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The 8 Man Rotation – The 2011 Season


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We know that most sequels suck. …

We know that most sequels suck.

This is true with most movies, but it is especially true about sports movie sequels. As anyone who paid their hard-earned dollars to see Major League II, Slap Shot II: Breaking the Ice, or Caddyshack II knows, great art is hard to follow.

I know what you’re thinking. Does the world really need another collection of writings about Sports and HR? Wasn’t it beaten to death in the last edition?

Yet, here we are with the 2011 season - 45 more posts ripped from the screens of the HR Capitalist, Fistful of Talent,, the Tim Sackett Project, and True Faith HR. Its more points than Kobe or LeBron averaged, but fewer than the number of TDs Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees, or Tom Brady threw.

And, the 2012 season is already looking bright…but, it’ll have to wait until next year.

Published in: Business, Technology, Sports
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  • 1. The 8 Man Rotation –A Look at Sports and HRThe 2011 Seasonby Steve Boese, Kris Dunn,Lance Haun, Tim Sackett, &Matthew Stollak 1
  • 2. The 8 Man Rotation – A Look at Sports and HRThe 2011 SeasonForeword by William Tincup and Trish McFarlaneIntroductionHR Planning and Strategy Is Your Company Better At Innovation if You Seek Patents or Simply Find the Next Tweak? – Kris Dunn you-seek-patents-or-simply-find-the-next-tweak.html Please Welcome Our new VP of Marketing. Yes, That’s Really Him…-Steve Boese vp-of-marketing-yes-thats-really-him.html Waiting for the Siren’s Call – Matt Stollak Reality – Matt Stollak Jerry Sloan: Another Great Example of Why Managerial Longevity Matters – Lance Haun managerial-longevity-matters/Staffing and Career Considerations Albert Pujols and the Art of the Counter-Offer: It All Comes Down to Replacement Cost for the Same Performance... – Kris Dunn counter-offer-it-all-comes-down-to-replacement-cost-for-the-same- pe.html Treat Your Candidates Well – Because They’re Going to Stick to You Like Kareem If You Don’t… - Kris Dunn going-to-stick-to-you-if-you-dont.html 2
  • 3. Legalities? Here’s How References Work in the Real World… - Kris Dunn the-real-world.html Grading Talent the Big Tuna Way – Steve Boese way.html Big Tickets and High Stakes – Steve Boese Do You Remember What Unemployment Feels Like? – Tim Sackett Selection, Assessments, and the MLB – Tim Sackett and Development The Wisdom of Jeff Van Gundy – Part V – Steve Boese gundy-part-v.html If “Everyone” is Responsible, is Anyone Responsible? – Steve Boese responsible.html Are You A Coach in HR? – Tim Sackett 6 Ways LeBron James is Great at Team Building – Tim Sackett building/Performance and Talent Management Want Performance? Get Everyone Uncomfortable with a Mock Workplace Draft…-Kris Dunn uncomfortable-with-a-mock-workplace-draft.html Kris Dunn Just Scored a 47 on the Wonderlic Test!! – Kris Dunn wonderlic-test.html 3
  • 4. 4
  • 5. #FACT: Great Talent Runs Freaking Hot – Deal With It…-Kris Dunn Performing Average Talent: Don’t Screw Them… - Kris Dunn and the Art of Figuring Out if HR Leaders are Overpaid… – KrisDunn Al Davis: Here’s My Favorite HR Quote From the NFL Sith Lord – KrisDunn #1 in Life, Business and HR: Don’t Tempt Fate by Talking Smack – KrisDunn You’re Wrong About LeBron James – Steve Boese of Fame – Steve Boese Pressing and Basketball – Steve Boese You Really Need Superstar Talent? – Steve Boese Your Five Year Plan Out the Window – Lance Haun You Just Miss Your Shots – Lance Haun Gamification & Fantasy Football: Think They’re Related? You’d BeWrong – Lance Haun 5
  • 6. theyre-related-youd-be-wrong/ Hire Slow, Fire Fast: Four Talent Selection Lessons From the NBA Draft – Lance Haun from-the-nba-draft/ 3 Things HR Pros Can Learn From “Moneyball” – Tim Sackett moneyball/ HR’s September Call Up – Tim Sackett Gangster – Matt Stollak Compensation Sharing the Wealth – NBA Style – Steve Boese style.html The NBA, where a 30% pay cut was the better option – Steve Boese was-the-better-option.htmlEmployee and Labor Relations Jim Tressel Would Make a Crappy HR Director…-Kris Dunn director.html The Mets and MLB Say No to 9/11 Hats Due to Funky Non-Solicitation Policy…- Kris Dunn to-funky-non-solicitation-policy.html The Jim Boeheim Rule: Leaders Should Never Attack an Alleged Victim’s Credibility…- Kris Dunn rule-leaders-should-never-attack-an-alleged-victims-credibility-.html 6
  • 7. Dress Codes: Is Your Ban on Iverson Jersey and Stretch Pants More AboutControl Than the Customer? – Kris Dunn The Capitalist Says This Union Member Deserves Better Treatment FromManagement – Kris Dunn Branding MBA: Why Nobody Cares Whether YOU Like Your AlmaMater’s Football Uniforms… - Kris Dunn At Will: Why Coke People Won’t Get Caught Dead with Pepsi….– Kris Dunn Negotiations, Point Guards, and Genius Economists – Steve Boese Does Terminating an Employee Become A Reward? – Tim Sackett 7
  • 8. ForewordSticks and BallsFor most people, sports... the doing and the talking about... is just as important toour culture as art. Loving sports is not about gender... meaning, guys are NOTmodern day cavemen because all they do is mainline ESPN and sports talk shows.IMHO, loving sports is about relating to our fellow men and women. For example,what team do you root for / against?See, I like dynasties... meaning, I root for dominance. I like Manchester United, theSteelers (re: 70s), the Cowboys (re: 90s), the Lakers (re: Magic) the Bulls (re:Jordan), the Yankees, Alabama college football, Tiger Woods (re: the waitresstapping Tiger), etc, etc, etc. That speaks volumes about me. Those that love sportsalready know how to classify me... good, bad or otherwise... Ive taken a position. Ican defend it and admire the position of others as well. Albeit anyone that disagreeswith me is a loser. Loser!What I love about the project that is “8 Man Rotation” is that my favorite writerswax philosophical about two of my favorite subjects: HR & sports. Like chocolateand peanut butter... separate they are good... together they are greatness. Pleaseread AND share this content with all of your friends... those that love sports andthose that abhor sports. ----William TincupMy fellow HR professionals, I am honored and humbled, yes honored to stand heretoday before you as one of the authors of The 8 Man Rotation....<scuffle of feetrunning to the stage>...oh, excuse me just a moment...Steve: Uh Trish, you’re not part of The 8 Man Rotation v.2. Sorry.Me: I’m not?Steve: No, you just need to introduce us. The STARS of the project. You’re notone of those.Me: I see. Well, I just thought that since I don’t play pro sports either that I couldadd as much value as you, Dunn, Haun and Stollak. Probably not as much as Sackett,but the rest I know I could take on.Steve: Um no, you’re not like us. We’re dudes. We know sports and stuff. Oh,and HR. You could always focus your writing on cheerleading or something.Me: Ok then. Well, I guess I’ll just introduce you all.Well readers, I’m back. It seems that I am not one of the esteemed authors of The8 Man Rotation v. 2 . However, I do work in HR and as a real practitioner, I’malways looking for ways to figure out how to do my job better. Like you, I haveturned to many of the recognized business leadership books for guidance. Theyreally don’t help change much though. What better place to look for inspiration and 8
  • 9. guidance than sports references about HR? I know these guys know sports and theyknow HR. So, without further adieu, I give you...The 8 Man Rotation v. 2.Go team! ----Trish McFarlane 9
  • 10. Introduction We know that most sequels suck. This is true with most movies, butit is especially true about sports movie sequels. As anyone who paid theirhard-earned dollars to see Major League II, Slap Shot II: Breaking the Ice, orCaddyshack II knows, great art is hard to follow. I know what you’re thinking. Does the world really need anothercollection of writings about Sports and HR? Wasn’t it beaten to death in thelast edition? Yet, here we are with the 2011 season - 45 more posts ripped fromthe screens of the HR Capitalist, Fistful of Talent,, the TimSackett Project, and True Faith HR. Its more points than Kobe or LeBronaveraged, but fewer than the number of TDs Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees, orTom Brady threw. And, the 2012 season is already looking bright…but, it’ll have to waituntil next year. 10
  • 11. CHAPTER 1HR Planning and Strategy 11
  • 12. Is Your Company Better At Innovation if You Seek Patents orSimply Find The Next Tweak?Kris DunnOriginally published October 14, 2011Innovation. You want it. You need it.Is your company better at innovation if you seek to protect IP through patents orsimply move on to the next big tweak thats going to change the game?I ask the question knowing the answer. Companies that have large amounts of IPhave to protect themselves legally and financially by seeking patents. But that doesntmean that innovation doesnt happen at a more rapid pace in industries thattraditionally havent had the ability to trademark innovation.Example? The NFL. More from Freakonomics: "Just about a year ago we posted about the incredibly innovative game of football. As we described, all of the innovation we’ve seen in football – the spread offense, the zone blitz, the wildcat, and dozens of other offensive and defensive formations, strategies, and counter-strategies – occurs without anyone ever asserting ownership. Rival teams are free to copy new plays, and they do. It’s not as if ownership would be impossible – existing intellectual property rules might cover at least some football innovations as copyrightable “choreographic works,” or as patentable processes. The fact remains, 12
  • 13. however, that no one has ever tried to copyright or patent a new play or formation. And yet Belichick, and dozens of great football coaches over the years, continue to be creative. Why? Professional football is the apotheosis of cutthroat competition. In the NFL, innovations can pay even if they provide an advantage over only a few games (although for reasons we’ve explained, copying a football coach’s innovation effectively is often more difficult than it may at first appear). A few extra games in the win column are the difference between a decent season and playing in the Super Bowl."The post talks at length about the Buffalo Bills innovating a new twist to oldtechnique of receivers "picking" for each other to get open. A picture of theformation appears above.Back to the question. Do most companies that dont protect IP through patents seea lot of innovation? How does HR innovate when they cant protect what they dowith patents?Maybe the bigger question is the following - How do you encourage your teams toinnovate to gain the short-lived advantage when you dont have the pressure ofdeveloping thousands of patents, like a Microsoft or a Motorola?I look at the picture above and the answer is pretty obvious. Do the equivalent of afilm review with your team. Line up you and your competitor side by side, and beshocked at how similar you are. Give your team the task of doing two things in thenext month that make your company look different (and more valuable forcustomers). Come back the next month and keep the innovation pressure on.Lesson - Find the equivalent of your receiver stack at your company.Last note, after Sundays NFL games, I found the following play, on our coffee table,charted out below by my 8-year old son. Its the play where the Broncos did a handoff, then the running back flipped it back to Kyle Orton, who launched it 40 yards toan open receiver. Orton under-threw it (Tebow would have thrown it 45 yards...hahaha), but the vibe was on.My son, charting copycat plays on what he considered to be innovation. Goodtimes. 13
  • 14. 14
  • 15. Please welcome our new VP of Marketing. Yes, thatsreally himBy Steve BoeseOriginally Published September 2, 2011So lets pretend you are a dedicated marketing pro at a low-key but solid wholesalegrocery distribution company in Tennessee and you have seen notice or heardthrough the company grapevine that the VP of Marketing position is open. VP slotsat small and medium size companies dont just open up every day, and as you learnmore about the opening, you become more intrigued.Casual Friday in the Marketing department?Youve got over 10 years experience marketing in this industry, almost five at thecurrent company, and you have been given progressively more responsibility, highprofile projects, and control over a small team and budget. You like the company,love living in the area, and have cemented solid relationships in the local businesscommunity as well as been an active participant in a few industry associations, evenserving as a conference speaker on a couple of occasions. You have even let yourGen-Y staffers run with the whole social media thing to support the companymarketing efforts. It isnt for you personally, but you realize that times are changing,and empowering the right people to help navigate through these changes just seemsto make sense. 15
  • 16. All told, you have some really solid qualifications for the VP role, and if the companyhad one of those progressive HR constructs known as a succession plan, your namewould almost certainly been in the Ready now box for the VP of Marketing role.So as you sit down at your desk to have one last look at your resume before firingoff an email to the CEO to forward your name for consideration for the VP position,you see a company-wide announcement drop in to your inbox.It reads : Please welcome our new VP of Marketing - Bruce Pearl.You think - What? Bruce Pearl? The former University of Tennessee MensBasketball Coach that was fired for lying to NCAA investigators during aninvestigation into the programs recruiting practices? A guy who has been abasketball coach for the last 25 years or so, and whose only knowledge andexperience in the grocery business is that perhaps occasionally he shops in one?Thats our new VP of Marketing?The bit about the Marketing Manager I just made up, but back in the real world theaforementioned Bruce Pearl was indeed just hired by the wholesale grocerydistribution firm H.T. Hackney as their new VP of Marketing.Now I dont profess to know anything about H.T. Hackney, or the climate of theKnoxville area wholesale grocery distribution business, but taken simply at facevalue, the hiring of Pearl into a VP of Marketing role fresh off recent scandal, andperhaps more importantly, an entire professional career that had pretty muchnothing to do with the grocery business or corporate marketing seems quite baffling.Sure, the company gets a short-term publicity pop, everyone in the area knows whoPearl is, and most probably never heard of H.T. Hackney before, but longer term,can or will a hire like Pearl cause more damage than good?I wonder if there really is a H.T. Hackney Marketing manager that wont get his orher shot because of this move. Or maybe there is a slate of great marketing prosthat are looking for their next career move that would have made a super hire forthe position.I guess time will tell, but I do think these kinds of stunt hires, particularly ones wesee that are sport-related, dont seem to work out all that well. 16
  • 17. In Hackneys defense, an article from ESPN announcing the Pearl hire refers to anews release where Hackney officials refer to Pearls marketing and economicbackground as a student at Boston College, as some justification and support forthe hire.In these tough economic times its good to know that a solid education still carriesweight in the job market. Even if, as in Pearls degree, it was earned in 1982. 17
  • 18. Waiting for the Siren’s CallBy Matthew Stollak,Originally Published February 1, 2011These are heady times in our little hamlet called Green Bay. The excitement ispalpable as our football team is playing in Super Bowl XLV. Everywhere you turn,people are dressed in green and gold and conversation inevitably turns to what willhappen in this weekends game.However, some are taking this weekends festivities a bit far. At least one Green Bayorganization is experiencing a significant number of personal and family illness daysbeing submitted for Friday, February 4, 2011, and Monday, February 7, 2011.Amazing how people can anticipate being sick several days in advance.With 85-90% of TVs in this area expected to be turned to the Super Bowl onSunday, it is understandable that absence might be a little higher the day after,especially if the home town Packers emerge victorious.So, how does your organization handle absenteeism on the day after the SuperBowl? Will cases of personal and family illness be subject to verification by a doctor?Confession: I will be attending the game and flying back from Dallas on Monday. So, countme as absent. 18
  • 19. RealityBy Matthew StollakOriginally Published July 18, 2011One of my favorite books about the film is Adventures in the Screen Trade by WilliamGoldman. In it, the screenwriter of such films as Butch Cassidy and The SundanceKid, and The Princess Bride,writes:"The "go" decision is the ultimate importance of the studio executive. They areresponsible for what gets up there on the silver screen. Compounding theirproblem of no job security in the decision-making process is the single mostimportant fact, perhaps, of the entire industry:NOBODY KNOWS ANYTHING."*Every studio except Paramount turned down Raiders of the Lost Ark. The studiowanted Tom Selleck to play Indiana Jones instead of Harrison Ford, but Selleckcouldnt get out of his Magnum P.I. contract.*Universal turned down Star Wars*Columbia passed on E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial.We see the same thing happen in the sports arena. Scouts in the NFL battle overwhether to draft Ryan Leaf or Peyton Manning as the 1st pick. Tom Brady getsdrafted in the 6th round. Michael Jordan was not the first pick in the draft when hecame out of college.Physics has the Law of GravityChemistry has Boyles Law and the Laws of ThermodynamicsEven Economics, the dismal science, has the Law of Supply and DemandBut, does human resources have any laws or universal truths that all abide by? If so,what are they? Or, like their Hollywood and sports counterparts, NOBODYKNOWS ANYTHING. 19
  • 20. Jerry Sloan: Another Great Example of Why ManagerialLongevity MattersBy Lance HaunOriginally Published February 11, 2011An employee of 23 years quits suddenly. What do you do?That’s the question the NBA’s Utah Jazz were faced with when their coach of 23years, Jerry Sloan, decided to resign suddenly during mid-season yesterday: I had a feeling this time was the time to move on,” an emotional Sloan said during a Thursday afternoon news conference. “[Thats] a long time to be in one organization. Again, I’ve been blessed. Today is a new day. When I get this over with, I’ll feel better. My time is up and it’s time to move on.” Longtime assistant Phil Johnson also resigned, surprising even Sloan during their post-game chat Wednesday night with general manager Kevin O’Connor.“I came with him and I’ll leave with him,” the 69-year-old Johnson said Thursday.So, what would you do if you were in charge of the Jazz organization?Longevity in a profession with little of itCoaching is a profession with high turnover. In Sloan’s case, it’s extreme.For example, he was promoted to head coach in 1988. The next longest tenuredhead coach (Gregg Popovich of the San Antonio Spurs) was hired in 1996. The nextin line (Doc Rivers of the Boston Celtics) was hired in 2004. A large majority ofteams have had their coaches for less than five years. That makes Sloan’s 23 years atthe helm even more remarkable. 20
