much so that we have special sections devoted to them at the end of the text – the aforementioned Jeremy Lin and Tim Tebow, as well as the employee relations nightmare that was Arkansas Coach Bobby Petrino’s motorcycle crash and dalliance with a subordinate. Here are the details A whopping 64 posts (up from 45 the previous year) Over 38,000 words Nearly 150 pages of sports and HR-‐related goodness That’s A-‐Rod contract worthy. Or, as Rasheed Wallace might say, “the ball don’t lie…”
“HR’s Unwritten Rules” by Tim Sackett Originally posted on November 26, 2012 Welcome back! How was your long holiday weekend? I ate too much and watched a ton of sports – so mine was wonderful! For those NFL/Professional Sports Fans out there I give you one of the dumbest unwritten sports rules that is out there: You can’t lose your starting spot due to injury. San Fransisco 49′ers starting Quarterback, Alex Smith, was injured recently and potentially could have come back this past week, but his ‘backup’ Colin Kaepernik did such a good job in the one game he started in place of Smith, that the coach decided his starter wasn’t quite ready to go and let’s give the backup another game! This got sports news, radio and fans talking about ‘the rule’ – if you’re the starter and you get injured, once you are better, you automatically get your starting job back. But, why? Where does this come from? I can think of a couple of reasons why an organization might want to have this type of rule, in sports: 1. You don’t want players playing injured and not wanting to tell the coaches for fear if they get pulled, they’ll lose their job. Thus putting the team in a worse spot of playing injured instead of allowing a healthy player to come in. Also, you don’t want the player furthering injuring themselves worse. 2. If the person has proven himself to be the best, then they get injured, why wouldn’t you go back with the proven commodity?
I can think of more ways this unwritten rule makes no sense at all: 1. No matter the reason, shouldn’t the person with the best performance get the job? No matter the reason the person was given to have his or her shot – if they perform better than the previous person, they should keep the job. 2. If you want a performance-‐based culture, you go with the hot hand. 3. Injuries are a part of the game, just as leave of absences are a part of our work environments, the organizations that are best prepared for this will win in the end – that means having capable succession in place that should be able to perform at a similar level, and if you’re lucky – at a better level. It’s different for us in HR, right? We have laws we have to follow – FMLA for example, or your own leave policies. But is it really that different? In my experience I see companies constantly make moves when someone has to take a personal or medical leave, and go a different direction with a certain person or position. Let’s face it, the truth is our companies can’t just be put on hold while someone takes weeks or months off to take care of whatever it is they need to do. That doesn’t mean we eliminate them – we can’t – but we do get very creative in how we bring them back and positions that get created to ensure they still have something, but at the same time the company can continue to move forward in their absence. I wonder if ‘our’ thinking about the NFL’s unwritten rule of losing your position comes from our own HR rules and laws we have in place in our organizations. It would seem, like the NFL, most HR shops figure out ways around their own rules as well!
“You Want A Jerry Jones Type Owner” by Tim Sackett Originally Posted on October 10, 2012 I’m not a fan of the Dallas Cowboys but I have to say from an HR perspective many of us our missing the boat on Jerry Jones. Here’s the deal – you’ve got a guy who played college football, made a crap ton of money and decided he was going to buy the Dallas Cowboys. It’s his team, he pays the bills, he is an owner unlike many NFL owners in that he actually wants to be involved and has background at a high level into the sport. Let’s back up for a minute. In business, most of our owners were at one point entrepreneurs/startup types that had an idea and ran with it. They worked their butts off and became successful and while they might not be super involved in the day-‐to-‐day currently – they clearly have the ability to jump back into the mix if they had to. In many circumstances owners are still the lifeblood of their companies – they drive revenue, they motivate, they live and die their brand. Not bad traits to have from an owner (or anyone else working for you). So, why do we hate on Jerry Jones, the owner of the Dallas Cowboys? Here are the reasons 1. We hate him because he’s wants to be involved with the business he runs?! 2. We hate him because we feel there are more qualified people to run his billion dollar investment?! 3. We hate him because he wants to be involved with every staffing decision that is made in his business?! You know what happens when an owner steps down and let’s someone else take over operations in a majority of cases? You get less passion for the business, you get increased entitlement, you get a decrease in knowledge and a decrease in motivation. It’s shown time after time when original owner steps aside (it’s something I think about often in my new role – don’t let this happen!). Jerry Jones isn’t bad for Dallas or the NFL – he’s great for it – you won’t
find a person more passionate for “his” business to succeed, for “his” employees to do well, for “his” investment to pay off even greater in the future. You know what you get when you take away “his” or “hers” –you get “yours” and “theirs” – that isn’t better – it’s worse!
