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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.
3. They’re not wallflowers about being put in tough situations where outcomes are in question (related to the compete angle in #1). That’s about it – if you can find a jock you like and the interview and background suggests these things are at play as +1′s and they stack up well against the non-‐jocks, I think it’s a good call to make the jock hire. Here’s when you don’t hire the jock: If they’re a Ken/Barbie and the job doesn’t call for a Ken/Barbie or the name recognition of the local university mentioned in the first rule. Also, I’m a big believer of what I’ll call the average jock rule. It goes a little something like this: 1. If the jock in question wasn’t that good, but they had to work their #$$ off in order to compete and survive in the sport in question, they’re not a Ken/Barbie, and they have the three attributes I’ve outlined above that can make a jock hire special, you should hire them. 2. Division 2 and Division 3 athletics are full of these types of kids – not elite, but grinders who love to play. And compete. And are capable of the consultative sale. 3. Hiring jocks from non-‐mainstream sports who fit all the above criteria is another great route. Everyone knows about Division 1 football and hoops, but who cares about wrestling? They still poured everything they had into it and had some success and achieved academically? Interesting hire. I’m not telling you to hire the dumb jock. I’m telling you that hiring a smart/driven jock that you’d never go see play is an interesting way to go. They had more going on than the average kid. Just like the kid who worked at Walgreens all the way through school or started their own business in the dorm.
“How Not to Hire a D1 Football Coach in the Big Ten” by Tim Sackett Originally posted on December 10, 2012 For those College Football fans, last week was a bit crazy on the college football coaching carousel! The one that really caught my eye was Bret Bielema, the University of Wisconsin coach, leaving to go to the University of Arkansas in the SEC. First off, I hate the University of Wisconsin. Second off, I hate Bret Bielema. Being a Michigan State University fan/donor – the University of Wisconsin has been a rather large pain in our backside the past few years! So, it’s with respect (and hatred) that I bid the rather large jackass, Bret Bielema, adieu. Here’s what is really great about this whole thing, though – the head coaching job at the University of Wisconsin (like most state colleges) is a state job – and with most ‘government’ jobs they have processes they need to follow when hiring. No. Matter. What. Here’s the posting – from the University of Wisconsin career site! It’s awesomely bad HR! Want the job? Here’s what UW is looking for in their next coach: -‐ Bachelor’s degree required (I mean this isn’t Arkansas!) -‐ Minimum of 5 years of successful collegiate football coaching experience,preferred. (way to shoot for the moon!) -‐ Other qualifications include the ability to work cooperatively with diverse groups and administrators, faculty, staff and students. The successful applicant must be able develop and implement innovative approaches and solutions; work well independently and in teams; and be flexible in accepting new responsibilities. (Um, what!?)
-‐ Anticipated start date: December 24, 2012 (Merry F’ing Christmas we need recruits – start calling!) I really would love to sit down with the President and Athletic Director of the University of Wisconsin and find out if they ‘truly’ feel these are the job requirements for their Head Football Coach at UW! And, oh brother, this is a BIG and, is this current ‘recruiting’ process meeting their needs!!! I can only assume I already know this answer. Want to apply: Unless another application procedure has been specified above, please send resume and cover letter referring to Position Vacancy Listing #75429 to: Holly Weber 1440 Monroe St. Kellner Hall Madison, WI I’m sure Holly is a solid Talent Acquisition Pro and will do a proper job screening you before you meet with the Athletic Director. Is it just me, or do you feel they might end up using a head hunting firm on this hire?! To me, this is the exact reason HR/Recruiting get zero respect. This job should not be posted on the career site next to the janitor opening. This hire will have millions of dollar impact to the funding of this school – stop treating it like it’s like every other hire – it’s not – and it makes you look like you have no idea what you’re doing.
“10 Years Later, Still Talkin’ About Practice” by Steve Boese Originally posted on May 8, 2012 This week was the 10th Anniversary of NBA legend Allen Iversons classic talkin about practice press conference, where the Philadelphia 76ers star, just a few days after seeing his Sixers team eliminated in the first round of the playoffs by the Boston Celtics addressed the media and was confronted with questions about his (allegedly poor) practice habits. Iverson had a tempestuous relationship with 76er coach Larry Brown, himself no stranger to controversy, and the practice rant stemmed largely from Browns comments to the media about Iversons casual attitude towards practice and preparation. Some video exists from the 2002 press conference that shows Iverson in full on practice rant, mentioning about 20 times in two and a half minutes that he saw it as being ridiculous as a the franchise player, and league MVP just one season prior, and a legendary fierce and fearless competitor, that he had to spend time well, talking about practice. A few things about Iversons comments and the practice issue overall. One, the video, and most of what everyone remembers from the press conference was the two minutes of so of Iverson repeating, were talking about practice, not a game over and over, which makes it very easy to call into question Iversons dedication and commitment. What is missing from the video, and can be found in the full transcript of the press conference here, is that before and after the practice rant, Iverson talked openly about being hurt, confused, and disappointed in trade rumors that were floating around at that time. Iverson, rightly so, considered himself and was recognized by the league, as one of the very best players in the game. In 2002, he was in the middle of an 8 or 9 year run where hed be named to the All-‐NBA 1st, 2nd, or 3rd team each year. In our workplace parlance, he was top talent an A player or a purple squirrel if you will. So naturally Iverson would have to be surprised and insulted that the team he had performed so well for, including dragging on his back to the NBA finals just one year prior, would even consider shopping him around the league. Two, the rant, and the practice context raise really interesting and ongoing questions about talent and more specifically how hard it can be to manage the best talent. Iverson was a former league MVP, the leagues leading scorer, and had an unquestionably ferocious style of play, notable for a guy just 6 feet tall and thin-‐framed. No one who watched Iverson play consistently ever came away from recognizing his commitment and intensity to winning basketball games. At the time of the practice press conference, he was 26, had just completed his 6th year in the league, and won his third league scoring title. Was he a perfect player? No. But he was one of the very best in the game and it can be argued he knew how to best prepare himself and his body to stand up to the rigors of a long season and playoffs.
Should Iverson have been more attentive and subservient to the wishes of the coach, and tried to be a more dedicated practice player? Probably. Did Brown know the right way how to get the best out of Iverson, his star player? Probably not. I guess I am coming off as a bit of an Iverson apologist here, especially when most of the people that have seen or heard about the practice rant come to the quick conclusion that Iverson was selfish, pampered, and in the wrong. I guess all I will say to that is as a manager or leader you eventually sink or swim largely by your ability to get the best performance out of your star performers. Iverson has some blame here for sure, but definitely not all of it. Probably too much of it.
“MAMBA OUT: Leadership and Likability” by Steve Boese Originally posted on October 18, 2012 One of the NBAs most accomplished players, the Lakers Kobe Bryant, has been a controversial figure throughout most of his career. Through the course of his 15-‐plus year career, highlighted by 5 NBA titles, he has been dogged by on-‐court accusations of selfishness and petulance, and off-‐court problems, most notably a 1998 sexual assault trial in Colorado. Bryant is a lighting-‐rod type player, and opinions about him are mostly clear and starkly divided. He is, to use the cliche, a player you either love or hate. If you love him, its for his single-‐minded focus and competitiveness, his intense drive to succeed, and his pursuit of winning, although certainly on his terms. For those that cant stand Bryant, they usually point to his on-‐court domination of the ball, his seeming lack of respect for teammates not as talented as him, and a sort of general unlikability that makes him, at times, kind of difficult to cheer for. Bryant, as the best player on his team, and the de facto leader, has often had little patience or positive things to say about his own team mates that fail to live up to his standards and expectations. And its that last point, Bryants unlikability that I want to call out, inspired by a recent little leadership manifesto of sorts, that Bryant posted on Facebook, and was reported on by the Pro Basketball Talk blog. Heres a piece of the Bryant message, with some comments, and really questions after the quote: Sometimes you must prioritize the success of the team ahead of how your own image is perceived. The ability to elevate those around you is more than simply sharing the ball or making teammates feel a certain level of comfort. It’s pushing them to find their inner beast, even if they end up resenting you for it at the time.
I’d rather be perceived as a winner than a good teammate. I wish they both went hand in hand all the time but that’s just not reality. Some interesting takes from the Mamba, (Bryants self-‐designated nickname). In a hyper-‐competitive business, where the difference between winning and losing is razor-‐thin, and the window of opportunity for achieving the ultimate goal, winning championships, closes quickly, Bryant acknowledges that he views leadership and likeability as two mutually exclusive traits. In his view, you can do what it takes to lead, to inspire others to get the best out of themselves, and to put the team in the best place to win, OR, you can worry about being liked, and how you are perceived by the team, (and the public). The Mamba is pretty clear on which approach works for him, and it is kind of hard to argue with both his personal and team success over the years. But reading his manifesto seems to engender a contradictory reaction -‐ Bryant sounds kind of mean, petty, and yes, almost completely unlikeable. Which I suppose is the real question -‐ can you be a true and successful leader and not be willing to point out in very clear terms the shortcomings you might see in the team? Can you be a great leader and worry about how you are perceived? If you want to win in a competitive game should you worry at all about being likeable? Mamba out...
“Want to Be a Great People Manager? Don’t Watch the Ball…” by Kris Dunn Originally posted on March 16, 2012 Ive got a simple post today. It starts with sports and rapidly moves off that. Hang in there. You know what separates good and great coaches in team sports from average ones? They dont watch the ball. Regardless of the sport, the best coaches are the ones who spend 80% of their time watching the activity off the ball. They figure the guy with the ball is going to react to whats going on and do whats necessary. But the people without the ball? Thats where the action is. Off the ball is where you have people reacting to whats going on in front of them, behind them, to what they hear -‐ all in an effort to be prepared and be in position to make a play when the opportunity presents itself. Theres a world of activity going on off the ball, but almost all fans and many average coaches focus almost exclusively on the ball. You want to be a great manager of people? A great coach in your organization? Find the equivalent of "off the ball" for the people you manage and coach. Examples: • A direct reports prep (or lack thereof) to talk to an influential person in another department at your company. • Abruptness in email communication that doesnt fit the culture of your company. • Giving "gifts" of time and effort in an organization that your direct report doesnt have to -‐ because its good for them, you and the company -‐ and almost always gets repaid. • A direct reports ability to give feedback to people up and down the organization in a way that makes everyone feel like shes looking out for them rather than telling them they suck. Theres a million examples, so let your mind flow. Real coaches dont watch the ball. They coach off the ball. In sports and in companies. Be a baller. Dont watch the ball.
“Don’t Send Me Your Kid and Expect Me to Fix the Big Problems…” by Kris Dunn Originally posted on January 24, 2012 Lets start with a quote: "Baseballs hard, guys. I mean, it really is. You can love it but, believe me, it dont always love you back. Its kind of like dating a German chick, you know?" Name the movie and win a free subscription to the Capitalist (wait -‐ you already have one) I have kids. Those kids play sports. I serve as a volunteer coach and board member for the local baseball league because Im community-‐minded and a masochist. Its sign-‐up time, which means that the parents signing up their kids and using the registration process to make requests and generally try and fit the kids baseball schedule into their schedule. Common requests: -‐"Please try and put Jimmy on Tyler Durdens team. We know the Durdens and will be car pooling with them. Thanks!" -‐"We had a bad experience with Coach Ditka last year. He seemed a bit too intense for 8-‐year old baseball. Please make sure that Jimmy doesnt end up on Ditkas team." -‐"We love Coach Dunn. If theres any chance Jimmy can play on Coach Dunns team again, that would be great." (My Favorite!) But... Every once in a while, a request sneaks in that makes you go "wow". I saw one of those this week. Here it is: -‐"Please put Bobby with a coach that will be firm with him and also gets results." I read it a couple of times. It bothered me more each time I looked at it. Heres what it said to me about the parents, their responsibility related to their sons behavior and their expectations related to their sons skills. All have workplace tie-‐ins:
1. I know our son has some problems. We cant control him with the 24 hours we have with him, but we expect you to. 2. If things go horribly wrong on the field, we expect you to deal with it. We wont help. Well be watching, but dont expect us to snatch him off the field for acting like a fool. 3. Our sons never been held accountable at home. Good luck sucker. 4. By the way, we havent done everything we need to as parents, but we expect results from you as a coach. Well be the first ones to be critical of you losing a bunch. Thats part of our results orientation. Not for our family, but for others. How do you think its going to go for Bobby in the workplace? Right.... Pass on Bobby in the draft. I am Morris Buttermaker.
“It’s Hard, But It’s Fair” by Tim Sackett Originally posted on November 28, 2012 I heard this quote recently, it was used by an old football coach to his players: “It’s hard, but it’s fair.” He wasn’t the first to use this and probably won’t be the last – but the line stuck with me because of how I don’t think many people in today’s age really think this way. Many want to talk about what’s fair, few want to discuss the ‘hard’ part. The football coach’s son described the meaning of what he feels the phrase means: “It’s about sacrifice,” Toler Jr. said of the quote. “It means that that if you work hard that when it’s all said and done at the end of the day, it will be fair based on your body of work. It’s about putting in the time, making sure that you’re ready for the opportunity.” I think we all think our parents are hard on us growing up. I recall stories I tell to my own sons of my Dad waking me up on a Saturday morning at 7am, after I was out to late the night before, and ‘making’ me help him with something, like chopping wood or cleaning the garage out. He didn’t really need my help, he was trying to teach me a lesson about choices. If I chose to stay out late at night, it was going to suck getting up early to go to school. He shared with me stories of his father doing the same thing – one night my Dad had gotten home late, so late, he didn’t even go to bed, just started a pot of coffee and waited for my grandfather to get up, figuring that was easier than getting a couple of hours of sleep and then hearing it from my grandfather the rest of the day.
As a HR Pro, we see this every day in our workforce. There are some who work their tails off, not outwardly expecting anything additional, they’re just hard workers. Others will put in the minimum, then expect a cookie. It’s a tough life lesson for those folks. Most usually end up leaving your organization, believing they were treated unfairly, so they’ll go bounce around a few more times. Eventually they’ll learn to put in the work, put in the time and more times than not, things work out pretty well. Sometimes it won’t – so you go back to work even harder. It’s been very rare in my 20 year HR career that I’ve truly seen a really hard worker get screwed over – very rare! Do some idiots who don’t deserve a promotion or raise sometimes get it – yep, they sure do – but that doesn’t happen as much as you think. The hard workers tend to get the better end of the deal almost always. I hope I can teach my sons this lesson: Life is going to be hard, but if you keep at it and put in the work, it’s going to be fair. I think that is all we can really hope for.
“Are You Really Giving 100% -‐ Super Bowl Edition” by Tim Sackett Originally posted on February 3, 2012 I’m not a fan of the Dallas Cowboys but they have a number of quotes inside their locker room used to motivate their players. One of those quotes has stuck with me: “DON’T CONFUSE ROUTINE, WITH COMMITMENT” If you’ve been around sports long enough, you realize the truth to these words. It is so easy to get caught up in our “routines” that we begin believing this is “commitment”. You begin to hear things like: “I come to work everyday” “I put in my time” “I produced more than anyone else in my group last year “-‐ (last week – yesterday – etc.) “I work hard” “I don’t complain” You hear these things, right!? And, for the most part, we have this filter that makes us believe that they are the right things to say, but the reality is we are confusing routine with commitment. I have to tell you something – I’m probably not the best guy to work for. Why? I don’t give out many trophies for people that do what they were hired to do. When you come to work in my barn, I expect that you are going to perform the job you were hired to perform. That job takes
hard work, you have to show up everyday and work, I don’t put up with complaining, and I expect you put in more than your time. I rarely confuse routine with commitment. We all have routines, but I don’t equate your routine with being committed to my organization or to your profession. Commitment happens when you show your willingness to go beyond your routine on a regular basis. I run a recruiting company – candidates aren’t always available between 8am and 5pm, Monday through Friday – Clients aren’t always available to talk to you between 8am and 5pm Monday through Friday – mostly they are – but not always. So to be a committed recruiter or sales professional in my organization you will have to make connections with people at odd times, on odd days – it might even require you to take a call or have an appointment on the weekend. Like many other occupations and organizations, I’m sure. So, how do I know if someone is committed – I don’t hear about it. I don’t hear they had a call on Saturday or they interviewed someone on Sunday evening. I don’t hear about how it took away from their personal life to take a client to a ball game on Saturday. Commitment is quiet. Commitment doesn’t have to boast or complain. They did it because they knew it was the right thing to do for their career and for the organization. If you show up to run pass routes in the off-‐season, and you’ve done that every year since college – that’s a routine. If you show up to run pass routes, and you invited and personally picked up 3 other teammates on the way to the field – that’s commitment. Do let your employees confuse the two.