  • 21. The organization was stable with him leading the charge for so long. In anenvironment where coaches are often seen as disposable and could be changed atthe behest of a star player, Utah was often the lone exception to that rule. Hebecame an institution in Salt Lake City.All changed in a momentCoaching changes are becoming more common in mid-season, but coaching changesinitiated by the coach himself? It’s unheard of — especially with Sloan’s longevity inthe position.There has been speculation that an on-court dispute finally pushed him over theedge and into resigning. ESPN reported that Sloan had an argument with DeronWilliams, a key player for the team. Even if it ends up not being the complete story,the timing itself would be an odd coincidence.Suffice to say, it wouldn’t be the first time a high performing star employee drove amanager out of a job. Star employees can demand much from other staff (includingtheir managers) and it can be a difficult dynamic to handle as a manager. However,Sloan has dealt with top talent before and handled it well (the last time he had notone, but two top stars, he went to the NBA Finals two years in a row).Will longevity count?The Utah Jazz have tapped current assistant coach Tyrone Corbin to coach the teamforward. What was unusual about this move is that teams usually place an interimtag on a new head coach, even if they intend to hire him after the season ends. Utahhas been clear that it intends to keep Corbin past the end of this season.It will be interesting how the Jazz recover from this sudden turnover of its mostvisible management position. As I said in a post about longevity: I can’t imagine the actual dollar value of having a high-performing employee who knows the history, struggles, and successes of the organization so well. At a certain point, institutional knowledge becomes so second-nature that a person becomes nearly irreplaceable.And: 21
  • 22. The last thing worth mentioning is if you have a great culture, longevity helps protect that culture from shifting. CEO’s and top execs who stay at a company for long periods of time have proven that year over year.Good luck to Jerry Sloan moving on, but maybe that luck should be reserved for theJazz, who have to try to move on from the loss of a legendary figure in theirorganization. Even as a Portland Trail Blazer fan who rarely finds a reason tocelebrate anything related to the Utah Jazz, I tip my hat to the legacy and exampleSloan has given every coach. 22
  • 23. CHAPTER 2Staffing and Career Considerations 23
  • 24. Albert Pujols and the Art of the Counter-Offer: It All ComesDown to Replacement Cost for the Same Performance...By Kris DunnOriginally Published December 9, 2011Im from Missouri and a St. Louis pro sports fan. In case you missed it, Cardinalgreat (pro baseball) Albert Pujols has left the Cardinals at the age of 32, signing a 10year deal worth $254 Million with the Los Angeles Angels.The reaction out of St. Louis is disappointment, but with a hat tip toward therealization that matching that offer would have been a suckers play.Its a much different reaction than what happened in Cleveland when Lebron Jamesopted to "take his talents to South Beach". The reaction should be different,because the situations are dramatically different.It all comes down to replacement cost, your brand and the profitability line.Lebron James was a mega-star in a superstar-driven league. The Cleveland Cavalierscouldnt replace him if he left. Cleveland as a sports town is a wasteland, a placewhere no free agent wants to dwell. Lose Lebron in Cleveland, youre not gettingback to the top. Ever.The Cardinal franchise is something entirely different. Lots of world championshipsbefore Pujols arrived. A great baseballl town and region where veterans want toplay to bask in fan support all summer long.Baseball is a sport where you need 20 contributors, and no one player can domineerthe action - unlike basketball. 24
  • 25. What would you do if Ed in Accounting told you he wouldnt be back in 2012 unlessyou gave him a 3 year deal giving him a annual 60% bump in comp?Hit the bricks, Ed. Youre replaceable.What about Stan, your top sales pro? Hes not coming back in 2012 unless youdouble his total comp and guarantee it for 4 years. Hes a great revenue producer,careful....Youve got 4 other reps that are near quota. Stans great, but you lose money onthat comp structure. Dont let the door hit you on the butt on the way out, Stan.Countering the star comes down to 3 things: 1. Whats the total comp point where the revenue/performance the star provides goes into the red? 2. How strong is your organization? Can you recruit good talent in to replace the star? Is your brand good enough where others want to work for you? 3. Is there anyone else that can come close to doing what the star does?Cleveland had no other options, thus the total freak out when Lebron left. St. Louisis pretty quiet in comparison the day after Albert took his talents to SoCal.Is your organization like the Cavs or Cardinal nation? 25
  • 26. Treat Your Candidates Well - Because Theyre Going to StickTo You Like Kareem If You Dont...By Kris DunnOriginally Published May 24, 2011I know - youve got lots of candidate volume. Its hard to get your ATS set up with asoulful message to at least give your candidates the solid of knowing where theystand.Its hard to call all the candidates back who at least had a phone interview to tellthem personally where they stand. I know I ebb and flow in my ability to do this, soyou surely do as well.We need to do better. Need motivation? Then consider this - its not only theright thing to do, its self-preservation. Those candidates you are failing tocommunicate with - especially the mid-level ones and up - are going to rememberyour lack of communication. Theyll see it not as negative, theyll see it as neutral.Need a cautionary tale? Consider the case of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, one of thegreatest basketball players of all time. He was great, but was unwilling tocommunicate. Now the world remembers and rather than him being celebrated ashe grows old, hes a bit of an outcast. More from LA Observed: "In an interview with The Sporting News, Abdul-Jabbar went public with his feelings of being "highly offended" by the way the Lakers treat the star of five of L.A.s championship years — and the NBAs all-time leading scorer. His number 33 is up on the wall, of course, but he feels "slighted" that the team erected statues to Chick Hearn and Jerry West and has not made firm plans for a statue of him outside Staples Center. He told the L.A. Times that it goes beyond the statue to include the Lakers handling of him as a special 26
  • 27. coach and a big pay cut. "The relationship is fractured," he says. "I don’t expect my relationship with the team to continue beyond this point." He amplified on Twitter, saying the "Lakers have given me the absolute minimum of respect" and "the status was just the las straw."Heres where it gets interesting. Kareem went public with his displeasure on thefact no statue of him is forthcoming, and the general public (remember - yourcandidates) remembers how they were treated. Look at this letter to the editor inLA: "Kareem, dont worry, youll get over the way the Lakers treated you in five years or so. Thats about how long it took for my 10-year-old daughter to get over the way you treated her 25 years ago when she asked you for an autograph. Karma."That was one of many letters. It seems that fans didnt react well to a surly,uncommunicative star. Just like candidates dont react well to your brand notcommunicating where they stand.Even someone like me has a Kareem story. The year was 1994. Im an assistantcoach at UAB under Gene Bartow and we were playing UC-Santa Barbara on anESPN feature called "Big Monday" (Look it up, Kids). Kareem was part of thebroadcast crew for the game and was at the shoot-around. Coach Bartow wentover to talk to him, and because hes Coach Bartow, Kareem was at least neutral inhis interaction. Then Bartow did what normal people do - he called over hisassistants - including me - to meet the great Kareem. Kareem was sitting on pressrow and, I kid you not, did not make eye contact or acknowledge us as Bartowintroduced each of us to him.Of course, hes Kareem and Im nobody.Of course, youve got the jobs and theyre just one of ten thousand candidates.Nobodies. You dont have time.Neither did Kareem - for anyone. Now, people remember. No statue for you,Kareem. No NBA coaching job for you, Kareem. You were one of the 5 bestplayers of all time. How surly and unapproachable must you have been (and perhapsstill are) for you to be on the outside looking in at this point in your life?The same thing can and will happen to your employment brand. 27
  • 28. Communicate early and often with candidates this week. They remember, just likeLaker fans related to Kareem. 28
  • 29. Legalities? Heres How References Work in the Real World....By Kris DunnOriginally Published April 7, 2011Want to know why I write about sports a lot on an HR blog? Because its the mosttransparent place in the world for talent decisions of all types - by far.Example: Lots of HR pros wring their hands about whether a manager can provideany negative information on a reference. They also wring their hands aboutproviding a positive reference that doesnt get into the negative. To control all thebad stuff, many HR pros tell their people that they can only do name, title and datesof employment.Meanwhile, your managers are blasting away on people they dont like - just play thegame and dont ask them for an official reference. Just say, "what did you thinkabout working with XXXX?", or my backup favorite, "Can you give me a personal,not professional reference?"Case in point: The recent reference it appears Maryland hoops coach, GaryWilliams, gave multiple candidates on NC State Athletic Director Debbie Yow. Thetwo used to work together at Maryland (Yow was the boss) and across time, Yowwasnt happy with the often profane Williams. So she started trying to raise moneyamong prominent boosters to buy him out. I actually had drinks with a booster whotold me the backstabbing story about 6 months ago.Williams, like your managers, has a long memory. Yow was recently in the marketto hire a new hoops coach at NC State. Candidates reportedly called Williams forthe 411. More from the World Wide Leader: "The frosty relationship between North Carolina State athletic director Debbie Yow and Marylands Gary Williams took a nasty turn during the introduction of the Wolfpacks new mens basketball coach. Yow -- who spent 16 years as Marylands athletic director -- called out the Terrapins coach, who won the 2002 NCAA championship working under her, of interfering with the search. It happened during North Carolina States news conference introducing Mark Gottfried, who replaced Sidney Lowe. Yow responded to a reporters question to Gottfried about whether she had a reputation of being difficult to work with. "I dont have a reputation across all mens basketball of being difficult to work with," she said Tuesday. "I have a reputation of not getting along with Gary Williams, who has tried to sabotage the search. Come on, we all know that. OK, so whatever. 29
  • 30. "Its not a reputation. Its Gary Williams out there doing his thing. Whatever."Boom. Thats why I use sports. Where else are you going to get that type of infoon reference checking gone horribly wrong? Check out the video below for thevenom. Also, its an onboarding issue as well. What can Mark Gottfried (the newcoach) be thinking as his boss publicly tries to hurt someones career in such a directfashion?PS - your managers are giving mind-blowing opinions on references every day. Someone is doing it right now...Fortunately, managers in the private sector dont have access to a camera and mediaoutlets to document their feelings on how theyve been wronged (or wrongedothers).Thank whatever God you pray to for that. 30
  • 31. Grading Talent the Big Tuna WayBy Steve BoeseOriginally Published April 27, 2011Last night ESPN ran an interesting behind-the-scenes look at how Americanprofessional teams typically evaluate talent, with special guest former NationalFootball League executive and head coach Bill Big Tuna Parcells. The context of theshow was the leagues upcoming college player draft, the annual exercise where theleagues teams assess, grade, and ultimately select from 5-10 players each to re-supply the talent on their teams. It is a massive, high-stakes, expensive, and criticallyimportant recruiting, assessment, and alignment exercise.Parcells resume and achievements as a successful coach, and talent evaluator aresolid - he served in very senior roles at several NFL organizations, winning twoSuper Bowl Championships as the Head Coach of the New York Football Giants.In the show Parcells shared some of the talent selection criteria and thoughtprocesses that organizations that he was a member of, and in general, most otherteams tend to follow when making player selections in the leagues annual collegeplayer draft. Some of the criteria and processes were fairly obvious, and would applygenerally to any talent selection or recruiting context, (players who had beenkicked off their college team for disciplinary reasons should be avoided), butsome of the other concepts Parcells discussed perhaps are not so apparent to casualobservers, and just might have some additional applicability to more conventionaltalent selection processes.Here are three Talent Evaluation ideas straight from the Big Tuna:1. Understand the predictors of success (some are not so obvious)In NFL football every team measures and grades the basic and easily understoodphysical characteristics of potential draftees, (height, weight, strength, speed), butduring the show Parcells mentioned a few not-so-obvious keys he assesses, (e.g. forthe position of cornerback, length of the players arms). For potential quarterback 31
  • 32. prospects, Parcells insisted he only wanted players that actually graduated fromcollege, as he felt it demonstrated intelligence, and more importantly commitment.The larger point is every competitor has access to the same talent pool, the basicand obvious assessment criteria are widely known and universally adopted, so findingthe less clear and more predictive evaluation criteria that other teams may not havediscovered is one of the ways to claim some advantage and make better selectiondecisions than the competition.2. Make sure everyone involved in Talent selection understands thesepredictorsOnce the criteria is established, and a process to collect and assess these criteriadeveloped, Parcells emphasized the critical need for everyone involved in the talentselection process to understand the criteria, and consistently grade to the criteria.From scouts, to assistant coaches, to even the team owner, the definition of what atop candidate looks like has to be understood by everyone. There are so manyplayers to assess, that no one member of the organization can possibly know everycandidate, so the selection process becomes a team effort, and the talent selectionteam has to have that common ground for any chance of success. Talent is talkedabout in the common language of the teams assessment ratings, and noconversation about talent fails to reference these assessments.3. Know yourselfParcells described a common acronym used in football draft processes, NFU, whichmeans Not For Us. This term is assigned to players that the strict adherence topositional capability assessments or past production in the college game mightindicate are good candidates and should be considered in the selection process. Butthese NFL players have raised some concern off the field, of their attitude, style,work ethic somehow will not be a cultural match to what the organization is lookingfor. Parcells strongly advises teams to know themselves, know the style they want toplay, the kinds of mental makeups that players need to have to fit on the team, andto avoid the temptation of selecting players with fantastic physical skills that mightnot fit otherwise. These kinds of gambles rarely work out, and they are the onesthat get coaches and talent evaluators fired.But in the end, despite incredibly detailed and complex processes for physicalmeasurement, tests of intelligence, and well-documented and easily reviewed pastperformance in college football, selecting players for NFL teams is still and imperfectprocess. So-called cant miss top prospects often fail to live up to expectations,while others deemed marginal prospects once vetted by the traditional processesend up as star players.Having a system and some ground rules to follow, to find ways to uncoverpredictors your competition may have missed, and perhaps most importantly a deepand confident organizational self-awareness are a few ways our pal the Big Tuna 32
  • 33. offered up to try and land more Peyton Mannings and less Ryan Leafs (inside footballreference, Google it).Big Tickets and High StakesBy Steve BoeseOriginally Published March 10, 2011So you have to pull the trigger on the big hire. The kind of C-level, (or close),critical, visible, and organization-shaping call that can make or break your career as atalent pro at the firm, and may, if you swing and miss, cause a few others to go downwith you. This is the big show, and the slate of potential candidates is impressive anddeep. On paper, they all have the necessary tools, great experience with a trackrecord of success. Similar and superior education and training, and the all have beencoached to have the ‘right’ answers to your interview questions. Seemingly, nomatter which candidate you choose, you can’t go wrong. But you get paid the bigbucks to choose the best, not just narrow the field to three or four. And somethingtells you that the difference between the best choice and the worst is potentiallyhuge. Believe me, in a couple of years, everyone will know if you made the rightcall.In true FOT fashion, this kind of selection conundrum reminds me of thesituations that face talent selection executives at professional sports teams. How doteams make the distinction on draft day among competing prospects? Prospects thatoften have remarkably similar bodies of work to assess, whose physical traits areconsistent with past successful players, and who come prepared and ready for yourinterviews, coached and advised well by a retinue of agents and business managers.Recently, a friend of FOT shared with me this story about the high-stakes selectionprocess at one NFL team, (some small details modified to protect the identity of theinvolved parties).A few years ago, I sat next to the head of player personnel for an NFL team on a planefrom New York to Dallas, just about a week before the NFL draft.We struck up aconversation about how he makes his picks. (He had been in charge of player personnel forthe team for over 10 years, a stretch of time where the team had enjoyed considerablymore success than most others). Prior to taking the job in the NFL, he had been a majorcollege head coach at two different and winning programs. Simply put, he knew football. 33
  • 34. We got to talking about how he makes hiring decisions, i.e. what players to draft and to tryand acquire in free agency. It was a great conversation – one that I will long remember.He mentioned that each year he gets to decide which 20 year old his owner writes a $20Mcheck to, and the owners get very pissed if he gets it wrong, and they don’t suit up on gameday in the NFL, and become high-performing contributors to the team. With those kind ofstakes, getting these high draft picks right often makes the difference between a consistentwinner and a team that struggles.He told me what he does to better assess these young players who all have the physicaltools to succeed. To get more insight into the mental makeup and character of theprospects, he focused on the following: 1. A personality test- one that the military uses- and he swears by it. He did not say which test specifically, but the idea of using assessments was clearly important to his selection process. 2. On college visits, he is not assessing athletic ability- they all have it, but rather he talks to the trainers in the locker room about what the kid is like after a loss, he talks to the teachers about what time they show up for class the day after a game, and what type of student they are and how they relate to other class members (all character questions). 3. Since many of these prospects came from, to put it nicely, potentially problematic backgrounds, (run-ins with the law, less than stellar behavior in college, some drug use history), really finding out as much as you can about the character and non- measurable aspects of their make-up was essential in their evaluation process.I also asked him what pick he was personally proud of, and he told me about his first draftwith his current team, and he went on and on about [player name redacted], aquarterback, and how he felt I should keep my eye on him, and that his character was rocksolid. As it turned out, the player in question has had an uneven career, with on-fieldperformance a disappointment, and eventually was released from the team, to be pickedup by another team in a back-up role.What is instructive about this story to me is that talent selection is talent selection –whether it is for the most junior role in your office, or for a NFL first-round draftpick set to become an instant millionaire. Character and personality are importantno matter the role, and digging deeper to get a truer sense of these character andpersonality traits can mean the difference in identifying that all star among a similarlooking and seeming slate of candidates.But even after all this, after these assessments, and examinations, and tracking downevery cashier a candidate ever bought a Slurpee from to see if he was a nice guy, 34
