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The 8 Man Rotation: The 2013 Season


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The 2013 Season of The 8 Man Rotation Ebook on all things Sports and HR. Authors: Steve Boese, Kris Dunn, Lance Haun, Tim Sackett, and Matthew Stollak.

The 2013 Season of The 8 Man Rotation Ebook on all things Sports and HR. Authors: Steve Boese, Kris Dunn, Lance Haun, Tim Sackett, and Matthew Stollak.

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  • 1. The 8 Man Rotation 2013
  • 2. The 8 Man Rotation: A Look At Sports and HR The 2013 Season By Steve Boese Kris Dunn Lance Haun Tim Sackett Matthew Stollak
  • 3. Table of Contents Foreword by Robin Schooling HR Planning and Strategy Want to Be A Great People Manager? Don’t Watch the Ball... – Kris Dunn Chivas USA: Is It Ever OK to Transform an Incumbent Organization Into One Classified By Race/Nationality? – Kris Dunn Visualizing Data – Sports and Otherwise – Steve Boese Three keys if you want to become a more data-driven organization – Steve Boese Job Titles of the Future #7 – Professional eSports Player – Steve Boese HR, You’re the GM of Your Company! – Tim Sackett Monitoring Employees? Big Data? The NBA Has You Beat – Matt Stollak Staffing and Career Considerations HR as Big Data Marketers: “The Top Half of Our College Recruiting Class of 2009 Now Earns an Average of $109K Per Year… - Kris Dunn Is Negative Recruiting Against Companies with a High Percentage of Gay Associates in Our Future? – Kris Dunn Hiring a Jock is Always the Smart Way to Go – Kris Dunn HR/Career Slang: “Ball Don’t Lie”… - Kris Dunn Working With Fallen Angels – Steve Boese But he was great in the interview… - Steve Boese Recruiting the ninth best guy on the team – Steve Boese Vocabulary, Intimidation, and Recruiting – Steve Boese Off Topic: When You Run out of Interview Questions – Steve Boese The Google background check: How long can you hold this against someone? – Steve Boese External Hires are Sexier – Tim Sackett Program Kids – Hiring For Your Culture – Tim Sackett How Recruiters Will Break Up The SEC Dominance – Tim Sackett Recruit Me Like You Mean It! – Tim Sackett Recruiting When Money is NOT the Object – The Case of Dwight Howard – Matt Stollak The 1% Rule of Candidate Experience – Matt Stollak
  • 4. Onboarding, Training and Development TRUE: The Engagement Level of Leaders Is More Important Than Employee Engagement.. – Kris Dunn What the HR Capitalist Learned From His First Job… – Kris Dunn The WWE’s Triple H on Moving Into Management: Your Company and Wrestling are the Same… - Kris Dunn The Futures Market for Your Career – Steve Boese The Wisdom of Earl Monroe – Steve Boese What’s Your Culture really like? Ask the new guy from out of town – Steve Boese There Are Two Kinds of Leaders – Tim Sackett Uncommon Trait of a Great Leader – Tim Sackett LeBron James Isn’t Good Enough For My Team – Tim Sackett On Challenging the 10,000 Hours Rule – Matt Stollak Performance and Talent Management How to Know If a Manager/Coach is a Psychopath or Simply Has a Hard Edge… - Kris Dunn PEACOCK ALERT: What it Means When an Employee Competes to Be “Best Dressed at Work…” – Kris Dunn 5 Things You Need to Make Everyone Hate Your Success (The Duke Haterade Primer)… - Kris Dunn SUPER BOWL TALENT NOTES: The Right Harbaugh Won the Game… - Kris Dunn Performance, Culture, and the Miami Dolphins – Steve Boese Javale, Tim, and Setting the Right Performance Goals - Steve Boese More Evidence That Texting is the Best Way to Connect with Talent – Steve Boese Trying to look better vs. trying to get better – Steve Boese Star Employees and the Assignment of Credit – Steve Boese No One Cares What You Don’t Have – Steve Boese It’s Good To Have Enemies – Steve Boese Have A Poor Performer, Call Their Parents! – Tim Sackett Time to Change How We Choose Talent in the NBA and NFL – Matt Stollak
  • 5. Total Compensation Counter-Offers: 5 Times Not To Counter A Top Performer… - Kris Dunn New HR Job Title: HR Capologist – Kris Dunn The Celtics, Coaching, and Compensation – Steve Boese Employee and Labor Relations Karma…Don’t Spit Into the Wind – Kris Dunn Fire Fast: Too Many People in a Termination Decision Can Be Hazardous to Your Career… - Kris Dunn Manti Te’o, Notre Dame, and the Art of the Crappy HR Investigation… - Kris Dunn Committing a felony is against team policy, and other things we shouldn’t have to say – Steve Boese Employee Tracking Data and the Inevitable Pushback – Steve Boese You Call it ‘culture’ – to the talent it might just be ‘policy’ – Steve Boese 3 Reasons to Hire Back An Employee You Fired – Tim Sackett To Haze or Not Haze At Work – Tim Sackett I Once Got Fired in a Burger King Bathroom – Tim Sackett How Many Hours of Work Are Too Many? – Tim Sackett Labor Day and the NFL – Matt Stollak There’s Still Work to Do When It Comes To Firing Employees – Matt Stollak Forced Resignations and Other Noble HR Myths – Lance Haun Special NBA Summer League Session Why #HR Should Care About The NBA Summer League – Matt Stollak Observations from the NBA Summer League – Steve Boese My Vegas Weekend via Instagram (Featuring James Harden and Bro-Packs…) – Kris Dunn
  • 6. Foreword I was honored (truly!) when the guys asked me to contribute a foreword to the 2014 8 Man Rotation because I’ve been a sideline cheerleader since the first ball was snapped back in 2010. I love reading these guys’ take on HR and sports; the workplace and sports; the thrill of victory and the agony of…oh you know. I dig what they talk about because there’s a truism in sports, the workplace and in HR: if you’re not the winner, you’re the loser. Sound a bit harsh? Then perhaps you would rather live in the land of lollipops and unicorns where ‘everyone gets a trophy.’ Here in the real world the top- athletes and the top employees have an unquenchable thirst to be victorious as they outplay their opponents on the gridiron … or in the weekly sales meeting. I love talking about HR and I love talking about sports. Each week of the NFL season I spend 3 hours on the field with my favorite team as my heart pounds, my palms sweat and nothing else matters but that we (WE!!) crush our opponent through a combination of strength, sacrifice, and well-planned strategy. My fellow fans and I are a community with a shared goal for the season (the big game y’all!) and we wear our team colors as we laugh, curse and weep. We reminisce about the good plays from years gone by and try, with all our might, to forget the botched and embarrassing ones. (Geaux Saints!!) I like people who approach work with the same passion and intensity and if you’re an HR professional who approaches each day with the concentration of an athlete, coach or even a die-hard fan then you, my friend, are doing it right. I don’t know about you but I certainly want to work in an environment where my teammates want to drench each other with a bucket of Gatorade every day – metaphorically speaking of course. Does the head coach of a team ask “how can we get the crowd to cheer and make more noise?” Nope. Rather, the coach says “let’s make the play on the field so freakin’ awesome that the crowd can’t help but make some noise and cheer.” There’s an HR lesson in there. And there’s a bunch of HR lessons in this e-book. --Robin Schooling
  • 7. CHAPTER 1 HR Planning and Strategy
  • 8. Want to Be a Great People Manager? Don't Watch The Ball... Kris Dunn Originally Published on September 18, 2013 I've got a simple post today. It starts with sports and rapidly moves off that. Hang in there. You know what separates good and great coaches in team sports from average ones? They don't watch the ball. Regardless of the sport, the best coaches are the ones who spend 80% of their time watching the activity off the ball. They figure the guy with the ball is going to react to what's going on and do what's necessary. But the people without the ball? That's where the action is. Off the ball is where you have people reacting to what's going on in front of them, behind them, to what they hear - all in an effort to be prepared and be in position to make a play when the opportunity presents itself. There's a world of activity going on off the ball, but almost all fans and many average coaches focus almost exclusively on the ball. You want to be a great manager of people? A great coach in your organization? Find the equivalent of "off the ball" for the people you manage and coach. Examples: • A direct report's prep (or lack thereof) to talk to an influential person in another department at your company. • Abruptness in email communication that doesn't fit the culture of your company. • Giving "gifts" of time and effort in an organization that your direct report doesn't have to - because it's good for them, you and the company - and almost always gets repaid. • A direct report's ability to give feedback to people up and down the organization in a way that makes everyone feel like she's looking out for them rather than telling them they suck.