“Step Stone or Destination? If You Are Not Sure, The Talent Will Let You Know” by Steve Boese Originally posted on December 10, 2012 In my continued examination of the intersections between Sports and HR, Talent, and Recruiting, there may be no better spectacle and opportunity for examination than the Winter silly season where American college football teams and coaching talent undergo their annual period of firing, resigning, and hiring to re-‐set the (rarified) talent pool for head football coaching positions. There are generally three reasons that a head football coaching position becomes available, and they are pretty similar to the reasons any executive, well-‐paid, position opens up in any organization: Performance -‐ There are always a handful of these each season. Whether the football team under performed, or there is a true mis-‐alignment between management expectations and the reasonable likelihood of those expectations being met -‐ either way the performance termination is a common and generally straightforward situation. Retirement -‐ Head college football coach is an outstanding job. Heck, if you can have any degree of success and tenure in a position, it is a multi-‐million dollar while enjoying the love and adoration of the fan base and community life. So naturally, the men (and that is not a sexist take, these jobs are ONLY held by men), that have these jobs tend to hold on to them for a really long time. But once they hit 75 or 80 or so, (not entirely kidding), they often have to hang up the whistle. Better gig somewhere else -‐ This one, where the coach, (or for your shop, the Director of Marketing, or the VP of Sales), leaves to take the same or similar job elsewhere, is the most interesting scenario at least in the college football talent pool. Because in football, the job itself is the same one everywhere, so the evaluation of whether or not the next opportunity is a step up, a step down, or a lateral move is completely reliant on other criteria. Some of these
are objective -‐ like salary and bonuses, others are subjective -‐ the prestige of the job mostly driving this. And the tough part of situation three, when your coach or executive ditches you for what you think is at best a lateral move, is often it takes this kind of high profile resignation and move to make you and your leadership realize where you stand on the industry desirability pecking order. Make no mistake -‐ the talent, their choices, and the decisions your competitors make do more to place you on the attractiveness scale than most of the things you can do, at least in the short term. Net-‐net of this? It helps to understand where you rank in the eyes of the talent, particularly for those key positions that do not have an enormously deep talent pool. Your gig can be a starter job, you can be a step along the way for a high-‐flier, or you (sometimes) can be a true destination. Its better to know what you are than have the talent surprise you.
“In the Interview, Talk About Your Talent Plan” by Steve Boese Originally posted on November 20, 2012 Like a young Lance Haun Cool story from (Shock!), the world of sports, in this case professional basketball. The National Basketball Association, (NBA), is not unlike most competitive businesses in that strategy and leadership, while important, will only take an organization so far. To win, heck, to even compete for NBA titles, a supremely talented and thoughtfully assembled roster of players is mandatory. And even then, since almost all the teams possess top talent, youll never be guaranteed of success, for the teams that usually win rely on two or three superstars -‐ ultra-‐rare talents that all teams need and compete for. So last summer when Los Angeles Clippers executive Neal Olshey was interviewing for the General Manager job with the Portland Trail Blazers, he, in his words, spent almost the entire interview with Portand owner Paul Allen talking about talent -‐ specifically how the Blazers biggest talent need was at the point guard position, AND the team should address that need by selecting a college player named Damian Lillard in the upcoming player draft. From a piece on SI.com on the Blazers, Olshey, and Lillard: In the first week of June, Olshey left the Clippers, a team stocked with point guards but devoid of prominent draft picks, for the Trail Blazers, who had no reliable point guard but two lottery picks. During his interview with Blazers owner Paul Allen, Olshey talked about Lillard almost as much as himself. "It was basically the whole interview," Olshey said. "The biggest need was clearly point guard and Damian was the guy. There was no question he was the guy." The Blazers wanted to draft him at No. 11, but feared, for good reason, that he would be gone, so they snagged him sixth.
So far, about a dozen games into the NBA season, and Lillards career, Olsheys talent assessment has been right on the money -‐ Lillard leads the Blazers in scoring, assists, and has impressed fans, rivals, and teammates with his outstanding and heady play. The larger point I think this story illustrates is how having a talent plan, not just a business or strategy plan was to both Olsheys successful candidacy for the General Manager job, but also the ultimate success of the team, and by extension, Olsheys job performance. It is fantastic in an interview setting if you can talk confidently about the target companys industry, competitive situation, opportunities, and challenges. It is great to be able to confidently describe how your skills and experience can help the company solve problems or operate more effectively. But if you can talk about talent -‐ the needs, gaps, where to find talent, what kind of talent youd recommend to bring into the organization, and how you will bring them in -‐ then I think you have the advantage. And if you can, like Mr. Olshey has so far in his tenure, execute on your talent plans, then you win.
“The Future Performance Enhanced Workplace” by Steve Boese Originally posted on November 14, 2012 We all know, and if you are like me, have probably grown sick of, the Lance Armstrong saga. The long story is really long, (and about as boring as a 200 mile bicycle race), but the tale more or less breaks down like this: 1. Armstrong begins his cycling career and has some initial success 2. Armstrong is diagnosed with and successfully battles testicular cancer 3. Armstrong wins more cycling championships -‐ including 7 consecutive Tour de France titles 4. Lots of folks think he must have been cheating, i.e. using performance enhancing drugs or other banned non-‐natural methods to have such sustained dominance and excellence 5. Armstrong denies all accusations and charges -‐ primarily relying on the fact that he never failed any actual drug tests 6. Eventually, and in the face of what they claim to be overwhelming evidence of Armstrongs guilt, the cycling authorities strip Armstrong of his cycling victories due to this (still alleged) cheating Your reaction to the Armstrong story, and similar stories about the use of (usually) banned Performance Enhancing Drugs by athletes in other sports like baseball, football, and track might be to simply shrug it off as a sports story, and not particularly relevant to the real world, and certainly to the real workplace. Or you might be some kind of purist and feel a measure of outrage, indignation, or disappointment in how Armstong, (allegedly), and other cheating competitors have sullied the games they play, and made it difficult if not impossible for honest, clean athletes to have a chance to compete on a level ground. Or perhaps you may be a realist or cynic and conclude that Armstrong was a cheater, but so were all the other top racers, and that in order to compete at the highest levels of the sport that is what was required. If you feel that way, then you probably still respect Armstongs accomplishments -‐ cheater or not, he did win all those races. But what if the ethical and medical issues surrounding the use of Performance Enhancing Drugs move from the world of sports, and into more mundane and routine forms of endeavor, and more workplaces, maybe even one that looks like yours?
Check out a recent piece from the BBC titled Concern over souped-‐up human race, which describes how Performance Enhancing Drugs might potentially play a more significant role in the workplace of the future. From the BBC article: Four professional bodies -‐ the Academy of Medical Sciences, the British Academy, the Royal Academy of Engineering and the Royal Society -‐ say that while human enhancement technologies might improve our performance and aid society, their use raise serious ethical, philosophical, regulatory and economic issues. In a joint report, they warn that there is an "immediate need" for debate around the potential harms. Chairwoman of the reports steering committee Prof Genevra Richardson said: "There are a range of technologies in development and in some cases already in use that have the potential to transform our workplaces -‐ for better or for worse." There may be an argument for lorry drivers, surgeons and airline pilots to use enhancing drugs to avoid tiredness, for example. But, in the future, is there a danger that employers and insurers will make this use mandatory, the committee asks. An interesting take and one that poses new and more important ethical and moral questions in the workplace than whether or not Roger Clemens should be elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame. Could you see a future workplace where your front line staff is enticed or even required to take or leverage some kind of supplement to be more alert or mentally sharp? As the workforce gets older, could you envision the use of workplace Performance Enhancing Drugs become more prevalent? And in this potential future Performance Enhanced workplace what about individuals that want to work clean? Or is this all just crazy talk?
“Tuesday, Rain, and Playing the Long Game” by Steve Boese Originally posted on September 18, 2012 Ever since Malcolm Gladwell pitched his now famous 10,000 hours theory, it cemented into our awareness what most everyone has known for a really long time -‐ overnight success is usually not overnight at all, and the long, slow grind of experiments, failures, refinements, learning, and disappointments is what (mostly) leads to what only seems like overnight success. Even the Gangnam Style guy has been plying his craft in one form or another for over 10 years. We all know this to be true, it isnt novel, we were usually taught this in school starting in about 3rd grade, or whenever it was we ran face first into that first subject or concept that we didnt just get right away. Maybe it was fractions, maybe sentence structure, adverbs, or long division -‐ once that first bit of frustration with not understanding hits, we generally realize pretty quick the only (ethical) way forward is long, boring, hard, and largely unsatisfying effort. Unsatisfying until we do finally get it and say things like Its all been worth it, or in the case of calculus, Im glad Ill never have to go through that again. So while the you have to work really hard for a long time to become great at anything isnt news, it still is a sentiment or guide that still bears repeating from time to time, (at least for me). And rarely have I seen it expressed as well as in a recent piece on the ESPN True Hoop blog called The long game is the only game, by Henry Abbott, (I know you are shocked, a basketball site).
Heres the money quote from Henry: It may appear that NBA games are won with big moments when everybody is looking -‐ -‐ dunking over people, blocking shots, hitting a momentous jumper. And once in a while that does happen. But the reality is that many more careers and games turn on getting things right in the millions of small moments when nobody is looking. The big moments will always dominate the Hollywood version of events. But in real life, if you want to do the most you can to get the best possible results, its a long game of putting together one solid day of training after another. You want to know whos going to have the best NBA career? You could do worse than to simply figure out who puts in the most work to prepare. Maybe in the NBA there are some exceptions to this, there are some supremely talented and physically gifted guys where the need for the day-‐in, day-‐out slog is not necessary to have successful and even legendary careers. But those guys are extremely rare, often work and practice much, much more than they let on, and often are looked back upon as not making the most of their physical gifts. For the rest of us, who cant dunk a ball, or for whom irrational number theory never came naturally, we have to continue to grind away. I got up early today, its Tuesday, its cold and raining. The kind of day that is pretty easy to fold to, to simply go through the motions, and come back tomorrow. But that never gets it done.
“French Fried and Who Takes the Heat When You Reach for Talent” by Steve Boese Originally posted on June 29, 2012 The dunk of death Last night I stayed up way too late for a tired body still recovering from #SHRM12 to watch the NBA 2012 player draft up until the point where my beloved New York Knicks made their one and only selection, with the 48th overall pick. And in classic Knick fashion, they managed to enrage the small but vocal contingent of fans on hand at the draft, as well as a fair number of active fans in the Twitterverse, with the selection of the mostly unknown Kostas Papanikolaou, from Greece, whose main claim to fame, (aside from being short an e from having every vowel in his last name), was ONE good game in the recent Euroleague finals. Immediately after the selection of Papanikolaou, and amid the fans shouts of Who the heck is that?, some of the commentators on the draft broadcast talked about the Greeks game, and that he has potential, some good skills, needs some further development, yadda-‐yadda-‐yadda. Truth is, hardly anyone knows anything about this player and his game, and whether or not he will become a productive NBA player someday is anyones guess. As a Knicks fan, the draft always brings back memories of the 1999 draft, where the Knicks selecting with the 15th overall pick in the event, selected a similarly unknown, (but admittedly with a better body of work to that point), Fredric Weis, a 72" center from the basketball hotbed of France. Long story short, Weis never played in the NBA, and despite having a decent career in a few European leagues and representing France is several international competitions, is really only remembered for one thing -‐ being jumped over and dunked upon by NBA star Vince Carter in the 2000 Olympics, in a play known as "Le dunk de la mort, (The dunk of death).
As I mentioned, Weis never made it to the NBA, and certainly it will take a few years to know if Papanikolaou will meet the same fate. There are just too many variables, and a long history of guys youve never heard of before, (Nowitzki, Ginobili, Sackett), having fantastic careers to completely discount the Greeks chances. But here is the interesting thing for the talent evaluator and professional in these kinds of reach scenarios -‐ if Weis would have turned out to be a star, or even a solid, reliable contributor on the NBA level, a ton of the credit would have gone to the person(s) gutsy enough to risk their professional reputation and jobs and pick an unknown guy out of France over a more established player from a US college that the fans and public would have at least known about. The risk, at least a disproportionate amount of selecting an unknown quantity, from a talent pool not known for producing great hires, who you have to explain for half an hour just exactly who he is, is almost all on the talent pro. If a guy like Weis, and Papanikolaou as well, ends up as a success, most of the accolades and credit will go to them. If they fail, it isnt really their fault, no one expects unknowns from Europe to become big NBA stars, (less so today, certainly that was the case in 1999). The safe bet of course, for the NBA talent evaluator, and for you the corporate talent pro, is to make the safe pick, choose the talent from a known source, one that your fans, colleagues, and hiring managers recognize. Make the defensible choice. Because if the the blue-‐chip guy from the Big 10 school that has been on TV 47 time in the last 3 years fails -‐ well then thats the players fault, not yours. If you as a talent pro reach for a guy like Weis and he fails? Well thats your fault. And thats no fun.
“Value, Pricing and Early Retirement” by Steve Boese April 4, 2012 When this piece, about Chicago Bears running back Marion Barber announcing his retirement from football at age 28, popped up recently I decided to bookmark the story, although I was not entirely sure why. After all, while Barber was considered a solid NFL player for just about all of his seven year career, his particularly bruising style of play, combined with the typically short useful life span of NFL running backs, make his retirement from the game at what is a young age for just about any other vocation not terribly unusual or surprising. NFL players dont last long, and only the most durable and successful NFL running backs have careers much longer than Barbers seven years. NFL and other professional sports teams talent management professionals have long learned to adapt their practices and talent strategies to the short careers of their players. Team depth charts showing three and four levels of potential (and often needed on extremely short notice) successors, detailed scouting reports of potential college hires (draftees), and a constantly updated assessment of replacement talent either currently employed by other teams, or on the open market are all staples of the professional sports teams head of talent. Although even I would admit not all sports/business/talent management comparisons hold water upon closer examination, even the most skeptical observers would have to acknowledge that the manner in which professional sports teams are constantly planning for the departure of their most important players, whether through injury, retirement, or even at times a sudden, and almost unexplainable drop in performance, is something to be learned from and even copied. In that light, in addition to a constant vigilance towards succession planning, pro sports talent managers have another skill (mostly) down cold -‐ namely maintaining a keen understanding of when they need to overpay for talent and where they dont, and that to me is the more interesting aspect of the Barber retirement, (even if in this particular case the issue did not appear to be money). In the NFL while running back has been a traditional high-‐profile position, over time and due in part to a heavier reliance by teams on the passing game, the difference in production between the top few running backs in the league and the average performers at the position has been
diminishing in statistical terms, as well as in overall value to team success. And time and time again it has been shown that rookie or second-‐year backs can perform to acceptable levels, while being paid significantly less than more experienced players. Essentially the league, and the talent managers from the teams, have determined that running back is a position where value usually trumps longevity, only the very best performers are worth rewarding with above market contracts, and replacements are readily found. So Marion Barber, a seven-‐year vet and for the most part an above average performer for the majority of his career hangs it up at age 28 and the Bears, the rest of the league, and the average NFL fan barely notices. The Bears can and will easily find at least a half dozen viable replacements. And that is I suppose another talent management lesson that we can learn from the NFL. That even the seemingly most easily replaceable elements of the team are indeed, easily replaced. And when you can say that about your talent management plans and succession bench strength, that you have the answer and plan ready to go for every spot on the team, then maybe youll be ready when your next 28 year old, in a high profile spot, and a solid performer decides to walk out the door.
“I Feel Alright” by Matthew Stollak Originally posted on Thursday, April 12, 2012 In the most recent ESPN-‐ The Magazine, Peter Keating highlights a study on sleep by Stanford researcher Cheri Mah, who explored the question, does extra sleep boost athletic achievement? Over three seasons, from 2005 to 2008, the scientists looked at 11 Stanford basketball players. For two to four weeks, the Cardinal kept to their normal schedules. Then for five to seven weeks, they watched what they drank, took daytime naps and tried to sleep for 10 hours every night. After increasing their daily rest, the players sprinted faster and said they felt better in practices and games. Their aim got better too: Their three-‐point shooting humped 9.2 percentage points, and their free throw percentage increased by nine points. What is responsible for this improved performance? According to Keating: Some of our genes act as internal clocks and release hormones according to cycles called circadian rhythms, which are triggered by darkness and light and alternate over 24-‐hour periods. When we mess with these rhythms by not getting enough sleep, our metabolism of glucose (which gives us energy) declines, and our level of cortisol (which causes stress) increases. Further, sleeping for longer stretches is naturally anabolic: During deep sleep, our bodies release growth hormone, which stimulates the healing and growth of muscle and bone. So while its possible to push through a lack of sleep during any one day, proper sleep helps athletes in two ways. First, it boosts areas of performance that require top-‐notch cognitive function, like reaction time and hand-‐eye coordination. Second, it aids recovery from tough games and workouts. HR professionals could glean a couple of insights from this study. First, despite our best laid plans, our training, incentives, and motivation will likely have muted impact if employees are coming in tired. Further, instead of stocking our refrigerators with Mountain Dew and 5 Hour
Energy Drink, and keeping the coffee pot brewing, we would be better off setting up a number of nap rooms. “King for a Day” by Matthew Stollak Originally posted on Monday, March 26, 2012 The University of Illinois Mens Basketball program has a long, storied, and successful history with 17 Big Ten championships and 5 trips to the NCAA Final Four, and one national championship (in 1915, though). Unfortunately, U of I basketball has fallen on some hard times. Having not advanced to the Sweet 16 since 2005, and not qualifying for the NCAA tournament after a sterling 15-‐3 start, head coach Bruce Weber was unceremoniously fired at the end of the season. Among college basketball jobs, finding a replacement should have been a "slam dunk." Why? • Low competition statewide -‐ Illinois is perceived as the best program in the state • Access to talent/recruiting base -‐ the Chicago area is considered fertile recruiting ground, producing such stars as Antoine Walker, Michael Finley, Mark Aguirre, Tim Hardaway, Dwayne Wade, and Derrick Rose. Current high school players such as Jabari Parker and Cliff Alexander are considered top 10 in the nation • Tradition and history of success -‐ as noted above, the Illini have had great success to sell applicants • Fan Support -‐ even being 2 hours away from Chicago, Assembly Hall is almost always sold out with fans decked out in orange. • Conference Affiliation -‐ Given the Illini are part of the Big 10, any coach will be well-‐ compensated and get plenty of face time on the Big Ten Network, which can promote future recruiting.