“The LA Riots and How Sports Can Help Understand the World Beyond It” by Lance Haun Originally posted on April 30, 2012 I remember the LA riots but I shouldn’t. I was 10 when the riots happened 20 years ago and I lived another world away in Portland. Other events from that time are a bit hazy (the first Gulf War, my parent’s divorce) but I remember the LA riots for some reason. Why? Sports. Specifically, my Portland Trail Blazers were playing the hated Los Angeles Lakers the night the riots broke out. Arash Markazi at ESPN has a great breakdown of its impact on the Lakers and Clippers. But for me at least, it helped underscore the way sports can help people understand the world, current events and even some of the workplace lessons I’ve talked about here. I was barely aware of what happened to Rodney King or the ensuing trial. I didn’t even have any real concept of what race meant or why people would be upset about the outcome until much later. But in a series where the Blazers had won two games and the Lakers (without Magic Johnson, due to him retiring that year because of HIV) were facing a must-‐win situation, the commentators pre-‐game were talking about what was going on outside of the arena. They cut to a blimp shot. You see the lights from the Forum and you see it pan toward emergency lights, smoke, fire and people out in the street. It seemed close. And while it was still somewhat light when the game started, the night grew darker and darker and the fires seemed to grow brighter along with the amount of emergency lights every time they cut back to the shot. I don’t know how my dad explained it to me. To be completely honest, I had no perspective to base it on so I doubt I would have understood it. I lived in a place where there weren’t many people from different races. My idea of other races came from a teacher who looked different from me, a couple of classmates and from following the NBA. Even if I had that perspective, I was still 10. Understanding wouldn’t come until later. Still, there was something surreal about watching the game. From the announcers continuing to make references to it, to fans leaving midway through an elimination game that went down to
the wire in overtime. I still remember seeing those empty, ugly orange seats dotting the landscape of the arena while the minutes ticked off the close of a back and forth battle. Why are people leaving? Don’t they realize that if the Lakers lose, they are done for the season? I didn’t understand. I may have guessed that whatever was going on outside of the arena was important, but I didn’t know it the same way I knew this game. I knew if I was at a game like this and my team were on the brink of elimination in the playoffs, you’d have to drag me out of there kicking and screaming. But then I realized something: it must be important. If people are leaving because of what is going on outside, it must be really scary. Or something. And while Laker fans aren’t exactly the model game day fans, they certainly had to understand the importance of the game and chose to leave instead. Whatever was going on had to be important. I didn’t know why but it had to be. The Lakers opted to move game 4 to Las Vegas due to their proximity to the ongoing activities and summarily lost badly. Meanwhile, the Blazers made a long run to the finals where they lost to Jordan’s Bulls in six. As I learned more about the riots, about Rodney King and Reginald Denny, the LAPD and the trial in Simi Valley, and about race in south LA, I was interested in all of it. I wondered what went through the minds of people who left before overtime started. Something trumped sports for those people that night. And on the most important night of that season, people vanished into the night to confront something beyond sport. I won’t pretend to know all of the issues that erupted that night in LA but that night, sports opened up the world beyond just basketball. If you’re willing to look beyond the superficiality of the game itself, there are a lot of interesting issues that it can bring up. Whether it be HIV, race, feminism, fairness, leadership or compensation, sports can be a powerful storytelling device. When it doesn’t devolve into meaningless clichés or played out story lines, it can transcend the sport itself.