  • 35. sometimes, maybe too often, we make the wrong call. It isn’t always our fault ofcourse. Even ‘can’t miss’ candidates sometimes do indeed, miss. 35
  • 36. Do You Remember What Unemployment Looks Like?By Tim SackettOriginally Published November 21, 2011I was reading a short interview recently in ESPN the Magazine about Nascar up-and-comer Brad Keselowski, who is having a great year on the track. The article wasreally around Brad’s advice/opinion on why he is having success and one point stoodout to me over everything else. He said: “I worry about job security every day. If you ain’t worried about losing your job, you can’t drive at the right level. Even after winning at Pocono on August 7th, I remember thinking, at least this buys me a little more time. When the day comes that I’m not afraid of getting fired, I’ll lost my edge.”Nothing like professional sports to bring out performance anxiety! The fact isprofessional sports like Nascar, golf, tennis, etc., is the ultimate pay for performancemodel. For the most part, professionals in those type of individual sports only getpaid if they perform well, and only keep getting paid if they continue to perform.It’s like the commission sales person – you either sell, or your kids don’t eat thismonth. Most people hate living and working under this pressure – but some thriveand Brad gives you a little insight to how they do it. Don’t ever get comfortable.Don’t ever stop feeling what it feels like to not have a job. Because when you do,you might as well start looking for a new job at that very moment.I love this! This is an insight to one’s soul. It sucks to be unemployed, especially isyou’ve worked for a long time. To get up in the morning and not have some placeto go is very unsettling, to say the least. But as HR Pros, how many times do we seepeople who have gotten to “comfortable” – who have forgotten what it feels like tobe unemployed? Maybe even you are at this point right now! This is a gift that wecan deliver to our employees. To sit down and have the “looks-like-you’re-really-comfortable-right-now” conversation. It’s not a threat, it’s a developmentalconversation around – “what else” – what else could you be doing that you’re not, 36
  • 37. what else is out there for you to accomplish and how can I help you get there, whatelse do you need to do to ensure you keep this job?To often we have these types of conversations with employees who are struggling,instead of with those who are coasting. If we had more of these conversations withour coasters, we would probably have very few struggling conversations – andbelieve me the coaster conversation is much easier to have – because it’s being hadwith positive intent.So, what can you do today? Think about unemployment – in fact – think about itevery freaking day. About what it feels like, about what it will do to your life, abouthow you can stop it – because you can – don’t believe the hype that says you don’thave control – it doesn’t matter – Mr. Corporation will just lay you off. Thosepeople who are pushing each day for better performance, who don’t settle, whodon’t get comfortable – they aren’t getting laid off. Unemployment sucks –remember that! 37
  • 38. Selections, Assessment, and the MLBBy Tim SackettOriginally Published April 6, 2011Major League Baseball is back this week, which means I now have something to doeach night until November! Yeah me, I’m winning!More importantly the MLB gives us some great things to write about throughout theseason. I don’t know of a sport where more there is more of a correlation to HRthan Major League Baseball. Think about what the MLB does as compared to ourdaily jobs as HR Pros across the country:  No one does more analysis and assessments before hiring (drafting) than the MLB  No one has a larger succession plan in place than the MLB (minor leagues)  Pay for Performance compensation (Ok, I’ll give you a pitcher who has a 9-13 record and a 5.79 ERA should not get paid $5.6M per year – but we all have our market)  Constant employee motivation and leadership development – Employee Relations Issue (hitters in an 0 – 21 slump at the plate, Manager calls him out in the newspaper, etc.)You get the picture – the MLB is like one giant HR laboratory – but with anunending budget – and a heck of lot more Dominicans than your average U.S.workplace.The one thing I wonder is how long we (HR/Talent Pros) would have our job – if wehad the same success rates in selection as our MLB counterparts?There are up to 50 rounds each year in the Major League draft – and a MLB teamcan sign as many Free Agents (those who didn’t get drafted or no longer have rightsheld by another team) as they want. In the end the failure rate of selection isastronomically high. From a Sports Illustrated article in 2010: 38
  • 39. …major league teams selected 436 high school players after the 13th round. Only nine of those kids signed a contract that year and eventually made it to the big leagues — a 98 percent failure rate. After Round 26, teams selected 213 high school players, only one of whom, Victor Diaz, an outfielder who appeared in 147 games for the Mets and Rangers, played even a day in the big leagues — a 99.5 percent failure rate…Can you imagine a 99.5% failure rate in hiring in your organization! You would haveyour job for about 26 minutes! You think you have a hard time assessing talent, thefolks working for MLB teams, it would seem, could use some help from some HRPros and assessment vendors in revamping their selection process, becausesomething isn’t working right – and you thought the athletes weren’t heldaccountable!There are good lessons to learn from their failure of MLB’s selection science (orshould I say lack of selection science):1. Don’t get caught up in the hype. What happens when 13 old guys standoutside the fence watching some 17 year old kid throwing 91 mph fastballs – they alllose their minds – HR folks aren’t much different – have you been to a collegecareer fair for hard to find grads! Just because they have 1 skill doesn’t make them astar, and even if they have more, they might not be the fit for your “team”.2. Past Performance Doesn’t Always Predict Future Performance. Oh,that one stings a bit. It’s definitely one major criteria to look at, but it doesn’talways ring true – many factors come into play – culture of previous organization,former leadership, position, industry, etc.3. Don’t overlook small town, small school kids. It’s easy to pick up greatbusiness hires from Harvard – but what about one from Northern Iowa? Not everykid who goes to an Ivy League school is going to be great, and not every kid going toB and C business schools are idiots. 39
  • 40. CHAPTER 3Training and Development 40
  • 41. The Wisdom of Jeff Van Gundy – Part VBy Steve BoeseOriginally Published May 4, 2011The sage was at it again the other night during the Oklahoma City - Memphis NBAplayoff game.In case you dont know what I am referring to, former NBA head coach, and currentTV analyst Jeff Van Gundy (JVG) dropped another bit of simple, yet essentialknowledge about basketball that I think is also directly applicable to the workplace,management, and organizational dynamics.During the game Oklahoma City forward Nick Collison made a smart play ondefense to cause Memphis to lose the ball, hustled to the offensive end of the floor,and then positioned himself properly to make a scoring move when the ball wasrotated to him in the flow of the offensive play. It was a brief series of actions thatwere not necessarily terribly athletic or skilled or even that remarkable, but as akind of orchestrated series did add up to an excellent and winning (apologies Chas.Sheen) play.Immediately after Collison, who is not a starting or star player on the team,completed the play, JVG observed that winning teams need guys like Collison,players that may not have all the physical skills of the top players on the team, buthave found ways to contribute using capabilities and attributes that are mostlychoices and not simply genetic gifts.The money line from JVG: Guys like Collison, guys that grind, are essential. The best ones are coachable, accountable, and professional. And you can win with guys like that.Coachable - willing to accept suggestions, able to make adjustments in style of playto fit the team goals, and cognizant that what may have worked in the past (incollege, or on former pro team), might not be the desired behavior on the currentteam. 41
  • 42. Accountable - understands the role, knows how the role impacts and contributesto the success of the team, makes the effort to put himself in the right situations,and simply does his job fully knowing the rest of the team depends on him to meethis objectives. And if other guys on the team, maybe the star players, are having anoff night, then he knows when to try and give a little more than normally needed.Professional - in the narrow sense, we are all professional, i.e. we are paid toperform. But what JVG really meant was a level of personal integrity, pride, anddedication to himself as a player, to his teammates, and to the supporters of theteam. This means showing up and giving your best effort even when times are tough,when the team is down, or when you are not meeting your personal objectives. Itmeans being proud of your contribution in every game, and even every practice. Itmeans setting an example for others to follow, even if you dont hold a formal titleor leadership role.Coachable, accountable, professional. All important. All under your controlevery day. Super talented people in any game or industry or field can get away withonly one or two of these, and can still make incredible contributions to theorganization. But if you are like most people, and are not in that rare category ofnaturally talented superstars, just focusing on being coachable, accountable andprofessional will go a long way in determining your success in any role.And stacking your team, no matter what the game, with those kinds of players willmake you look pretty smart as a leader as well.And that my friends, is the Wisdom of Jeff Van Gundy. 42
  • 43. If “Everyone” is Responsible, is Anyone Responsible?By Steve BoeseOriginally Published April 21, 2011Hiring decisions are often lengthy, arduous, complex undertakings, where even thebest, top-performing organizations can only hope to achieve more ‘wins’ thanlosses’. Think about it. What percentage of your organization’s hires in the last twoyears would you, (or more importantly, your managers), classify as quality hires?About half? More? Do you even know?Hiring is hard, while simultaneously being critically important to all organizations. Ifthis weren’t the case, we would not have a multi-billion dollar industry surroundingand supporting the hiring process from all angles, (job boards, ATS systems,executive recruiters, RPOs, staffing firms, career coaches, resume writers, and onand on…), and quite honestly myself and the fine team of professionals here atFistful of Talent who serve up these bits of wisdom and nonsense insight each daywould not have all that much to write about.While hiring is admittedly hard, so too is the opposite point on the employee lifecycle, separation. Knowing when to end the employment relationship, either by theemployer acting unilaterally, (You’re fired! Clean out your locker!), or by theemployee seeking a change, (admittedly often easier and cleaner), can be as complexand difficult as the mutual agreement and meeting of the minds needed to bringsomeone on board in the first place.But while many separation decisions can and do seem pretty straightforward andsimple, particularly ones involving employee termination for cause, sometimes eventhe most seemingly obvious and straighforward cases of ineffective management,poor decision making, lack of critical perspective, and lack of application of basiccommon sense, cases that can occasionally result in tragic outcomes, don’t alwaysresult in the kinds of punitive and decisive actions that seem to be so clearlywarranted.On October 27, 2010 a student at Notre Dame, Declan Sullivan, was tragically killedwhen the 40-foot hydraulic lift he was standing on while filming the school’s footballteam practice was toppled by what was estimated to be a 53 mph wind gust.Immediately after the accident, Sullivan’s death, while certainly a shock and a tragedy,seemed to call out for blame to be assigned. Why was the team conducting practiceoutside in such poor conditions, when an indoor facility was available? And why wasa student, Sullivan, on a lift 40 feet in the air on such a windy, sort of frightening day?Certainly someone messed up. Someone made a terrible decision that ended upwith the worst possible effect. Someone has to take the blame, at a minimum beterminated from their employment? 43
  • 44. Right?Notre Dame concluded its internal investigation of the tragedy this week, with noone involved in the incident being placed at fault or punished. The reasoning behindthe absence of discipline? Here’s the quote from Notre Dame President, the Rev.John Jenkins:“We did not find any individual who disregarded safety or wasindifferent to safety. Consequently, there was not any individualdiscipline,” Jenkins said. “Our conclusion is that it’s a collectiveresponsibility that must be dealt with collectively as we move forward.”So the take is essentially – ‘We are all responsible. We all conspired to make aseries of bad, ill-informed, and essentially idiotic decisions, that tragically led toDeclan Sullivan’s death.’None of us were on the field that day. We can’t know for sure how scary it musthave been on top of that lift as the winds were howling. Declan himself seemed toknow however. He apparently tweeted that day - “Gusts of wind up to 60 mphtoday will be fun at work… I guess I’ve lived long enough.”It was scary up there. It was dangerous. It should have been apparent to someonein a position of responsibility to get Declan off of that lift. The Athletic Director, theHead Coach, whomever Declan directly reported to that day. Someone. But sinceNotre Dame determined it really wasn’t any one’s specific job or task to monitorwind speed once practice started, thus blame and punishment could not bereasonably assigned.So the investigation has concluded. Declan is never coming back, and while NotreDame has now changed and implemented procedures to ensure this type of accidentnever happens again, still everyone remains in their jobs, and while they certainly cannever forget the tragedy, the impact and meaning will naturally fade over time.I’ll close with a question for all the organizational leaders and talent professionalsreading this piece - ‘If ‘everyone’ is responsible, is ‘anyone’ responsible?’ 44
  • 45. Are You A Coach in HR?By Tim SackettOriginally Published October 10, 2011I read an article recently in The New Yorker, probably the best article I’ve read allyear, on the importance of “Coaching” by Atul Gawande. Atul is a writer and asurgeon, smart and creative – I should hate him, but he’s so freaking brilliant! Fromthe article: The concept of a coach is slippery. Coaches are not teachers, but they teach. They’re not your boss—in professional tennis, golf, and skating, the athlete hires and fires the coach—but they can be bossy. They don’t even have to be good at the sport. The famous Olympic gymnastics coach Bela Karolyi couldn’t do a split if his life depended on it. Mainly, they observe, they judge, and they guide.As an HR Pro, I’ve always believed that HR has the ability to act as “coaches” acrossall vestiges of our organizations. The problem we run into is this – “You can’t coachme! You don’t know the first thing about Marketing, or Operations, orAccounting.” You’re right, good thing I’m not “teaching” you that! That’s why wehired you. Having a coaching culture in your organization starts during the selectionprocess – are you hiring people who are open to being coached?More from The New Yorker – Good coaches know how to break down performance into its critical individual components. In sports, coaches focus on mechanics, conditioning, and strategy, and have ways to break each of those down, in turn. The U.C.L.A. basketball coach John Wooden, at the first squad meeting each season, even had his players practice putting their socks on. He demonstrated just how to do it: he carefully rolled each sock over his toes, up his foot, around the heel, and pulled it up snug, then went back to his toes and smoothed out the material along the sock’s length, making sure there were no wrinkles or creases. He had two purposes in doing this. First, wrinkles cause blisters. Blisters cost games. Second, he wanted his players to learn how crucial seemingly trivial details could 45
  • 46. be. “Details create success” was the creed of a coach who won ten N.C.A.A. men’s basketball championships.I think this is critical in working with adult professionals. Coaches aren’t trying to“teach” them new concepts, but helping them self-analyze and make improvementsto what they already do well. We/HR can make our workforces better – not byfocusing on weaknesses/opportunity areas – which we spend way too much time on– but by making our employees’ strengths even stronger. Coaching has become a fad in recent years. There are leadership coaches, executive coaches, life coaches, and college-application coaches. Search the Internet, and you’ll find that there’s even Twitter coaching. Self-improvement has always found a ready market, and most of what’s on offer is simply one-on-one instruction to get amateurs through the essentials. It’s teaching with a trendier name. Coaching aimed at improving the performance of people who are already professionals is less usual.I’m talking about turning HR into “Life” coaches or “Executive” coaches – thosetypes of “coaches” are way different – and fall more into the “therapists” categories– than what I see HR acting as “professional” coaches. Professional coaches workalongside their Pros – day-to-day – see them in action, and work with them tospecifically improve on those things that impact the business. They don’t care thatyou’re not “feeling” as “challenged” as you once were, and need to find yourself.I think the biggest struggle HR Pros will have in a role as “coach” – our ability tounderstand most employees have low self-awareness (including ourselves!). Being agreat coach is measured on your ability to get someone to see something inthemselves, they don’t already see, and make them truly believe it. If we can getthere in our organizations – oh boy – watch out! 46
  • 47. 6 Ways LeBron James is Great at Team BuildingBy Tim SackettOriginally Published May 13, 2011I had to write an article about great team building and LeBron James – basicallybecause Kris Dunn (The HR Capitalist and Chief FOT’er) hates how LeBron tookhis talents to South Beach – and now he’s on the verge of winning his first NBAChampionship. Fast Company’s latest edition has an article titled: What LeBronJames And The Miami Heat Teach Us About Teamwork that takes 6 shots atwhy LeBron and his Miami Heat team did a great job a building a championshipcontender. The 6 Team Building principles from the Fast Company article: 1. Start With Sacrifice. LeBron and Bosh both left millions of dollars on the table to go to Miami to play with Dwayne Wade. Dwayne Wade gave up being the highest paid player on “his” team. All 3 wanted to win championships and were willing to make some sacrifices to make it happen. 2. The Rule of Many. It takes more than just 3 stars to make an NBA team – or at least an NBA winning team. With the big 3 together, many other veterans were willing to take less money to join the team, giving the Miami Heat the most experienced roster in the NBA in total NBA years of playing experience. All 3 stars had connections they used to get these players to join, most notably using prior relationships to get these veterans to join their quest. 3. Adversity is an Asset. “Nothing brings a team together than a common adversary.” The Miami Heat’s adversary? Well everyone not associated with the Miami Heat! When Miami started this season they were suppose to walk through everyone, yet, they struggled and people loved that they struggled. This adversity worked to pull a team together and work even harder to reach their potential. 47