No less than Seth Davis, Sports Illustrated and CBS Sports college basketball expert, has declared the Illinois job "one of the top 10 college basketball jobs in America." If the job is so wonderful, shouldnt applicants from "lesser" programs be knocking down the door? Further, there is only one other "top notch" job out there competing for candidates -‐ Mississippi State. Yet, at least 5 candidates have already turned down the offer or resisted possible overtures: • Shaka Smart, who led VCU to the Final Four in 2011, was reportedly guaranteed facility improvements, a long-‐term contract for as high as 8 years, and a salary comparable to Michigan States Tom Izzo, who makes more than $3 million a year (Smart makes $1.285 million at VCU) • Brad Stevens, who led Butler University to consecutive National Championship games in 2010 and 201, turned down a reported 8 year, $21 million salary to remain at his current place of employment • Anthony Grant of Alabama has expressed no interest • Leonard Hamilton at Florida State is comfortable in his current position • Washingtons Lorenzo Romar is also staying in his job. • So, why the resistance? Among the more public reasons: • Outdated facilities -‐ Assemby Hall is 49 years old. Even with major renovations, Illinois remains behind in the "arms race," with competitors such as Michigan State and Ohio State. • Champaign is not Chicago -‐ enough said • A major administration shake-‐up -‐ The Athletic Director, President, and head coach all lost their jobs within 116 days of one another. That kind of turmoil can make it difficult to attract top notch candidates Heres the problem for Illinois...when these things hang around and the perception is that youre turned down by guy after guy (or that they "have no interest" in your job), you do damage to the way your program is viewed. Theyre theoretically the prettiest girl at the prom and nobody seems to want to get out on the dance floor with them. Sometimes the position is not as good as you think it is.
“Late at Night” by Matthew Stollak Originally posted on Wednesday, March 21, 2012 Over the past several days, you have seen 152,467 blog posts on Greg Smiths op-‐ed in the New York Times bemoaning the culture that had befallen Goldman-‐Sachs. Id much rather look at another, more positive culture -‐ no, not Zappos or Southwest -‐ its Michigan State basketball under Tom Izzo, yet again. Over the past 15 years, MSU has reached the Sweet 16 in the NCAA Tournament 10 times, with a possible 7th trip to the Final Four this year in that same time period. One of the primary reasons for the success is predicated on a particular system that is adoptedthroughout the institution: “We just have a system down, and we use the same system but we tweak it here and there,” said Izzo, who breaks down film more like a football coach than a typical basketball coach. “I have a real confident belief that if we win the first game, that’s what I tell them: ‘You win the first game, I’ll get you through the second.’” This devotion can be seen by some of the least appreciated members of the team -‐ the student members. Within minutes of the completion of the Big Ten Tournament, the student managers were in a van driving back to East Lansing to start putting together film of the opponents in the first weekend of the tournament for the coaches and players to watch: Towels, water, errands and all the traditional manager duties are involved. But MSU also counts on its managers to record and dissect games of potential opponents — breaking them up into categories such as zone defense, man defense, made 2-‐pointers, missed 3-‐ pointers, etc., and handing them off to (MSU Video Coordinator Jordan) Ott and the coaches for analysis. After the victory on Thursday night over LIU-‐Brooklyn, a similar process began:
While MSU’s coaches and primary players showered and prepared for media obligations, the team’s student managers created a basketball half-‐court in one of the Renaissance Downtown’s meeting rooms with duct tape. Assistant video manager and former Sexton head coach Doug Herner paced out the measurements, and a 3-‐point line, foul line, baseline and sidelines appeared on the carpeted floor. By the time Tom Izzo and his team arrived around 12:45, the walk-‐ons were ready to rehearse several plays of the Saint Louis offense at walking speed, with the regulars going through their defensive assignments. Then it was 1:15, bed time for the players and time for the coaches to really dig into some strategic nuances that might push No. 1 seed MSU (28-‐7) past No. 9 seed Saint Louis (26-‐7) in today’s NCAA Tournament third-‐ round game at Nationwide Arena. Finding individuals who are willing to take on this 40 hour a week task (plus extra during the postseason) at no pay is critical Ott takes a month each fall to decide on his hires, for jobs that are not advertised. He wants people who are trustworthy, enthusiastic and hard-‐working. Love for basketball is a must. However, there are long-‐term payoffs -‐ full time positions elsewhere: When Auburn had a video opening a few years ago, its people called (MSUs Director of Basketball Operations Kevin) Pauga and asked which MSU managers didnt have jobs. "That became their entire candidate pool," he said. "The biggest compliment to those guys," MSU assistant coach Mike Garland said, is that when an NBA or college team has an opening, they always call MSU first. Who you got?" The real kicker in this story is this...not only did current managers work on prepping the some 17 games of video they had on LIU-‐Brooklyn prior to last Thursdays match-‐up: Some former managers even stopped by to help them start finding and logging game film into MSU’s computer system as soon as LIU-‐Brooklyn was announced as the Spartans’ first opponent. Former employees...coming back...and helping...at no pay. How many of your organizations can say they have alumni return to your place of employment to help out? Thats a true mark of a successful culture!
“When to Bet Your Future on a Single FTE…” by Kris Dunn Originally posted on March 14, 2012 Much has been made in the last couple of days related to the potential trade of NBA Superstar Dwight Howard. You want Howard, whos one of the best players in the league and in the last three months of a contract? (thus the urgency to trade him so the Orlando Magic get something for him rather than letting him walk in free agency) -‐ youll need to give us 3-‐4 key players/draft picks to get him... What can you learn from this? First, you have to ask the right question, which is not "what do I think about this trade?" The right question is: "When should I bet the future of my company on a single FTE?" or its close counterpart, "When should I bet my career at the company I currently work for on a single FTE?" The answer is pretty simple. You only bet the future of your company or current career on a single FTE when you think the talent that FTE has can redefine your business, when the skills in question are more art than science. When you can buy creativity that leads to production that others not only cant produce, but they cant even develop thoughts around. Examples: -‐A software developer who not only can sling code, but can conceptualize and develop features others cant think of. -‐A designer whos going to stun those who visit your website with simplicity, visual appeal and functionality that your competitors cant touch. -‐A marketer who can develop campaigns that consistently cut through the white noise that drowns everyone else out. Other examples are out there as well, but one thing is for sure: Its a suckers play to bet the farm on one FTE if theres not a combination of creativity mixed in with the production you expect.
Creativity + Production = Game Changer. Dont bet your company or career unless theres a great track record of both.
“The NFL Bounty System: Mama Said Knock You Out…” by Kris Dunn Originally posted on March 5, 2012 By now, anyone whos remotely a football fan has heard about the reported "Bounty" system that was deployed by the former golden-‐child New Orleans Saints over the last couple of years (read this for a primer). The gist of the system is a defensive coordinator had a pool of $50,000 and was paying "bounties" of $1,000 and $1,500 during the season for "knock-‐outs", "cart-‐offs" and other items that make the sport seem Neanderthal. Of course, it is neanderthal. But the bounty system described isnt what it seems. To the casual observer, it looks like incentives to hurt people. But the reality is that its just a poorly phrased way of doing recognition that has always been, and will continue even after this to be, a part of football at almost every level. A quick story: Im in 7th grade and playing tackle football for the first time. Im at defensive back and the ball is snapped in a scrimmage, I get to the line of scrimmage and theres a screen pass that causes the targeted back to turn his back to me to catch the ball. I have a chance to blow him up, but elect to go low and trip him to the ground. Tackle at the same spot. I had two coaches ALL OVER ME because I didnt go high and try to ring his bell. They werent encouraging me to do anything illegal, but they were encouraging me to be as physical as I could, to inflict maximum pain and discomfort. Flash forward to high school. A common ritual (you can see this any Friday night in high school or Saturdays on TV in college) is helmet stickers. Offensive players get helmet stickers for great plays. You know what defensive players get them for? Tackles and interceptions, yes. But more importantly, blowing people up. Big hits, delivered with malice are the preference. My high school decided the helmet stickers werent providing enough emphasis on the big hit, so they added an outside bell. Deliver a crushing hit on Friday, you got to ring the bell on Monday
while your teammates went crazy. Anita Bell was nowhere to be found, by the way. It was a scene straight out of the movie 300. Come back with your shield, or on it, Spartan. Dont be soft. Look to crush. I got out of the game and moved to hoops. Good choice for me. Back to the NFL. A $1,000 "bounty" to a guy making $600,000 in the NFL is the equivalent of $167 to a guy making $100,000. Not enough to incent him to do anything he doesnt want to do. The bounty system that the Saints used was poorly phrased. The NFL has a concussion problem and is trying to mute the culture of violence that the game is based on. Theyve got legal concerns as we learn lots more about concussions, the tie to conditions like Parkinsons, etc. But the system isnt in place as an incentive. Its a recognition system, a way for teams and players to celebrate the big, crushing hit that makes defenses the best, and feared. Want the recognition on Monday? Youll do what I didnt. Youll take a guy, hit him hard and then finish the tackle by driving him in the ground, maybe inflicting a separated shoulder by doing it. Cart off! Mortimer and Randolph Duke didnt bet $1 in Trading Places as an incentive to do anything. The small amount of money was there to make the recognition of being right special to them. Footballs a nasty sport. Defenses get paid to hurt people and be feared. The bounty is recognition -‐ just like the helmet stickers your kids are getting in high school. Come back with your shield or on it -‐ Spartan.
“Rob Gronkowski is That Young HiPo Who’s Either Going to End up Running Your Company, Or…” by Kris Dunn Originally posted on February 10, 2012 ...Serving 5 in the clink. You know who Rob Gronkowski is. In real life, hes a superstar tight end for the New England Patriots whos an absolute talented freak. Moves like a NBA small forward. Catches every ball. The toast of Boston. Of course, in the past three months, Gronkowski has also shown some issues with maturity, having been involved in the following: -‐-‐having an adult film star take a picture of her and Gronkowski in her bedroom, with the aforementioned Gronkowski shirtless and the adult film star wearing his jersey. That pic was tweeted out by said adult star. Thanks Twitter! -‐-‐dancing shirtless after the Patriots Superbowl loss. Dancing like no one was watching. After nursing an injury in the Super Bowl and losing. And of course, someones always watching in a big nightclub that allows smartphones. Hello? Rob? -‐-‐Mugging for a picture with Boston enemy Kobe Bryant after a Lakers win in Boston Garden. Do I care? Nope. Whats the connection? Youve got young HiPos in your company right now who are incredibly talented -‐ and incredibly immature. Just like Rob. Who wins the race of probability? Does the crash happen before those kids grow up? Or -‐ do they grow up before a horrific judgment issue happens -‐ and forces them to go elsewhere? No one knows. Whats standing between them and a long career at your company? Judgment. Maybe a mentor.
“Trying Not To Lose in HR” by Tim Sackett Originally posted on March 19, 2012 I love March – primarily for March Madness and because I love basketball. I spent the weekend watching as many NCAA Tournament games as possible, including a trip to Columbus, OH to watch my Michigan State Spartans compete in the 1st and 2nd rounds (which technically is inaccurate – it was actually the 2nd and 3rd rounds because of those stupid play in games on Tuesday and Wednesday are “really” the 1st round – but they’re not, we all know it – the only people who truly think that is the 1st round is the NCAA and the parents of the kids playing in those games – which BTW are the only people in those stands watching!). While enjoying this pastime I heard very often the sports cliche: “They are playing not to lose versus trying to win”. For those who have competed in sports (and for many in business), you know exactly what this looks and feels like. It’s playing keep away with the ball when you’re up 3 in the first half! No! Stop! Run your normal offense. It’s your favorite NFL team going into a prevent defense up 10 points with 15 minutes to play (Don’t do it – it’s going to “prevent” you from winning!). Playing not to lose is being conservative – maybe to conservative – to the point of you stop doing what it took that got you in the position to win. We do this in HR. Too many times we tell managers “No”, when we should be telling them “Yes” – we become some risk avoidant they we miss out on some very good opportunities for our organization. It’s not HR’s job to avoid risk – it’s HR’s job to measure the level of risk and work with our
organizational partners to determine if they are comfortable with the level of risk we are about to take. Those are to very different things – many HR Pros misconstrue this issue. They try at all costs to avoid all risk, which isn’t necessarily the right thing for the business. They aren’t trying to win, they’re trying not to lose. The next time you find yourself in a position of giving advice to your operations partners at work, ask yourself this one question – • Am I trying to make the company/organization better right now, or am I trying to eliminate risk? Then determine, what should I be doing? For some of you the right choice will be to say – at this point, right now, I have to eliminate risk – it’s the right call. But for many of you, you will have to circle back and truly try to make your organizations better by managing the risk that is presented. Spend today trying to win.
“The HR Olympics” by Tim Sackett Originally posted on July 12, 2012 Oh, I got me some Olympic Fever! The Summer Olympics are the best – it’s like NCAA Tournament time but with sports we only care about once every four years! This Summer Olympics I’m even more invested than usual because we have a local athlete from our hometown of DeWitt, MI, Gymnast Jordyn Weiber, competing, so I expect I’ll be sitting inside watching TV for 2 straight weeks during the only time it’s actually nice to be outside in Michigan (BTW – Jordyn is you read this – you have permission to take my son to the prom, home coming, the movies, marriage, whatever, I’m good). That’s called dedication folks – get some! I love the Olympics mainly because I LOVE competition. Seeing someone compete at the highest level for the love of their sport – well let me tell you – it doesn’t get more exciting than that. I wish we had something like that for HR. I mean HR as a profession doesn’t really have anything to get to excited about – but if we had an HR Olympics – there would be a reason to come to SHRM13 (besides to see Kris Dunn and I do our thing!). You could have the best HR and Talent Pros from companies all over the world compete against each other for those stupid Monster.com stuffed animals all the people freak out about getting at the national conference (BTW #2 – Monster snubbed me at SHRM12 – so I’m back on the CareerBuilder bandwagon – go spend your money with them – I think they’re better! That being said we’ll have to hit up CareerBuilder for our awards – call me!). Pure HR magic! Imagine the Events: 2013 HR Olympic Events -‐ Recruiter Sprints – how fast can you steal the top talent from a competitor – you get a phone, internet access and all the coffee, Red Bull and 5 Hour Energy you can choke down. -‐ HR Generalist Pentathlon – 5 tests of your HR skills -‐ o Employee Relations – Quid Pro Quo case investigations without legal support o Compensation – Executive Comp Design in under 3 weeks o Organizational Development – Design and facilitation of operational initiatives o Talent Acquisition – full life cycle recruiting on a shoestring budget o Benefits and Wellness – Explaining an EOB to an employee’s spouse with a smile on your face -‐ HR Daily Gymnastics – How many hoops can you jump through on a daily basis? -‐ Synchronized Performance Reviews – get matrix organization managers to work together. -‐ Talent Management Marathon – can you lead your organization through a full succession process?
-‐ Termination Triathlon – Get the documentation, coach the manager and duck the EEOC charge! Let’s face it the events could be endless! Plus, most of us run around our organizations so much, training for these Olympics would seem like a vacation! And just like the real Olympians we would have to raise money to afford to go, because many of our organizations don’t see what we do as important, which means no funding. Wouldn’t that be cool – to send your HR Team to an HR Olympics representing your organization, building team spirit, sharpening your skills, getting out of the office for 2 weeks! So, what do you think – what HR Olympic Events would you want to see?