  • 9. There's a million examples, so let your mind flow. Real coaches don't watch the ball. They coach off the ball. In sports and in companies. Be a baller as a manager. Don't watch the ball.
  • 10. Chivas USA: Is It Ever OK to Transform an Incumbent Organization Into One Classified by Race/Nationality? Kris Dunn Originally Published on August 2, 2013   There are obviously plenty of organizations where members are identified by their race, national origin, gender, and age. I don’t have to list them here – you know them, and many of you may belong to one or more, and those organizations are general present to advance the cause of their members based on that identifier. More often than not, these organizations serve their membership with an eye on protected status and a history of discrimination that necessitated the special interest group to being with. I know – that was a thick intro. You’re welcome. Now let’s get to the interesting part. Is it ever OK for an organization that historically has had no such special interest mission to move to special interest status? What if that meant they had to displace workers and members who didn’t fit the mission moving forward based on race or nationality moving forward? Is that OK? Ladies and Gentleman, meet the Chivas USA soccer organization. Here’s the best rundown I can find of the situation from the LA Times, I’m using the entire article here due to the thickness of the issues included: “Former Chivas USA youth team coaches Daniel Calichman and Theothoros Chronopoulos have sued the club for discrimination after being fired as the team sought a return to its “Mexican roots,” reports Matt Reynolds of the Courthouse News Service. The report states the coaches claim they were harassed, suspended and then fired in March after raising discrimination concerns with the Department of Fair Employment and Housing. In response, they have filed a legal complaint against Chivas USA and its affiliates.
  • 11. “Specifically, the defendants, at the behest of Chivas USA’s new sole owner, Jorge Vergara, sought to import and implement similar discriminatory employment practices to those practiced by Chivas de Guadalajara – a professional Mexican soccer team that systematically refuses to field any non- Mexican individuals. Rather than base their employment decisions solely on considerations of merit or skills as do all other MLS franchises – Chivas USA management unlawfully makes personnel decisions on the basis of ethnicity and national origin,” the complaint states. Calichman and Chronopoulos worked with the Chivas USA Youth Academy for more than a year before there was a noticeable shift in the club’s philosophy, according to the report. They claim there was a concerted effort to create a Mexican-American roster and coaching staff. The complaint cites an early March article by Kevin Baxter of the Los Angeles Times, which explores the changes under owner Jorge Vergara. In it, manager Jose Luis Sanchez Sola denies the club’s decisions were based on ethnicity. New Chivas Manager Jose Luis Sanchez Sola says the moves were made for soccer reasons and not based on ethnicity. But just one of the 14 players cut loose has Mexican nationality while 10 of the additions are either Mexican-born or have Mexican parents, making them eligible to compete for both Chivas USA and Chivas de Guadalajara, which has never used a non-Mexican player in its 107 years. The coaches state in the complaint that Chivas USA did little to investigate their claims of discrimination and now seek damages for a wide range of charges. They include, but are not limited to, discrimination, harassment, retaliation and wrongful firing. Chronopoulos points to a meeting with Vergara as an example of the discriminatory practices. Part of the complaint, as passed along in the Courthouse News Service report, focuses on the owner’s humiliation of those who didn’t speak Spanish. “On or about November 13, 2012, Mr. Vergara – now the sole owner and highest ranking senior executive at Chivas USA – called a mandatory meeting of all employees, including plaintiff Mr. Chronopoulos. At the meeting, Mr. Vergara intentionally humiliated all employees who were neither Mexican nor Latino. Mr. Vergara brazenly announced that all non-Spanish speaking employees would be fired. He asked, publicly, for those employees who were able to speak Spanish to raise their hands (he initially asked the question in Spanish and then repeated it in English). He then asked employees who spoke English to raise their hands. After publicly identifying those employees who did not speak Spanish, he announced that those employees who did not speak Spanish would no longer be able to work at Chivas USA,” the complaint states.”
  • 12. Calichman and Chronopoulos both played in Major League Soccer for various clubs over the past two decades before moving into coaching roles. The complaint was lodged in Superior Court. Along with Chivas USA, Chivas USA Enterprises, Chivas USA Futbol Education, Insperity and Insperity Business Services are also defendants against the charges, according to the report.” So let’s do a quick reset. Chivas USA is a soccer organization that prior to the moves outlined above, had a diverse roster with many races and nationalities represented. Then, they made a move to make LA-based Chivas USA more closely resemble the parent club in Mexico. I could make the argument that it’s a sound business strategy in SoCal from a marketing perspective—a way to differentiate the club. It’s also pro sports, and you know—we tend to expect harsher realities there than we do in a normal workplace. But wait, there’s more. Not sure if you caught it or not, but the coaches cited were actually working in the Chivas USA youth club program. Many professional soccer clubs have youth programs that serve as feeder groups and are part of the marketing strategy as well. Sites like this one show what a recent Real Sports (show on HBO) feature uncovered—the parents of those youth were asked to fill out forms identifying their nationality at the time the other moves cited above were being made. So, it goes beyond pro sports. Smart marketing move or discrimination on the part of Chivas USA? Or both?
  • 13. Visualizing Data - Sports and Otherwise Steve Boese Originally published on October 25, 2013 As I wrap up 'Sports Week' on the blog I figured for a Friday I would keep it simple take the easy way out and point your attention to the always interesting, frequently amazing Information is Beautiful site where the contenders for their annual Information is Beautiful awards are being featured. The awards are meant to showcase and honor excellence in data visualization, infographics, interactive data presentation, and tools with which to analyze and interpret data and information. And, as luck would have it, several of the submissions in the Data Visualization category have sports themes, as sports continues to be a ripe area for advanced data analysis, and for new ideas about how to examine and interpret existing data sets. The chart below, a graphic that presents some analysis and comparisons of the playing statistics of the 2013 NBA All-Stars, naturally caught my attention, and there are similarly well-crafted and visually appealing submissions about soccer, bike racing, baseball, and more. But beyond the mundane world of sports, there are more serious and probably more important visualizations and tools that you should check out over on the Information is Beautiful site. With the seemingly endless amounts, types, and increased speed with which we are becoming inundated with data about our business, our workforces, our labor market and more, it has become more and more important that the ability to understand and present complex data in a relevant, meaningful, and accessible manner is a skill set any successful modern leader will need to possess. Sure, the charts and tools that are over at the Information is Beautiful site might be a little bit beyond your capabilities with design, and might be a little too much for the presentation of the more banal kinds of data we often deal with as HR and Talent pros, but there is certainly lots in terms of ideas and inspiration that anyone can take from such visually stunning displays.
  • 14.
  • 15. Three Keys If You Want To Become A More Data-Driven Organization Steve Boese Originally Published on July 30, 2013 So you've bought into it - Big Data, Moneyball for HR, workforce analytics - all of it. And whatever you call this increased reliance on data, analysis, and more objective information in your talent processes, chances are this represents a pretty significant change to the way you've always done business, how managers and leaders have made decisions, and perhaps most importantly how you evaluate and reward employees. Of the many tough challenges you have to negotiate if indeed you are the designated numbers geek/quant in your shop, once again the world of sports offers three recent examples, (NOT AGAIN), that help to point out some key focus points or areas of concern as you hatch your nefarious plans. One - Make sure you as the 'stats' person, knows how to translate the numbers into strategies that are likely to get buy-in from the team. From the SB Nation blog - How and why NBA coaches communicate advanced metric to players, an interesting piece on the Boston Celtics' new coach Brad Stevens and his desire to bring more data and analytics to bear in the organization: The numbers don't always offer solutions, but they do tend to generate better options and that's all an NBA team can offer with each possession and every front office decision. That's the next step in the analytics movement. What started in blogs has been appropriated by front offices and has now trickled down to coaches. Communicating those ideas effectively to players is the final hurdle. Two - Make sure the team members know how to and understand the importance of doing more accurate self-assessments in light of the new measurements. It is great when management and leaders make the move towards a more data-driven decision making process, but don't forget the folks on the front lines. Here is a great example from a recent piece on the WEEI Radio site by former Major League baseball player Gabe Kapler titled STATS 101: Why it's time to re-educate players in meaningful statistics: To take it a step further, when we discussed our numbers with our agents, it was in the form of the traditional verticals, the ones we used for decades prior. We correctly assumed that our reps were using these statistics in conversations with the general managers of our clubs. We stood in the truth that our value — our worth as baseball players — was wrapped up in these metrics. Times have changed, but substantially less among players. While progressive front offices have altered the way they evaluate us, we have lagged far behind in the way we grade ourselves. It’s akin to unhealthy communication in a relationship.