“How’s Your Network with Talented Middle School Kids?” by Steve Boese Originally posted on August 7, 2012 The most interesting piece of news from the most cutthroat, vicious, win-‐at-‐all-‐costs recruiting niche in the world -‐ no Im not talking about the market for hotshot Silicon Valley techies, but rather top-‐flight scholastic football players that just like the rockstar coders, typically have their choice of fantastic options to pursue, will probably surprise and maybe disgust you. Here it is: Lousiana State University offers scholarship to promising 8th grader. From the ESPN piece: Last week, a hopeful prospect showed up at LSUs July football camp. He posted an impressive 4.46 40-‐yard dash, and he earned a scholarship offer from the Tigers coaching staff for his efforts. Its a scene that plays out on college campuses every single summer, although this offer was different for one main reason -‐-‐ Dylan Moses has yet to start eighth grade. Considering the Tigers are only just starting to hand out offers to members of the Class of 2014, it came as a bit surprise for a 2017 prospect to get one. Nice. Or a little unsettling depending on your point of view. LSU is a consistent national title contender, and plays in the most competitive and most talented football league in the country. Theyre one of the top organizations in an incredibly challenging market, and one where the difference between exceptional and average is often decided by the outcomes of one or two games. An environment where finding, recruiting, acquiring, and developing talent is the most important differentiator between success and failure. Perhaps, at some level, similar to the environment in which your organization operates and competes. The question I think the LSU recruiting the 8th grade athlete story raises for the rest of us isnt if is it proper or ethical for LSU to start the hard sell in middle schools, but rather one that challenges our own commitment to acquiring the best talent possible in our organizations. LSU is willing, for better or worse, to compete for talent at the highest levels, with the highest stakes, and for them, at least in this example, that means doing things that seem out of the ordinary, and taking actions that many of their competitors might shy away from. Is it wrong? Does it cross some kind of line? Maybe.
But ask yourself -‐ if you are one of the many companies that is having trouble finding that rare talent you need, are you doing whatever it takes to land the talent you seek? Are you?
“He Toyed with Me. He Lied to Me. He Intimidated Me.” by Steve Boese Originally posted on July 23, 2012 . I have no idea if this is true Negotiating anything, whether its the sale price of that new, shiny Mercury Montego, or the details of a potential job offer, can be a difficult, tense, uncomfortable, and often a disappointing process. For many, particularly those of us not inclined to enjoy the competition of a negotiation, or simply less practiced in the art of negotiation, it can be really easy to feel like youve come out second-‐best, that youve paid too much for the car, the house, or settled for less money or left something on the table when trying to hammer out that new or renewed employment agreement. When most of us are up against that car salesperson, who makes deals for a living, well drawing from our prior experience haggling over the Montego in 1977 usually doesnt provide enough foundation for confidence. But I think much of the angst associated with these negotiations arises from the mentality that one side has to win, and one has to lose, and that usually the house, (the car dealer, the employer, the merchant), has the upper hand. If someone is going to squirm and flinch first in the battle, its going to be you with your paltry, limited experience in wheeling and dealing. But it doesnt always have to be that way. Sometimes you do actually have the upper hand entering the deal, even if you dont completely realize it going in. And sometimes, maybe more often that we like to admit, even a spirited, aggressive, both sides all in kind of negotiation can end with everyone keeping their dignity and moving on with the understanding that negotiation is part of the game, and business is business, and you can even gain more respect for someone willing to fight for their side and not just give up, or conversely, to bully their way to a win. Case in point -‐ check the comments (kind of said with a little bit of a smile, admittedly), from San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich regarding the recently concluded contract extension
negotiations between the team, and their long time, and legendary player Tim Duncan, who certainly an all-‐time great, at 36 is in the twilight of his career. Heres Popovich, (representing the house): “He toyed with me. He lied to me. He intimidated me. He threatened me. In the end, it worked out. But I had to take much abuse to get it done.” Whats good about this, and Popovichs attitude about how the negotiations were conducted and how they concluded? That the house respected the other side of the table, that the team knew that both sides had the right to negotiate hard, and that in the end, the house had to acknowledge the position and value of the talent, and take a little bit of abuse, in order to get a deal done that both parties could live with. I get the sense that Duncan too, although he is not quoted in the piece, came away feeling the fight was fair, and that both sides walked away with their heads up, and more importantly, with continued respect for each other. Big heavy take away from this story? Probably isnt one, unless it helps to remind all of us, no matter what side of the table we sit on, that the guy/gal across from us has just as much right to be sitting there, and if they did not possess something we needed, then no one would be sitting down at all. The other guy has a point of view too, and if you have to take a little bit of heat to let them communicate that point of view, well dont take it personally.