“Moneyball, Talent, And Where This Is All Going” by Lance Haun Originally posted on November 28, 2012 Do you have a nearly limitless budget for hiring employees? Can you go to every length to get every single candidate? Do you regularly raid other companies and take their best employees and pay top dollar? Because this post isn’t for you. In fact, the whole point of my war for talent post was that nobody has the resources to recruit the way recruiters often advocate. Unless you have that unlimited budget for hires, you aren’t going to hire all A players (if you can even identify them to begin with). A players play for A player money. Unless you are willing to pay A player money on every (and I mean every) hire, you aren’t getting all A players and you aren’t going to war and we can drop the cheesy fighting metaphors. So if you can’t pay everyone anything they want to get the absolute best every time, let’s take a look at another way. It’s called the Moneyball approach and if you haven’t read Michael Lewis’ book Moneyball or watched the movie, I’ll briefly explain the premise. Under the guidance of General Manager Billy Beane, the Oakland Athletics baseball club has overachieved in comparison to their player payroll. The New York Yankees and other high spending teams spend multiples over what the A’s typically spend and either get marginally better results (on a much more expensive payroll) or sometimes even do worse. How does he do it? Well, that’s playing Moneyball. Essentially, it is a buy low/sell high scheme of getting the most wins per dollar spent. Using some advanced stats and valuing players that bring in stats that his system values, he drafts and selects players that may be undervalued by other franchises but work well according to his system. If they end up very successful, he has a cheap contract or rookie scale to work on for awhile and then they end up losing them to a team that is willing to pay to the moon for them. Then the process starts all over again. It is a great lesson in dealing with constraints, talent evaluation, figuring out what really matters and knowing when to let go. Recruiters and HR folks are gung ho about the concept, too.
Fast-‐forward a few years and everyone knows about Moneyball. Guys who pay a lot of money to players pay attention to this stuff. It would be tough to find anyone doing player evaluation or looking at stats the same way they did even 10 years ago. And look at that: the A’s are still at a disadvantage. They were second-‐to-‐last in payroll by a few thousand dollars in 2012 yet they made the playoffs. That’s with everyone knowing and understanding Moneyball, too. So how did they do it? They knew when to select A, B and C players. Like most companies, they weren’t in a position to get all A players. If you take a closer look at their payroll from 2012, you’ll notice that their median salary per player was lower than everyone else. Half of their players were making less than $500,000 a year. They were still getting their Moneyball players at even a lower cost. That meant more room on the upper half to do some strategic spending on some mid-‐tier hitting and pitching that wouldn’t be as risky as a pure Moneyball approach. So beyond just making good talent evaluations, you also have to know when you really need someone with those higher level skills that you will be paying more for out of the gate, when you can pass on that for lower-‐level talent and the confidence to stand up to hiring managers and executives to make the case for this approach. I’m excited more companies are getting into Moneyball-‐type talent approaches and looking at data in new and interesting ways. Know that there will come a time when Moneyball by itself won’t get the job done when all of your competitors figure it out as well.
“The Difference Talent at the Top Makes” by Lance Haun Originally posted on August 30, 2012 Today is the opening day for college football. Steve Boese‘s South Carolina Gamecocks are the early game on ESPN and my Washington State Cougars are the late game. When I was in school, the WSU Cougars tallied an impressive run: three consecutive 10 win seasons, including a Rose Bowl berth. WSU isn’t a traditional power but was good enough to be very good every couple of years. Unfortunately, since that time, WSU has had a string of bad to worse seasons. While our last coach started moving the needle on the field, it was obvious the school needed a change. Insert the legendary, former Texas Tech coach Mike Leach. WSU fans are delirious. I have to admit I’m a bit excited to see a new look Cougar squad as well. While the results have yet to show up on the field (and probably won’t for a few more years), the level of excitement, donations and season ticket sales have shot up to levels not seen since before the last winning season. There are a lot of people excited about a 5-‐7 win football season but it won’t be that way in a couple of years. So much in sports has to do with the talent you have on the field and that’s why the Cougars won’t win 10 games this year. But the man or woman on top still matters.
“Doin’ Work: Looking Beyond Social Influence” by Lance Haun Originally posted on June 19, 2012 There are something along the lines of one trillion articles about the social influence measuring tool known as Klout. There are also a bunch of pieces about trying to understand influence in our own little niche in the HR and recruiting space. There are lists and criteria and posts dissecting how influence is measured. Or maybe some tips on increasing influence (which, why would an influencer want to tell you how to unseat them?) or how to use influencers and Klout to sell bullshit and B2B software. This isn’t one of those posts. Oh sure, I’ve been on those lists (well, the good ones, heh). And I know that whenever I go to a conference and tweet a lot, I become a LOT more influential than I was the day before according to services like Klout. It seems like a system that can be pretty easily gamed, right? Right. I want to look beyond that, though. There was a documentary by Spike Lee a few years back called Kobe Doin’ Work. I don’t think it was Lee’s best work but it did an admirable job capturing a game day for NBA star Kobe Bryant. There was something fascinating to me that, as a full-‐out Kobe hater™, I couldn’t shake. He’s a basketball geek and he loves playing and competing. I don’t think he has a social life outside of basketball. You get the impression that he spends his off time watching game tape, working out, and thinking about basketball. The literal eat, sleep, breathe character. Bryant’s rewards have been incredible, of course. Five championships, an Olympic gold medal and various individual honors as well as the league’s most recognizable and best paid star (by more than $4 million per year, before endorsements). He’s had some missteps, obviously. He isn’t the most likable guy in the world. He doesn’t ooze charisma like another Lakers legend (Magic Johnson).
Bryant is influential because he is good at the game. And if you’re thinking that should be a no-‐brainer, it should be. In real life, we don’t reward people because of activity on social media. To be sure, Bryant has a fairly significant presence on Facebook but I doubt he actually does much with it himself. But do I believe for a second that Ricky Rubio is more influential, even though he has 8 times as many followers on Twitter than Bryant? Not influential in anything that matters. Winning games, selling sports products, whatever… Of course, what you do in social media matters somewhat. How much? I don’t know. My grandma knows who Kobe Bryant is and it’s not because of his sparkling personality or his social media presence though. Do the work. I won’t pretend that social media is a meritocracy but doing real work of value is better than being named influential every day of the week. If you are great at what you do and you have a decent social media presence, more power to you. But don’t ever forget which is the most important.
“Billy Beane and the Science of Talent Management, The Moneyball Way” by Lance Haun Originally posted on February 28, 2012 What’s it like to have Brad Pitt play you in a movie? Billy Beane,general manager of Major League Baseball’s Oakland Athletics, is one of the few people in the world who knows how it feels. The reason Beane is the subject of Moneyball, a (New York Times best-‐selling) book and (Academy Award-‐nominated) movie, is because of his revolutionary methods of evaluating baseball players. He used objective, advanced data to make his baseball hires instead of more traditional statistics and gut instincts. It doesn’t sound crazy but it flew in the face of everything that people who evaluated baseball talent thought at the time. His unique approach to talent management is why he keynoted the inaugural TLNT Transform conference in Austin, Texas, and his unusual approach has lessons for all executives, talent managers, and HR pros. Thinking differently Utilizing statistics shouldn’t be revolutionary, especially in a field like baseball that has millions of dollars invested in talent evaluation and player costs. But when faced with modest resources that were dwarfed by most other teams, Beane had to think differently about talent management than his competitors because they would always be able to beat him when it came down to salary and traditional analysis of baseball players. If you know anything about baseball, you probably have an idea as to what a typical baseball player looks like. You probably know something about strikeouts and home runs. And if you have a trained eye, you probably see other factors like stolen bases and walks. Baseball scouts also considered aspects like height, swing power, arm strength, and so on. Instead of looking at all of those statistics and trying to just guess how much they would impact the games, Beane and his team (including his assistant, Paul DePodesta, played by Jonah Hill in the movie) broke it down into a few factors that would almost always put them in a better position to win. On the offensive side, it was players who avoided outs and got on on base more often. If you don’t get out and can get on base, you were always in a better position to win the game. And while batting average and home runs can help determine that, directly measuring those factors that help players get on base (and not get out) is the simplest way to determine whether your offense is going to score. Directly measuring those factors led Beane, DePodesta
and company to find valuable players outside of the stereotypical (and easily recognized) baseball players. The error of emotional, gut decisions Data-‐driven decisions can be come off as completely heartless, baffle people, and defy explanation, especially to the casual observer. Focusing not just on data, but the right data, means better decisions. Beane mentioned the fact that he doesn’t watch this team’s games. If you’re devoted to winning on the back of the data of performance, watching an individual game (instead of considering the statistical body of work over many games) can lead to bad (and emotional) decision making. Making smart decisions is critical in business as well, yet so often, HR and recruiters take the lure of faddish interview techniques that are based on bunked or non-‐existent science. You might luck out but wouldn’t it be better to put yourself in the best position? Evaluating people based on how they can help your company perform better and trying to take the emotion and those considerations that don’t matter out of the decision making process. As Beane iterated several times, there isn’t any business that can’t benefit from focusing on what is very truly the root of their success. Success trumps culture? During the question and answer portion, an attendee asked about whether Beane would bring on a baseball player who had the talent but might be a bad cultural fit. Beane suggested that in his experience, success and winning fixes culture — and that great culture (without the talent) doesn’t win. Outside of a truly destructive cultural force (that can often derail a team’s performance on the field), being successful and having talented individuals on your team can drive better culture. While not taking anything away from the point, this is always posited as an either/or proposition. In how many real-‐world situations is the person who is the worst cultural fit also the most qualified based on objective measures? More frequently, people are arbitrarily eliminated because they aren’t the best cultural fit, even if they have the talent and tools to otherwise be successful. A sensible Moneyball approach in business doesn’t demand that you completely disregard culture; it simply demands that you consider objective talent and performance measurements first and that you consider candidates who may not fit traditional stereotypes of success and culture in your industry. That lesson, nearly 10 years after the publication of the Michael Lewis
book, still resonates powerfully for those who consider talent management critical to business success.
“Super Bowl Hangover? Yes, Employees May Be Less Productive on Monday” by Lance Haun Originally posted on February 2, 2012 If you’re in the U.S., this coming Sunday may as well be a national holiday. We’ll gather with friends and family, eat and drink too much, and watch football. It may sound a lot like Thanksgiving, but the difference between that and the Super Bowl is that almost all of us have to go into work the next day. I know, these are the choices we make. Certainly people can choose not to watch the Super Bowl (and many don’t). What I’m asking is that we stop wringing our hands over the lost productivity next Monday, and instead, start thinking about ways to handle it. $820 million in lost productivity, 1.5 million sick days Every time we get around a major holiday or sporting event, we hear about the impact of these things on the workplace. The NCAA basketball tournament (known as March Madness), and to a lesser extent, the Super Bowl, have the double whammy of being both a distraction and, because of casual gambling associated with them, potentially risky for employers. Outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas puts the national lost productivity at $820 million in their 2007 report on the issue. And in a 2008 survey conducted by Harris Interactive for theWorkforce Institute at Kronos indicated that 1.5 million people could call in sick and an additional 4.4 million could be late to work the day after the Super Bowl. Those are big numbers and those in the media looking for another angle on the already extraordinary coverage of the Super Bowl love being able to throw out those big numbers. And even though there are more than enough reasons to wonder how real these numbers actually are (especially that productivity number), it’s important to keep it in perspective. Of course, what isn’t sexy is the context. Critically looking at lost productivity According to the latest BLS numbers, there are about 140 million employed people in the United States. So, to put those national loss productivity numbers in perspective, the average American worker loses about $5.85 worth of productivity for the entire week of the Super Bowl, and about 4 percent of your employees are either going to miss work or be late on Monday due to the big game Sunday in Indianapolis
That productivity epidemic seems a lot less serious given those numbers. And I imagine if you take out the most egregious offenders who should actually be addressed (the guys who spend all week on ESPN, working on betting pools, and trolling discussion boards), that number would improve even more. Still, there may be some penny pinchers out there who think that any amount of productivity lost due to some silly game is unconscionable. From a guy who has personally fielded a call from a manager telling me that his people weren’t “that into work” on the Monday after the Super Bowl, I can tell you that there are better ways to spend time if you’re looking at increasing productivity. Going against the grain of American culture (major sporting events), religion (holidays) or even time itself (Friday afternoons) always seems like a wasted battle and are largely uncontrollable. Simple things like reducing or eliminating certain meetings, creating an atmosphere for productive work, and eliminating road blocks in internal processes are more reasonable ways of increasing productivity (and are completely within your control as a company). Yes, making the workplace as easy of a place to work as possible when people are fully onboard and engaged makes more sense as a starting place than trying to eliminate every little seasonal distraction that comes up. But if you haven’t done these things and are instead chasing after less costly distractions — like productivity around sporting events or holidays — here’s a word to the wise: pick the low hanging fruit first.
“Bad Habits, Pressure and Results” by Steve Boese Originally posted on October 16, 2012 We might argue about the best way to get there, but certainly at this point youd be hard pressed to find anyone in the Human Resources, Benefits, or Talent Management space that has not firmly bought in to the importance of employee wellness. The arguments in support of the organization actively promoting more healthy behaviors in and out of the workplace are familiar and numerous -‐ increased productivity, reduced health care costs, less absenteeism, and more. And forget about the data -‐ it just makes sense intuitively that when people make consistently better choices about diet, exercises, taking routine physical exams, and simply being more conscious about their health; then they will be happier, feel better, and will do better at work and in the community. Sure, there are (valid) differences in opinion about the most effective employer wellness strategies and the proper role of the organization in what are often employees personal matters and decisions, but overall, it seems to be little argument about the ultimate goals -‐ a healthier, higher-‐performing workforce. And while the strategies, programs, and solutions might differ, there are still some basics in the employee wellness discussion that most all employers do agree on, particularly when it comes down to some basic human behavioral choices and habits that from decades of study have been shown to be incredibly harmful and detrimental to health; with tobacco use being the obvious example. Whether its cigarettes, chew, dip, maybe even cigars -‐ we know we dont want our employees partaking, either at work or in their personal lives, the risks are too high, the costs are too great -‐ essentially nothing good results from employee tobacco use. Unless of course the ramifications of quitting tobacco use are too high. What? How can that even make sense? Check this piece from ESPN.com, about the Texas Rangers baseball star Josh Hamilton, his decision to quit chewing tobacco during the season, and the subsequent reactions from team management. From the ESPN piece: Rangers CEO Nolan Ryan said the timing of Josh Hamiltons decision to quit smokeless tobacco this summer "couldnt have been worse." "You wouldve liked to have thought that if he was going to do that, that he wouldve done it in the offseason or waited until this offseason to do it," Ryan said during an appearance on ESPN Dallas 103.3 FMs "Galloway and Company" this week. "So the drastic effect that it had on him and the year that he was having up to that point in time
when he did quit, youd have liked that he wouldve taken a different approach to that." Hamilton, who began his quest to quit dipping in late June, admitted in August that he was dealing with a "discipline" issue and said it was discipline at the plate and discipline in "being obedient to the Lord in quitting chewing tobacco." His struggle with tobacco coincided with the one at the plate. After earning AL player of the month honors in April and May, Hamilton hit .223 in June and .177 in July and had eight homers and 27 RBIs combined in those two months. He had belted 21 homers and driven in 57 RBIs in the first two months of the season combined. Got all that? For the non-‐baseball fans out there, let me break it down. Hamilton is an incredibly high-‐performer, one of the very best in the entire industry, top talent so to speak. But he has some bad habits, chewing tobacco, (common among baseball players), among them. He elects to quit chewing tobacco, a decision everyone should applaud, and almost immediately his performance begins to slide. Quitting tobacco use is really hard for many, and it seems for Hamilton the side effects and strain it put on him personally negatively impacted his job performance. Then after the season concludes, and the Rangers fail to advance in the playoffs, the team CEO, Ryan, publicly questions perhaps not Hamiltons choice to quit chewing tobacco, but certainly the timing of the choice. Essentially the CEO is saying -‐ Quit your bad, unhealthy habits on your own time, we need to win ballgames here. Maybe this is another one of those classic sports are not the real world kinds of stories, and it is not a big deal, nor applicable to normal workplaces and jobs and I should not bother posting about it. But I suspect there might be more relevance than we might see at first look. Baseball is not the only business with lots of pressure, deadlines, and intense periods of focus followed by some relative downtime. Instead of a chase for a World Series, maybe in your organization it is a crazed rush to meet a customer deadline, to ship a product by a promised date, to get Ms. Big Shot executive ready for he speech to your industrys largest trade show. Whatever the case, success usually requires everyone on the team to be at the top of their game. When Hamilton made the correct decision for his health, he seems, at least in the CEOs eyes, to have made the wrong decision for the team. I wonder if in similar circumstances, what you would do if you were the CEO or the Project Leader and one of your key staff, perhaps even the best and most talented employee you have, took the same kind of decision as Hamilton?
Would you try and support and help the employee work through this process, knowing in the long run it is better for everyone? Or would you pass the Copenhagen and tell everyone to focus, we have a deadline to meet?