  • 16. Three - Make sure what you are measuring and holding people accountable for, is actually at least largely in their conrol or influence. This really isn't exclusive to a more data-centric approach to business, it applies everywhere. We generally can only control what we can control and penalizing the clever point guard because the slow-footed center can't convert enough of his excellent passes near the rim is not a long-term winning strategy. More from the Kapler piece: If, for example, we taught pitchers about Fielding Independent Pitching — which truly spotlights what a pitcher can control (walks, strikeouts and homers) and removes balls in play, thereby eliminating a fielder’s ability to have an impact on the outcome of a play and consequently a pitcher’s line — we place the responsibility right where it belongs. If we show a hitter how well hit balls and exit velocity/speed off the bat are being examined more and more closely, then the hitter will freak out less when crushing a ball off the pitcher’s forearm and having it ricochet safely into the glove of the first baseman for an out. He may walk back to the dugout thinking, “Ka-ching!” instead of throwing a water cooler and forcing some nearby cameraman to change clothes. Let's do a quick review: One - make sure you know how to communicate the value and merit of these new statistical approaches to the team. Two - make sure the team starts to do their own self-assessments through the lens of these new data-driven approaches Three - make sure you are holding people accountable for numbers that they can legitimately influence and can they can own. What other tips or recommendations do you have to transform an organization from one that relies on gut feeling to one that counts on the data?
  • 17. Job Titles of the Future #7 - Professional eSports Player Steve Boese Originally Published on August 8, 2013 Like lots of guys of a similar generation, I grew up playing sports, watching sports, talking about sports, etc. My Dad and my other adult male relatives were all big-time sports people as well - simply put, there was not a day of my youth through teenage years where sports in some fashion was not a part. Fast forward about, well let's just say several years, and while sports are still a big part of many American kids lives, (certainly girls sports are a much, much bigger thing today than when I was a kid), there are lots more and different ways modern kids can choose to spend their time, energy, and as we will see in a second, to feed their appetite for competition. And just like traditional sports like basketball and football have for many years offered at least the most talented and driven kids a pathway to fame and monetary gain, we are starting to see these newer forms of competition also present similar opportunities. What am I getting at? Check an excerpt from a piece in the LA Times - Online game League of Legends star gets U.S. visa as pro athlete International stars in sports such as baseball, hockey and basketball have long been afforded special immigration status to play on U.S. teams. Think David Beckham, the former Los Angeles Galaxy soccer player from Britain, or Dodgers rookie phenom Hyun- Jin Ryu, a pitcher from South Korea. Now add Danny "Shiphtur" Le, of Edmonton, Canada, to the elite list. Le, an online gamer, is one of the world's top players of League of Legends, a virtual capture-the-flag game in which two teams of fantasy characters compete for a glowing orb. Le is so deft at racing down the virtual field and opening up gaps for teammates that he recently became the first so-called eSports player to be granted a type of visa normally awarded to athletes featured daily on ESPN. With a generation of children having grown up playing video games, the decision by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services has been widely perceived as elevating America's newest professional sport to the same class as old-school stalwarts. And in a worldwide competition in which the winning team can take home $1 million in prizes, the ability to sign the best players — whether from Canada or South Korea or Russia — was seen as a must-have for U.S squads. Did you catch all that?
  • 18. A professional video gamer from Canada was granted a special type of visa, (probably a P1A), to live and compete in the USA with the rest of his elite team of gamers. I know you are thinking this is a kind of joke, or at least a once-in-a-blue-moon kind of occurrence. After all we are talking about video games, for gosh sakes. Not football, not baseball. Stupid video games. Except that I bet video games in general, and specifically League of Legends, the game in which Le and his team competes in, are a much, much bigger deal than you realize. How big? More from the LA Times: In the U.S. bracket of the championship series, eight teams compete against one another on Thursdays and Fridays at a West Los Angeles TV studio. The games are broadcast online and draw more than 1.7 million unique viewers. A typical National Hockey League game on the NBC Sports Network last season drew a quarter of that audience. Gaming industry analysts estimate that more than 32 million people worldwide play the game, about half of them in the U.S. The rest come from Europe and Asia. By those calculations, 1 in every 20 Americans plays League of Legends. That dwarfs baseball, from Little League to Major League Baseball. Like I mentioned at the top, I grew up playing traditional sports under the watchful eye of my Dad who also grew up playing those same sports. It would have fulfilled both our dreams had I become an NBA star. But alas, short, slow, and unable to jump very high (mostly) did me in. A new generation of kids is going to grow up playing games like League of Legends, under the watchful eyes of their Dads who also grew up playing League of Legends, (or World of Warcraft, or similar). And if those stats are accurate, or even close to it, that 1 in 20 Americans are playing League of Legends then there are going to be lots of career opportunities that will spring up from that ecosystem. Sure just like baseball and football there will be the select few like Danny Le that will become elite-level professionals, but there may also be a need for more event organizers, promotions, marketing, expert analyses, training courses, and on and on. Professional eSports Player, that has a pretty cool ring to it, and it makes the list as an official SFB 'Job Title of the Future.'
  • 19. HR You’re the GM of your Company! Tim Sackett Originally Published on August 6, 2013 I’m a huge baseball fan – specifically a Detroit Tiger fan – and I was reminded last week by the Tigers how important talent is to your organization and how HR could be at the center of it all. In professional sports, like Major League Baseball, they call the main person in charge a General Manager (GM). He’s the person behind the scenes (kind of like HR) making deals to keep their club competitive during the season or looking into the future. It’s a very strategic role. While they are not managing or coaching players on a daily basis, or playing the game – ultimately they are making decisions that have huge impact to the team you watch play the game. Doesn’t that sound like a role you would love to have in HR? The Tigers made some major moves last week to a team that is already one of the best in the majors. Why would a GM do such a thing? It would be like you going into your sales department, who is having record breaking sales, and moving on of your top sales people out and bring in someone new. Doesn’t seem like it makes sense – if it’s not broke, why break it! The Tigers were facing a couple of things – 1. the pending suspension of their starting shortstop; 2. the need to bolster their pitching staff for a run at the world series. They also have some long term needs – an aging short stop, so they need someone for the future. I know, I know – boring sports stuff – but it shows how HR should be thinking in a similar matter. How do we keep our organization running smoothly, and how do we make it better in the future – those two things don’t necessarily go together. It’s HR’s job to figure all of this out. It’s actually easier as an HR Pro to come into a broken company. At that point you know what has to be done, and you start doing it. If you come into a great company the question is how do you make it better, and potentially any change you make might make it worse. Harder yet, is how do you make that organization better, when it’s already doing great? Your the GM what do you do? Sit on your hands and ride out the run? Look to the future and start getting the next generation ready? It’s the heart of people strategy and the single coolest thing we get to do in HR!
  • 20. The Tigers are one of the top teams in the MLB for a simple reason – they have one of the best GM’s, Dave Dombrowski. He constantly is looking for ways to make his team better, but also not mortgaging the future away be giving away their developing talent. It’s a difficult balance. It’s the same in your role in HR. Your organization needs you to find ways to make them better right now, and keep them great in the future – sometimes that means making unpopular changes. Sometimes that means you’ll be helping influence your leaders to make courageous decisions. Decisions you not only have to support, but champion. A good GM helps the fans of their organization see the bigger picture – half marketing person, half prophet. HR needs to do the same. Our employees look to leadership and HR during major decisions and changes to see the reactions. They analyze every word, every facial expression and read into everything. Great GM’s/HR Pros know how to paint a bright future and a realistic positive outlook presence. Are you ready to be the GM of your organization?