  • 48. 4. When the Going gets Tough, Turn to one Another. Say what you want about the Big 3 in Miami, then one thing you’ll be hard press to say is that they don’t support each other. When the whole world was asking “who’s team is this?” they said “ours”; when the whole world asked “who’s going to take the last shot in tight game?” They said, “whoever is open”. Great teams understand the value to chemistry and believing in each other. 5. Manage From Inside-Out. The easiest thing the Miami Heat could have done this year, when they were struggling early, would have been to fire their coach and replace him with Miami Heat President and Hall of Fame coach, Pat Riley. But, they didn’t. Instead Riley mentored and worked with Heat coach, Eric Spolestra, helping him understand how you lead a roster filled with superstars. 6. Beware of the Blame Game. Team chemistry is everything. History of littered with the most talented teams that didn’t reach their potential, and with teams that lacked talent, but won championships, all because of Chemistry. Don’t underestimate this when putting a team together in your organization – great chemistry with average talent, will almost always beat great talent that lacks chemistry.There are a ton of Miami/LeBron haters out there – but when you look at what thatgroup of players and the organization has done to build a team – it seems like theyare on the right track to be a championship level team. 48
  • 49. CHAPTER 4Performance and Talent Management 49
  • 50. Want Performance? Get Everyone Uncomfortable with aMock Workplace Draft…By Kris DunnOriginally Published February 2, 2011Its late winter here in the Southeast, so that means only one thing if youre a dadwith active sons who play sports...Its draft time in Little League baseball...Draft time!! The meat market goes all the way down to the 7 year olds these days,meaning you cant just get a team of kids together and play. You have to sign up forthe local league, go through evaluations, then teams are drafted. Thats right for allyou non-kid or non-sport families, theres a draft. From pick #1 to pick #150, itgoes down in Darwinian fashion.If youre a coach, that means you evaluate way too much. So much so, that youbegin to see talent scout profiles seep in to the proceedings around you, includingthe following: -Mr.Star Chaser: This coach picks the highest kid on the board (ranked according to evaluation scores) regardless of any other factor. Too bad theres no trades after Little League drafts, because this stockpiler could do some deals. -Mr. Retails For Suckers: Wont pick the next kid on the board. Too smart, has the master plan, and the conventional wisdom wont do. Hes finding value elsewhere according to his own personal system. -Mr. Deep Background: Makes dozens of calls to folks who know each 7 year old. I heard Jimmy watches way too much iCarly too. Id pass on Jimmy as a result. -Mr. Zero Sum Game/One-Up: Thinks he knows who you want, so hell be attempting to "one-up" you all the way through the draft. 50
  • 51. -Stat Boy: Kept stats on all teams the entire last season. Has "Access" database to prove it... -The Minister of Misinformation: Did you hear Johnny was thinking about pulling out of baseball to play Lacrosse? Tread carefully if youre planing on picking him... <sucker>The only things missing from the proceedings? A website with rumors and MelKiper mocking my historically weak drafts across the years. Apparently my profile,focused on drafting for long last names I think look cool on the back of baseballjerseys, is as suspect as the ones above.Which begs the question - Can you imagine if you held a similar draft to restructureworkplace teams doing similar work? Lets say you had a draft to restructure aninside sales force/financial brokers/name the function of 100 people across 10 teamsand bonus money was on the line. My guess is youd see all the same profilesemerge as you started to evaluate the talent pool and plot draft strategy.Of course, at the end of the day, the administrative assistant, who drafted based onhow much karma each last name had, would do as good as you. Because theres noaccounting for intangibles, personal baggage and team chemistry in the draft order(you wouldnt have the time or technology to capture those things), its more of acrap shoot than youd like it to be.Me? I draft parents when it comes to Little League. Its just easier that way. 51
  • 52. Kris Dunn Just Scored A 47 on the Wonderlic Test!!By Kris DunnOriginally Published March 3, 2011Not really, but wouldnt it be cool if that were the case? 47 out of 50! Youd knowI was really, really smart. Savant-like really.Of course, youd have no clue whether I could actually perform any job in yourorganization to a satisfactory level...For those of you who dont know, the Wonderlic is a cognitive ability test, and itsalways heavily publicized this time of year due to its use at the NFL combine. GregMcElroy scored a 48 and is really smart. Vince Young scored a 6 and we wonderwhy he struggles.Overreactions ensue. Overreacting to any single measurement when evaluatingtalent is a suckers play.Id say McElroys success in the NFL will have more to do with whether he has thearm stregth to throw a 20 yard out against NFL cornerbacks. Vince Young seems tohave struggled in the NFL due to emotional reactions and meltdowns when thingsgo wrong.Both unrelated to the Wonderlic. Dont fall in love or get divorced from talent overone metric.Your momma told you to shop around. Good advice when viewing talent from theperspective of a single measurement. 52
  • 53. #FACT: Great Talent Runs Freaking Hot – Deal With ItBy Kris DunnOriginally Published March 14, 2011Heres the big thought for a Monday: If you really want to save your business,sometimes youre going to have to hire talent that comes with some baggage.When you really need a change agent, sometimes they come with.... issues...Translation: Great talent runs hot. There are going to be some broken eggs. Please put on your helmet, because while theyre engaged in saving your #$$, thesame passion that drives them to run your business makes them make incrediblypoor decisions elsewhere.Case in point. USC basketball coach Kevin ONeill. ONeill was brought in afterUSC went through the NCAA wringer with the OJ Mayo/Tim Floyd issues. USCneeded a change agent and a big talent to prevent them from falling into obscurity. They hired ONeill.He runs hot and stuff happens as a result. Heres more on what happened at thePac-10 Conference Tourney last weekend from pointguardu: "Kevin ONeill went on a drunken tirade along with his wife after beating Cal yesterday. In fact, he didnt even change his suit and went straight to the JW Marriott lobby bar. ONeill and his wife were in a hotel lobby of the JW Marriott and visibly intoxicated when they exchanged words with a group of Arizona fans. ONeill reportedly threatened the fan that USC was going to “beat the hell out of Arizona.” Words were exchanged and our sources say that ONeills wife struck one of the Arizona fans. ONeill and his wife were escorted out of the hotel, and Arizona fans were left wondering what just happened. 53
  • 54. The fan was UA booster Paul Weitman and they ran into each other at the elevators. KO believes Weitman is responsible for his firing at the UA (ONeill used to coach at Arizona) and obviously still holds a heavy grudge. Mind you Weitman is 70+ years old. Apparently KOs wife, Roberta, started the melee by roughing up Wetiman with one of her rings. KO then got involved and when hotel security intervened the things got even uglier."ONeill is known as a great coach. Hes also known to be a hot head. See thepicture above for all you need to know about great talent running hot. Thats apicture at the hotel before the incident. Check out the drink. Check out theposition of the shirt related to the suit belt line.Great talent runs hot. If your business has to be saved, what type of downside riskare you willing to take?That, my friends, is the question. 54
  • 55. High Performing Average Talent: Don’t Screw ThemBy Kris DunnOriginally Published May 20, 2011Two words: Nick Collison.Who is Nick Collison? Collison is a backup forward for the Oklahoma CityThunder who averages 5 points per game. Even if youre not a basketball fan, youmight recognize the Thunder since its the franchise that currently showcases NBAsuperstar Kevin Durant (who I like to call the "other" KD).Why are we talking about Nick Collison? Last night the Thunder were playing theDallas Mavericks in Dallas in the Western Conference Finals of the NBA Playoffs.The game was back and forth, and like most basketball teams, theres a point in thegame when both teams have good portions of their bench in the game to rest thestarters (read: the stars).That time came and went in the 4th quarter of the game. Dallas brought back theirstars. The Thunder were playing well, so Thunder coach Scott Brooks stayed withhis bench in the game against the Dallas starters.A funny thing happened - the scrubs made a run and went up by 10 with 4 minutesto go. The announcers were looking down the sidelines, expecting the Thunderstarters to check into the game to finish it out.Brooks stayed with the scrubs. They built the 10 point lead, it was theirs to finish.Dallas made a run and cut it to six with 2 minutes left. Scrub and longtime NBArole player Nick Collison found himself with the ball and a clear path to the basket.He was fouled hard.Nick goes to the free throw line. Misses both, Dallas comes down and scores,cutting the lead to 4."You gotta come back with the starters", the announcers chirp.Brooks stays with the scrubs. 55
  • 56. Oklahoma City has the ball back on the other end. A guard is trapped off a pick androll, and the pass goes to - you guessed it- Nick Collison. He didnt miss a beat,driving and getting fouled. Thunder up 4, Collison bricked the last two and is left inthe game at closing time. The Dallas arena is going crazy. He just bricked two, hesgoing to do it again and the Mavericks are going to get a win! Scott Brooks is goingto lose his job over this one! My god, its the playoffs! What is he doing?Nick Collison doesnt flinch. He drops two free throws to put the lead back to 6,then makes a great defensive play on the other end to basically put the game out ofreach.Nick. Freaking. Collison. Stars on the bench. Nick and fellow bench friends on thefloor. You got us the lead, finish it out.How much street creditability did Scott Brooks buy with that move? How muchdeeper is his bench as a result of sticking with the scrubs who were performing well,even when it looked like it was all going to go to hell in the biggest game of the year?You want a deep team in your company? When the role players deliver, let themtake it to the finish line. Dont bring in the stars to run a pitch or meeting or projectthat the role player delivered.Dont flinch when it looks like theyre going to fold. Youll likely be surprised relatedto what theyre capable of if you let them finish it out.Especially if you show you believe when they struggle near the end.Nick. Freaking. Collison. 56
  • 57. Moneyball and the Art of Figuring Out If HR Leaders AreOverpaidBy Kris DunnOriginally Published September 30, 2011Im in Vegas over the weekend to participate in HRevolution - a great unconferencefor HR Pros. The title of my session is FOT Live. Catchy, huh? A placeholder ofsorts because I really didnt know what I wanted to talk about.But as I began seeing the promotional lead-up to the movie Moneyball, my thoughtson the session became pretty specific. Im going to talk about how you figure out ifan HR Leader is undervalued or overvalued. Are you paying too much? Whatmetrics can you look at to figure out who (if you had access to the rightinformation) is undervalued in the HR marketplace?Moneyball for HR Leaders. Not for HR Pros to determine what others areworth. To determine what different HR Pros are actually worth.The good news is I dont need to have all the answers. HRevolution is set up in away where dialog and conversation drive the session. So really what I have to do isstart the conversation and keep it out of the ditches.I do have one strong opinion from which my worldview on HR pros is based. I alsothink that the value/worth question for HR leaders applies to any generalist who isresponsible for a client group of employees. Unlock the Moneyball for HR formula,and you can apply it all the way down to the HR Manager. As long as theyreresponsible for a flock. 57
  • 58. A cautionary note: As I thought about the best way I would go about determiningwhether an HR Leader was undervalued or overvalued, my thoughts were a littlechilling. If any of the past CEOs Ive worked for walked up to me with the ideas thatcame into my head, I would have automatically protested.You cant measure me like that. I dont control all the levers that type ofmeasurement implies.Youre right. Most HR Leaders dont have as much control as they would like. Butthe talented ones find ways to get results without the assigned authority. Thats whytheyre undervalued in the marketplace before the market figures out whats up. Then their value gets driven up in a hurry. Sometimes.Im looking forward to the conversation and learning from whoever joins me. Whether its 2 people or 50, I suspect Ill learn more than I give.Moneyball for HR Leaders. Should be fun. 58
  • 59. R.I.P. Al Davis: Here’s My Favorite HR Quote From the NFLSith LordBy Kris DunnOriginally Published October 10, 2011Al Davis, the funky longtime owner of the NFLs Oakland Raiders, died thisweekend.Things Al Davis will always be remembered for: --Building a franchise culture that embodied renegades and misfits, and still winning in the early days (but not lately). --Drafting Jamarcus Russell out of LSU, giving him $30M large and never having him produce. --Providing the whole wardrobe for a series of gangsta rap groups including NWA, Eazy-E and of coures, the DOC. --Doing a funky press conference where he not only talked about a "final warning" letter he had sent former coach Lane Kiffin, but actually read it word- for-word to the press. But thats not all. Al also had one of his flunkies throw it up on an OVERHEAD PROJECTOR while he was reading it. In 2009.But I digress. Im having fun with the memory of Al, but the phrase "Just Win, Baby"will always be attributed to Davis. Its a great HR phrase signaling the need forresults, but its not even my favorite performance quote from Al Davis. Thismemory from Ben Horowitz is: "As I was feeling sorry for myself, I randomly watched an interview with famous football coach Bill Parcells. He was telling the story of how he had a similar dilemma when he began his Head Coaching career. In his very first season as coach, Parcell’s team, The New York Giants, was hit with a rash of injuries. He worried incessantly about the impact of the injuries on the team’s fortunes, as it is difficult enough to win with your best players let alone a bunch of substitutes. When his friend and mentor Raiders owner Al Davis called Parcells to check in, 59
  • 60. Parcells relayed his injury issues. Parcells: “Al, I am just not sure how we can win without so many of our best players. What should I do?” Davis replied: “Bill, nobody cares, just coach your team.” That might be the best CEO advice ever. Because, you see, nobody cares. When things go wrong in your company, nobody cares. The press doesn’t care, your investors don’t care, your board doesn’t care, your employees don’t care, even your mama doesn’t care. Nobody cares. And they are right not to care. A great reason for failing won’t preserve one dollar for your investors, won’t save one employee’s job, or get you one new customer. It especially won’t make you feel one bit better when you shut down your company and declare bankruptcy."You have reasons why the project/job didnt work out. We get it. Youre probablyeven right... But the truth is, when you start talking about reasons its probably notgoing to work out before the final results are in, its weak.Nobody cares. They just tally up the score at the end and the world keeps onspinning. Hard but true.Thank you, Al Davis. May the world remember you in your 1970s and 80s gloryand not what happened in Oakland since 2000. 60
  • 61. Rule #1 in Life, Business and HR: Don’t Tempt Fate By TalkingSmackBy Kris DunnOriginally Published June 13, 2011Rule #1 in life, business and Human Resources is pretty simple: Dont tempt fate bytalking smack. You stay humble because you know how tough life is.Heres what I mean. Youre living your life, and things are going pretty well. Youdont tempt fate and put a target on your back by talking smack and judging theperformance of others, the life circumstances of others and basically taking a "holierthan thou" attitude. You dont do that in business or Human Resources, and if youbelieve what Im talking about, you dont do that in life either.The Miami Heat and Lebron James talked smack. Lebron dismissed the whole city ofCleveland in an ill-advised televised special saying he was leaving Cleveland and goingto Miami. When he arrived in Miami, the Heat held a celebration reserved forchampionships (this one was held before the season started), rose their 3 stars upon a smoke-filled stage on a rock-concert lift flexing and posing, then the three starsproceeded to say that 7 championships was the goal and expectation. (Theircontracts said they would be together for 7 seasons).Translation: Tempting fate. Putting the target on your back. Refusing to stayhumble.The focus on staying humble manifests itself in three ways in my life. When I catchmyself judging people and feeling good as a result in my thoughts, Im quick to notethat it could all turn around on me as well. When I catch myself saying or almostsaying something self-serving regarding my performance or state in life, I cringe. Andgod help me if I put something self-serving in print to be forwarded at the will ofthose who received a wayward email of questionable intent. 61
  • 62. You and I are far from perfect. But most of us have at least some self-awareness.Talking smack is never in your best interest. You dont tug on Supermans cape.You dont spit in the wind. Fate and paybacks are a bitch.Lebron James and the Miami Heat talked smack. Then they lost the championshipon Sunday night. Does this quote from the post-game news conference sound likesomeone who has learned that tempting fate is never a good idea? "Moments later, however, he (Lebron James) trash talked those that were happy to see the Heat lose, ignoring that they brought all that on themselves. At the end of the day, all the people that was rooting on me to fail, at the end of the day they have to wake up tomorrow and have the same life that they had before they woke up today, James said. They have the same personal problems they had today. I’m going to continue to live the way I want to live and continue to do the things that I want to do with me and my family and be happy with that. They can get a few days or a few months or whatever the case may be on being happy about not only myself, but the Miami Heat not accomplishing their goal, but they have to get back to the real world at some point."Its not you, its them - right Lebron? Haters.And so fate remains out there for the Heat. Will they win six championships now?Or will the reluctance to understand Rule #1 prevent them from winning achampionship forever?Dallas is your NBA World Champion. Even if you dont like sports, you have toadmit two things as it relates to Rule #1.Justice is served. Fate is a bitch. 62