“Three Stories You Should Be Able To Tell Candidates” by Steve Boese Originally posted on May 1, 2012 One more take based on the recently concluded NFL Draft, that annual and remarkable spectacle of talent assessment, evaluation, and management that plays out live, and on TV each spring. This year, my alma mater, the University of South Carolina was represented exceedingly well at the draft, with 2 players selected in the drafts first round, and a total of 6 players selected overall. For South Carolina, this was by far the most players it has ever had selected in a single year at the draft, and also serves as a kind of reward and validation of the last college football season that saw the Gamecocks finish with a school-‐best 11 victories, punctuated with a fantastic win over Nebraska in the Capital One Bowl. For schools that play at the highest levels of college football, the number of their players that are selected in the NFL draft has several implications. At the surface, it is a measurement of the quality of last seasons squad, the more players selected by NFL talent evaluators, the better. But second, and for the colleges perhaps more important for the long term, having players selected for the NFL draft serves as a powerful recruiting tool. For many of the very best and in demand high school players that have plenty of options in where to play their college ball, the track record and history of a school for preparing and placing players in the NFL is an important and powerful factor in the decision process. Put simply, if a school has a history of success in preparing players for the NFL, (Alabama, Ohio State, Miami, LSU, etc.), the more likely it is that top high school talent that sees the NFL as their goal will choose those schools. And a virtuous circle is formed -‐ the school sends players to the NFL, more top prospects that have the NFL as a career aspiration take notice and attend the school, they in turn progress to the NFL, they help the school have success on the field, and on and on.
In college football recruiting the stories are easy to see. Players move from the school to the NFL in a highly public manner. But inside organizations, these kind of success stories are often harder to envision and describe to candidates and prospects. While in the recruiting process, the organization typically talks to the fantastic opportunities that await candidates should they choose to join, it can be difficult for the candidate to appreciate or even accept these stories as more than another part of a recruiters sales pitch. In that light, I think there are three kinds of success stories that HR or Recruiting ought to be able to articulate to these top players, the ones that have lots of other options for their next career move. One -‐ Come here, and heres what incredible opportunities are possible if you decide to make a long-‐term career here. Take a look at Joe Bloggs, he came in at about your same age, at a similar job, and now he is the head dude in charge of XYZ Division. In fact, Id like you to meet Joe, lets set up a lunch for you two to talk. Two -‐ Come here, and build the skills that you can take anywhere youd like to go in your career. Do you know, (insert name of the most famous company alumni you have), he/she spent three years here back in the 90s and now they run their own company. In fact, we still work with him/her from time to time and I am sure we can arrange a call if youd like to learn more about how working here really set them up for their future success. Three -‐ Come here, and build the skills that you can take anywhere youd like to go in your career, leave if you think you need to, but come know that we will welcome you back somewhere down the line. Heres where you tell the story of a high-‐profile re-‐bound hire that illustrates the possibility and flexibility that makes choosing your company more attractive to the candidate. The sports world is certainly full of these kinds of tales, of players that left a team only to return later in their careers. Bottom line, when selling your opportunity, whether it is to a top athlete deciding on a college, or a top technical developer, both who have plenty of options, being able to paint a compelling and realistic picture of all the possible career scenarios, and how your organization can best help the candidate make the most of them, offers your side the best opportunity to land the talent you need. And dont forget, being open and accepting of what the candidate might want to do after he or she leaves your organization might be just as important as what they can or want to do inside your organization.