  • 21. Monitoring Employees? Big Data? The NBA Has You Beat Matthew Stollak Originally Published on September 5, 2013 Watching the number of keystrokes your data entry operator makes? Scouring Foursquare or Facebook place check-ins to see if employees are honestly missing work? Well, the NBA is taking employee monitoring to a whole new level. They are installing data-tracking cameras in all 29 arenas that will enable them to gather intriguing information. If you are a referee, you will be monitored to see whether you are getting in position as well as making the right call: one reason the league acted fast was to immediately enhance its ability to monitor referees — always a touchy subject. The cameras represent the most precise way to grade the three on-court officials based on how consistently and early they get into the league’s three set positions — called “lead,” “slot,” and “trail” — and whether they make appropriate calls from those positions based on their exact sight lines. This is the next stage in seeing which officials are the best, and thus deserving of high-stakes assignments, and in quantifying that in ways that are hard to dispute. The league has already started using the cameras to check on the enforcement of defensive three-second violations out of concern that defensive players routinely break the rule by lingering in the lane too long. (The results of said studies are inconclusive so far, say several sources familiar with the inquiry.) What about player performance? In "Airplane," when Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (as Roger Murdock) was questioned on his effort, he said,
  • 22. "LISTEN, KID! I've been hearing that crap ever since I was at UCLA. I'm out there busting my buns every night. Tell your old man to drag Walton and Lanier up and down the court for 48 minutes" Now, with the installation of the data-tracking cameras, NBA teams can now measure work-related hustle: Teams can pay up to $40,000 extra to purchase (among other goodies) software that helps track a player’s physical exertion. The in-game cameras represent one piece of that. They can tell you how fast a player runs, how often he accelerates on cuts, how often those accelerations end with him reaching top speed, and the height of a player’s release point on jump shots. Some players recovering from injury, including Ricky Rubio last season, have taken significant game time to get back to their previous speed and fitness baselines. And an injury to one star, Manu Ginobili early in the 2011-12 season, resulted in the other San Antonio starters exerting more physical effort with a standstill shooter (Danny Green) in Ginobili’s place. The other pieces, and perhaps the most important ones in determining a player’s condition, come outside those 82 games and require the use of other forms of technology: sleep and heart-rate monitors, GPS devices and accelerometers players can wear during practice, and the careful tracking of weightlifting, diet, and other day-to-day stuff. Put all that data together, and you can get a fairly complete picture of a player’s condition, and of how indicators of his condition — running speed, jumping ability, etc. — change over the course of a season. “This is where you can start to measure fatigue,” says Brian Kopp, executive vice-president at STATS. A revealing nugget: Teams really want the SportVU cameras to monitor their practices, Kopp says. That’s difficult, since most teams practice somewhere other than their game arenas. Some coaches and GMs might want the practice data simply to check on which players work hard, and which loaf. But others will want it to change the very concept of practice. How much practice time do teams really need? And how taxing should those practices be? How should that change during the season? There are higher-ups around the league who are ready to radically rethink these things, provided the next-level data indicates they should. And, think of the impact these measures can have on contract negotiations: So imagine a player entering the final year of his rookie-scale contract and his agent beginning contract talks only to hear a team official open with something like, “Our camera data shows you really don’t hustle in the fourth quarter. Your running speed slows down. You just stand around instead of going for rebounds. These are some of the reasons we are offering you only $7 million per year.”
  • 23. Wouldn’t that agent want to at least cross-check that data, to make sure it’s not B.S.? The players union has already started the fight for access to that data. “All we want is to make sure access is available,” says Ron Klempner, the union’s executive director. “If teams are forming impressions about players that players are not in position to defend, we want to make sure everyone is operating on an even scale.” New technologies transforming how the NBA does business. Even Kareem Abdul- Jabbar should be impressed.
  • 24. CHAPTER 2 Staffing and Career Considerations
  • 25. HR as Big Data Marketers: "The Top Half of Our College Recruiting Class of 2009 Now Earns an Average of $109K Per Year"... Kris Dunn Originally Published on August 5, 2013 Want to get the attention of someone in your next College Recruiting class? Start thinking like a marketer and find stats that wow them. Take the title of this blog post: "The Top Half of Our College Recruiting Class of 2009 Now Earns an Average of $109K Per Year" Honestly, it doesn't really matter what the stat is. Your company has great stories - go find them. Slice and dice the data and find truth that tells your story in a unique way. The headline to this blog post isn't real. But in a company with any type of size and scale, I could go into your HRMS and find a great story to shake up your recruiting messaging. Here's the formula: 1. Find a segment of your employee population that's been around for reasonable time period. 2. Segment that segment until you find a killer stat involving money or promotions. Preferably money. 3. Be brave enough to talk about money in your recruiting communications. 4. Rinse and Repeat. Need a real world example? I'll give you one that's in the press this week and is actually fun. Nick Saban and Alabama Football are using this in their recruiting pitches. Read it and come back after the jump for some simple analysis:
  • 26. 51 Million and change. They took data and are using that in the recruiting process. Pretty interesting. Compelling.
  • 27. Let's think about college football - 85 scholarships or roughly 21 recruits per year on average. Alabama could say that the top 10% of the Tide's 2012 team went on to sign contracts worth 51 million. How can you frame a similar message? "The Top Half of Our College Recruiting Class of 2009 Now Earns an Average of $109K Per Year" Think about it - we need to become better marketers as HR pros. It's waiting for you there in your HRMS. Go get the data and spin it already.
  • 28. Is Negative Recruiting Against Companies with a High Percentage of Gay Associates In Our Future? Kris Dunn Originally Published July 2, 2013 There's obviously lots of movement in our society toward workplace equality for LGBT individuals, and this post isn't meant to be a debate on whether you agree or disagree with that. With so much activity pointing to the fact that equality is going to be legally defined to a greater extent soon, this post is simply about one aspect of what might be coming with that future. One fallout you might see from the change: Negative recruiting against companies/departments/teams/managers that are open LGBT-friendly may occur at the street-level of talent acquisition. Why in the hell is this on my mind? I recently saw a piece by ESPN's new ombudsman that led me to an old article from ESPN The Magazine talking about homophobia in women's sports. Here's a taste: "On every top recruit's college visit, there comes the moment of the final pitch, when the head-spinning hoopla finally gives way to the business of basketball, when the high school girl steps away from the rah-rah of all the games and the ego-stroking of all the VIP intros to sit down with the head coach. During one teen's big moment, a heart-to- heart with Iowa State's Bill Fennelly, the decorated coach of 23 years sang an insistent refrain. "He kept drilling that 'this would be a family,'" says the player, who asked not to be named. "'You should come here,' he said, 'because we're family-oriented.'"
  • 29. To the recruit, those seemingly comforting words cloaked a deeper meaning. Two of the four schools she was considering were purported to employ lesbians on their staffs. Her stop in Ames, in fact, was on the heels of a trip to one of those allegedly "gay programs." There, coaches avoided discussing anyone's off-court lives. Iowa State, in contrast, pushed the personal hard. "They threw it out constantly," says the player, who became a Cyclone. "'Iowa has morals, and people who live here have values, wholesome values.'" The implication, to her and to another former Cyclone who confirmed her account, was that at other schools, "there's something going on you don't know." Now before you go bashing Iowa as a whole, you should know that the state usually shows up on the LGBT-friendly chart related to equality legislation, so it's more about the program and less about the state. But that illustrates a long term trend of negative recruiting on LGBT issues in women's college sports: "Why, exactly, depends on whom you ask. Gay rights activists, coaches and players speak at length about what they see as a longtime and underhanded recruiting tactic in women's sports: Pitches emphasizing a program's family environment and implicit heterosexuality are often part of a consciously negative campaign targeted at another program's perceived sexual slant. In a survey of more than 50 current and former college players, as part of The Magazine's seven-month look at women's basketball recruiting, 55 percent answered "true" when asked if sexual orientation is an underlying topic of conversation with college recruiters." You should go read the entire article, because it's pretty alarming and insightful at the same time. The article goes on to talk about multiple situations, even going on to identify the reason two of women's basketball biggest programs (UConn and Tennessee) don't play each other is because one (UConn) deployed negative recruiting, accusing the other (Tennessee) of being a safe haven for lesbians. So back to the future. One reason negative recruiting on LGBT issues in corporate America won't happen is that as society finds acceptance to a greater degree, fewer people will care, and more will accept the concept individually. But thinking there won't be a backlash of negative recruiting is probably idealistic at best. After all, those that are fervently anti-gay have never really been faced with a society that openly accepted LGBT issues. As that acceptance grows, you can expect those who are anti-LGBT equality to activate to a greater degree, and deploy negative recruiting behind the scenes - with conversations like the one outlined above as the low-risk, high impact way to engage. I don't see negative recruiting in play at the enterprise/company level. I do see it coming into play on a position by position, hiring manager by hiring manager basis as LGBT acceptance grows, and with Freedom of Religion as the backdrop, I can almost
  • 30. guarantee you that you'll see it in LGBT discrimination case defense strategies. You can already see it, right? "I told the recruit that we have a family-oriented team and obviously we want someone who fits that." Then, the defense wonders aloud why the defendant in question doesn't have the right to talk about his religious beliefs? Negative recruiting around LGBT issues - coming to a Supreme Court decision near you in 2020.