  • 63. Why You’re Wrong About LeBron JamesBy Steve BoeseOriginally Published June 17, 2011Subtitled : I am not sure I completely believe what I am about to argue in the post either,but someone had to take an opposite position.-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------The facts of the case are these:1. Last summer two-time league MVP, consensus best player in the NBA, and one ofthe best all-around players in league history LeBron James, a free agent no longerunder contract with his team of seven seasons the Cleveland Cavaliers, elected tosign a contract to play for the Miami Heat. The decision by James to join the Heatwas panned not so much for the actual business and competition factors, but ratherfor the manner in which it was announced - a one-hour TV special on ESPN, that incombination with the backlash against James from the jilted Cleveland community,ended up backfiring on James, portraying him as an out-of-touch, arrogant, self-important and egocentric person.2. James, (and his new teammates Heat stars Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh),compounded the PR disaster spawned by The Decision, with an over-the-top,flashy, introduction event in Miami, where James and the others (in uniform),pranced around a smoke-filled stage and opined about winning not just one NBAtitle, but six, seven, eight... titles. I am paraphrasing a bit, but you get the idea.3. The Heat concluded an up and down season, (it was painful at times to watchthese three star players attempt to co-exist on the court, when each wasaccustomed to being the man), with a 58-24 record, good for first place in theNBAs Southeast Division, and the third-best overall record in the league.4. Entering the NBA playoffs the Heat then defeated in succession the AtlantaHawks; their nemesis, the Boston Celtics; and the leagues top regular season teamthe Chicago Bulls. Each series was decided 4 games to 1, making the Heat animpressive 12-3 in the first three playoff rounds.5. In the NBA finals, the Heat were defeated by the Dallas Mavericks, a veteran teamplaying at the top of their form, 4 games to 2. James was harshly criticized for poorplay in the series, particularly in the 4th quarters of Games 4, 5, and 6 (all Dallas 63
  • 64. victories). James lack of production in these situations served in stark contrast toDallas leader Dirk Nowitzki, who consistently made big plays and shots to leadDallas to the title.6. Immediately following the Game 6 loss, James further damaged his already shakyreputation by implying that people hoping he and the Heat would lose would got towake up tomorrow and have the same life that they had before. While Jameswould also have to wake up and continue his life, strongly implying that his life, withhis millions of dollars, mansions, private jets etc. was somehow superior to yours,mine, and pretty much everyone elses.These are the basic facts of the case, my apologies for going on so long aboutthem prior to mounting my apologist defense for King James.If you are like my friends and fellow bloggers Kris Dunn at the HR Capitalist, or JohnHollon at, you have taken LeBron to task for arrogance, lack of humility,inability to win or lose gracefully, and over-confidence. While Kris and John and thehundreds of other writers that have participated in the LeBron dogpile have theirpoints, Ill offer three (hope I can come up with three), reasons why they and youare wrong (or at least a little hypocritical) about LeBron.1. HistoryLeBron is most often compared, unfavorably, to Michael Jordan, the greatest playerin NBA history. Jordan won six titles with the Bulls, the first one in his seventhseason in the league. This was on a team with another all-time Top 50 player inScottie Pippen and the greatest coach of all time, Phil Jackson. LeBron justcompleted his 8th season in the league falling just two games short of winning hisfirst title. And since he started his NBA career at a younger age, LeBron is only 26,while Jordan was 28 when he claimed his first title.Sure, maybe we take shots at LeBron because he compares unfavorably to Jordan,but lets not forget Jordan was a a transcendent, once in 50 years or so player.Everyone compares unfavorably to Jordan. No matter what line of business you arein, be in basketball, software development, or running a company, chances are youwont hold up well either when compared to the legends of your field.2. We like to selectively rememberLeBron left Cleveland, and several million dollars in salary on the table, to play forMiami in a situation that he (rightly) assessed as providing a better opportunity towin the title. In sports, fans usually take to task players that are perceived as beingonly in it for the money. Now LeBron likely earns so much from off the courtendeavors that the few million he walked away from in Cleveland did not play intohis decision rationale all that much, but it still sets him apart from probably 90% ofprofessional athletes whose primary objective is to wrest every last dollar from their 64
  • 65. team. LeBron gets bashed for taking proactive steps in his career management toattempt to improve his chances to win and we kill him.Remember that Cleveland team that LeBron single-handedly dragged to the finals in2007? That was the worst team I have ever seen that actually made the finals.LeBron was not going to win in Cleveland. But he played out his contract, did notwhine to the press and try to force his way out via a trade, and exercised his right tochoose the team that best fit his goals and career aspirations. The same process anyof us would do. And that over the top Decision TV show? We usually fail tomention that show raised over $2M for the Boys and Girls Clubs, one of Jamesfavorite charities. Finally our friend Michael Jordan, who we like to compare LeBronwith since we know LeBron cant measure up, lets also not forget how he quit histeam to pursue an irrational dream of playing major league baseball, only to comeback a year later.3. Youre only angry because LeBron didnt winMuch of the heat LeBron is getting is not so much because he and the rest of theHeat bragged, strutted, and pranced around before they had won anything, butbecause in fact they did not win. We give lots of slack to arrogant winners, not somuch to arrogant losers. We look back with reverence about the famous Larry Birdthree point contest story, where Bird famously derided his competition prior to theevent by telling them they were all playing for second place, and then proceeded towin the contest. We can either take shots at arrogance or take shots at talking toomuch and not backing it up, but it seems a bit hypocritical to have it both ways. Inbusiness and in sports, we want our leaders to be confident, to project strength andresolve, we need to have someone to follow into the competition. Do you reallywant a person leading your team or your company that doesnt predict victory? If allLeBron ever said was We will take one game at a time and We have tocontinue to work hard, the media would kill him for being a drone or a cliche-spewing dullard.4. (Hey, I actually thought of another reason) - There are bad guys everywhere.LeBron is an easy target, in fact he has placed the target right on his back. But thefact that the target is there doesnt mean we need to take shots at it. Butprofessional sports is full of guys of questionable character, that have had run-inswith the law, and a demonstrated history of bad behavior. In fact some of thosekinds of guys play for the Dallas team that everyone adopted as some kind of rag-tag,Hoosiers-like plucky band of underdogs, (who were led by Dirk Nowitzki and his$17.2M salary). If you dont believe me, just Google Jason Kidd domesticviolence or Deshawn Stephenson arrested. Sure blast LeBron for beingarrogant or out-of-touch, but lets not give guys who have done much, much worsethings a pass while we are at it. 65
  • 66. Well there it is, my 1400-word defense of LBJ. While I am sure I have not convincedmost of you, especially the Cleveland fans, I hope that I made you pause just a bit tothink about LeBron in a wider context. 66
  • 67. Halls of FameBy Steve BoeseOriginally Published May 27, 2011Today marks the start of the Memorial Day Holiday weekend here in the USA, aholiday observed in remembrance of all the nations fallen heroes in the variousbranches of the armed forces. While observed as a solemn holiday, Memorial Dayhas certainly changed over time to be known as a unofficial start of the Summerseason, and parties, parades, barbecues will be in full force over the next few days.While Memorial Day is about fallen heroes, we know that the idea of just whatmakes a hero is kind or personal and even fluid. Heroes can and are found in allkinds of places - in homes, schools, community centers, and yes even in professionsports stadiums.Ill be spending the first part of Memorial Day weekend on a short road trip to visitone of the most iconic and historical, (and uniquely American) places in the country- The Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, NY. The Hall is a kind of gatheringplace for those of us who (at least at some point), looked at baseball and baseballplayers as some kind of heroes. Now I know full well that sports figures cant becompared to real heroes in the military, in public service, or those that bravely andanonymously do much more important work. But as a kid, those kinds of heroes,while I certainly was aware of them, were quite a bit more remote and inaccessiblecompared to the baseball stars I looked up to as heroes. And in some ways, when Igo back to the Baseball Hall of Fame and look at the pictures and memorabilia ofsome of those players, for a moment I can see and feel really clearly back to my 10year old self, when the results of meaningless mid-July Mets game meant the worldto me.Do sports hold too exalted a position in American society? Probably. Do wecompensate too highly people that can hit a ball or throw a pass better than anyone 67
  • 68. else? Definitely. Do we go a little overboard by erecting museums and mountingplaques and statues in honor of ball players? For sure.But I think the best part of these Halls of Fame are how they help us remember,even for a short time, the reasons why we played or watched the games in the firstplace, before we became consumed with important things, and when anything,really anything was still possible. They are a look back, not only into the history ofthe game, but into our own lives in a way.The Hall of Fame is a very cool place, and I highly recommend it to any baseball fan,or even any student of American History. The story of baseball is intertwined andessential to the complete understanding of the American experience in the last 150or so years. And the little village of Cooperstown, NY is one of Americas mostbeautiful places. 68
  • 69. Bench Pressing and BasketballBy Steve BoeseOriginally Published May 26, 2011With the National Basketball Association player draft fast approaching, fans,observers, and pundits alike love to speculate and predict the player draft order, andimagine the glorious future for their favorite team once this years version of youngTimmy The Flint Assasin Sackett, or some other such prospect joins the squad.Readers know that sports, and in particular how the talent evaluation andassessment processes that professional sports teams undertake as they considerwhich players to draft, recruit as free agents, trade, and compensate; make for somecompelling stories and often illuminate applicable lessons for those of us withconcerned with more mundane but similar workplace conundrums. None of theSports and HR parallels are more clearly illustrated than annual player drafts that allthe major USA professional sports leagues conduct.The purpose of these drafts is to help re-stock the talent pools in the league withnew players, ones that have the capability and potential to raise the overall talentprofile of the league and the individual teams. Essentially each season, younger, moretalented players (or at least ones judged to have potential to be good players), enterthe league while older and/or less skilled/more expensive players exit. It is a kind ofa cool, virtuous Lion King style circle of life, but will louder music and moretattoos.The trick for talent evaluators and people in charge of player personnel decisions inthe draft is how to assess the complex combination of a prospects performance onthe court to date (usually in college basketball, but sometimes just high school, orinternational play), the players physical attributes, their personality and character,and finally whether or not that elusive fit between style, physical traits, and mentalmake-up exists between the prospect and the team.You will often see quotes from NBA or other sports execs talking about playersthey select as being Our kind of player, or His style fits how we like to play.These quotes are as much about cultural and organizational fit as they are abouthitting jump shots or ability to rebound the basketball. The rules of the game are thesame for every team, but how they go about assembling the team and theirphilosophies about how to best accomplish the universal goal of winning thechampionship are all unique.So in sports, like in most every other line of business, talent assessment andselection is really hard. So NBA teams have come to increase or expand thevariables they assess and measure when it comes to the talent evaluation process forpotential draftees. One of these variables is the number of times the prospect cansuccessfully bench press 185 lbs, a moderate amount of weight for a well- 69
  • 70. conditioned athlete, certainly not a power lifter or bodybuilder burden, but also aweight that could present a challenge. The 185 pound bench press is meant to give ageneralized assessment of the players upper body strength, that at least in theorycould translate to effectiveness on the court. But bench pressing isnt reallybasketball, they dont roll out a bench and some barbells in the 4th quarter of aclose game. The other advantage to teams in using the bench press test, (and amyriad of other fitness and strength tests they use), is that every prospect takes thesame assessments, thereby giving the teams a common data set across the entiretalent pool from which to make comparative judgments.But the data itself offers a team no competitive advantage - every team in the leaguehas access to the same information. The trick is knowing how to interpret themeasurables (bench press, vertical jump, etc.), with the intangibles, (character,coachability, likeability), and finally a frank assessment of Can this guy actually play?;in order to make the best talent selections.But back to the bench press, which is the reason I wrote this piece. Yesterday Inoticed a tweet from Chad Ford, one of ESPNs basketball writers and analystscommenting on the bench press test results from a few of this years current NBAdraft prospects. The tweet is below:The implication of the tweet is a kind of red flag or warning about those few playersunable to successfully bench press 185 pounds. That teams considering draftingthese players may pause, and fans of teams that eventually do take these playersmight need to be concerned that their lack of demonstrable upper body strength(doing something that isnt actually playing basketball), portends poorly for theirfuture performance as NBA players.It is hard to say for sure if this poor performance on the test will actually hurt theseplayers draft position, it certainly wont help it, but I think the larger point is aboutdata collection in general. Whether it is an NBA team evaluating a power forward, 70
  • 71. or a software company assessing the background and skills of a candidate for adevelopment job, our ability to collect reams of data about background, capability,demonstrable skills, and even mental make up has never been greater. We haveaccess to powerful analytics tools to crunch the data and perhaps eventually toconstruct detailed and predictive success models.It could very well be the success on the bench press test does suggest future successon an NBA team. Or failure on the test predicts failure on the court.But even if we can create those kinds of models, for basketball players or softwaredevelopers, they will never be fool proof, as people and performance are ultimatelylikely too unpredictable to ever understand absolutely. We have to be open-mindedenough to ignore our own models from time to time.You may, even if you are not a basketball fan, have heard of a player called KevinDurant. He is a star player for the Oklahoma City Thunder, has led the league inscoring, led the USA team to the Gold Medal in the World Basketball Championshiplast summer.In 2007, when Durant declared himself eligible for the NBA draft, he was unable tobench press 185 a single time.And we know how Durant has worked out.Sure collect, assess, analyze, correlate, model - its important. But dont forget,bench pressing is not basketball. 71
  • 72. Do You Really Need Superstar Talent?By Steve BoeseOriginally Published August 31, 2011Attracting top talent, the ‘War for Talent’, engaging talent, myriad HR Technologyvendors hoping to sell you solutions for Integrated Talent Management, even thissite, with its name Fistful of Talent – there is no shortage of conversation, content,and concern amongst leaders and in organizations about the importance ofattracting, deploying, developing, and retaining the right talent in order to have anychance of success in today’s marketplace. But while conceptually the formulas andprocesses seem pretty simple, the execution is the tricky part.So even though you’ve built what you think is the ‘right’ method for recruiting the‘best’talent, implemented a solid plan to reward and develop the top performers,and successfully and carefully crafted an organization that may have even beenacknowledged as one of those ‘Best Places to Work’, even if only by the localChamber of Commerce, still your firm might be struggling to make the leap from adecent, solidly performing one, to one that achieves more lasting, and evenlegendary success. Sort of like in big time sports, the difference between a middle ofthe table side and one that hoists the trophy at the end of the season. How mightyour team make that leap? To move from ‘market perform’ to ‘buy’, to contend forand win titles (metaphorically), instead of filling out the industry roster? Warning toreaders – professional sports references ahead. Maybe you should shift yourfocus just a little bit to concentrate less on building an entire organization,department, or team, and work more on figuring out how to land that one superstarperformer. The sports-related rationale? Take a look at this piece from thebasketball focused Wages of Wins blog – ‘Does a Team Need a Superstar to Winthe NBA Championship?’ Short answer – yes.The Wages of Wins analysis of the past35 seasons worth of NBA champions showed that only once did a squad win thechampionship without at least one player who rated statistically in the 95thpercentile or better (determined by the WoW’s calculation of a metric called ‘WinsProduced’). And for that time period, all the teams that reached the NBA’sConference Finals, i.e. the top 4 teams for each season, fully 90% of these teamsincluded a 95th percentile superstar, (think Jordan, Bird, Magic, Shaq, etc.). 72
  • 73. The conclusion, at least for the NBA, is that while possessing at least one playerwith superstar level talent is not a guarantee of success, it looks to be arequirement. Sure, to win it all, that superstar has to be supported and surroundedby many other good players, complimentary talent to build on the star’s skills, andhaving a tactically adept coach that can help place the team in situations where theyare most likely to leverage their abilities doesn’t hurt. But to win, the ostensible goalof every team in the league, a superstar is needed.Having stars on the team isn’t easy of course. They tend to earn a ton of money.More than all the other players, more than the coach, and so much that they canoccasionally forego the odd million or ten to join a team they feel is in a bettercompetitive position. And they often want ‘special’ treatment, different from theother players on the team. Better hotels on the road, freedom to skip teampractices, access to the team owner’s private jet – that kind of thing. Finally, reallybig stars often have to be consulted by team officials on potential player trades, draftpicks, and even the selection (or termination) of the head coach.Yep, it isn’t always easy or fun to put up with all the baggage and hassle of having asuperstar player on the team, (or a ‘star’ employee in the department). But youknow what is fun? Winning championships. And in the NBA anyway, you have tomake that deal if championships are your goal. And is the same true in organizationsas well?We report, you decide… 73