“When Is Gutting Payroll the Right Thing?” by Tim Sackett Originally posted on November 15, 2012 HR-‐Sports Post Alert! Many of you probably cared less about the recent trade between Major League Baseball’s Miami Marlins and Toronto Blue Jays (check out the details here) – suffice to say the Marlins were able to decrease their annual payroll from $188M to around $35M in one giant trade! Classic rebuilding type of move, right? People/fans are saying the Marlins shouldn’t do this to their fans and they gave up on some great talent. Let’s take a look back at recent Florida/Miami Marlins history: 1997 – Won the World Series (payroll at $47.8M) By 1999 – they gutted their roster of high priced talent for younger up and coming talent (payroll at $15.2M) 2003 – Won the World Series (Payroll at $76.9M) By 2006 – they gutted their roster again (payroll at $15M) The difference the Marlins and large market teams like the Yankees and Red Sox is that the Marlins can’t make giant financial talent mistakes without something major happening in the next year or two. They took some gambles over the past couple of years trying to assemble a world series capable team (they’ve done this before – twice!) and it didn’t work out. So, change needed to happen – rebuilding needed to begin. Any fan of the Marlins could have predicted this.
So – what does this have to do with HR – or my company? There is some huge wisdom in how the Marlins manage their talent finances that we can all learn from. Let’s make no mistake about this – this is notMoneyball, in fact he might be the opposite of what Billy Beane had envisioned. But, many would argue that the Marlins version, had worked out better, certainly from a results standpoint. My question is – could this type of talent financing work in a corporate setting, or in your company? Think about it that for a minute. How could you make this happen? I tend to think about it in terms of your high priced – A talent – not necessarily your executives. What if your company was looking to drive and increase in market share in your industry. Your main competitor currently had 50% of the market, while you only had 25%, with the other 25% spread amongst competitors 3-‐10. Your goal was to grow your market share to 35% in 3 years – a large task for most companies in most industries. Conventional corporate wisdom would work this way – Step 1 – we hire away one of competitor 1′s executives to tell how they did it; Step 2 – The new executive brings over as many people as he can get, usually starting with a solid player from competitor 1′s marketing department; Step 3 – you re-‐brand and spend a crap ton of money; Step 4 – 3 years later you’re at 28% market share with less margins. Ouch. If the Marlins management ran your company here is what they would do: Step 1 – Go hire the top sales person from your main competitors – all of your competitors and pay them double what they are making. Step 2 – Go directly after every single account the competitors have with the inside knowledge you just gained in your sales staff. Step 3 – Build their market share to 40% within 24 months Step 4 – Systematically let go of all of their high priced sales people – losing about 5% of their market share. Step 5 – At 3 year mark be at their 35% market share with roughly the same payroll as they had 3 years prior. I mean it could happen that way!
We/HR/Management tend to believe we have to keep our people on forever – even after they stop being rock stars, but are still getting paid like rock stars. The Marlins have said, ‘look this is a dual benefit play – we get our championships and the players gets a giant check, then we both move on’. It’s not “traditional” so everyone tends to think its wrong. I don’t know if it’s right, but I’m sure there are some Chicago Cub fans that would take 2 World Series championships in the last 15 years!
“The First Lie You Hear in HR” by Tim Sackett Originally posted on March 14 Many of you are now aware that Peyton Manning, All Pro NFL Quarterback, was released by the Indianapolis Colts (I wrote about here). Long story short – he was injured, he’s the back side of his career, he was due a boatload of money – Indianapolis made a business decision to let him go. There was this really heartfelt press conference with the owner of the Indianapolis Colts, Jim Irsay, and Peyton the day he was released where they both cried and talked about how much they loved and respected each other. But within all that – there was one Giant lie – one we hear all the time in HR. Jim Irsay stood at the podium and said – This is not about money. Boom! Liar! It’s always about money – and this was about money. If Irsay would have kept Peyton on 1 more day – it would have cost his organization $28M. It was about and is about money – you don’t know if he’s going to perform at the level he has over the past 14 years, and you aren’t willing to risk $28M on that decision to keep him. I can’t tell you how many times in HR I’ve hear this statement from employees who are leaving for another company – and 99.9% of the time they are flat out lying to your face! “Tim, I’m putting in my two weeks notice” “What can we do to keep you?” “Nothing – it’s not about the money – I’m looking for that next phase in my career” “So, you won’t stay if we pay you $100K more!” “Well, wait a minute – you would pay me $100K more?!” “No! I just wanted to show you it is about money – now go – I don’t like to work with Liars!”
That’s exactly how you do it – HR Newbies! When someone tells you it’s not about money – start negotiating and find that price – you’ll get to it pretty quickly. “But Tim, it isn’t about money – I want to spend more time with my kids – I need balance.” “I’ll give you a 50% increase” “You know my kids will sure like going to private schools, much more than public schools.” Everyone has a price – just some prices are more expensive than others – but never let anyone tell you – It’s not about the money – it is. If Peyton would have went to Irsay and said – “Look Jimmy (I assume he calls him Jimmy) I want to do right by the Colts – I’ll accept the league minimum to stay hear” “Peyton, you got yourself a deal!” would have been the entire conversation. But Peyton is smart – he knows his value – as does Jimmy – so they cut him loose. We do this all the time with our employees. Mary from IT just came in and said she got a new job paying her 20% more – and we calculate how much that will cost to raise up Mary, and everyone else in her same position. We then look at Mary, shake her hand and tell her good luck. It’s about the money.
“What we learn about replacement labor from the NFL” by Matthew Stollak Originally posted on September 18, 2012 Two weeks of the NFL season are in the books. Are you enjoying the slow-‐paced action as replacement refs try to figure out what is going on? Difficulty spotting the ball, clock operation mishaps, and some basic misunderstanding of the rule book have made a typical fall Sunday afternoon somewhat less enjoyable....particularly if your team is on the losing end of a bad call. I believe there is almost universal accord that the current replacement refs are not working. But, a larger lesson to be drawn is that, perhaps, not all human resources are easily replaceable. That a race to the bottom in terms of labor might not be the wise path to take. Certainly the "replacement" refs are cheaper than the refs that are striking, but they are also pretty bad. So, I wonder how many of those who are disgusted with the incompetence being displayed by the replacements are still looking at Chicago and the teachers strike thinking, fire them and bring in someone new? There are so many unemployed, and, hey, anyone can teach 3rd grade.
“Radiation” by Matthew Stollak Originally posted on May 2, 2012 Like many, I was saddened to learn about the death of Junior Seau, who allegedly committed suicide by shooting himself in the chest at the age of 43. Much will be made about the possible connection between his death and the recent emphasis placed on the deleterious effects of the multitude of hits football players take, and, of particular concern, the rash of concussion-‐related impacts. Similarly, much will be made of the similarity to former chicago Bears Defensive Back Dave Duerson. According to Boston.com, "Duerson shot himself in the chest on Feb. 17 -‐-‐ a method used so that his brain could be examined for symptoms of CTE (chronic traumatic encephalopathy), a trauma-‐induced disease common to NFL players and others who have received repeated blows to the head." However, a little less emphasis is placed on the transition from work to post-‐work, aka retirement. Junior Seau had significant difficulty making that move. In August of 2006, he announced his first retirement from the San Diego Chargers. Four days later, he resigned with the New England Patriots. In January, 2010, he retired for a second time; this time for good. Junior Seau isnt the only one. In a New York Times article a couple of weeks ago, former New York Jet Trevor Pryce describes his post-‐NFL life: During my 14 years in the N.F.L., my favorite day was Monday. As long as I wasn’t preparing for surgery or being released, Mondays were special. They signified that I had made it through another week and was ready for another opponent. Even the soreness was oh, so sweet. How I miss those days. Now my Mondays go something like this: Work on my tennis serve; take a conference call with a Hollywood executive; get my three children to school; browse my favorite
Web sites, none of them involving football; check my Words With Friends; and take the dog to day care. By then, it’s only 10:30 a.m. Welcome to the life of the secure and utterly bored former professional athlete. Pryce goes on to say: Having retired way before my time, I have started to lose focus and drive. I’m retired from the game I loved. I’m retired from the perks, like getting a table instantly at my favorite restaurant. And I’m retired from the N.F.L. brotherhood. Passed by. At times, I feel ostracized.... “Early retirement” sounds wonderful. It certainly did that cold night in Pittsburgh. I was going to use my time to conquer the world..... With millions of Americans out of work or doing work for which they are overqualified, I consider myself lucky. But starting from scratch can be unsettling. If you’re not prepared for it, retirement can become a form of self-‐imposed exile from the fulfillment and the exhilaration of knowing you did a good job..... During the six-‐month off-‐seasons, I pretty much educated myself, dabbling in music, Hollywood, journalism, real estate and everything in between, with varying degrees of success. I was able to do a lot in so little time. Now that I have all the time in the world, it’s amazing how little I accomplish every day. Sometimes, that’s a good thing. Most times not. My guess is Seau faced the same cadre of issues as Pryce did. But, unlike Pryce, he found the lack of support, the missing adulation, etc., too hard to handle (Significant armchair psychologist going on here) As Pryce noted, many are looking for work. Others want to retire, but cannot afford to. But, the economy is starting to improve; 401(k)s are growing (crossing fingers), and many will finally decide they have had enough with work and are ready to move on. What are you doing as an HR manager to assist employees in this move? How could we avoid having more Junior Seaus in our own life experiencing?
“Great places to work are like great sports franchises” by Steve Boese Originally posted on December 12, 2012 The nice people over at Glassdoor.com released their Top 50 Best Places to Work for 2013 list today, and as usual it is an interesting collection of all kinds of organizations -‐ large and small, high-‐tech and old-‐school, and relatively young to long lasting. The important aspect of the Glassdoor Best Places list, unlike any of the other, similar types of lists that are around, is that it is determined not by some kind of expert panel of thought leaders, judges, or academics; but rather it is calculated from the company reviews and ratings about the companies that have been left on the Glassdoor.com site. So these ratings are the closest equivalent to say, the Amazon.com book review or the Yelp restaurant review for the workplace. But since I like to compare, evaluate, and assess just about everything through the prism of the world of sports -‐ rather than give you a (lame) take something along the lines of Facebook is the Best Place to work again, I wonder what lessons you can learn from this, I thought Id make it fun, (for me at least), and cherry pick a few big names form the list and juxtapose them with the big time sports team they seem the most like. Why do this? Why not? Here goes: 2. McKinsey & Company -‐ Easy, these guys are the New York Yankees. Big name, big reputation, have a kind of mystique about them and have had it for a long time. The name that the rest of the market compares themselves to. 4. Bain & Company -‐ Again, pretty easy. If McKinsey are the Yankees, then Bain are the Boston Red Sox. Also have a big name, have had some success, but will always be looking up at the big dog on top. It is fitting that McKinsey came in a couple of notches above Bain. 11. Careerbuilder -‐ Not as obvious as the McKinsey and Bain comparisons, but I will go with the basketballs San Antonio Spurs. Consistently good, with some legendary performance in the recent past. But also consistently overlooked and sometimes underrated despite their pedigree. Finally they both have a bit of I cant believe they are still relevant after all these years kind of feel to them. 24. Trader Joes -‐ I will go not with one team with which to compare the eclectic grocer, I will go with an entire league -‐ the National Hockey League (NHL), currently not playing their current season due to a labor/management dispute. Like the NHL in sports, Trader Joes is kind of a niche player in the grocery business, has a kind of weird appeal, but if it was gone hardly
anyone would really miss it. Think about it -‐ does anyone really need a Trader Joes? Or the NHL? 35. General Mills -‐ Time for a football comparison. Lets go with the Green Bay Packers. Midwestern organization, been around forever, everyone can recognize them by their brand, and kind of hard not to like, even if you dont care about cereal or sports. Feels like they will be a part of the landscape forever. 50. Starbucks -‐ Ill go international on this one and call them Manchester Uniited from English football soccer. They are both ubiquitous, have a global presence and instant brand and name recognition, and both have the most annoying fans/customers that you will ever encounter. Man United fans and Starbucks customers are really similiar -‐ smug, kind of annoying, (Quad-‐soy-‐no whip-‐light foam-‐hazelnut-‐extra shot), and somehow think being a fan/customer grants them some kind of unearned social status. Disclaimer: I am a Liverpool/Dunkin Donuts person.
“Regretful Turnover and Saying Goodbye to the NJ Nets” by Steve Boese Originally posted on April 24, 2012 Yesterday the NBAs New Jersey Nets played their final game in their soon to be former home court in Newark, New Jersey. Next season the team moves to its latest new home, this one a brand new arena in Brooklyn, NY, where they hope their fortunes will improve, the basketball hotbed of New York City will embrace them as the other NYC team, (NYC will always be the Knicks town), and more highly prized free agent stars will be more likely to want to play for the team. In the USA, professional sports franchises are usually seen as community assets, and when new franchises become available, either through league expansion or the occasional team relocation as in the Nets case, you typically see cities trying to one-‐up each other for the chance to have one of these pro teams call their city home. While the long-‐term economic benefits that accrue to a city or even a neighborhood from having local professional sports are certainly debatable, that usually has not stopped cities from making concessions, raising local taxes, funding arena construction and committing to infrastructure improvements and the like, in order to attract or in some cases retain a pro sports team for their city. But not all locals or more specifically local government officials feel the same way about pro sports teams, at least not every sports team. In the case of the Nets exodus from New Jersey, Garden State Governor Chris Christie offered these remarks among others (emphasis mine): My message to them is, goodbye, Christie said at an afternoon news conference at Newark Beth Israel Hospital where he signed a bill to promote organ and tissue donation. You dont want to stay, we dont want you. Thats one of the most beautiful arenas in America they have a chance to play in, its in one of the countrys most vibrant cities, and they want to leave here and go to Brooklyn? he asked. Good riddance, see you later. I think therell be some other NBA team who may be looking to relocate and they might look at that arena and the fan base
in the New Jersey and New York area and say, This is an opportunity to increase our fan base and try something different. Christie could be forgiven for not expressing any sadness or disappointment at the loss of the Nets, given their 35-‐year history playing in New Jersey has been mostly unsuccessful, uninspiring, and uninteresting. Apart from 2 appearances in the NBA finals in the early 2000s, the Nets have largely been a forgettable bunch, (this player being the exception). But even still, Christies ripping of the Nets and their decision to leave New Jersey offers us a chance to think about what we do and say in our own organizations when faced with a dissapointing resignation of an employee that we truly need, one that we fought hard to land, and that for we perhaps even made some concessions in our own hiring and business processes to secure. Big giant flame-‐out resignation letters (or blog posts or videos), on the employee side often make the news. It is always fun to read about the dirt and dysfunction of organizations we know and sometimes admire. Usually, unlike our pal Christie, employers take the high road, refrain from commenting publicly, and go on with their business hopefully addressing any truths or lessons learned as needed. Bashing someone on the way out, for making the best career decision for them, seems like an incredibly petty and short-‐sighted approach to handling regretful turnover. Unless you can honestly say you were deceived or can prove you have been played, (neither true in the Nets case), then I think youd be much better off wishing the departing employee well, taking actions to stay in touch, and working your angle as This is still a great place to work as you walk the person out the door. Sure sometimes that can be really tough. And sure it is much, much easier to bark good riddance, but aside from giving you about 30 seconds of hollow satisfaction, how does that really help your cause? And all this spoken as a New Jersey native who never cared one bit about the Nets!
“HOW TO GET FIRED: Miss a Deliverable and Come to the Meeting with Urkel Glasses with No Lenses” by Kris Dunn Originally posted on June 7, 2012 You know the drill. You missed in a position of authority. A pretty big miss. Theres going to be meetings about your miss. Your ability to perform and focus, whether its discussed directly or not, is going to be at question. What should you do to prepare for that meeting? Get some history behind how it all went down. Anticipate the questions and have some answers ready. Have a plan for what youre going to do now. Oh yeah -‐ dont forget to grab your Urkel glasses that have no lenses and wear them to the meeting. Its really a time to show the powers that be how focused you are on bleeding edge fashion (email subscribers, click through for picture below if you dont see it). Yeah -‐ thats Dwyane Wade of the Miami Heat after a Game 5 loss that put them on the brink of
elimination for the second year in a row since Miami brought the magnificent three together -‐ Lebron James, Wade and Chris Bosh. Tough loss, almost out of it. You were yelling at and had to be restrained from your coach in the last series. Youre meeting the press, which are the folks who are playing the "whos to blame" game. You came to the arena in Urkel glasses without lenses and got a bunch of compliments from people who dont have your responsibilities. You think you should wear them at that moment. Interesting. The Miami Heat have $340 million invested in the aforementioned trio, which got on a stage after getting together two years ago and talked about winning 7 straight titles. At this time, they have 0. Lets say youre a CEO that has missed estimates for the 3rd straight quarter and youre getting ready for a board meeting. Or, youre the VP of HR that just took a huge lawsuit surrounding your hiring practices and youre meeting with your CEO. Or, youre a marketing coordinator that just emailed a personal note to 300K prospects in a error of massive proportions. Do you wear the Urkel glasses with no lenses to that meeting? I think not. Not if you want to keep your job. Its a call for help really..."please remove me from this company."