“Should You Give the Assessment if You Don’t Care About the Results?” by Steve Boese Originally posted on April 20, 2012 Last week Americas second most popular sporting spectacle took place. No, not the beginning of the NBA playoffs, but rather the annual National Football League player draft, an incredible three days of televised talent assessment, evaluation, and selection. The NFL draft, once a largely behind the scenes administrative event, has grown over the years into a multi-‐day, multi-‐media extravaganza, with an entite cottage industry of draft experts and advisors seemingly making a really good living not actually evaluating players for the actual teams, but rather appearing on TV to inform and share with fans and viewers their opinions of draft-‐eligible players, offer their speculation on which players will be selected by which teams, and comment more generally on how well or poorly each teams talent evaluators did in making their player selections. Making the right selections from among the large pool of eligible talent, (almost all American college football players that have graduated from school, exhausted all of their college eligibility, or have declared themselves eligible to be selected), like talent selection in any business, is challenging, complex, and incredibly important. On a good year, anywhere from 10-‐15% of a teams total active roster can be supplied via that years draft. Hitting or making the right picks, like finding a rare or overlooked talented player in later draft rounds, or avoiding missing, by bypassing players that later turn out to have unsuccessful playing careers often eventually means the difference in overall organizational success or failure. All the teams know how important the draft process is, and thus, over the years more and more steps and components have been introduced to the pre-‐draft player evaluation process. From intense study of college game video, to a battery of physical tests and measurements, and more recently, even formalized tests of a potential players cognitive and reasoning capability, in the form of what is called the Wonderlic test. The Wonderlic consists of 50 questions to be answered in 12 minutes, and is meant to give teams a general feeling for the overall thinking
and reasoning capability of a player, as well as provide a means of comparison with all the other potential players who also take the test. Most years the draft process ensues without much mention of the Wonderlic test as a part of the player evaluations, except only, and as happened this year, when a particularly high-‐profile and anticipated top draft choice caliber player gets a really low Wonderlic score. This year Morris Claiborne from LSU, regarded as one of the Top 10 available players in the draft reportedly scored a 4 (out of a possible 50) on the Wonderlic. A score of 4 is really, really bad, according to ESPN it was the lowest reported score in more that 10 years, (for comparison, an average score is about 21). Despite the alleged poor score, Claiborne was indeed selected by the Dallas Cowboys with the 6th overall selection. So apparently the disastrous Wonderlic score did not impact Claibornes standing and attractiveness as a candidate for the NFL. In fact, Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones stated the test score was not an issue at all, and Cowboys coach Jason Garrett remarked, We talk about the test scores, but we also talk about Whats his football IQ, also seemingly dismissing the value of the Wonderlic as a means to predict future performance as an actual football player. Now of course the Cowboys reps might be trying to defend their selection of Claiborne and downplaying the significance of the Wonderlic score is certainly in the teams self-‐interest, but the ESPN story linked above also refers to Claibornes view that the test was essentially meaningless and not at all important in determining his ability to actually play football at the highest level. He is quoted as saying -‐ "I mean, I looked on the test and wasnt nothing on the test that came with football, so I pretty much blew the test off." Sort of an odd situation, the player, (candidate), and the team, (employer), both essentially admitting that one of the common if not primary assessment tools given to all players doesnt have anything to do with the actual job, and as soon as the assessment results dont fit with what our more traditional and time-‐tested evaluations tell us, (like actually watching the candidate play football), they will essentially be discarded from consideration. Seems like a big waste of everyones time. Now sure, you can argue with me that Claiborne, as a top player in this years draft was not ever going to be impacted by his score, (good or bad), on the Wonderlic, and that the test is really meant for use as a supplementary measure or data point for players whose football talents are more questionable, and that it can be used to help make decisions between closely related prospects. But the league made Claiborne, and other top talent take the test. And I bet, if you look closely at your organizations recruiting practices as well, you might find similar examples of making top talent run through hoops or perform silly, eventually meaningless, exercises because thats just our process.