  • 31. Hiring A Jock Is Always The Smart Way to Go Kris Dunn Originally Published on January 17, 2013 OK – the title made you look. You had an emotional reaction because there are a lot of dumb @#@ athletes out there who would make horrible hires. You're right, I was just trying to manipulate you with the headline. First up, I'm always a little taken aback by the anti-sports crowd. Lord knows the group at FOT and some of our contributors write enough about the connection between corporate talent and sports. There's even a website dedicated to an annual ebook featuring FOT writers and close friends of FOT writing about – you guessed it – the connection between talent and sports (download it here). Many readers think we should stop the madness. Some have unsubscribed as a result. We interrupt your regularly scheduled programming of sports/talent metaphors to talk about something important – when does it make sense to hire a jock? When are they going to be a better hire than a non-jock? Sports teaches a lot of things – teamwork, drive, being coachable, time management, working towards a goal that no one but you cares if you chase, being under pressure with others actively hoping you fail, to name a few. But sports at its worst can also raise up some ugly sides of the human condition – feelings of entitlement, thinking rules don't apply to you, an over-weighting of a single area of life, etc. The key in knowing when hiring a jock is the right thing to do? Find college athletes in situations where the positives outweigh the risks. Here's my list of great times to hire a jock over a non-jock when all other things are equal:
  • 32. -Hire Division 1 and Division 2 major sport athletes (football and basketball) who didn't start at the collegiate level and maintained strong grades (3.0 and above) and involvement outside of sports while being on full scholarship. Being a full scholarship athlete in a major sport is a full-time job, and if the grades are good and they still were involved in other areas of college life, odds are you are looking at a driven person who is going to fit well with your team. They've already been humbled – they're not playing a lot, but they've maintained all the commitments and they had to do what it took to get there in the first place. Not easy – hire them if you can. -Hire Division 1 and Division 2, minor sport athletes who had all the qualities outlined above (strong grades, involvement outside of sports) but were on partial or no scholarship. Being a minor sport athlete on partial or no scholarship at the D1 or D2 level isn't easy – usually these kids have the same time commitments as many of the major sport athletes and aren't doing it for the money, they're doing it because they love it. These kids make great team members and if they've found a career area they have similar passion for, look out! Sky is the limit. -Hire any star at the Division 3 level in any sport who had all the non- sport qualities listed above. A dirty little secret to Division 3 is that it's all non-scholarship, and schools actively use sports participation as a general recruiting tool to drive enrollment. It's not uncommon for D3 football programs to bring in 130 kids with the promise of playing football. They're not providing athletic scholarships to any of them, probably just a 10K discount on a 35K annual tuition bill through grants and non-athletic scholarships. It would have been much easier for these kids and their families to go to a cheaper, brand name state school, but there they are – chasing the dream. There's passion and drive in these kids, so grab them when you can, they won't be available long. So that's my cheat sheet on the best times to hire jocks. D1 and D2 full scholarship jocks with bad grades? Move on people – the stereotypes aren't always true, but the risk is high enough you shouldn't bite. Sort first for GPA above 3.0 and some involvement in non-sport activities as well, then sort by D1 and D2 non-starters, D1 and D2 minor sport athletes of all types and D3 stars. Boom. I just gave you the formula. Haters activate in the comments, please.
  • 33. HR/CAREER SLANG: "Ball Don't Lie"... Kris Dunn Originally Published on January 3, 2013 Got a new term/phrase for most of you - Ball Don't Lie. I like it, and if you like sports even a little bit - I think you should use it. Here's the meaning from Urban Dictionary: BALL DON'T LIE - A phrase commonly used by professional basketball player Rasheed Wallace; once famously yelled by coach Flip Saunders. "Ball don't lie" is said when a player misses one, two or all three of his free throws after a questionable (read as: bullsh##) foul call is made by an official. The ball is, essentially, the unbiased judge who will not reward the player by going in if the apparent foul was indeed bullshit. Here's how it's used: Announcer - *Andrew Bogut locks arms with Rasheed Wallace and trips over his own feet, prompting a foul call from the referee* Rasheed (on the court): That's BULLSH##, man! Announcer - *Andrew Bogut toes the line and proceeds to miss his first free throw* Rasheed: BALL DON'T LIE! Announcer - *Bogut then attempts a second free throw and misses again* Rasheed: BALL DON'T LIE!
  • 34. How can you use that in the workplace? Let's say you give a manager some prime HR advice, only to have them go against your counsel. You know they're wrong, and things go horrible for them as a result. People around you know that you gave them advice on how to handle the situation, and ask you what you think. You could tell them you gave them good advice. You could say, "I don't want to say I told them so, but...". BORING. Just respond as follows: BALL DON'T LIE. Tell them to look it up. Backstory on why this is on my mind. Some of you know that I coach a lot of youth basketball in the winter. After hundreds of games in my coaching career, I picked up my first career technical in December. The circumstances we're pretty grim. Last game of the day, the officials had done 3-4 games before ours. They're not calling a lot a result. One of my players gets savagely hacked on the other end going up for a shot - for like the fourth time in a row. Me: Can I get a foul call when someone hacks across both arms on a layup? Ref: I'll do the calling coach, you coach. Me: All I need to you to do is call the obvious fouls, blue (blue is an accepted nickname for refs, same as calling them a ref). Ref: I need you to sit down and be quiet. Me: There's no need to waste energy trying to put me in my place. Just call obvious fouls. Ref: Sit down coach, or I'm going to give you a technical. Me: Again, there's no need to try and show me up. Just call the fouls. Maybe actually run to the half of the court where the play is happening. Ref: Sit down coach, or I'm going to give you a technical. Repeat the last two sentences of the exchange 3 more times before the ref finally T's me up. As a result, the other ref comes and tells me I have to sit down, not stand, for the rest of the game. One of my finer moments. My kids were coming to the bench to give me high/low fives. I waived them off. Stay classy San Diego. I sat down. The team picked their shooter for the technicals to be shot in front of me. He shot and missed both, at which time I stated the following, with the villain official in front of me: "Ball don't lie!" (somewhere between loudly spoken and a soft yell). Use it on the next hiring decision gone wrong when you told them so.
  • 35. Working With Fallen Angels Steve Boese Originally Published on August 8, 2013 Ever since the passing of the legendary New York Yankees owner George Steinbrenner in 2010, probably the most interesting owner in all of USA-based professional sports is Mark Cuban, the owner of the NBA’s Dallas Mavericks. Cuban made his fortune, (a prerequisite for professional sports franchise ownership these days), in the early days of the internet, selling his company at the height of Dotcom frenzy to Yahoo for $5.9 billion (yes, that is billion with a ‘B’), in Yahoo stock. He purchased controlling interest in the Mavericks in early 2000, and since then has been at times the league’s biggest cheerleader, critic, and informal spokesperson. He has also become committed to building his organization around some core guiding principles – the HR/Talent pros reading this would probably call it company culture I suppose. This past week in a lengthy post titled Let’s Talk Mavs #MFFL, on his Blog Maverick site, Cuban opened up to the team’s fans, and really the public in general about many of the options, thought processes, and eventual decisions that the team made as they attempted to re-make the roster in the aftermath of the NBA Championship they won in the spring of 2011, the ‘lockout’ shortened season of 2011/2, as well as the recently concluded 2012/3 season and the ensuing scramble to make deals and sign new players. Now I don’t expect the average FOT reader to be all that interested in the intricacies of the NBA’s collective bargaining agreement with the player’s association, or the strengths and weaknesses of specific players, but for the HR/Talent pro there is lots to learn from Cuban’s approach to building and caring for his organization, and his willingness to be as open and transparent about the process.