“If I Were Starting A Union, Here’s What I’d Do…” by Kris Dunn Originally posted on March 28, 2012 Ive spent a lot of time over the last week thinking about the challenges of the budgeted merit increases -‐ you know the drill -‐ 4% across the board, and you need to get "pay for performance" out of that. Which got me thinking about this old post I did awhile back... If I Were Starting A Union, Heres What Id Do...Id rip a page from the players unions in the major sports leagues and focus my bargaining on the establishment of a salary cap. Once the cap was established as a percentage of company revenue, the deal would be pretty simple from an economic perspective -‐ members of the union would get more cash as revenue grew, and theyd be at risk if revenue didnt grow or decreased (Id have to figure out how new headcount impacts that -‐ there would have to be some way to protect a certain % of growth for the incumbents). Of course, membership drives for my union would be challenged -‐ mainly because the majority of workers in America have no interest in that kind of risk, or at least see little value in the upside. Theyd rather take their 3% annually. Which means Id have to attempt to unionize high performers and Linchpins only. Of course, thats problematic since this group really doesnt need representation and can increase their compensation on their own, both within the same company and via the free market. Crap. Back to the drawing board...
Reasonable Accommodation: A Cautionary Tale by Kris Dunn Originally posted on November 14, 2012 The world is filled with crazy, horrible stories about employers who played games and either couldnt, didnt or otherwise ran from providing a reasonable accommodation to someone who had a disability. First up, let me say this -‐ I know all about the litmus test that has to applied to determine is a accommodation "reasonable". So dont think about the legal BS for a second. You know why employers and HR pros really dont want to deal with disabilities, especially mental/emotional ones, in the workplace? Because theyre never sure, once the commitment is made to provide an accommodation, that the commitment shown by the company will be reciprocated and work will be a top priority for the person in question. Empathetic HR Pro? Cool. Let them be burned a couple of times and left holding the bag while the operations person in question wonders why they cant term and backfill an FTE, and the real world view changes. Case in point. Royce White of pro basketballs Houston Rockets. The Rockets drafted White this summer, even in the face of Whites frankness about the anxiety disorder he lives with, which has been written about widely. The accommodation the Rockets seemed prepared to make was that whenever possible, White would drive rather than fly to games. They also seemed resigned to the fact that the anxiety disorder would also cause White to miss away games due to the fear of flying. But, they drafted him with the needed accommodation in mind, and White is enough of a talent that they thought the risk was worth the draft pick. But its never that easy. Whites been demoted to the D-‐League (basketball minor leagues) due to the fact White had not been seen in days, missing Monday’s HOME game and HOME practice on Tuesday. The Rockets feel like he should show up. But its a slippery slope with a condition like this.
More from the Big Lead: The Rockets seem to think White should show up – or at least that is the point of view the media is pushing. And ownership isn’t doing much to quiet that notion. Via Ultimate Rockets: Rockets owner Leslie Alexander said there have been “internal repercussions, which I’m not going to talk about.” More foreboding, Alexander’s confidence in White’s long-‐term prospects seem shaken since he expressed enthusiasm for White’s potential during the summer league in Las Vegas. “That’s tenuous,” Alexander said. “It’s tough to talk about something like that. I think we’re going to handle it internally. If he doesn’t work out, well, it’s tough to lose a draft choice.” Meanwhile, White said in a statement that the Rockets knew why he wasn’t around. “In hindsight,” the statement said, “perhaps it was not a good idea to be open and honest about my anxiety disorder — due to the current situations at hand that involve the nature of actions from the Houston Rockets. As a rookie, I want to settle into a team and make progress; but since pre-‐season the Rockets have been inconsistent with their agreement to proactively create a healthy and successful relationship. “At this point, the Rockets are aware of my position and the reason for my absence, any other response is inaccurate. This is important to me, it is a health issue. I must advocate for my rights, it is a player-‐commodity league — the failure to meet my requests for support will end with me being unhealthy and that is not a consequence that I am willing to accept to play any sport.” The slippery slope is a familiar one for any HR pro. Company values talented employee, stretches to make accommodation, then things go south. Attendance is usually the issue front and center, and due to the knowledge of the disability in question, the accommodation that was made, etc, things fester. Decisions arent made. The employee states that yes, they didnt show up as expected, but thats part of the condition in question. Of course, not coming to work was never part of the reasonable accommodation. But the accommodation provides an official awareness of the condition/disability in question, so dealing with the situation is now a legal mess that takes time. Thats called a slippery slope where I come from. Or "holding the bag".
Which means the next time around, willingness to make a reasonable accommodation from the hiring manager or HR pro is much more limited. Theres a business to run. Note that I am aware of many, many talented individuals with disabilities who are among the best employees at their company. But the slippery slope outlined above happens more than anyone wants to admit, which is why you see so much resistance on the accommodation front. The Rockets thought he should show up to work at home games and practices. He didnt do that, and now the accommodation request is expanding. Tough stuff to deal with for your average HR Director. See the tweet barrage from White to the right of the post. And have a great day while you feel that familiar pain.
“Moving Out A “Legend” Employee” by Tim Sackett Originally posted on March 8, 2012 The Indianapolis Colts decided yesterday to part ways with their All-‐Pro, MVP, Future Hall of Fame Quarterback, Peyton Manning (BTW my wife loves him! My sons and I call him, her boyfriend). Here are some of Peyton’s accomplishments while in Indianapolis from ESPN: -‐Manning killed it on “Saturday Night Live” (“I just thought about going out there for the second half, and a little bit of pee came out.”) -‐Manning reported to the Giants Stadium interview room wearing a suit and tie — and no shoes or socks — after a night-‐game win against his brother Eli. He did it (and I was there) because he knew the East Coast sports writers were on a crushing deadline. -‐Manning led the Colts to a pair of Super Bowls and won one. -‐Manning engineered a comeback for the ages: down 21 points at Tampa Bay with four minutes left, and won the game in OT! -‐Manning never made TMZ’s greatest hits. -‐Manning prepared so thoroughly that he could have double-‐dipped as a coach. -‐Manning had 63 games with at least 300 passing yards. -‐Manning was proud of playing in Indianapolis.
Why did they do this (you might be asking yourself if you don’t follow NFL football)? Peyton got injured last year (neck), had major surgery, no one will know if he’ll ever be the same. He was due $28M if they kept him on the roster as of yesterday. And, oh by the way, they have the #1 pick in this year’s NFL draft that has at least one “can’t-‐miss” future Hall of Fame Quarterback. Some pretty good reasons from a business standpoint. But, you know what? It sucks! It might be the right business decision – but it definitely isn’t the right people decision. Or is it? This is what we do in HR, right? We are constantly balancing business decisions and people decisions. The Indianapolis Colts will move on. Peyton will move on. But it sucks that they broke up the band! If the life cycle of an organization. Even your best most trusted employees will eventually leave – retirement, death, new opportunity – name your poison. It’s HR’s job to help the organization move on in a positive light, even when it’s so dark you don’t think there is any light. The Indianapolis Colts did what was right for their franchise. Star employee at the end of their career – potential to pick up new start employee at the beginning of their career. It isn’t about one person – it’s about all the people in the organization – and that makes it a tough decision, but an easy decision. We usually try and cover this up in the real world by throwing an unwanted retirement party and giving out a nice plaque for all their service, only to find out 4 weeks later the person is back to work at our competitors and stealing our clients! The Colts will feel some of this as well – when Peyton goes and plays for another team and does well. It won’t make their decision wrong – it just makes it harder to swallow. Like Winnie the Pooh said: “Don’t cry because it’s over – Smile because it happened”
“Wrong for the Right Reasons? When It Comes to Employee Discipline, You Have to Get It All Right” by Lance Haun Originally posted on December 12, 2012 If you follow the National Football League, you probably know about the New Orleans Saints bounty scandal. In short, some of the players on the team were pooling money for big hits and injuries to opposing players. The result was a swath of suspensions for the players and coaches involved in the scandal. It left the Saints fractured as a team, and a lot of the people involved in an unhappy and uncertain situation. In reviewing the appeal in the case, former NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue announced this week that he was vacating the punishment set forth by current NFL commissioner Roger Goodell on the players while confirming much of the finding of facts with how the bounty program ran in purpose. Some people are admittedly confused by such a ruling and think the NFL is taking the easy way out. How could the players be wrong but still get off? If you’ve worked for any time in human resources though, you’ve probably seen this issue come up on occasion. And at least from my point of view, the result is neither surprising nor particularly odd. This excellent piece on Deadspin gives you a flavor for where I’m going with this: Tagliabue’s ruling, by contrast, comes from an alternate NFL universe in which the flaws in the case actually matter, and the arbiter’s self-‐calibrated disappointment level is not determinative of the outcome. Fujita’s actions, as the ex-‐commissioner explains, were neither surprising nor disappointing. Now that the league has admitted there’s no evidence the linebacker paid cash for “cart-‐offs,” his behavior is no different than that of other players who reward their teammates off the books. Tagliabue points to similar cases involving the Packers and Patriots in 2007 and 2008 in which the teams, not players, were punished (with small fines, not suspensions) for pay-‐for-‐performance pools. “Accordingly, the NFL’s decision to suspend a player here for participating in a
program for which the League typically fines a club certainly raises significant issues regarding inconsistent treatment Indeed, inconsistency in punishment is just one way that an employee can be both incorrect in action but not necessarily get punished, at least not to the degree that he was. In the other, more severe cases, Saints players were told to lie by their own coaches about the bounty program to NFL investigators. When the truth was found out, the players were not only punished for their actions but also for the act of lying in the course of an investigation (something that seemed to carry a much more severe disciplinary action). In another case, simply being a player-‐leader was enough to warrant additional disciplinary action to be taken into consideration. That’s more inconsistency into a process. And those reasons are why the players in this case will walk with no more than a fine (if even that). Tagliabue saved his harshest criticism for the Saints team and NFL officials, including commissioner Roger Goodell. While the players should have known better and they should have put an end to it, the conduct of the New Orleans Saints as an organization severely influenced the actions of those who were involved in the bounty system. I’ve had bad bosses who pulled down an entire department with them. If you cut off the head, the snake dies. The failure of oversight was on the Saints organization but a disproportion amount of the blame was laid on the players. And that’s where the commissioner’s office got it wrong according to Tagliabue. They punished individuals for an organization’s failure. Were they innocent in their own right? No, but they were at a distinct disadvantage with coaches calling the shots. And while lying may be problematic in an investigation, it is even more problematic that coaches were asking players to cover up key facts and that, with union representation, players are not encouraged to implicate themselves. The lesson here is a tough one for people who believed the players should have faced more responsibility for their actions. It should be a lesson for anyone who has to head up an investigation on an internal dispute. You don’t get justice through a broken process or through punishing employees beyond precedent because you want to send a message.
With a little hindsight (or, if I may, Monday Morning Quarterbacking), it is easy to see that Goodell would have been justified in throwing all of his office’s firepower at the Saints’ organizational leadership. In fact, as an organization, you should always feel free to err on the side of holding those in leadership positions responsible. Individual punishment should be taken when a person works inappropriately outside of the company norm, not within a badly constructed company norm. In short, you can’t be wrong for the right reasons and still expect your discipline to stick. While the NFL was right in the facts of the case, their understanding of power structures, precedent and the inducement of organizational pressure failed them. In the end, the players reputation will suffer but none as much as the NFL and the Saints will endure.
“David Petraeus, Mike Leach, and the Art of the Investigation” by Lance Haun Originally posted on November 14, 2012 You probably haven’t missed the news of former general and head of the CIA David Petraeus and his sudden resignation and ensuing inquiry stemming from an admitted extramarital affair. But you would be forgiven if you missed the news of Washington State University coach Mike Leach being accused by a player of abuse and is now part of an ensuing investigation. While the importance, scope and topics of these investigations are vastly different, I certainly couldn’t help to think back to some of the investigations I headed up from my days in human resources. I’ll start with the easy one: the investigation of my alma mater. If there is any good side of this, the fact is that the investigation will likely be swift and completed by a third-‐party (the Pacific 12 conference) along with some consultation with the NCAA. Given recent events in college football, there is no choice but to take anything of this nature seriously. While I have serious doubts about the merits of the accusation, I’m looking forward to the process and being completed with it as soon as possible. I had a mentor that told me that doing the more complicated inquiries is a balancing act. Fast isn’t fast enough and thorough isn’t thorough enough. Ever. Failing to do one or the other is a failure to both the person reporting and the person being reported. And if the person has been accused before (as Leach has), even if he was exonerated from wrong-‐doing (he was), you still get to carry that same rap. And for the people reporting, they get to hear the same stuff over and over. Doubts creep in as the investigation takes longer. It’s just a bad scenario for everyone involved. So you can’t be done soon enough but you have to do a thorough job as well. If this investigation rolls on for months and months, it hurts everyone involved. That’s why I believe (and it sounds like) the university and the conference will drive this inquiry hard like good HR people are taught. The same can’t be said for the formal general.
Instead of a disinterested body with the ability to investigate and impose their own penalty like the NCAA or Pac 12 conference, Petraeus is going to face an entirely different process altogether. It is going to be a political process, one that involves both an internal review and a review by Congress at the very least. Questions will be raised about who knew what and when or how many people were involved (it has already snared more). They’ll look into security risks and there will be some concern about the timing of this relative to another political process, the general election. And there will be grandstanding. A whole lot of grandstanding by senior officials and by members of Congress. I don’t know if anyone at CSPAN gets excited about stuff like this but they should. This is gold for their channels. Very likely, we could still be talking about this next year, too. That’s how long this takes. And with other congressional priorities and a lame duck, holiday shortened session, this is one thing that will probably be booted to next year. People will be coached and lawyered up. There will be no swiftness. And a lot of defining terms. When does someone have knowledge of something? What does suspicion entail? The lesson here is simple: make your internal investigations as long as necessary but not any longer than that. In short, don’t follow the lead of Congress. That probably goes for nearly anything else you do in business or in life, too.
“Unwritten Rules, Sports Fandom and Company Culture” by Lance Haun Originally posted on February 6, 2012 As culture continues to be a hot topic for human resources pros, I have a hard time grappling and explaining one of the most important parts of culture that aren’t defined by any one person in the company: unwritten workplace rules. I worked at one place where nobody left company premises for lunch. This wasn’t in the handbook and there were a slew of restaurants within a mile of work (even a couple within easy walking distance). Other people have told me about places they’ve worked where nobody leaves before the boss leaves. You get the idea. We often leave this out of the discussion when we talk about culture but it is a huge part of that and of other parts of our lives too (like taboo subjects to bring up during family get-‐togethers or air travel with smelly food). Or in this case, sports fandom. If you’re a sports fan, you’ve inevitably met a certain type of fan. They’ve lived their entire lives in a place (often in a big enough city with 3-‐4 of the major sports) but they root for the Lakers, Yankees, Patriots, Red Wings and, worst of all, Duke basketball. No real connection to any of the teams. But if you ask the more traditional fan about this type of fan, it won’t elicit the most positive response. Now to be clear, it isn’t against the law to just pick the best teams to root for out of thin air. But it is against some very sacred, unwritten rules of sports fandom. People unaccustomed to sports fandom might be surprised that you can’t just pick the best team every year and just root for them to win, greatly increasing the chances that the team you root for will be successful. Enter the guy at your Superbowl party this weekend who was confused as to why you care about the outcome of the game if you aren’t a fan of either team. “It’s so illogical.” Illogical? Perhaps. But they are as much a part of the game as hot wings, little smokies and at least one guy drinking a little too much. And go against those unwritten rules and you’ll face the wrath of your peers (like the one lady my mom’s age who decided to switch which team she was rooting for because the team she picked was doing poorly a couple of years ago).
Same thing is true of these unwritten rules at work. Walking out of work that first day to grab a bite to eat seems more logical than sitting and eating the light snack I brought and being hungry for the rest of the day. Looking back, it feels even more stupid now. But unwritten workplace rules that help you navigate everything from getting decisions made, running through the bureaucracy of work or not getting on the bad side of the boss can make a big difference in your career. And when you’re the new jack in town, you cling to the first couple of co-‐workers who help translate those unwritten rules to you. It seems silly that it’s even necessary. As silly as rooting for the same team for 30 years that has gotten close but hasn’t won the big game in your lifetime. No matter how silly it is though, these unwritten rules tie people and your workplace together and if you don’t understand them (and its impact on your culture), you’ll be in the dark. If you care about your business and the people there, you owe it to them to understand the hidden language that moves your organization.