Claiborne didnt really have an option to decline the test, the NFL has an effective monopoly on professional football in America. But any top talent you might be recruiting? Well they likely have plenty of options. You probably want to make sure your process understands that.
The Academic Version of "Unemployed Need Not Apply" by Matthew Stollak Originally posted on September 24, 2012 Check out this recent ad for a Humanities position at Colorado State University. Focus on the following: Required qualifications: 1. Ph.D. in English or American Studies or closely related area awarded between 2010 and time of appointment. 2. A promising record of scholarship/research in pre-‐1900 American literature and culture. 3. Ability to teach a range of subjects in American literature and culture between 1600 and 1900. A similar recent job posting at Harvard University for an Assistant Professor of Comparative Literature, “Applicants must have received the PhD or equivalent degree in the past three years (2009 or later), or show clear evidence of planned receipt of the degree by the beginning of employment.” What do you notice? Go ahead...take a minute.... . . . . . . . . Well, items #2 and #3 do not seem out of the ordinary -‐ these seem like reasonable requirements for the position. However, #1 for CSU, as well as the Harvard ad, is interesting and has ginned up a little controversy (note...both ads have changed). Much like weve seen in the private sector, academics were not immune to the vagaries of the economy. If you completed your Ph.D., and entered the job market in 2007, 2008, or 2009, you may have had difficulty finding a tenure track academic position. Now, with ads such as those filed above, we have the academic equivalent of "unemployed need not apply." Are there reasons to narrow the candidate search in such a manner? It could be economic. Someone with 3 or less years of academic experience will take longer to apply for tenure and promotion, and the accompanying bump in salary. With an average salary increase of 1.4% from 2009-‐2010 to 2010-‐2011, earning tenure and promotion is often the only way for professors to see a significant bump in compensation. As a result, delaying the promotion decision can positively affect the bottom line for colleges and universities.
Another reason may be that CSU or Harvard might already have an internal candidate, such as a visiting assistant professor, and are trying to keep the applicant pool small. A third reason might be similar to the NBA draft, where a team would rather take a chance on a college sophomores "tremendous upside potential," than a college seniors "experience" thats good, but not great. In this instance, a college might prefer the freshly minted graduate, than a less malleable individual with a couple of academic years under his or her belt. However, the start of such a trend is worrisome for an already difficult job market, where it might take as many as 3 years to land a tenure track position. One might have spent two or three years serving as an adjunct while trying to publish an article or two. I might be a promising academic who might have had an illness, or family issues (such as caring for a sick parent), or served in the military that might adjust ones tenure clock. Or, I might have found a tenure track position, and simply want to relocate to another area of the country. It also affects the time one spends in graduate school. Future academicians may delay the time that they finish so they will have a more established publication record, to, subsequently, become more competitive in the job market. When I entered the academic job market in 1994, supply of labor exceeded the number of jobs available, and it took 6 months to find a visiting position. When I finally found a tenure track position, and built up a number of years of experience, I wanted to find a job a little closer to my parents. Such mobility may be a thing of the past.