  • 36. So here’s the point, or perhaps more accurately the questions that I want to pose to FOT Nation culled from Cuban’s piece, about whether or not you see your organization (or should see your organization), as a place where the right people can perform even better than they have in other settings, or earlier in their careers. Or are you largely assessing candidate’s ability to perform based almost totally on how they have performed in these past settings, that may or may not be comparable to yours? For an interesting take on this, check this excerpt from Let’s Talk Mavs #MFFL where Cuban is discussing evaluation of potential new Mavericks players, (or in your terms, ‘Recruiting’), to get the gist: We also feel like we have some players that will be far better on our team than they were on previous teams. I like our ability to work with what I call “fallen angels”. Players who are traded or left unsigned because everyone in the league thinks that they can only be the player they saw in another organization. We have taken players like Jason Terry, Jerry Stackhouse, Brandon Wright, Tyson Chandler and you can even say Vince Carter among others that were perceived as having this problem or that problem and had them contribute in new ways that were beyond what the “experts” expected. We pay less attention to what they did in their last system than what we believe they will do in our system with our group of players. We are not always successful as last year pointed out, but we have a good track record. In 2011 and 2012 you could not swing a cat at an HR/Talent conference without someone going on about ‘Moneyball’ and the lessons we as talent pros needed to take from that story and had to try and apply in our organizations. But where almost all of these ‘Moneyball’ analyses missed the mark was in their conclusion that the real lesson was to apply more metrics and statistical approaches to talent management. If we just had more data about people, it almost didn’t matter what data, we’d make smarter talent management decisions and FINALLY get some respect from the CFO and CEO. But ‘Moneyball’ really wasn’t about that, at least not fundamentally. The lesson was that the way to ‘win’ in an unfair game (one where your competition had significantly larger financial resources), was to figure out which assets were undervalued and acquire more of them, and which ones were overvalued, and sell them to the competition, (or simply cut them loose). So back to Mark Cuban. In evaluating potential new players based not only on what they have done for other clubs, (information every other team also has access to, and is therefore not a competitive advantage for anyone), and assessing their specific potential value to the Mavericks, and by building an internal system and culture where they believe the right players can actually improve, Cuban is playing a form of Moneyball recruiting as well, one
  • 37. not just based on the numbers. It is based on the rest of the market undervaluing talent that Cuban knows can thrive if put in the right setting. I will repeat the questions then – Do you see your organization as a place where the right people can perform even better than they have in other settings, or earlier in their careers? Or are you largely assessing candidate’s ability to perform based almost totally on how they have performed in these past settings, that may or may not be comparable to yours? Is your shop a place for these ‘fallen angels?’
  • 38. But He Was Great in the Interview… Steve Boese Originally Published on January 8, 2013 This post probably will take 500 words to get to the point which is this: As a talent pro, or more specifically, as someone that has responsibility and obligation to make a career- defining hire, be very wary of a 'great interview' that can cause you to take short cuts in your process, unnecessarily cloud your thinking, and frankly, to make a hire today that if you had given it at least a couple of more days of consideration, you might not have made. So here is the backstory and yes, I am starting my official 'I am going to continue to write about sports and talent in 2013 campaign' with this post. The Monday immediately after the end of the NFL season is known as 'Black Monday', named as such for the normal purge and firing of anywhere from 5 -10 head coaches, (and their staffs) by losing or otherwise disappointing teams from across the league. This purge also sets off a bit of a frenzy of speculation, posturing, interviewing, and hiring by these same teams as they all seem to be pursuing many of the same individuals from what is (generally) a small and highly sought after candidate pool. One such NFL team caught up in the coaching game of musical chairs (again), was the Buffalo Bills, a team caught up in a decade-plus funk, and owners of the league's longest streak of missing the post-season playoffs. The Bills released their prior coach Chan Gailey on Black Monday, and led by newly empowered team executive Russ Brandon, (this coaching search and hire would be his first BIG decision and will likely define his
  • 39. tenure), set about what Brandon described would be 'exhaustive'and 'leave no stone unturned'. This exhaustive search lasted about three days, and resulted in the hire of Syracuse University Head Coach (and former NFL assistant), Doug Marrone, who in four years at Syracuse had won exactly as many games he had lost, (25-25). Depending on your point of view, the decision to hire Marrone, certainly not considered to be among the most desirable of the head coaching talent available, was described as 'curious', a 'stretch', and with 'Who?' The great sports site Deadspin ran a piece that compiled reactions to the Bills' hiring of Marrone, and I wanted to call out the pull quote from the Sporting News take on the decision: When Marrone interviewed, he must have been extremely impressive. Marrone wasn't even the hottest college coach on the market Ouch. And there were other similar kinds of reactions from various media outlets and Bills fans - a mix of surprise, disappointment, and rationalization that a .500 college coach was the right person to tap to rebuild and transform a moribund NFL team. Obviously, only team executive Russ Brandon and perhaps a select few other team officials know what was really asked and said in Marrone's interview that was 'extremely impressive' enough for the team to conclude its 'exhaustive' search after three days and offer Marrone the position, which for him, represents a huge step up in pressure, expectations, and compensation. But Brandon has to know his own performance, (and likely his employment), is largely riding on whether or not Marrone ends up succeeding as Bills coach - and as a talent professional well, that is quite a bit of stock to put into what must have been an 'extremely impressive' interview. Maybe it's just me, but I worry a little bit, or am just a bit leery when I hear of coaches, heck any other candidates that are described as being 'great interviews'. It strikes me as just a half-step above being a 'snappy dresser', and we all know how much that helps win games.
  • 40. Recruiting the Ninth Best Guy on the Team Steve Boese Originally Published on July 9, 2013 In college and professional sports 'stunt' recruiting demonstrations- mocking up team jerseys, creating fake pictures or scoreboard videos with the player in the new team colors, or imagined play-by-play calls of a player hitting a big shot or winning a championship for his or her would-be new team are not really new or all that novel anymore. College teams especially, and sometimes professional ones too, use these kind of demonstrations to try and impress the candidate/recruit, to get them to more clearly envision themselves joining the team, and to play into their egos somewhat - not only will they come to the school or team for the expected reasons, (get an education, make some money, etc.), but they will also achieve their bigger dreams as well - win titles, be idolized, create a legacy - that kind of thing. For big-time and highly sought after recruits these kinds of displays are kind of expected and probably don't do all that much on their own to sway the recruit's decision. After all, once the 5-star high school running back sees about a dozen of these same kinds of pictures/videos from every major college program in the country the effect of any of them is pretty diminished. But where these kinds of gestures can still be effective I think is at the next, or even next-next tier of recruiting - for those candidates that are not All-Stars or Top Talent or whatever expression you prefer. For the players/candidates that might only be solid contributors, important to the overall cause but not the most important factor, perhaps just a little bit in the way of treatment typically reserved for the big time prospects can be the most effective lever the recruiter can pull. Take a look at this piece, Chris Copeland signs an offer sheet with Indiana after the team Photoshopped him into an ESPN Mag cover on the Indiana Pacers efforts to sign the former
  • 41. New York Knicks and now free agent Chris Copeland - a guy who just broke into the league at 28 years old, and on a good team like Indiana figures to be the 8th or 9th most important player. From the Yahoo! Sports piece: This isn’t a new exercise, teams have been Photoshopping potential free agents into would-be uniforms as part of a free agent pitch for years, but it’s still cool to see. Chris Copeland has signed an offer sheet with the Indiana Pacers, and before doing so the Pacers sent him this gift box (pic on previous page). Copeland is a D-League alum that couldn’t even hook on with some of the better leagues that international basketball has to offer, playing in outposts like Belgium and the Netherlands before catching on with New York as a long range shooter and active defender. Indiana’s biggest weakness in its run to Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals was its depth, and in acquiring both C.J. Watson and eventually Copeland, the team has smartly shored up that pine with players that should fit right into (Pacer Coach) Frank Vogel’s system. Again, not that big a deal, I suppose, teams can and have been doing these kinds of stunts for ages. But what is distinctive in this example is the approach and attention paid by the Pacers to a guy, Copeland, who will almost certainly not be a star on the team, and will not even be a starter on the team. Sure, the actual contract offer (2 years for $6.1M) reflects that, but making the player feel as wanted and as needed as a big time recruit with the simple little photoshop magazine cover, (that probably took someone all of 20 minutes to do), shows that the Pacers understand what is important when working with talent. There will probably be a few games next season where the contributions of bench players like Copeland mean the difference between a win and a loss. The NBA grind is relentless, and often teams have to get better-than-expected efforts from the 8th or 9th best guys on the team when the stars are not playing well or are tired or someone in the starting lineup gets injured. By showing the ninth best guy on the team that he is still important, that he is wanted, that he too, can envision himself on magazine covers the Pacers teach us all a lesson about making talent feel important. Even those who are not so-called 'Top Talent.'