  • 74. Throw You Five Year Plan Out the WindowBy Lance HaunOriginally Published April 28, 2011In the spring of 2006, Greg Oden was preparing to enter Ohio State as one of thetop prep prospects in the country. Do you think he had a five year plan? You know,the one HR people ask about in an interview? If he did, I don’t think it would be astretch if it went something like this: 1. Become one of the top college basketball players 2. Take his team to the national championship 3. Get chosen first in the NBA draft 4. Go to a team with championship contention possibilities 5. Win a championship ring as a key player for the teamThat’s a pretty good plan. And in the first year of it, he took a big chunk out of thelist. He became a top college basketball player, took his team to the championshipgame, got chosen first in the 2007 NBA draft and went to a team with a core ofplayers that could go all the way in a few years.In September of 2007, his plan got derailed. He had to have microfracture surgeryon his knee. He was out for the season. And over the next three seasons, he wouldmiss significant playing time and have two more surgeries on his legs. The last time Isaw him play was in December of 2009 when he was carried off in a stretcher.The point isn’t that life comes at you fast and that changes are going to come. Youalready knew that. In fact, you probably think five year plans are as unrealistic as Ido.The real point is that many people think Oden is a failure because he hasn’t met thisplan. I may be the only person who is optimistic about what he does in the future.Getting back into basketball is a possibility near term but even more so, doingsomething different with his life is a certainty at some point. And that’s exciting forme and it should be for Oden. It is something he hopefully has more control of thanthe durability of his knees.When I lost my job in HR and took a job outside of being an HR professional for thefirst time, I thought I had taken a step back. I was nervous. You can ask the people Iasked for advice. I had progressed with my plan up to that point, looking to take aneven bigger leap into the next great HR role. Then, I discovered something else Iliked, outside of HR.Yes, it is difficult to describe how I got here.Yes, it is difficult to say I didn’t accomplish what I wanted in my HR career. 74
  • 75. Yes, I haven’t exactly thought through what’s next.And you know what? That’s fine. I really like where I’m at right now. I (mostly) wakeup inspired and ready to take on the day. That linear career path we always hearabout? The one we use to plan our next five years? Bupkis. Find things about yourcareer you enjoy and do them. And if you can’t do that, do things with the rest ofyour life that you enjoy and do that. 75
  • 76. Sometimes You Just Miss Your ShotsBy Lance HaunOriginally Published April 7, 2011During the NCAA National Championship game, we saw Butler put on the mostimpressive displays of missing baskets in the history of the game. And to takenothing away from Connecticut’s stellar interior defense, Butler missed a lot of wideopen looks. I counted over a dozen open looks at the basket missed by Butler, easilywithin the margin of victory that night.The next night, I watched the Portland Trail Blazers put on a similar spectacle in thesecond half of their game against Golden State. Seeing two of our best shooters offthe bench go a combined 3 for 20 from the field (including 0-7 from the three-pointline) was disappointing. And considering many of those shots were unchallenged orlightly challenged, it was rough.For both teams, there were some supporting excuses. Butler was outsized so theyplayed outside of the paint almost the entire game. The rims seemed incredibly tight(leading to less baskets overall) and playing the most important college basketballgame in a football arena is still one of the worst ideas ever. For the Blazers, they hadjust learned they clinched the playoffs and were going against a team much moremotivated to win than they were.But to a certain extent, those excuses didn’t matter. Both teams had theopportunity to make shots, makable shots, shots that could have switched the gamearound, and just didn’t do it.Sometimes you just miss.You spend years honing a skill like shooting a basketball and you miss. And nomatter how good you are at your skill set, you’re going to grow cold at some point.As a writer, it’s happened to me. As an HR professional, it’s happened to me. Evenmy typically poor basketball shooting has been hurt by cold streaks.Fixing it is sometimes as simple as waking up on the right side of the bed onemorning. Or shooting a couple hundred more shots. Whatever it takes to get yourgrove back.What is similar among all of these people is the one’s who get back their mojo getup the next day and work harder at it. That doesn’t mean Brandon Roy won’t haveanother 2-11 shooting night or that Matt Howard won’t record just a single threepointer in a game ever again. It just means they are going to try to put some distancebetween those two lows. 76
  • 77. The workplace lesson is simple: for your best employees, stop looking for excusesfor occasional poor performance and help them create distance (major distance)between low points. Get them back up, encourage them to perform and move on. 77
  • 78. Workplace Gamification & Fantasy Football: Think They’reRelated? You’d Be WrongBy Lance HaunOriginally Published September 20, 2011I don’t often mix work with pleasure but when it comes to fantasy football, I’ll dipmy pen in the company ink.For the uninitiated, fantasy football is when you pick various NFL players and createa team and compete against 10-12 other people doing the same. At the last fewplaces I’ve worked, I’ve been involved in fantasy football leagues of various types.When I worked in HR full-time, it was an easy activity to be included in becauseeveryone wanted to really beat you and then come gloating into your office onMonday morning.While I love activities like this, I don’t know how much of it I want to creep intoworkplace dynamics to get more productivity out of employees.Gamification and the workplaceI talked last week to Paul Hebert about incentives and one of the things we talkedabout is using game theory to make incentive programs function better.Let’s say you have a points-based incentive program (one where you earn pointsthat can turn into awards). While the idea of points might be gamification in and ofitself, we can also add badges, a competitive element, and extra prizes for uniquereasons for rewards in order to get more out of the program.Is that a problem? Laurie Ruettimann writes on The Cynical Girl: And now there’s a (relatively) new trend in the workforce to make your life more like a game, and thus, more fun. It’s called the gamification of work. It refers to the concept where an employer tries to trick you into having ‘fake fun’ or ‘forced fun’ while you are completing the rote tasks that make up your daily job. Sounds awesome, right? It’s not.”Ouch. And when you put it that way, it certainly sounds like a stinker. 78
  • 79. Searching for silver bulletsThe problem is that there is no silver bullet when it comes to getting the most outof your employees. While gamification may work for some employees (and let’s beclear, it probably does work for many), if John Hollon put a gold star on my TLNTprofile every time I hit a post out of the park, I’d roll my eyes.But that also doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate the acknowledgement or the help tocontinue to write better. A rejection of a gamified workplace isn’t any indication ofhow much I appreciate the feedback.If you have unpleasant jobs in your organization (and you know what they are),you’re going to have to combine techniques to hit as many real pain points aspossible. Paying at or above market rate so they are taken care of. Removingbarriers that make work frustrating, such as unnecessary bureaucracy and terriblebosses. Equip them and their co-workers with more than adequate knowledge sothat no one feels that they have to carry more of a load at work.Gamification? Sure, it could help your incentive program do better. But if you’re notdoing any of those other things? Forget about it doing much positive good.Difference between games and gamificationEvery year, we get to hear about the lost productivity due to March Madness andNCAA brackets. Or maybe you’re like my colleagues who used to have an informalgame to come up with marketing copy. Or perhaps you participate in team sportswith colleagues, or are on a volunteer board with other co-workers.Things like that can be great because games — real games that people want toparticipate in — can make for better work relationships. I might not be able todefine a hard ROI on that, but I don’t need to tell you all of the advantages that canhave.Gamification done to manipulate results out of employees though? There’s a veryshort-lived promise there. 79
  • 80. Hire Slow, Fire Fast: Four Talent Selection Lessons from theNBA DraftBy Lance HaunOriginally Published September 13, 2011Today, 60 people will get hired into a multi-billion dollar organization. This isn’t justany organization though, this is the NBA — the National Basketball Association.Now before you turn the page, I know that sports analogies are overdone and oftena stretch. Yes, there are certainly leadership and teamwork lessons to be learnedbut this is less of a reach.In the world of talent selection, no process is more transparent than the draft. Everyperson drafted knows where they stand relative to other players, we see how hiringmanagers think about organizational needs, and we get to observe the results ofthose hiring decisions play out on the public stage.There is good and bad news about those lessons — but that bad news is a lottougher to swallow.Lesson 1: Talent selection is always imperfectNBA teams have millions of dollars tied up in their recruiting and selection budgets,yet most teams end up hiring somewhere between one and five players a year. Nottoo many other organizations have that much budget tied up for that few recruits.With the right owner, this budget could be potentially limitless if you could provethat more money spent in the selection process yielded better results.And why wouldn’t it be virtually limitless? A No. 1 draft pick can cost a teambetween $20-25 million dollars for their first contract. A free agent can push that upto $100 million dollars. And making the right decision not only means that theirsalary was well worth the cost, but that millions more are available. Make the wrongdecision and the numbers go the other way.So why do people who have thousands of pages of data and decades of experienceend up picking guys like Kwame Brown, Darko Milichic and (as much as it pains forme to say) Greg Oden with the first overall pick? And with the possible exception ofMilichic, even other team’s general managers would have to admit that these playerswould have fetched very early draft picks if they weren’t selected first.Very simply, even the best talent selection process money can buy doesn’t giveperfect results. And while that may be discouraging, there are some hopeful lessons.Lesson 2: Young talent is critical if you can’t attract starsWhen you’re a city like Portland or San Antonio, it is unlikely that a top free agent isgoing to come your way. Most of them tend to go to larger markets like Los Angeles 80
  • 81. or New York or Miami. That’s why a draft is so important to smaller market teamsthat struggle to attract stars in the free agent market.So, if you are a top destination in the industry, your money can be better spent onattracting senior leaders with proven track records rather than trying the guessinggame of bringing someone up through the ranks. For everyone else, you’ve got toroll the dice on some risks or spend time and energy on development. That’s thecold hard truth.Lesson 3: Hire slow, fire fast in real timeEven though the process of the NBA draft seems to go very quickly, the process ofevaluating talent is years in the making leading up to that draft day decision point.And even after the draft selection has been made, the evaluation process continueswith the young player through the first several years.Witnessing that dynamic at summer league games, open scrimmages, pre-season andregular season games is a treat. You’ll see a serious error by a new player and you’llsee how the coach reacts to that error. Some let them play through it while othersdecide to pull them from the game. Others encourage, while some get red in theface.What is the same though is as soon as someone who can help the team get bettermore quickly comes along, you’ll be gone. It’s the ultimate test of the hire slow(years of prep work and months of onboarding) and fire fast (gone as soon as atrade or free agent comes along to take his place).Lesson 4: Being right most of the time is still the goalStill, like most hiring managers, NBA general managers are not judged for one ortwo bad decisions. But being right most of the time is still the goal and NBA teamsgenerally figure that out most years. Sure, there may be a player or two that fall wellbelow where they should have been rated, and a few that are overrated, but theseverity isn’t outrageous.It should be a good indicator that recruiting and selection is still an ever-varyingcombination of art and science. No matter how much someone knows about it,nobody is going to get every hire right. 81
  • 82. 3 Things HR Pros Can Learn From “Moneyball”By Tim SackettOriginally Published September 28, 2011There’s a new Brad Pitt movie out – calm down HR ladies this isn’t your “Legends ofthe Fall” Brad Pitt movie – this one is about baseball and he doesn’t take his shirt off!(BTW – my favorite Brad Pitt movie of all time? “Meet Joe Black” – he plays the bestlooking version of “death” that you’ll ever see)The movie is called “Moneyball” and it’s based on the true story of how Oakland A’sGeneral Manager, Billy Beane, changed baseball by focusing on statistics andmeasures in selecting baseball players, versus traditional baseball selection methodsthat were subjective at best. Beane’s new approach turned the Oakland A’s into acontender, at the same time spending less than half the salary of clubs like theYankee’s, Boston and the Dodgers.So, What can an HR Pro learn from Moneyball? A bunch – but I’ll give you 3(adapted from Fast Companies – 3 Lessons Every Manager Can Learn fromMoneyball):1. Production trumps all else. I know organizations that only hire from certaincolleges, or look to recruit from big name companies – all of that really doesn’tmatter. Find someone who produces – that’s what matters. We spend so muchtime on where someone graduated from, and how the person looks and where theygrew up – then we go and hire this “china doll” and they don’t do a darn thing!I’ve been known to piss off my hiring mangers, once in a while, because I won’t allowthem to move someone off the bus – for the simple fact “they just don’t fit in”.Really? Well the metrics show me they’re one of your top 3 employees in yourgroup! Find a way to make them fit in – that’s your job as a leader. 82
  • 83. 2. Give Your Employees a Gift. And by “Gift” I mean – “tell it to themstraight”! We don’t do anyone any favors by beating around the bush. If someonehas a career-derailer, tell them – tell them soon – tell them clearly – tell them whatwill happen if they don’t change it. It will be the best gift they have ever received. Ican’t tell you how many times I’ve seen managers let go of good, solid employees,because they had one thing wrong – and no one would give it to them straight – andgive them the opportunity to change. Beane’s approach was very direct and to thepoint – our goal is to win championships – you need to change this or get better atthis – or you won’t be a part of this process. It’s not – “well, it sure would behelpful if you could get a little better at such and such.” It’s “We love you – youneed to do this – now – or we will still love, but just not while working here anymore.”3. Sometimes the Mix isn’t right and needs to be changed. We’re HR Pros,our primary job is to build top performing teams of adults. As with any team, youmight have the best talent, but the mix of individuals isn’t right, so the team doesn’tperform as it should. Don’t be afraid to mix it up. That doesn’t mean you have togo out and fire people – but it might mean you move some people around from oneteam to the next. Let’s face it, most of the jobs in our organization can be learnedby a high performing person from another part of our organization – that’s justreality that most of us don’t like to admit to! If you have a good manager who isn’tmaking it “happen” in their department, swap him with the lady in operations who isan up and comer and see what happens. 83
  • 84. HR’s September Call UpBy Tim SackettOriginally Published August 29, 2011For those who aren’t big Major League Baseball (MLB) fans you probably don’t knowwhat the “September Call-Up” or “Expanded Rosters” mean. Each year onSeptember 1st, as the MLB season goes into its final month, the league allows teamsto invite players from their minor league teams and the roster number expands from25 to 40. For teams who are out of the playoff race, this allows them to give someyounger guys an opportunity to perform on a larger stage. For those in playoffraces, or teams that have already solidified a playoff berth, the extra players allowthem to rest some regulars. For playoff teams these extra 15 players can’t play inactual playoff games, only in the final regular season games.Ok, Tim – why the hell should we care about Major League Baseball’s SeptemberCall-ups?In any HR shop I’ve ever worked in, or with any HR Pro I’ve ever had a conversationwith – Succession Planning is always an issue HR Pros struggle with in theirorganizations. Many times sports shows us there is a way that it can be done, youjust need to find a way to tailor it to your environment, and I think the MLB gives usa window to how a competitive organization attempts to get this done.Succession is difficult and costly, there is no way around it. If your organization istruly trying to do succession and not spend money – it won’t be pretty and itprobably won’t be effective. To really know a person has the ability to step intosomeones shoes when they leave, you have to see them actually do the job. In mostorganizations this just isn’t an option – how many of us have the ability to pull out ahigh performer from their current position, and put them into a new position, whilethe other person is still in that position? Not many of us! It’s just not a reality mostof live in. 84
  • 85. Baseball’s September call-ups is one strategy that you might be able to use withinyour organization. While pulling someone full-time into a new position, might notbe something you could do – could you do it for 30 days? Before telling me youcan’t – what would you do it that same person had a medical issue and had to behospitalized or home-bound for a month? You’d make it, you’d get by – that’s whatwe do in organizations. The team would rally and make it work. So, giving someonea 1 month succession stint into a new potential role – full immersion – wouldactually give you some decent insight to whether or not the person could actuallyhandle that role in the future, or at least show you some great development needsthat have to ensure success.Is it perfect? No – but that’s why it works. We don’t get perfect in HR – we getgood enough and move onto the next fire. We don’t get million dollar budgets toformalize succession and have a bench full of high performing talent to just step inwhen someone leaves our organization. It’s our job to figure out succession, whilewe figure out how to keep the lights on at the same time. I love the SeptemberCall-Up – gives me insight to the future of my team, shows me how someoneperforms in an environment that doesn’t pigeonhole them forever, and let’s meknow if they show some potential for The Show! 85
  • 86. GangsterBy Matthew StollakOriginally Published October 20, 2011Facing personnel problems (in this case, the star RB of the Detroit Lions, Jahvid Best,was suffering from a concussion), the Lions and Philadelphia Eagles engaged in acommon practice - the trading of employees. However, the trade had anuncommon result. According to ESPN, Detroits trade with Philadelphia that exchanged seldom-used veteran running backs Ronnie Brown and Jerome Harrison has been voided. Two league sources told ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter that the trade was voided because Harrison has previously undisclosed health issues. Brown arrived in Detroit but never got to practice. Lions spokesman Bill Keenist said the team would have no further comment. The Eagles announced Tuesday they dealt Brown to Detroit for Harrison and an undisclosed pick in the 2013 draft. Detroit wouldnt confirm the move because the franchise doesnt until deals are done. The Lions were looking forward to adding Brown to a backfield that might be without starting running back Jahvid Best for a while. He had his third concussion Sunday in a loss to San Francisco.Certainly, it was unlikely Detroit was trying to pull a fast one on the Eagles,particularly since most trades of this nature are contingent on the results of aphysical.However, it got me wondering why we dont see trades among employees more 86