Why Id Hire A Penn State Football Player by Matthew Stollak Originally posted on Thursday, July 26, 2012 If you watch any college sports, Im sure youve seen a variant of a video where it is stated that there are more than 380,000 student-‐athletes and most of them go pro in something other than sports. They put in time, energy, sweat, tears, body and soul into serving the sport, their coach and peers, and fans. Yet, for most, the end result is not a lucrative sports contract. Imagine, then, you are a football player at Penn State University. Sanctions have just been announced that effectively cut off many of the benefits of the "job" you currently have undertaken. No bowl game at the end of the season to reward good performance...having to do more with less as scholarships have been taken away...reputation of your organization dragged through the mud. Youve been "punished" for a very serious crime for which you had no knowledge of or involvement. A lifeline has been offered...you have the opportunity to transfer to another academic institution and get immediately playing time (instead of having to sit out a year). Do you take it? Soon after the sanctions were announced, approximately 25 players at Penn State made a statement that they are sticking with their commitment. Senior Michael Mauti stated, "“This program was not built by one man and this program is sure as hell not going to get torn down by one man." If they are willing to stick to their organization, despite the sullied brand and lack of tangible rewards (outside of their scholarship and education) for the next few years, wouldnt that be an asset to be cherished down the road as you look to fill a position for which that former football player is qualified?
Why Tom Izzo and Mark Hollis Get It by Matthew Stollak Originally posted on Wednesday, June 27, 2012 Right around this time, the Top 50 Best Small & Medium Companies to Work for in America are announced. Im beginning to think that playing basketball for Michigan State University should belong to this list. It was announced that the Spartans will open up the 2012-‐2013 Mens NCAA College Basketball Season for the second straight year on Nov. 9 at Ramstein Air Base in Germany against UConn— an event to be played in front of troops and televised by ESPN. According to Mark Hollis, Athletic Director for Michigan State: “Once again, we are excited about participating in an event that pays tribute and respect to the men and women that serve in our nation’s armed forces. With that focus in mind, all other challenges and obstacles in participating in an event of this significance are secondary. Pending final approval by the Department of Defense and with the collaboration of ESPN, we look forward to participating in an NCAA men’s basketball regular-‐season game against Connecticut at Ramstein AirBase in Germany on November 9, 2012. “Coach Izzo has a talent for recognizing and bringing to Michigan State University student-‐athletes that want to be the best on the court while developing themselves as young men. All of us at Michigan State believe in providing our student-‐athletes with championship opportunities and amazing cultural experiences. The student-‐athletes on our men’s basketball team have had an opportunity to play the game they love in NCAA Final Fours, for Big Ten titles and aboard a USN Aircraft Carrier in front of the President of the United States of America. Coach Tom Izzo added: “This is another amazing opportunity for Spartan basketball and Michigan State University. I’m thankful that ESPN reached out to us to be a part of this great event. Being a part in the first college basketball game to be played on a military base overseas is truly an honor.” “Playing in the Carrier Classic on the USS Carl Vinson last season provided memories that will last a lifetime, as the historic event was so much more than just a basketball game. The opportunity to honor the great men and women of the US Armed Forces was a humbling experience, as we felt that we got so much more in return than we gave. To now have the opportunity to take our game overseas to the servicemen and women serving to protect us is an awesome experience. I’m reminded of my trips to the US bases in Kuwait, and what a life-‐changing experience that was for me. Everyone
associated with the Michigan State basketball program is excited for this unique opportunity.” So, you’re Senior Derrick Nix. In the past three years, youve: • Played three straight years in the NCAA tournament • Won two Big Ten Titles • Played in the Final Four • Be featured regularly in nationally televised games • Played on an aircraft carrier. Now, you get to experience something no other college basketball player has done -‐ play on a military base overseas. Add to the fact that every four-‐year MSU basketball player has made the Final Four under Tom Izzos leadership, you have a truly compelling value proposition to sell to recruits. This is why Tom Izzo and Mark Hollis get it. Theyre offering something unmatched at other organizations. A potential recruit may soon find themselves playing at the site of the first Olympic Games, or, who knows....the International Space Station. What compelling value proposition to recruits are you making for your organization?