“The One Thing You Bring to the (Operating) Table” by Steve Boese Originally posted on April 2, 2012 Oh the Linsanity... Over the weekend New York Knicks phenom and new starting point guard Jeremy Lin was diagnosed with a more serious knee injury than was originally thought, and with the necessary surgery and rehab it seems likely that Lin will miss the remainder of the NBA season, and this development may quite possibly derail the teams chances at a playoff run. Upon learning the news, I (sort of) joked over an email to the 8 Man Rotation team that perhaps the Knicks should ask for a knee ligament donation for Lin from (backup point guard and veteran player on the last stretch of his useful career), Mike Bibbys cadaver. A bad joke I suppose, and perhaps an unfair cheap shot at Bibby, who even with his best days as an NBA player far behind him, by all accounts has been a good team player and citizen on this current Knicks team. But the cadaver joke led me to thinking about how at times it can be really easy to see contributors on a team or in an organization for what they cant do or what they can no longer do, instead of seeing (and admittedly looking harder for), what they still can bring to the table, even if it is only that one thing. In sports it could be the late career veteran or that single-‐skilled expert that you might only need once in every five games, but when you need that skill, he or she can be counted on to
deliver, whether it is a timely three-‐point shot in hoops, or in soccer to be calm enough to come off the bench and cooly and efficiently take a penalty kick. At the office it might be that past-‐his-‐prime account rep that landed the Big Account fifteen years ago and has not been doing that much since. But every year at contract renewal time the client still wants to have him in the deal and his presence and stability ends up being a big part of getting the deal done, and a nice chunk of revenue locked up. Or it even could be one of those been there forever and is skating the last three years until retirement guys that has pretty much checked out, but whenever one of the junior staff is in a jam, and wakes him up long enough to ask a question, he always knows what to do, who to talk with, and (maybe more importantly) who not to talk with. The key that ties these kinds of scenarios together? That the unique contribution, that one thing, that these types of contributors bring to the table -‐ the donated ligament, the long-‐term customer relationship, or the deep understanding of organizational politics, are all really personal, really hard to replicate, are extremely important, and cant truly be captured in any kind of database or information management system. Theyre owned so to speak by the one person alone. Two things to take away then. One, as a manager or leader that youd be wise to make sure when you are cutting people loose or shipping out so-‐called dead weight or low performers, that you are not losing some critical one thing that no one else can bring to the table. And two, if you are one of those one thing kinds of contributors yourself, well you better make sure you are ready and willing to step up on those rare occasions when your number is called, and that you are still willing to do what it takes, even if it might not be easy. Even if, possibly, it involves donating a ligament to the new hotshot on the team. Note: Hat tip to Kris Dunn at the HR Capitalist for his help shaping up this post as he is very concerned about the playoff prospects for the Knicks.
“Anticipating Regret and Chasing a Sure Thing” by Steve Boese Originally posted on February 29, 2012 Finally, the 24/7 Jeremy Lin is dying down somewhat. A combination of LeBron, Dwayne and the rest of the Miami Heat laying a bit of a smackdown and sending a message to Lin and the Knicks, along with the mid-‐season All Star break, have combined to (mercifully), let the #Linsanity fall off the radar in the last few days. It is hard to know how the rest of the season will play out for Lin; the Miami game showed opposing teams are now well aware of his game, his tendencies, and have adapted their strategies to counter the elements that Lin has brought to the Knicks in the last few weeks. Lin is a smart and talented player though, and most observers think that while he is unlikely to continue scoring 20 or 25 points a night, he should continue to develop into a quality starting point guard, hopefully filling a glaring hole in the Knicks lineup. But over 100 words in, this post isnt actually about Lin, at least not directly. As I spent some time this weekend reading many of the articles and posts about #Linsanity that I had bookmarked during the last two weeks, this piece from Wired, What Jeremy Lin Teaches Us About Talent stuck out, not so much for the origniality of the take -‐ that often we arent very good at recognizing talent when it is right under our noses, but rather for one of the references in the piece, to a 2010 paper called The Losers Curse: Overconfidence vs. Market Efficiency in the National Football League, by Cade Massey and Richard Thaler. The Massey/Thaler paper examines over two decades of National Football League draft results, compares player draft position to demonstrated performance once the drafted players enter the league, and eventually makes several interesting conclusions about the success in evaluation of potential players by NFL talent evaluators. Chief among these conclusions is that despite ridiculous amounts of easily discoverable demonstrated performance results, (video of draft candidates college games), detailed and specific pre-‐draft assessment testing, and years of experience at their jobs, that NFL talent professionals are only slightly better at choosing between any two players than simply flipping a coin -‐ higher drafted players outperform lower drafted players only 52% of the time.
The paper goes on to recommend that based on analysis of the performance of players selected in the draft that trading down, e.g. swapping say a teams 1st round selection in the draft, for multiple lower round selections, perhaps for additional 2nd and 3rd round picks, is usually a better strategy than holding on to that high pick, particularly when, as the authors contend, the likelihood of superior outcomes produced by multiple lower round picks is quite high. Essentially, they argue, that NFL teams overvalue high draft picks, a condition only exacerbated by the fact that these high draft picks usually are well known players, and fan and media pressure for teams to select these known quantity sure thing players is really high. Why do teams often hold on to these high picks, and irrationally chase these sure things? The paper offers the concept of anticipated regret, or the idea that missing out on a player, that they had a chance to select, only to see him succeed with another team, is just too painful for teams to stomach, and they feel they have to exercise draft rights on such a player, even when the data suggest that, over time, theyd probably be better off passing, and trading down to accumulate more lower picks. In the NFL and other sports, anticipated regret is all too real, since the actual performance of players not selected by a given team is all to available. Deciding not to select a highly touted player that turns out to be a star for another team, can often become an albatross, weighing a team down for years, (see Trail Blazers, Portland). Back in the real world though, anticipated regret does not play into corporate talent evaluation and recruiting all that much. Candidates that we pass on usually head off to parts unknown, and if we do know what becomes of them, we rarely have insight into performance details at whatever endeavor they pursue. We know how the person we did select worked out of course, but that extra bit of information, how the person(s) we passed on turned out, well we can only guess at that. Which is kind of too bad I think. Because I think we would all get better at evaluating talent if we could see the full picture, not just how the person we hired worked out, but how the ones we didnt hire ended up. Because if we keep missing, well then maybe wed change our approach, maybe wed be willing to trade down from time to time, instead of always chasing the sure thing.
“Hoops, Race, and Workplace Stereotypes: Why I’m Ordering a Jeremy Lin T-‐Shirt Today…” by Kris Dunn Originally posted on February 13, 2012 For those of you who dont follow hoops -‐ a quick primer -‐ Jeremy Lin is a guard for the New York Knicks whos been cut by multiple teams in the NBA and was almost cut by the Knicks 10 days ago -‐ before he was inserted into the Knicks starting lineup due to injuries, etc. What happened? The same Jeremy Lin that was almost cut set a NBA record, scoring the most points for any NBA player across his first four starts of his career in the league. New York, never shy to crank up the hype machine, has exploded with Jeremy Lin coverage and merchandise. Some people say thats crazy: "Do a year and then anoint him a star", they say. Im buying a Jeremy Lin t-‐shirt today. Even if his career implodes, heres why Im a buyer: Hoops -‐ The Knicks were a mess, with games always slowing down so megastars like Carmello Anthony could hold the ball and then go one-‐on-‐one with their teammates watching and standing around. Those stars were injured on the sidelines when Lin got his chance, and the experiment proves that cool stuff happens when talent shares the spotlight. Its a great story and reinforces the fact that selfish, me-‐first play doesnt work as well as team play. Lessons for any company as well, I think. Race: Asian players are rare in the NBA. Even rarer are American-‐born players of Asian heritage, so the Lin story is a big one from the standpoint of how we make assumptions about what different races can do in America. Workplace Stereotypes: Lin also happens to be a Harvard grad. Did you know that there have been more Harvard Grad presidents (4) than Harvard-‐grad NBA starters? Lots of stereotypes about whats possible embedded in this one. Add it all up, and it matters -‐ even if you dont believe the hype. Im a buyer of Jeremy Lin -‐ so much so, the t-‐shirt order goes in today...
“Do You Have A Jeremy Lin On Your Staff?” by Tim Sackett Originally posted on February 20, 2012 “Linsanity” has taken over New York and the NBA! Do you even know what it is? Let’s begin with some background – Linsanity refers to Jeremy Lin the up-‐start Point Guard for the New York Knicks which seems to have materialized out of thin air. How up-‐start? In his first 4 NBA starts, with the Knicks, he has scored more than Allen Iverson, more than Shaquille O’Neal, more than Michael Jordan, tops since the NBA and ABA merged in 1976. Where did he come from? Harvard – was a good player in college, but not a star. Was signed and released by both Golden State and Houston, spent some time in the NBA Developmental league, before signing a 10 day contract with the Knicks (which has turned into a longer term deal). Jeremy Lin coming onto the scene in the NBA is keen to you knocking down a wall in your house and finding $50 million. It doesn’t happen. Professional sports are professional because they have and find the best – they scout talent 24/7/365 – they do make mistakes – but rarely does potential get missed. So, how did this Asian-‐American Ivy League educated Point Guard fall through the cracks? No one really has a good explanation. I can assume being on the only Ivy League educated, Asian-‐American in the NBA didn’t help him get noticed – for the simple fact – that wouldn’t get you noticed in the NBA. He didn’t have Duke, UConn or UNC on his resume, the NBA doesn’t care that he’s smart, and so few Asians (under 7 foot) actually ever get looked at for their basketball talent. He was a plow horse hidden behind a stable full of race horses. While this type of thing doesn’t happen in the NBA – it does happen in your organizations all-‐the-‐time!
The majority of HR Pros just don’t have the background and scouting ability professional sports teams have in tracking potential talent. We give it our best shot, instituting Employee Development Programs, Succession Programs, etc. But our reality is, we still have a very long way to go to be truly effective. So, how can you ensure you don’t have a Jeremy Lin sitting on your bench, that you aren’t utilizing, or worse yet, you allow your competition to have? Look for some of these traits on your staff: 1. Smarts. There is a common saying in athletics, you can’t “coach” size. Meaning no matter how good of coach you are, it is still very hard to overcome a team with superior size and athletic ability. Smarts is the same way in business. You can hustle your way out of a lot of situations in business – but eventually Smarts will get you! 2. Desire. Give me someone with a desire to be the best, and I’ll take them a long way. Too many of our employees have the components to be great, but lack the true desire to be great. Doesn’t matter if your an engineer, accountant, software developer, teacher – little or no desire will kill your talent every time. 3. Love. You’ve got to Love what you do, Love your organization and Love your team. Those people are set up for success, because there is no place else they would rather be, and they’ll fight to keep themselves in that position. Just because you have one or two of these doesn’t make you great, or even good – you need a lot of all 3. To often HR Pros hang onto people way to long because “they work so hard” but lack core talent (smarts), or “they have more talent than anyone else on team”, but lack the desire to do the job anymore. Stop that! You’ve got too many good people sitting on the bench, waiting for their opportunity, like Jeremy Lin. Open up your mind, really look for the combination of talent, desire and those who want to be with you – and put them into the starting lineup! You won’t be sorry.
“Think You Should Launch Your Product At A Conference? Maybe….Or Maybe Not” by Lance Haun Originally posted on September 12, 2012 After two days and seeing a lot of startups at TechCrunch Disrupt (the rows of startups, the startup competition, with more to come), I can probably prattle off the names to nearly a dozen of them off the top of my head out of the several dozens I saw. If you mention one to me, I’ll probably remember that I saw them there for a little while. Then, it will slowly fade from memory unless one of them does something else. That’s not to take away anything from TechCrunch or the conference itself. It was fantastic aside from a few logistical hurdles that will probably be forgotten by almost everyone. But, the apt comparison for me would be to watching NBA Summer League basketball. Now Kris Dunn and I brought a couple of our friends and watched 16 hours of hoops over two days in the middle of summer in Vegas. It was a thoroughly enjoyable experience but you saw perhaps 10 teams and 150 players over that span of time (few of which are NBA starter caliber to begin with). Do you know who we saw there in Las Vegas? Jeremy Lin An unknown at the time, Lin had a breakout season this year and earned himself a big payday with the Houston Rockets. You couldn’t miss the news. And he was in front of our eyes. We were sitting four rows up from the floor watching him. You know what we could remember of his game? Jack squat. We saw so many guards play, they kind of all blurred together. Now, I believe in conferences. I think they are important. And I think they can be a great marketing tool for companies. A high profile launch is great but it becomes less great the more companies that get involved. If I was going into a situation where 50+ companies were doing product launches or new versions of a product and were all planning on dropping it at a
conference, I would take a divergent strategy unless you are a market leader that could dominate the conversation. I’m not a marketer but I know how stories are written. The time during a conference is hectic and if you’re covering it, you’re trying to write a bunch about what you saw. And then it is over and you’re back to your regular beat. Quite honestly, I would tell companies to spend time securing press for a new release or product ahead of a large conference they were attending and then using that to build in-‐person conversations when you see potential customers. Launching a product is a marathon, not a sprint. And success usually means not following the same strategy as everyone else.
“To Hype Or Not To Hype, That’s (Always) The Question” by Lance Haun Originally posted on February 17, 2012 The New York Knicks’ Jeremy Lin is not a story about HR. It’s a story about basketball. It’s a really phenomenal story about basketball and one that, unlike a lot of the bullshit stories about sports, is actually kind of special. There have been a lot of undrafted players who have gone on to have pretty nice careers (Ben Wallace most recently comes to mind). But given his position (point guards don’t get as many chances as big guys), the big stage of Madison Square Garden, and his race, it becomes a big story. So if you are a sports journalist of any kind, you have to cover it. A bunch. Even if everyone else is writing about it, you still have to write it. You get to find different angles, explore different points of view. That’s part of the gig. But what if you’re beat writer for a local paper? Or a tech blogger? Or a writer for a HR trade publication? How big does something have to be before you buy into the hype and incorporate something about a current event into a column? That’s the question I struggled with as I wrote my pieces this week for TLNT. I’m a natural basketball fan so his first big night was on my radar immediately. And as his performance (and legend) grew, the temptation to write about it–or even just mention it–was strong. So why didn’t I? I had what I thought were better stories, more poignant to what I thought HR people needed to hear this week. I read some really great pieces about Lin, I thought about some different angles and didn’t think it was a good fit. Maybe something will come up later that might make a good story that relates to Lin. But this time, the hype didn’t fit.
“Tebow: How Many Leaders are too Many?” by Steve Boese Originally posted on March 26, 2012 There are two reasons I had to finally weigh in on the (admittedly over-‐analyzed), Peyton Manning -‐ Tim Tebow NFL saga that has played out over the last two weeks. One, I need to make sure I have submitted enough sports-‐related dispatches for next years installment of The 8 Man Rotation E-‐book, and two, since Tebow has been traded to my beloved New York Jets, I simply felt obligated to comment. So, apologies in advance if you are already tired of the story -‐ come back tomorrow for something more interesting. Most of the HR-‐related analysis on the deal has tended to focus on what the Broncos decisions suggest about Talent Management -‐ that acquiring superior talent is more important that keeping popular but less-‐talented around, and that a keen understanding of what capabilities and competencies are required for success should drive talent decisions. Those are both good points, but as a Jets fan, I want to focus on their decision to bring in Tebow and what it might say about their (shakier) talent strategy and the potential implications to the success of the team. In professional football it is generally agreed that the quarterback position is the most important on the field, and the quarterback is seen as the team leader. For young quarterbacks, developing leadership skills and earning the respect of teammates might be equally as important as improving the practical skills of the game. For the New York Jets current starting quarterback and three-‐year veteran Mark Sanchez, cementing his status as the team leader has been a kind of rocky ride. His first two seasons saw kind of unexpected success, with back-‐to-‐back deep playoff runs, but this success was tempered by a disappointing 2011 season marked by a failure to make the NFL playoffs and numerous reports of dissension amongst the team. Sanchez play on the field was inconsistent, (not uncommon for young quarterbacks), and the presence of strong personalities on the coaching staff and in the locker room have also made it hard for Sanchez to truly become the team leader, generally seen as a necessary step on the march towards competing for championships.
But the Jets ownership has enough faith in Sanchez ability and potential, to just a few weeks ago reward him with a contract extension, and a guarantee of at least two more years as the starting quarterback. At the time the contract was seen as a commitment by the team to Sanchez not only as the quarterback, but also as the de facto team leader. It was a bit of a risk certainly, as any contract is, but it was also a signal to the players and fans that the ownership and coaching staff was 100% behind the player who is effectively the most important player on the team. Fast forward just a short time and via a series of events that started with the Indianapolis Colts decision to release NFL legend Manning, and now the phenomenon known as Tebowmania has relocated to the New York Jets. Tim Tebow enjoyed an incredible, unusual run of games last year for the Broncos that seemed equal parts incredibly poor play, inspired and winning comeback performances, and solid character and leadership capability, unusual for such a young player in the NFL. In fact, when talking about Tebow, observers almost always talk character and leadership as much as they discuss the practical aspects of actually playing quarterback in the NFL. Before the Sanchez contract extension, there were serious questions around the teams faith in him and their commitment to his continued development. Then, with the acquisition of Tebow, these same questions are naturally re-‐emerging. The larger questions I think, are about what it signals about leadership in the organization and the importance of commitment to key team members and an understanding about the role of leadership inside the organization. Tebow, for all the circus atmosphere that surrounds him, is seen as a high-‐character guy and a natural leader. Sanchez, as the incumbent quarterback, has not yet firmly grasped the role of team leader, and now with the acquisition of Tebow, his job has become that much harder. The minute things start to go poorly on the field, fans and the media will start calling for Tebow to assume Sanchez spot. And if Tebow does come into the game, and performs well, (not a given, but possible), and then says and does all the right things afterward, (almost certain), then Sanchez position becomes more untenable. The Broncos have been lauded for doing all the right things in this situation. Signing Manning was the first right move, then moving out Tebow was the next correct move. To Manning and to the team, the signal was clear -‐ Peytons our guy. And with him on board, the presence of Tebow was only going to be a distraction. Their management recognized and abided by that old football axiom, If you have more than one starting quarterback, you dont have any. Mark Sanchez is certainly no Peyton Manning, does not have Mannings track record and does not get afforded the same respect. But just two weeks ago, Jets management had committed to Sanchez (and guaranteed him at least $20M). The contract said essentially, Mark is our quarterback and leader. We think we can win with him.