  • 87. often outside of the sporting arena? Could Ford make a play for a senior accountantat Chrysler? Could Amazon be angling for an up and coming software engineer atGoogle?Certainly, a number of things limit the possibility of such trades in the businessworld, such as:1) Size of organizations - the sporting arena have limits on the number ofemployees to possibly cover. There are only 30 Major League Baseball teams, withroster limits during the season of 26 players. There are only 32 NFL teams, withroster limits of 53 players. Organizations with 1,000+ employees were make suchscouting very difficult2) Transparency of performance - Pro athletes performance are on display on aregular basis. Turn on the television on Sunday afternoons in the Fall (particularlyon DirecTV) and you can see how an employee with another organization isperforming. It is tough to see how Bill in accounting is doing at anotherorganization.However, what would the business world look like if such trading becamecommonplace? Would workers be more anxious knowing they could possibly bemoving to another organization at a moments notice? Would that increase ordecrease performance levels? Would it create a whole new cadre of performancescouts evaluating talent at other employers? Could it address potential staffingimbalances, as one organization may be flush with sales professionals while anothercould have extra HR managers? Who would create the Trade Value Chart thatwould assess comparable value of different trades?And, would we see trades like weve seen in Major League baseball where playershave been traded for a set of bats or a turkey?Im not sure I want to wake up tomorrow knowing that Ive been traded toLawrence University for a fax machine and a set of Bic pens. 87
  • 88. CHAPTER 5Total Compensation 88
  • 89. Sharing the Wealth – NBA StyleBy Steve BoeseOriginally Published September 13, 2011This piece isnt REALLY about sports, but rather how an organizations distributionof payroll factors in to contract negotiations, employee movement, and evencompetitiveness. As basketball fans are aware, the National Basketball Association,(NBA, or the association), is in the midst of an old-school management vs. workerlabor impasse. Well as old-school as you can get when the put-upon workersaverage seven-figure salaries, and the owners who are mostly billionaires, sit onfranchise values that seemingly rise every year.But the owners want to further control and restrict the total compensation availableto players. They in the past have managed this by negotiating a maximum totalpercentage of basketball-related revenue that can be paid out to the players incompensation. The expired labor deal set that figure at 57% of total basketballrevenue. Now there are lots of arguments and disputes around the details of thedeal, (what exactly constitutes basketball revenue chief among them), and there aremore detailed parameters that control how much each team can spend, and evenrules around maximum contract values for individual players.But while percentage of gross revenue paid out in player compensation is the bigissue, for teams and players individual compensation is equally important. How thepie is spread inside the league, amongst superstars, solid contributors, and newtalent trying to prove themselves is also a critically important angle here, both forthe NBA and likely for your organization as well.The chart below from a piece on Business Insider shows the relative total allocationof league player payroll across salary levels. For example, if 10 players made $4million, then $40 million would be dedicated to that salary slot. If total payroll was$1 billion, 4 percent of total payroll would go to $4-million players. The higher thebar, the more total league payroll is expended on all talent at that salary level.Take a look at the changes in distribution of player payroll by salary level between1998 (the last year the NBA had labor issues), and 2011: 89
  • 90. Two things immediately jump out on the chart. One, in 1998 a much higherpercentage of total player compensation was clustered at the lower ends of thesalary scale, i.e. in players making $6M annually or less. By 2011, the spread ofpayroll spend smoothed out quite dramatically, with more players (and payrollspend), moving up the salary chain, particularly in the $10M - $20M range. Butalmost as strikingly, there has been almost no growth in the extremely highcompensation levels - on aggregate, more salary was expended in 1998 on playersmaking above $20M annually than in 2011.In the 1998 contract negotiations, the owners successfully put in place a system thatcapped individual contracts in a manner by 2011 has kept current stars like LeBronJames from reaching the compensation levels of past stars like Michael Jordan,(represented by the lone orange bar on the far right of the chart).In the period of 1998-2011, the NBA owners were successful in controlling theextreme high end of the salary scale, but for that, saw salaries at the lower end, andmore importantly the middle-range increase dramatically. Over time, contractsawarded to solid but not spectacular contributors have grown out of proportionto those players contributions to the teams success (with exceptions of course).One of the primary goals for the owners in this current negotiation is to try and getthose mid-range, $6M - $14M or so contracts back under control, while stillmaintaining the grips on the superstar end of the market as well.If indeed the NBA owners are in financial trouble, it isnt because the true superstarslike LeBron and Kobe make exorbitant salaries, but rather due to the last 15 yearsof owners overpaying for average performers. Sure, you need quite a few of theseaverage performers to fill out a team, and assembling the right ones withcomplimentary skills and good attitudes is necessary to actually compete for and winchampionships, but paying superstar prices for average performance might win you afew games in the short term, but in the long run it will likely tick off the true stars,and might possibly bankrupt the team as well. 90
  • 91. I guess that is the challenge for all HR and compensation pros, knowing you needsuperstar talent to win, and having to spend what it takes to get that superstartalent, while making sure you have enough of the pie left over for everyone else sothey wont jump ship chasing a few dollars. 91
  • 92. The NBA, Where a 30% Cut Was a Better OptionBy Steve BoeseOriginally Published July 7, 2011So the National Basketball Association, henceforth referred to as the NBA, TheLeague, or The Association, fresh off by most accounts was a very successfulseason, one that started with the LeBron James Decision drama last summer,followed by a compelling regular season that saw several young players raise theirplay to superstar status, and capped off by a dramatic Championship series were theaforementioned James Miami Heat team was defeated by a rag-tag, inspirationalband of tattooed milliionaires from Dallas, has managed to follow up on its recentsuccess and buzz by failing to forge a new labor agreement between the owners andplayers, resulting in a classic 1930s style Lockout1.The lockout has effectively stopped almost all league business, imposed a ban onteams having any contact with their players, and has even resulted in the scrubbingof the NBAs and associated team websites from player photos, bios, and really mostsigns that people actually play the games2.Since in a lockout situation the owners no longer have to pay the players, one mightthink the teams could settle in for a protracted impasse, since player salaries makeup the majority of team expenses. But even though the lockout is but a few days old,some teams are already making decisions that seem primarily intended to reducenon-player labor costs. Case in point - the Los Angeles Lakers decision to decline torenew the contract of long-time Assistant General Manager Ronnie Lester3.From the ESPN Los Angeles piece on Lesters departure from the Lakers: Barring a last-minute change of heart, Lesters 24-year run with the Lakers will end when his contract expires this month. By then, at least 20 other Lakers staffers, including almost all of the scouts who work under Lester in the basketball operations department, will have already packed their belongings and headed home. Theyve been 92
  • 93. told little by the team, except that employees whose contracts expire on or after June 30 would not have their contracts renewed, and their jobs may or may not open up again down the line.So on the surface it seems like a sad, but kind of straightforward deal. The League isin what appears will be a lengthy labor dispute, the upcoming season is perhapsalready in danger of being delayed, if not totally canceled, and teams like the Lakersare taking quick and aggressive steps to reign in labor costs that are still in theircontrol. Makes sense right, and really isnt all that noteworthy a story.That is until we catch one more little tidbit about the Lester employment situationwith the Lakers, buried about 2/3 the way into the piece: Lester wasnt fired or laid off. By all accounts, hes still greatly respected within the organization and around the league. Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak considers him both a friend and one of the best assistant GMs in the league. He just didnt protect himself well enough last summer when the Lakers gave him the option of signing a one-year contract for the same pay as before, or a three-year deal at a 30 percent pay cut.Now it gets more interesting. Apparently this time last year, the Lakers offeredLester a choice - re-up for one year at his current salary, or take a 30% hit but getthe security of a three-year deal. Twelve months ago the lockout might have seemeda possible but unlikely outcome given the apparent irrationality of a collection ofmostly billionaires (the owners) and millionaires (the players) being unable to agreeon a fair division of a massive pot of revenues4. But even as far back as last summereven the most optimistic observers of the NBA scene were expecting a laborproblem, and a likely lockout.As an executive on the inside, Lester had to know that the lockout was likely, andhe must have also suspected that in the event of a lockout, front office personnelmight be in a tenuous situation. But knowing that, and presented with a three-year,30% pay cut option, he elected to re-up for the single year, maintain his salary level,and leave himself exposed to the contract non-renewal it appears he is facing thismonth.Tough call, even when not staring an impending business crisis in the face. But it is agood question to ponder, even if a theoretical one.If your employer offered you a three-year guarantee with a 30% pay cut, would youtake the deal?Or would you roll the dice like Ronnie Lester did, maintain your salary for the timebeing, and take your chances? 93
  • 94. Notes:1. That sentence was over 100 words in length. Ridiculous. Get an editor.2. It is really kind of jarring. Take a look at if you dont believe me. The frontpage of the Knicks team site features a tribute to the teams dancers and the Knicks Nowsection is mainly about some recent community outreach efforts by the club featuring teamexecutives.3. Lesters best season of his NBA playing career was 1981-1982, when he averaged 11points per game for a pretty bad Chicago Bulls team. The second leading scorer on thatteam was Reggie Theus, possibly more well known to readers as the star of Saturdaymorning classic Hang Time.4. There is quite a difference in opinion how profitable (or not), the NBA is, and whether ornot the players or owners are mainly responsible for the current labor crisis. Some goodbackground can be found on the FiveThirtyEight blog at the New York Times site. 94
  • 95. CHAPTER 6Employee and Labor Relations 95
  • 96. Jim Tressel Would Make a Crappy HR DirectorBy Kris DunnOriginally Published March 10, 2011For those of you who havent heard, Ohio State football coach Jim Tressel has beenfined $250K and suspended for the first two games of the 2011 season. The reason? He had knowledge that some of his players were selling autographed program gearto a local tattoo shop for money - or tattoos.Heres the HR connection. Tressel got an email from a legitimate contact way aheadof the curve saying it was going on. He told the contact he would get on it "ASAP". When the story broke, he said he wasnt aware. Whoops.HR pros know better than anyone. Where theres smoke, theres usually fire. Youhave to walk down the hall and confront. You have to get in front of the issue.You get notified of bad stuff. The clocks ticking. What are you going to do?HR pros get paid to knock out the investigation. It starts by reacting quickly and notletting days and weeks - even months - slide by. The issues not going anywhere, andits going to rise up and eat you if you dont deal with it.Its fun to talk about the sexy parts of the job. The recruiting. The technology youcan deploy.All of it means nothing as an HR Pro if you cant block and tackle the investigationinvolving bad stuff.Jim Tressel knows that better than anyone. He wont be applying for your HRDirector spot. He can recruit, but hed kill you in other ways. 96
  • 97. The Mets and MLB Say No to 9/11 Hats Due to Funky Non-Solicitation PolicyBy Kris DunnOriginally Published September 13, 2011Say it with me: Too many of the decisions we make are driven by fear of confrontingthings that suck.Case in point: The New York Mets and Major League Baseball forbid players towear 9/11 hats on Sunday. To be more clear: The Mets and MLB said no to 9/11hats in NYC, on the 10 year anniversary of 9/11.Why would they do that you ask? If youre in HR, you know theres a horriblyflawed policy interpretation coming up.ESPNs Jason Stark reported this morning that the real reason the Mets and MLBsaid no was to have the ability to enforce their strict uniform rules in the future. Apparently, the Washington Nationals had asked to wear "Seal Team Six" hats a fewweeks back, and were told "no" under the same policy.Of course, saying no to 9/11 hats wasnt about having the ability to say no to "SealTeam Six". Its about saying no to the owner who wants to wear "Masonic Lodge234" hats because thats what hes into. You get the vibe... "Were saying no to this one so we can say no to the terrible ones that are coming. Its a slippery slope"Yes - just like the non-solicitation rule you have at your company. You say no todistributing marketing material of great local organizations because you dont wantto deal with Jenny from accounting being pissed off because she cant distribute 200flyers in the call center. And more importantly, also because you want the ability tosay no to the Teamsters if they want to distribute their stuff. Legally, you have to dothat. 97
  • 98. "Were saying no to this one so we can say no to the terrible ones that arecoming." 9/11 hats in NYC on the 10-year anniversary of...wait for it...9/11.Use this example to say no to an incredibly inept policy interpretation in yourcompany today, and in doing that, say yes. Give your team some credit for knowingthe difference between good and bad. 98
  • 99. The Jim Boeheim Rule: Leaders Should Never Attack anAlleged Victim’s CredibilityBy Kris DunnOriginally Published November 30, 2011Whos tired of reading about perverts and predators roaming the sidelines of collegesports?Everyone? Better get used to it, because the biggest fear of Athletic Directorseverywhere is that this is going to end up looking like the abuse scandals in theCatholic Church, which have caused the Vatican to start selling jewel real estate topay all the bills and settlements related to the claims.Hopefully it doesnt come to that, but you can advise your senior team to learn onething from the latest case - Jim Boeheim of Syracuse University - that transcends allemployee relations claims, from the most shocking to the most minorallegations. That lesson is this: "When someone makes an allegation against someone you know, respect and trust, your job as a leader is to be balanced. If you lash out against the person making the claim out of emotion or because you think the person making the claim is a slimebucket, you lose. Youve already screwed up an investigation that hasnt even started."For those of you who dont know, Boeheim is the head mens basketball coach atSyracuse University, and has an assistant that has been accussed of abusing a formermanager in the program. Boeheim reacted instead of leading when the story firstbroke, being critical of the alleged victims. Now hes in a world of hurt, as is hisemployer. More from ESPN: "When the allegations against Fine first became public Nov. 17, Boeheim adamantly defended his longtime assistant and attacked the accusers, saying he suspected they were trying to get money. "It is a bunch of a thousand lies that he has told," Boeheim told ESPN, referring to Davis. "You dont think it is a little funny that his cousin (relative) is coming forward?" Those comments prompted a swift backlash from victims advocates, who were outraged by Boeheims attitude. Boeheim, who had been sharply critical of the accusers, has softened his stance 10 days after an impassioned defense of Fine, who spent 35 seasons on the bench next to Boeheim and was fired Sunday. The Rev. Robert Hoatson, 99
  • 100. president of Road to Recovery, a group that supports victims of sexual abuse, said the dismissal of Bernie Fine was appropriate but didnt go far enough. "I think Jim Boeheim should be fired or resign as well," Hoatson said Monday. "These boys were members of the basketball program. Jim Boeheims responsibility is to oversee that program, and the children were not safe on his watch." As supporters of victims of sex abuse called for Boeheim to be fired, university trustees were largely silent."It happens more often in corporate America than we care to admit. Woman makesa claim of harassment against the VP of Marketing. The CEO or Line SVP reacts andputs pressure on the HR Lead or General Counsel to make it go away. They referto the less than stellar performance and reputation of the alleged victim. They makestatements related to the case that are way too public. All those things come up inthe legal proceedings that follow.As Al Pacino once said in Glengarry Glen Ross, "You just cost me $6,000.” Exceptyou should probably substitute 60K for the 6K. Inflammatory statements before theleader knows any facts cost money. Big time.But - if you have a renegade leader who likes to make big statements and make thecalls before they know all of the info, share this post. Were increasingly living in aworld where that type of leader is going to be asked to fall on their own sword innasty employee relations issues where they didnt lead.Life imitates art. Business is going to imitate sports in this area. 100
  • 101. Dress Codes: Is Your Ban on Iverson Jersey and Stretch PantsMore About Control Than the Customer?By Kris DunnOriginally Published November 29, 2011Youve got a dress code at your company. You say it is because of the customer.But is it? Or is it more about your need for control?Case in point - The kid pictured above is wearing a retro Allen Iverson jersey in theDunn household to celebrate the end of the NBA lockout/strike. Now normally,you know that would never be allowed. We generally dont celebrate anti-authorityfigures, regardless of race, gender or religion. No Courtney Love t-shirts. No JohnRocker throwbacks.Why? I say its not about my need to control, its about the behavior that thepersonality stands for.Charles Pierce would beg to differ. Hed tell you dress codes are meant to exertcontrol, just like lockouts of unions are designed to show labor who the boss is. More from Grantland: "And the third and most important reason why you know that the lockout was not really about economics is that there was a lockout at all. Lockouts occur when management believes that unions are too strong, and they occur when management believes that unions are too weak, and they occur when management doesnt want a union to exist at all. Lockouts are not devices of economic correction. Thats just a byproduct. Lockouts are attempts by management to exercise control over their workers. Period. Control always has been important to David Stern. For example, in the past, hes sought to maintain control over both Allen Iversons rap lyrics and over what the citizens of Seattle ought to do with their tax dollars. In 2005, following proudly 101