“Some Hiring Managers Rate the Attractiveness of Your Spouse…” by Kris Dunn Originally posted on June 4, 2012 As a candidate, you know that people considering you for employment judge you on everything, right? Clothes. Your Car. How you talk. Whether your spouse is smoking hot. Hold up, what was that last one? Your spouse -‐ he or she needs to be smoking hot -‐ you didnt get the memo? I made it gender neutral becuase Im a long term HR guy and thats how I roll. But lets face it, men are pigs. So it stands to reason that men, not women, would be the ones to judge the ultimate accessory held by a candidate -‐ the wife. Dont believe me? Heres the rundown from Coachingsearch.com (hat tip to a blogging friend who doesnt want his name on this), which covers comments made by the Vanderbilt head football coach on the topic: "Breaking: Do not apply for a job on James Franklins staff if your wife is not a smoke show. While in Destin on Wednesday afternoon, Vanderbilt head coach James Franklin told Clay Travis on 104.5 The Zone that he evaluates the appearance of coaches wives during the interview process. Franklin, in a relaxed mood near the beach, explained, "Ive been saying it for a long time, I will not hire an assistant until I see his wife. If she looks the part and shes a D1
recruit, then you got a chance to get hired. Thats part of the deal. Theres a very strong correlation between having the confidence, going up and talking to a women (sic), and being quick on your feet and having some personality and confidence and being articulate and confident, than it is walking into a high school and recruiting a kid and selling him." Does this apply to more than football? Probably. The general rule of thumb is that the spouse starts becoming a factor once you start getting into leadership positions, especially with smaller companies where great sacrifices might be required on the part of families -‐ thats when the hiring executive wants to meet Mrs. Candidate, more often than not to guage whether shell be supportive of the sacrifices required, and also to sell her in to the promise of the role, etc. So it stands to reason that a high attractiveness level might be a plus in that situation, if not a requirement via the progressive views of James Franklin. Women -‐ does this ever hold true for the male spouse of a key female candidate? That would explain my wifes amazing career success before she opted out of the game. Im just sayin...
“Hiring Former Athletes as a Recruiting Strategy – Genius of a Cop-‐Out?” by Kris Dunn Originally posted on May 8, 2012 Was with an SVP of a pretty cool company a couple of months back and he lamented what he considers to be a broken recruiting strategy – hiring former jocks for sales positions. He considered the approach broken due to the track record of the “usual suspects” his company hired for AE spots – former jocks – but outlined that the primary reason for the systematic failure of the AEs in question was their intellectual capacity to pull off a consultative-‐style sale. In other words – they were dumb jocks. Stoopid, even. He didn’t feel they had the intellectual capacity or agile mental capacity to do the consultative style sale – when they got stuck, they just pushed harder rather than adapting mentally to the game. So it begs the question – does hiring former athletes work as a recruiting strategy? Or is hiring jocks a sucker’s play if you’re looking for any kind of depth beyond some backslapping and war stories about the “glory days”? Answer: It depends. The first rule of hiring jocks is as follows: If you live in a limited geographical area where sports affiliation runs high and the position you’re hiring for is focused on meeting the public and opening doors, the jock hire with ties/a career at the local Division I might make a lot of sense. You call it sales. I call it PR. If I’m selling in Birmingham these days, having a former player for the Crimson Tide (University of Alabama) making calls and setting up appointments might make a lot of sense. They need to have the aptitude and desire to pick up the phone, but it’s a good start. And I’d need to get ready to support them in the sales process in a big way if that’s what I was going for. After that, the rules get pretty dicey. If you’re not hiring for name recognition (school or individual), hiring a jock only provides benefits if the following things are at play as a result of their development as an athlete: 1. Your interview shows they compete better than the average candidate due to the background as a jock. 2. They achieved academically and the fact that they did it while packing in a full-‐time job in a sport means they’re driven, organized and well – just pretty damn good.