  • 42. Vocabulary, Intimidation, and Recruiting Steve Boese Originally Published on July 9, 2013 There was a terrific piece by Dan Wetzel from Yahoo! earlier in the week on the recent rise to prominence of the Stanford Football program and that featured an in-depth interview with the team's head coach David Shaw. If you don't follow college football and are not familiar with Stanford's team, the essential bit of information is this - after many years as a middling to unsuccessful program the team, under former coach Jim Harbaugh (now the head coach of the NFL's San Francisco 49ers), and current coach Shaw has had a recent and remarkable run to national prominence, posting a 35-5 record over the last three seasons, and sending a steady stream of players on to the NFL. All this success has transpired while the program contends with what have been traditionally seen as disadvantages in big-time college sports - Stanford is a really tough school to qualify for academically, and once enrolled, the academic demands the school places on its students, (football players too), often rule the school out as a choice for the kind of elite football prospect that a major college program needs in order to compete with the likes of Alabama, Texas, or South Carolina. So getting enough talented players that are good enough for Division 1 play AND that can qualify academically AND actually want to attend Stanford - well, you see what kind of a recruiting challenge that faces Shaw and his staff. So beyond validating a potential recruits' interest in Stanford, reviews of their high school game tapes, verification of the academic transcripts, and ensuring their SAT
  • 43. scores are suitably impressive - what else does Shaw do when determining if a player would be a good match for the Stanford program? He evaluates a player's vocabulary. Yep, their vocabulary. Check this from the Yahoo piece: Superior academics are mandatory for admission and success at the elite university. Great athletic ability, strength and speed are a necessity to play for the reigning Pac-12 champions. Character, leadership and motivation are highly valued intangibles. And then there is something unique Stanford coaches evaluate when meeting with a prospect, something that few would think predicts football success. "Vocabulary," Shaw said. Vocabulary? "Yes, you look for vocabulary," he said. "Can this kid express himself in a way that befits a Stanford man? "You walk around and talk to our kids, they look you in the eye," Shaw continued. "And we play that way. We are going to play right at you, in your face, 'Here is who we are, here is how we play.' There is a one-to-one correlation. There is no doubt about it to me. The inability to be intimidated by a person or a situation is something that is significant. Really interesting spin on the recruiting evaluation process - particularly in a job where 'success' is complex and multi-dimensional (probably similar to the roles in your organization). Sure, 'success' as a college football player entails excellence at some significant physical levels - speed, strength, etc. But at a place like Stanford, 'success' also means excelling in a demanding academic environment, one where a player almost certainly will not be the smartest person in the room, and where there status as an athlete probably doesn't afford them any special treatment greater than someone who is a great scientist or developer or entrepreneur. Look again at the last line in the David Shaw quote above - "The inability to be intimidated by a person or a situation is something that is significant." It is pretty
  • 44. easy to tell who is or isn't going to be intimidated on a football field, but in business and in life - well, it is not so easily discerned. Can a person's vocabulary be a good proxy for that rare quality - the ability to not get pushed around a conference room or in a meeting, or to use a recently trendy term, to 'lean-in' even when it would be easier to withdraw? No matter what we think, it seems to be working for Shaw and Stanford.
  • 45. Off Topic: When You Run Out of Interview Questions Steve Boese Originally Published on July 9, 2013 Book, can, drum, mirror, door. (I will come back to this later, but try and remember this list). Recently, the National Football League, (where they play....... for pay), conducted its annual Scouting Combine - a several day long series of events, interviews, feats of speed and strength, etc. designed to give its member clubs a chance to assess and evaluate lots and lots of potential draftees, (job candidates), in one place, and under consistent and controlled conditions. Gary Hume, Girl Boy, Boy Girl The hopeful candidates run 40 yard dashes, do the broad jump, perform bench presses, and in addition to these physical tests, (again, which provide a really solid way to compare the performance of players), also undergo some mental and cognitive assessments, (most notably the Wonderlic test). But having the same information as all your competitors, (40 times, bench presses, etc.) doesn't really help a team gain a recruiting advantage - none of the information is powerful since it is completely open and free. For a team trying to decide which players
  • 46. to draft - they need to get past the size and speed and test scores, and really get some unique insight into the player. What motivates him, does he have passion for the sport, is he likely to be a 'good' teammate, and not be a 'me-first' prima donna. And if you are the Cincinnati Bengals, you also want to know if the player can remember five random words in order. Check this excerpt from a recent piece on Deadspin, on the Combine experience of draft hopeful Lane Johnson – "One thing caught me off guard. I was meeting with Cincinnati, and I went in there and they told me to remember five things. They just listed five things like a bear, a flower, a tree, a man and like a dog. And they told me to remember those terms, at the end of the meeting to see if I could remember them. And from that point on, they listed numbers. They said, like, 9167, and then told me to repeat them in reverse order. So that was probably the weirdest meeting I've ever been a part of." Nice. And classic Bengals in a way as well. Now there could be some real validity in asking a question like this - a check on a player's concentration, their short-term memory, ability to pay attention to instructions, etc. that might have some validity and value in the assessment process. Maybe the performance on a question like this is highly predictive of future success as an NFL player. Or maybe it's just a random question, full of weirdness and confusion, signifying nothing. But if you do find yourself at a loss for any more clever interview questions the next time you have a candidate in for a chat maybe you can try it out and see what happens. Remember the five things?
  • 47. The Google Background Check: How Long Can You Hold This Against Someone? Steve Boese Originally Published on February 20, 2013 Check this interesting piece on Deadspin last week from the world of High School sports titled'Disgruntled Goalie Scores On His Own Net, Flips Off Coaches, Skates Off The Ice Forever. On the surface it seems like a kind of amusing, if a little sad, tale about a senior high school ice hockey goalie, feeling like he had been slighted and had unfairly lost playing time to a sophomore goalie. The senior then used the occasion of the team's last game to vent his frustration with his coaches and the situation in a classic flame-out fashion. I won't embed the video here, or mention the goalie's name - both can be found at the Deadspin piece, but in case you don't have time to check the footage (you do, it's literally about 12 seconds), here is the gist of what went down: With three minutes remaining, and Farmington up by one, (he) corralled the puck behind the goal. The video picks up there as he skates it in front and casually slips it into his own net. He sends a middle finger to his bench, fires off a salute, and skates back to the locker room. The game was tied, and Farmington—with a third-string goalie in net, the sophomore was out with an injury—would concede another goal a minute later to lose. You can certainly chalk up the senior's demonstration/protest/tantrum to a youthful indiscretion and an immature way to express his anger. Sure, he was wrong to put the puck in his own net, he was wrong to flip off the coaches, and he was wrong to put himself above the team in that way. Whether or not he was a better goalie than the sophomore really isn't important here, but for anyone that has been in that kind of situation, you can at least feel for the kid's point of view. Again, in the end, it's really just a kid acting out inappropriately, like most kids will do at least once in a while, and that most of us probably did ourselves when we were that age. No big deal really, it was only a silly hockey game, and the kid will learn his lesson, (or maybe he won't), and everyone will move on and forget.
  • 48. But I wanted to call it out on the blog this week, after having a quick scan through the 75-odd comments on the Deadspin piece, and noticing at least a half dozen comments similar to this one from someone named 'Loose Cannon': /Googles '(the kid's full name)' //discards resume, moves on - Hiring Managers Again, I'm leaving out the kid's real name, as I think as evidenced by the comments from 'Loose Cannon' and several others he is never really going to be able to erase this incident from the interwebs. No matter what he goes on to in his life, a Google search for his name, like many, many Recruiters and hiring managers will execute, will bring up these words and images that show immaturity, selfishness, and lack of respect for authority. But I kind of feel bad for the kid. Not because of what 'Loose Cannon' thinks, (I have a feeling he isn't hiring anyone anytime soon), but rather for the fact that this episode is going to trail him for a long, long time - maybe forever. I know I did some stupid things back in the day, things I would not want my potential next boss to read about it in detail. Our young goalie friend here doesn't have that option now. Let's hope the HR person or recruiter that does the first Google search on him in a few years can empathize. It will help if he or she was also brought up in the YouTube age I think.