  • 102. in the footsteps of generations of American nuns, Stern instituted a "dress code" for his players so that the various corporate wolverines in the VIP seats wouldnt think that Yo! MTV Raps had broken out in the lower bowl. And, no, you dont exactly need the Enigma machine to decode what that was all about. No detail is too insignificant. Nothing is so small it cannot be monitored. Last season, the NBA — which is to say David Stern — came down with a rule that states, and we are not making this up, that headbands cannot be worn upside down or inside out. This nonsense got on the last nerve of Boston point guard Rajon Rondo who, rather than abide by official foolishness, ditched his trademark headband entirely. Not even Roger Goodell, the most anal of anal-compulsive commissioners, ever came up with anything this petty and stupid. The lockout was nothing more than the headband rule writ large. It was an attempt to demonstrate who was in charge here. Stern saw the "perception" building that his players were less "dedicated to the game" than they were to their various "outside activities," and that the hired help was "out of control." The NBAs kept press had been harping on this loudly ever since LeBron James took his talents, and his disappearing act in big games, to South Beach. And, again, you dont need a microscope to read between the lines there."Back to the Iverson jersey. How did it get in the house to begin with? Hes labor,Im management. Whats up?First up, its a sweet retro version of the Iverson jersey, in the style of the 76erswhen Darrel Dawkins and World B. Free were roaming the sidelines. Stars on theside. Stitched. Very Nice.Secondly, it came home for $10 from the consignment store. Nice style and Istarted thinking about what Iverson stood for when I saw it. Played hard every night(games only). Took a beating. Durable. Willed a bad team to the finals.The jersey stayed. I gave up some control, but Ive got my eye on the behavior. Ifhe ever says, "Were talking about practice, man", Ill burn it in a heartbeat. 102
  • 103. RARE: The Capitalist Says This Union Member DeservesBetter Treatment From ManagementBy Kris DunnOriginally Published October 26, 2011I know. Hang out long enough and youll see anything. This union memberdeserves better treatment. More from Deadspin: "Pittsburgh safety Troy Polamalu, the 2010 NFL Defensive Player of the Year, has been fined $10,000 for talking on a cell phone while in the bench area. Possession of cell phones in the bench area during a game is prohibited beginning 90 minutes before kickoff through the end of the game. Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said Polamalu was calling his wife to assure her he wasnt seriously injured after suffering a concussion."So let me get this straight. Jim Harbaugh and Jim Schwartz (coaches in the NFL)chase each other around the field after a game, curse repeatedly and almost come toblows - no action from the league. A great citizen of the NFL (Polamalu) calls hiswife from the sidelines to tell her hes OK from the road and gets fined?Troy, you need a better union steward.Wait a second - you collectively bargained all your rights away. The NFL has theright to do this under your union contract. Your union was so eager to get duescheckoff (thats direct deposit for union dues to the union bank account from yourcheck - without you ever holding the money) that they traded a bunch of stuff,including the ability to fine you for anything, for this right.Its not right. But its how the game works. 103
  • 104. Its interesting to note that this is the type of management decision that actuallyopens up a window in non-union companies for organizing. Youre going to act afool as a company? We need a union. Lets hold some meetings.Once the unions in? If you bargained the contract, were good to go. The NFL cando anything it wants under that contract, even if its something as stupid as afine/demerit for a cell phone call to a loved one - to tell them youre going to liveafter an accident.Warped and ironic. 104
  • 105. Employment Branding MBA: Why Nobody Cares WhetherYOU Like Your Alma Mater’s Football UniformsBy Kris DunnOriginally Published September 6, 2011If youre a real college football fan, you probably caught the new Univerisity ofGeorgia uniforms this last weekend, pictured below and to the right and almostuniversally panned as "sucking". More from the Birmingham News: "When I first got to a TV set for the Georgia-Boise State game I thought the Galveston Gauchos of the Texas-Arkansas Indoor Arena Independent United League had joined the SEC. What ghastly uniforms. Listening alternately to the pregame shows on the Georgia and the LSU networks while leaving Auburn, there was much attention devoted to the uniforms Georgia and Oregon were wearing, as well as Boises shoes. The radio guys didnt do them justice, how ugly they were. Especially Georgias. Somebody said, "Theyll grow on you." So does fungus if you dont scrub the tub. So many traditionalists among the Georgia financial supporters, for whom the occasional move to silver britches was a jolt, surely this wardrobe choice wont well serve Mark Richt."Of course, what all the old people (which is to say anyone who serves as a writer,commentator, or someone with enough influence for you and to be aware that theythink these uniforms suck) are missing is the following:The uniforms arent for the old people. The uniforms are for the youngpeople. Theyre about recruiting.Young people love stuff that old people hate - the more you hate them, old people,the better the recruiting advantage the uniforms are going to provide on the 105
  • 106. recruiting trail. If you dont hate them with a passion, the school didnt go farenough.Recruiting 101. Think Im joking? The University of Oregon started this trend withthe help of Nike. The more shock there is, the more 5-star recruits will be attractedto your brand, regardless if youve ever won or not. More on the strategic plan ofugly uniforms at Oregon from Grantland: "But back in Beaverton, the Nike designers did their part, using the Ducks program as part laboratory, part showroom. Blocky, standard letters became sleek, modern fonts. Wings on the shoulders? Diamond designs on the knees? Silver shoes worn at Southern Cal? "Nothing," Nike creative director Todd Van Horne said, "is off the table." The paint for the dark green helmets was made with glass beads and cost $2,400 a gallon. There were fall fashion shows. "They look hatched from an alien pod," Bachman wrote in the Oregonian, "sent to Earth to seek first downs and souvenir sales." This, Michael Smith wrote in the SportsBusiness Journal, was part of "Nikes 15- year project to build Oregon football into a national power largely on the strength of marketing and branding." Tradition? Tradition is great where its a sellable, marketable commodity. Alabama can sell tradition. Penn State can sell tradition. Michigan can sell tradition. At those places, tradition is the differentiation, but at the schools where its not? They have to go in the opposite direction. And no one has done that better, or more consciously, than Nike and Oregon, which for the purposes of this conversation are essentially one and the same. Oregons tradition at this point is the overtly embraced lack of tradition. Change. "We wanted to be out there, to be purposely controversial," Hatfield told Smith. "Thats a part of what we do thats not very well understood. A lot of the sports writers at first hated it" — fans, too, by the way, and still do — "and thats 106
  • 107. actually what we wanted. If youre purposely trying to stir up the nest and increase visibility, you want them saying something."Nobody cares what you think about the uniforms. If youre reading this blog, youreway too old to have an opinion that matters related to the branding of the uniformof your alma mater.Youre the past. The recruits are the future. The uniforms will get uglier until wewin a BCS championship.Your job? Keep buying tickets and making donations. And shut up with yournegative response to change, already... 107
  • 108. Employment At Will: Why Coke People Won’t Get CaughtDead with PepsiBy Kris DunnOriginally Published August 15, 2011Driving down the street the other day, I needed a product that a big Fortune 1000routinely sells. My flippant reaction was to pull into the location that Im used to,until I remembered: Were in the final stages of potentially getting business fromtheir competitor.Result: I wont test Karma, I went out of my way to find and patronize thecompetitor. And if we get the business, Im gone from the Fortune 1000 in a bigway for a while.You dont tug on Supermans cape. You dont spit into the wind. And you dont buythe brand of your sworn enemy for any reason. Unreasonable? Maybe, but the factremains for every person inside a company that thinks its OK to buy a competitorsbrand, there are 5 who would classify you as an unloyal backstabber.Think about Coke vs. Pepsi. A $1 purchase means something much greater toplayers on both sides.Heres another story about brand loyalty. Oklahoma State football coach, MikeGundy, was having work done on his house and a worker showed up in anOklahoma Sooners t-shirt. Lets just say it didnt go well; more from Yahoo Sports: "A contractor is suing Gundy, Oklahoma States head coach, and his wife Kristen, claiming the couple fired him for wearing an Oklahoma shirt to their house. Brent Loveland, a trim specialist who was hired to do work on the Gundys new house in Stillwater, showed up to his first day of work in an Oklahoma baseball T-shirt. The suit states that Mike Gundy and Loveland verbally agreed in February that Loveland would perform trim installation at an overall payment of $80,600. The 108
  • 109. alleged confrontation occurred on what would have been Lovelands first day on the job. According to the suit, Gundy approached Loveland and said, "How dare you come into my house and offend my wife?" The suit states that when Loveland asked what Gundy was referring to, the coach replied by saying, "That (expletive deleted) shirt you have on."Loveland claims that he dressed in the dark that morning and was unaware that hisshirt had an OU logo on it.Gundy was asked about the incident after practice and said he couldnt commentand that he would let his attorney handle it.Loveland is seeking damages in excess of $10,000 and said in the suit that he lost asmuch as $30,000 in potential money by turning down other jobs to work on theGundys house."I know - $80K for trim. You and I live in different worlds, as does the contractor. The type of world where you dont use lights to get dressed and you have lowawareness of logos on your apparel.But - the worlds the same in this regard - patronizing the wrong brand can get youfired - directly or indirectly - whether its an 80K per purchase world or a $1 perpurchase world.This post does not alter the employment at will relationship with your employer. Itjust makes you more aware of how thin the ice actually is. 109
  • 110. Labor Negotiations, Point Guards, and Genius EconomistsBy Steve BoeseOriginally Published September 27, 2011So I am starting to get a little obsessed with the ongoing progress, or lack thereof, inthe National Basketball Associations labor dispute between the owners, (billionairesthat mostly didnt get to be billionaires by accident), and the players, (millionairesthat also mainly did not get there by accident, unless you consider being tall anaccident). Whos that guy? Thats not Metta WP.For months the negotiations have dragged on, and last week the league announcedthe postponement of the start of team training camps and the cancellation of severalearly pre-season games. These developments, while not totally unexpected, act toraise the pressure on both sides to reach a settlement quickly, as the start of theNBA regular season, (and the point where players and owners actually start to feelthe economic impact of the labor problems), is clearly in jeopardy of beingpostponed as well. Soon, each week the league and its players fail to come to anagreement means a week of games that will not be played, effecting players, teamstaffs, arena workers, media and broadcast partners, and all the extended ecosystemof stakeholders in the league. Not to mention me, and how Ill need to find a way tokill every Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday night from November until June.From the piece linked above, heres a short recap of the last set ofnegotiations between the league officials, and representatives for the players union:(Ive added some descriptors in parentheses for clarity). (NBA Commissioner David) Stern celebrated his 69th birthday Thursday but didnt appear in a festive mood after meeting for about five hours with leaders from the union. He was joined by Silver, the deputy commissioner, Spurs owner Peter Holt, who heads the labor relations committee, and NBA senior vice president and deputy general counsel Dan Rube. (Los Angeles Lakers Point Guard Derek) Fisher, (Union chief Billy) Hunter, attorney Ron Klempner and economist Kevin Murphy represented the union. A description of a classic Management v. Union negotiating meeting, right? High-ranking officials from the league, the Union Chief, the players rep (Fisher), and of 110
  • 111. course a couple of lawyers and even an economist tossed in for good measure bythe players side.Typical unless you take a closer look at the one, sort of out of place but notreally because Ive never heard of him Economist, Kevin Murphy.Because Mr. Murphy is not just an ordinary economist - in fact he might be one ofthe smartest and most influential economists out there. From Mr. MurphysWikipedia page: In 1997 Murphy was awarded the prestigious John Bates Clark Medal by the American Economic Association, given once every two years to the most outstanding American economist under the age of forty, and widely considered to be the second most prestigious prize in economics (after the Nobel Prize in Economics). Murphy was cited for his study of the causes of growing income inequality between white-collar and blue-collar workers in the United States and his research linking the growth in income inequality to growth in the demand for skilled labor. His other research has covered such topics as economic growth, income inequality, valuing medical research, rational addiction, and unemployment. On September 20, 2005, he was named as one of the 2005 recipients of the MacArthur Fellowship, often referred to as the "genius grant."So I can imagine the mindset of Commissioner Stern, (no dummy certainly), and theleague owners in all this. They have (collectively), more money, more power, morecontrol, and probably think more negotiating leverage in this situation. They usuallysit across the table from union officials and player representatives and have to think- Were smarter than them.. It would not be an irrational conclusion.But all of a sudden the meeting starts, and in walks the economic genius, Mr. Murphyalong with the Union Chief and the Lakers point guard, and I wonder if Stern andthe owners did a double take. Did they know who Mr. Murphy is? Did they have anyidea about his history and reputation? Did they know they were sitting across a notquite but probably pretty soon Nobel prize candidate?You want to win your Beer League Friday night softball game? Easy. Bring in a ringerfrom the local college baseball team and claim hes the new guy in Accounting.Want to get an edge at the negotiating table? Drop a genius economist next toyour starting point guard.Eventually a deal will be reached, and the games will be scheduled, and it is hard toknow which side will win, but for me Ill give the players the halftime lead for theircreative approach to stacking their team. 111
  • 112. When Does Terminating an Employee Become a Reward?By Tim SackettOriginally Published August 4, 2011Answer: When your employees are pseudo union workers with individuallybargained contracts! Say hello to the NFL and “retired” quarterback, Carson Palmer,of the Cincinnati Bengals.Here’s the back story: in 2010 Palmer was the starting quarterback for arguably theworst team in the NFL. In 2005, Palmer signed, at the time, the single largestcontract in NFL history ($118M over the life of the contract set to expire in 2014).After this past season, and years of playing for a bad Bengals team, Palmer demandedto be traded, or (you’ll love this threat) he would retire. The other part of the backstory – the Bengals are owned by Mike Brown, son of legendary Cleveland Brownsowner, Paul Brown – and he is reknowned for how frugal he is. The result – just 2winning seasons in the last 20!Last week Mike Brown responded publicly about this situation, when asked if theywould trade Palmer: “Carson signed a contract, he made a commitment,” Brown said. “He gave us his word. We relied on his word and his commitment. We expected him to perform here. If he is going to walk away from his commitment we aren’t going to reward him for doing it.”So, now we are going to play a little game called: “What would the HR Pro do?”(This is where you get to play along and tell us what you would do in this situation:Do you cave to the employee’s demands, and trade him away to another team,getting something in return, or do you let him retire and throw away his bestearning years as a professional athlete?)Here’s what I would do:So, I really see both sides – as a fan (not of the the Bengals, but of sports and seeinggreat athletes perform) I want the guy to go play, but I would also want my team to 112
  • 113. get something worthy in return – to help out my team for giving up a startingquarterback in the NFL – which is a very valuable commodity. From the owner’sperspective, I want to see this guy rot! He signed a contract, he needs to live withthat decision, and perform to the best of his abilities, for our team. So, I still haven’treally answered, have I?Go back to Mike Brown’s comment about “rewarding” him by letting him walk away– “Reward” – that’s a strong word, that’s a personal word – sounds like this wentfrom being an employee/employer issue to an issue of “manhood”, and when you’retalking about millionaires and billionaires having a pissing contest – my money willalways go with the billionaires.The problem with people like Carson Palmer is that they want their cake and eat itto – he wants all the safety and guaranteed money of the big contract, but he wantsall the flexibility of a non-guaranteed year-to-year deal. You can’t have both. I’msiding with management on this one – I’ll let him retire, and he can sit around andwatch us pay some other guy his millions to play a game. Don’t get me wrong, Irespect Palmer as well, for sticking by his guns to not work for a crazy person –everyone has a price – and clearly after getting paid about $65 million over the pastfew years, Palmer’s price is more than what the Bengals are willing to pay. 113
  • 114. About the AuthorsSteve Boese is fondly known to many as the HR Technology blogger. By day, he is anHR Technology Consultant and part-time instructor at the Rochester Institute ofTechnology. That’s right, he’s educating some of HR’s future, folks. How’s that forliterally shaping the future of HR? Steve recently took a position with Oracle. Stevecan also be found hosting the HR Happy Hour on Thursday at 8PM ET. Tweet him@steveboese.Kris Dunn is Chief Human Resources Officer at Kinetix and a blogger at The HRCapitalist, and the Founder and Executive Editor of Fistful of Talent. That makes hima career VP of HR, a blogger, a dad and a hoops junkie, the order pf which changesbased on his mood. Tweet him @kris_dunn.Lance Haun is a Community Director for ERE Media and blogger at Hisbackground includes seven year of HR experience (primarily as a recruiter,generalist, and manager) and four years of social media and blogging experience inthe HR/Recruiting sphere. He has been featured in the Wall Street Journal,, HR Magazine, Workforce Magazine, FastCompany, and him @thelance.Tim Sackett, SPHR, is the EVP of HRU Technical Resources in Lansing, MI. Timloves everything about talent acquisition and believes every corporate recruitmentdepartment in America can and must get better. He has 15+ years of humanresource leadership experience, across multiple industries, on both the corporateand agency side – so he gets it from both sides of the desk. Tweet him @timsackett.Matthew Stollak, Ph.D., SPHR, is an Associate Professor of Business Administrationat Saint Norbert College. He also serves as chapter advisor for the Saint NorbertCollege Student SHRM Chapter, and is the Social Media Director for the WisconsinSHRM State Council. Tweet him @akaBruno 114