But with the signing of Tebow, who as a winning-‐type player naturally will want to compete with Sanchez for playing time as well as team leadership, the Jets have essentially told Sanchez that only two weeks later they are hedging their $20M bet. Only one guy can play quarterback at a time. And only one guy can be the team leader. Whats tough on the organization is when ownership cant figure out who that guy should be.
“Losing Your Job – Tebow Style” by Tim Sackett Originally posted on March 21, 2012 By now most of the free world knows that Peyton Manning accepted the quarterback position with the Denver Broncos who already had a quarterback in Tim Tebow. Ouch.To be honest it was really the only way that the Denver Broncos were going to get out of this Tebow mess. I like the kid, but he isn’t one of the better NFL quarterbacks, and he certainly wasn’t going to take them to the Super Bowl. Now they have a Hall of Fame caliber quarterback in Manning – who, if he fails, will have at least accomplished one thing for the Broncos – he got rid of Tebow without the fans losing their minds! Tebow is a fan favorite, which is like saying, fat kids slightly like cake – Bronco fans, heck, NFL fans in general, lost their minds about Tebow run last season. Getting rid of him wasn’t an option for the organization – until something so good came along it made everyone forget how much they loved Tebow. You see great Talent has a way of doing that – making you forget about your favorites. Do you have a Tebow in your organization? I bet you do – and you know if you tried to get rid of them, your employees would lose their minds, culturally it would be bad, productively it would be bad, moral-‐wise it would be bad. So, you don’t do it – even if the person really isn’t holding up their end of the bargain any longer. So, what do you do? You do what Elway did with the Broncos – you bring in better talent and cut bait with your employee favorite! You have to do this. You have no choice. To keep an under-‐performing employee, just because everyone likes that person – is HR death! But, what do you do if the
person is an average employee and well liked, but you get a chance to bring in superior talent? You do the same thing – but you you have to very careful on how you make that transition. Unfortunately, the talent that you and I bring into our organizations usually isn’t as highly publicized as a Peyton Manning! So, we, as HR/Talent Pros, have to do some of our own internal PR work on the new talent. What does internal PR on a new hire look like? It starts with getting your leadership team all on the same page – they need to be excited and 100% supportive of the new person. Then focus on the new person’s direct team/department. They don’t have to be excited – remember they just lost someone they love – but they have to be supportive. The best way to do this is through a structured transition meeting – where they get to learn about the new person, but also voice their pain of their loss – it’s good for both parties to be on the same page. The final step is to get of the news release to the rest of the organization if all the high points of the new talent. Be careful not to do this first, because people will instantly run to the new group and ask about it. A transition meeting has to be done, so they a ready to respond and be supportive of the new person. To often in our organizations we rush to “tell everyone” before the person starts, or soon after, it’s more important to wait on this communication and get those closest up to speed first. No one ever wants to let go of an organizational favorite – but in HR it’s our job to increase the talent of our organizations – sometimes that means making an unpopular decision. The best HR Pros find ways to move the organization forward quickly and while be supportive.
“Employee Communication 101 – Tebow Style” by Tim Sackett Originally posted on January 27, 2012 I need to catch up on my HR/Sports related posts! My teammates over at the 8 Man Rotation are probably feeling like I’m not pulling my weight lately, and what better way to get back in their good graces but to throw out a Tebow post! So, the big news from John Elway over at the Denver Bronco’s camp is that Tim Tebow has earned the right to be called the starting quarterback going into next season’s Training Camp. Basically, that means that during off-‐season conditioning Mr. Elway is not going to allow any other quarterback to beat out Tebow – Oh! Thanks for the vote of confidence Mr. Elway! I’m not surprised by Elway’s announcement. What I’m surprised about, and probably shouldn’t be, was by Tim Tebow’s response: “Nice,” Tebow said of Elway’s pledge of support. “It’s a great honor to be a quarterback for the Denver Broncos. I take that very seriously. I’m very excited about this offseason and I can’t wait to get to work and get better.” He couldn’t have been coached better by a team of PR specialist to respond this way! Look, Tebow gets that Elway’s endorsement, was really a partial non-‐endorsement – and he had a choice on how to react, and took the higher road. He responded in the way we would like anyone of our employees to respond when put in a similar situation, and believe me, we put our employees in these situations! We constantly have hiring managers deliver
performance and succession messages to employees that sound very similar to what Elway gave Tebow: “Mary, keep doing what you’re doing and good things will happen.” “Bob, you control what you can control and it will all work out.” “Gayle, with hard work, you can go as far as you want in this organization.” “Ray, the only person who is going to stop you, is you.” This is the classic performance management response/non-‐response – and we allow this to happen to often – but more amazingly than how much we allow this to happen, is how upset we get with our employees when they become frustrated with this non-‐feedback, and don’t give us a “Tebow” response! Tebow is a winner in life because he understands the art of communication. He understands that, while he has a huge platform on which to speak, using it as a weapon will get neither himself or his organization any closer to their final goal. Elway screwed up – he should have been honest – “We’ll give Tim every opportunity to compete to be the starting QB of the Denver Bronco’s next season. We will work this off-‐season with Tim to make him the best possible QB for our organization.” Period. Shut up, no further questions. Tim showed the organization how to communicate – be humble, be appreciative and be gracious – you will come out a winner every single time!
“How Many Bad Decisions Can You Get Away with – Motorcycle Crash Edition” by Steve Boese Originally posted on April 6, 2012 How many bad decisions can you get away with and hold on to your job? My working theory right now is that there is an inverse relationship between how many bad, foolish, or reckless kinds of decisions one can make and ones relative position on an organizations hierarchy and pay structure, with a success corollary and an ease of replacement factor baked into the equation. What am I talking about? Just the latest episode in the ongoing Powerful, successful, rich men behaving badly at work saga, this one from the world of sports, (shock), the news of University of Arkansas Head Football Coach Bobby Petrinos recent motorcycle accident, and the subsequent string of deception, fabrication, and simple bad judgment that has subsequently been brought to light. In case you missed the story this week, the gist is as follows: (with my snarky comments in bold) • Last Sunday, Petrino is taken to the hospital following a mototcycle accident. He suffers four broken ribs and a cracked neck vertebra. Ouch • Petrino fails to mention to his boss at Arkansas, Athletics Director Jeff Long one key detail about the accident, that he wasnt alone on that motorcycle. He had in fact lied to Long about this nugget, and the athletic department put out a press release on Monday morning repeating that lie on Arkansas letterhead. Not good. • Petrinos passenger was a woman. So what? • She was not his wife. Uh-‐oh. • The woman, Jessica Dorrell, is an employee of the Arkansas athletic department. What is the number for the HR hotline? • Petrino hired Dorrell, who had previously worked in the athletic departments fundraising arm, to the football staff last week. Get my lawyer on the phone.
Now, as you would expect, the AD Long has launched a review of the situation and the circumstances surrounding the accident, the deception by Petrino immediately following the accident, and (lets hope), the details surrounding the hiring of Dorrell by Petrino, who it would seem were conducting some kind of relationship while maybe not illegal, was almost certainly inappropriate. Complicating matters for Long is the recent success of Petrino and the Arkansas football team, with a 21-‐5 won-‐loss record in the last two seasons, and the teams best finish in the football rankings in ages. Petrino, now with no other realistic options, has basically thrown himself at the mercy of his employer, and has apologized for his actions, issuing a statement that read in part -‐ "I will fully cooperate with the university throughout this process and my hope is to repair my relationships with my family, my athletic director, the Razorback Nation and remain the head coach of the Razorbacks". It will be up to Arkansas, and AD Long to decide what to do with their highest profile employee, (and highest-‐paid state of Arkansas worker), and to determine if success on the job weighs more heavily than a series of bad decisions off the job. I have no idea how this will turn out, but the realist in me thinks that twenty-‐one wins in two seasons in the most competitive college football conference in the nation has a way of glossing over even the most obvious flaws in judgement and character. What do you think -‐ should Petrino be shown the exit?
GIVE IT UP: Heres How You Get Someone To Admit They Took $20,000 From a Boss They Were Having an Affair With... by Kris Dunn Originally posted on April 11, 2012 Im not here to be the morality police or tell you right from wrong. Since investigations are a part of any HR practice, Im here to tell you how to get to the truth. Step 1 -‐ Set the stage/expectation so you have the highest probability of someone answering questions in a truthful, full disclosure kind of way. Step 2 -‐ Ask broad, but tough questions. Assume nothing. Go around the horn and probe, then dig in when something breaks. Case in point. Arkansas football coach Bobby Petrino, who was kind of fired for wrecking his motorcycle, then lying about the fact he had a 25-‐year old woman on the back of the Harley, whom he just happened to be having an affair (or past affair) with. And hes married and 50+ years old. And he just hired that 25 year-‐old as part of his team in a search that closed very quickly, according to Petrinos boss, the Arkansas AD. But -‐ like I said, Im not your morality agent. Im the guy who uses examples from pop culture to help you get better HR outcomes. So lets go. You just had a director at your company wreck his Harley coming back from his lake house. You get the call. Hes beat up but OK. Youre relieved. He says he was alone, then someone in your flock sends you the police report two days later that says he had a young, attractive subordinate on the bike with him. He lied to you about that. Strike one, and regardless of your need not to interfere with someones private life, youve now got a director lying about having a direct report on the back of a Harley coming back from a lake house. Shes a recent hire. You probably need to look into that, Marge. So you go into investigation mode. The leverage, should you choose to use it, is that youve been lied to. That creates the reason youre having the conversation. If you choose to use the leverage, the intro into the conversation with the Direct Report on the back of the bike goes something like this: "So, weve got a situation where someone lied about the presence of another team member in an incident. Im not sure why anyone would lie about that, but history shows when that occurs, theres usually something going on, and oftentimes that can mean that someone can lose their job. So in the interest of making sure we get all the
information we need, Ive got to ask you to be 100% truthful with me -‐ its the best way for everyone involved to have the best shot at keeping their job" Thats the language you use for Step 1. Youre trying to get the most truth you can. Having set the stage with that question, youre on to asking broad, but tough questions of the direct report: "Were you on the bike with Bobby?" "What were you doing on the bike with Bobby?" "How long have you had a relationship with Bobby?" "Were you in the relationship with Bobby when he hired you?" Normal questions so far. Work related and fair game since the direct report in question was recently hired by Bobby, then involved in a Harley wreck. But if youre above average as an investigator, you wont forget some of the broader questions to fish a little bit and determine how much poison youre dealing with. Check it: "Does Bobby ever discuss the performance or his opinion of others on his team with you?" "Have you ever discussed your relationship with Bobby with other employees at our company? Anyone?" And yes, the big probe that delivered a crazy, final blow in the Bobby Petrino saga: "Has Bobby ever helped you out with money? Provided you a loan of any size to help you with any financial issue you were dealing with or something you wanted and knew you could pay him back?" Direct report: "Um....yeah.... Bobby gave me a $20,000 loan so I could make a down payment on my condo. But Im going to pay it back..." Check please! You now know the outcome for Bobby. Where you go with the direct report is more problematic, but thats a post for another day.
“Bobby Petrino, Hiring Manager, Though HR Was Way Too Slow” by Kris Dunn Originally posted on April 17, 2012 Not sure who Bobby Petrino is? He’s the former Arkansas football Coach who was fired for a variety of things – hiring a mistress (former volleyball player at Arkansas), giving her $20,000 to buy a car in addition to a $55,000 salary, then having the misfortune to wreck his Harley with her on the back of the bike and lie about. She’s 25. He’s 50-‐something with a wife and four kids. But I digress. The thing that made his termination most actionable was his decision to hire his mistress after asking for an expedited hiring process in which 159 candidates applied for the job. As you might guess, there were some pretty good candidates who never got a sniff/phone interview since Bobby found the most “qualified” candidate. Jessica Dorrell was the candidate Petrino hired for the Student-‐Athlete Development Coordinator job in question. When he asked for the expedited hiring process, Petrino failed to interview the following candidates according to records obtained by Sports Illustrated: • Former Kentucky and Oregon director of football operations Steve Hellyer, who had the most practical experience of anyone who applied for the job. • Mark Ouimet, who held similar positions at Mississippi State and Michigan. • Josh Lee, the former director of football operations at UAB, whose references include Georgia coach Mark Richt and Alabama defensive coordinator Kirby Smart. • Maggy Carlyle, who, while inexperienced in college football recruiting, has a wealth of complementary experience working for the San Francisco 49ers, the Pac-‐12, the NFL and the University of Missouri. (She also has a law degree from Missouri.) • LaRon Black, a former Southland Conference associate commissioner (compliance) who spent several years at Prairie View A&M helping the school clean up an NCAA mess. • Christianne Harder, a Cal grad who has worked in the recruiting offices at Stanford and Washington and who currently consults for Western Kentucky’s football program. • Zaneta Ivy, a former Memphis track athlete who received her masters at Arkansas and who has worked in the student-‐athlete academic advising departments at Arkansas, Utah and Florida International. SI went on to cover how at least one of the applicants felt as the case broke in the press: “Some of those who applied are mad. Ivy, currently an academic coordinator at FIU, believes the hiring of Dorrell will set back women who hope to break into traditionally male-‐dominated sports fields. “That’s one of the barriers I’m trying to break down,” Ivy said. “You don’t have to sleep your way to the top. There are a lot of women who know their jobs, who do their jobs well and who just want to help the kids.”
Ugh. And that, my friends, is why you have to be careful when a hiring manager claims he has to get the hire done in days rather than weeks at the expense of a thoughtful process. Especially when the hire he wants to make is already on the scene (Dorrell was already a fundraiser for the University of Arkansas Foundation before moving to her new role). Could you use the facts of this case to back a hiring manager down who claims they have to make the offer today? You sure could.
About the Authors STEVE BOESE Steve is a Co-‐Chair of Human Resource Executive Magazine’s HR Technology Conference, the leading global event for the HR Technology Industry, and a Technology Editor for LRP Publications. Essentially, Steve is some kind of a big shot. Steve is also a leading HR blogger and hosts the “HR Happy Hour Show” a popular internet radio program and podcast dedicated to opening the lines of communication among HR thought leaders, practitioners and service providers in the global human resources field. He is a frequent speaker at national and regional HR industry events, and has even been invited back to some of them. Steve’s blog was selected as the number one Talent Management Blog by the editors of the Fistful of Talent in February 2010. Steve is a graduate of the University of South Carolina and resides in Rochester, NY. Tweet him @steveboese KRIS DUNN Kris Dunn is Chief Human Resources Officer at Kinetix and a blogger at The HR Capitalist, and the Founder and Executive Editor of Fistful of Talent. That makes him a career VP of HR, a blogger, a dad and a hoops junkie, the order of which changes based on his mood. He currently resides in Birmingham, AL. Tweet him @kris_dunn. LANCE HAUN Lance Haun is editor of SourceCon.com and contributor to TLNT.com and ERE.net. Before writing about HR and recruiting full-‐time, he was an HR pro for seven years. You can find him on his blog at lancehaun.com or on Twitter as @thelance TIM SACKETT Tim Sackett, SPHR, is the President of HRU Technical Resources in Lansing, MI. 20 years of human resources leadership experience, across multiple industries, on both the corporate and agency side – so he gets both sides of the desk. When he’s not working or blogging at The Tim Sackett Project – he’s probably coaching basketball or baseball for one of his three sons. He currently resides in Dewitt, MI. Tweet him @TimSackett.
MATTHEW STOLLAK Matthew Stollak, Ph.D., SPHR, is an Associate Professor of Business Administration at Saint Norbert College. He also serves as chapter advisor for the Saint Norbert College Student SHRM Chapter, and blogs at True Faith HR. Matt is a graduate of Michigan State University, Brandeis University, and the University of Illinois. He currently resides in Green Bay, WI. Tweet him @akaBruno
Steve Boeses HR Technology HR Technology, Teaching, and a little Barbecue THE TIM SACKETT PROJECT HR Pro, Dad, Backup Point Guard on my over 40 mens team