  • 49. External Hires are Sexier Tim Sackett Originally Published on December 3, 2013 It was announced last night that the University of Southern California (USC) will hire the University of Washington’s head coach, and former USC assistant,Steve Sarkisian. It was been an up-and-down season for USC who fired their head coach, Lane Kiffin, halfway through the season after starting 3 -2. Kiffin was replaced by current assistant coach Ed Orgeron, who then took the team and went 6-2 the rest of the season after taking over for Kiffin. The players wanted Orgeron to get the head coaching job. USC’s athletic director decided to go outside the program to find his next head coach, despite Orgeron’s success. I know, I know, you thought you were coming to read about HR stuff – well you are – kind of! Doesn’t this sound familiar to you? Not the coaching and football stuff, but how the decision was made to hire? Here you have someone internally who has been loyal and successful, and instead of giving that person the promotion, the organization decides that an external person, who really hasn’t proven anything (in this case Sarkisian has been marginally successful at the University of Washington). This just doesn’t happen with football coaches at big universities, this happens at every level of organizations all over the world! The fact of the matter is, external hires are sexier!
  • 50. It’s a weird organization dynamic that takes place. Internal people become idiots, external people are genius. Why do you think your organization pays big bucks to bring in consultants to basically tell you to do things you already knew you needed to do, and have been trying to get your organization to do? It’s because you’ve hit ‘idiot’ status in your organization – which means, you’ve been there over a year, and are no longer considered and external genius! I see it constantly when I go and consult in the Talent Acquisition field. I’ll go and talk with the rank and file workers who are doing the work each and every day. I’ll then go and talk to the executives. The rank and file know what needs to be done, the executives don’t thing their people have a clue, and the big miss is usually the executive who is unwilling to give his or her team the resources needed to make the change. That is until I tell them that is what is needed, then all of sudden ‘my’ ideas, the same ideas the team already knew needed to be done, are ‘genius’! How do you combat this phenomenon? You have two routes: 1. Quit every 12 months and move to a new company to regain your sexy status. Or 2. Don’t make your ideas your own. We get caught up in wanting ‘our’ ideas to be what we do. If you know you’ve reached ‘idiot’ status in your organization, this will work against you, because your ideas will be considered worthless. Show your executives who else in the industry have tried this and how it went. Give examples of companies outside your industry having success with it. Best of all, show how your competition has had success with something. Make you idea, someone else’s idea, someone more sexier than you! Remember, you’re not alone in feeling this way. It’s very common for organizations to believe external hires, thus their ideas and beliefs, are much sexier than you. It doesn’t mean you need to give into this belief, you just need to show you can be more savvy about how you move things through your organization. Also, be positive about using the influence a new sexy hire has. They have this brief window of being a genius, find out ways to work with them to use this fading power! Soon they’ll be an idiot like you.
  • 51. Program Kids – Hiring For Your Culture Tim Sackett Originally Published on November 21, 2013 If you didn’t catch it last week, Michigan State Basketball, rated #2 in the country, knocked off the University of Kentucky, rated #1 in the country. An early season match-up in college basketball which ultimately has little impact on the bigger picture of this basketball season, but it was fun to watch! What the game really ended up being about was two different sets of kids, not based on their uniform, but based on their path. Kentucky, under current coach John Calipari, has become a NBA basketball factory of first round draft picks. Coach Cal has basically made the decision to use the NBA draft rules, that a kid must be one year out of high school and over 19 before being draft eligible, to build his winning program. He basically sells to the best high school basketball kids in the country, who could probably jump immediately to the NBA, that you come to UK for 1 year, then leave and go to the NBA. This system is working really well for him! These kids come and take classes for one semester, and then basically leave as soon as basketball is over in March. Doesn’t really seem to fit the goal of intercollegiate athletics, but what the hell, he’s winning… On the other side you had Michigan State and coach Tom Izzo (to be fair, I’m a big fan of the program and Tom, I think Coach Cal is a cheater and a liar) whose has built one of the best programs in the country over the past 19 seasons, by taking almost the
  • 52. opposite way to success. Tom goes out and recruits ‘Program’ kids. Tom grew up in Northern Michigan; he was raised with a blue collar work ethic. He is everything that Calipari isn’t. He isn’t flashy. He’s loyal. He wants his kids to leave MSU better men, not better basketball players. While Tom would take a top player, he’s only ever taken a kid who was ‘one and done’, and even that kid didn’t think that would be the case when he came to MSU. The kids who get recruited to MSU know they’ll be broken down, taught how to play defense first, team basketball, it’s about the program, not about you. As you can imagine, a kid wanting to jump right to the NBA, doesn’t find this attractive. Coach K at Duke is very similar, although, he tends to get a few one- and-dones based on his past success! The game was close at the end, but not really as close as the final score. MSU had juniors and seniors on the floor – grown mature men. Kentucky had kids on the floor, very, very talented kids, but kids all the same. Both programs successful. Both programs win. I like one way more than another, but I can’t argue the successful business model that Coach Cal has produced. It brings up a great question for HR/Talent Pros and leaders of organizations. We all say we want the ‘best’ talent. We want ‘rock stars’. But I wonder, do we? Do you want ‘Program kids’, hires that fit your culture? Or do you want ‘One-and-dones’, hires that have extreme talent, but might not want a long-term career with you? You might say it’s a hard comparison because we are talking about amateur (Program Kids) versus professional (One-and-done) level talent. Of course in business we would always want professional level talent. But I’ll argue that Program hires, those who fit what and where you want your organization to go will always be better in the long run. What happens when the next big school or pros come calling for Coach Cal? What happens to Kentucky? It would left in shambles. The strategy doesn’t have legs because you must rebuild every year. What happens if another big time school with a flasher coach starts getting all the one-and-dones? Program kids don’t want to go to Kentucky. Hiring for cultural fit has huge impact to long term organizational success.
  • 53. How Recruiters Will Break Up the SEC Dominance Tim Sackett Originally Published on February 11, 2013 NCAA Football fanatics love recruiting signing day! That one day, each year, when you get to find out how good your team will be in 2-3 years. For the past 5 plus years the SEC Conference has been dominating college football’s signing day (as well has the National Championship games!). 2013′s Signing Day was no different. Of the top 300 college football recruits – 41% signed on to play football at a SEC school! (see chart below) There really isn’t much difference in recruiting a college athlete than there is in recruiting talent to your organization. The SEC dominance in football recruiting, is similar to the dominance that Google has over Yahoo or Facebook. The dominance that Gap might have over similar retailers, etc. If you are being dominated in recruiting by your competition there are some things you can do, and there are some things that will happen naturally to help return balance to the universe. Here’s how I think Big Ten, Pac12, ACC, etc. conference will break up the SEC’s dominance in college football recruiting, and how you can do the same with your organization: 1. Stars want to shine – Great you go offered to go to Alabama, along with 20 other 5 star recruits – it all becomes relative. Recruiters, in non-SEC schools, must sell the ‘opportunity’ for these kids to star right away at their schools. A 5 star kid at Alabama might be a backup for 2-3 years. While at another school they could start as a freshman. Not every recruit will buy into this – but many will. Sell opportunity.
  • 54. 2. The NFL Dream – It says something about you when you’re the 9th best player on your team to NFL scouts. The 9th best NFL player at Alabama might be much better than the best player at Michigan State – the best player at Michigan State is getting more publicity and more NFL scout action than the 9th best player at Bama. The difference might only be 3-5 rounds in the NFL – but that’s huge! Sell the NFL dream that 99% of D1 football recruits have. 3. Stop selling “Michigan Man” – 2nd tier conferences and schools sell this concept of being the right ‘kind’ of person for a school – University of Michigan calls it ‘The Michigan Man’ – we only want kids who are Michigan men, blah, blah, blah. Really!? Well then, I only want to recruit ‘Alabama Men’ because they seem a quite a bit better! If you, a recruiter, is selling this concept of culture to top level recruits – it might make you feel really good about yourself – but it doesn’t ring true for great talent. Nick Saban doesn’t sell ‘Alabama Men’ – he sells championships. Sell winning, sell being number one in your industry. People love playing/working for a winner. 4. Set Up Shop – Eventually you are going to see Big Ten recruiters actually living, buying a house, etc. full time in SEC territory if they truly want to compete for talent in those areas on a regular basis. Having a local presence, establishing local relationships with high school coaches, etc. says a ton to a player and his family. Flying in once every few months, when Johnny Alabama is there every week, says something completely different. Works the same for your organization – want Silicon Valley talent to come to Tulsa – you better get some feet on the ground! 5. Start Early – You know there are very little recruiting rules in place for kids under the 9th grade! A ‘donor’ for your school could fly in a 8th grader, buy him a sweatsuit and take him to his suite to watch your game – all legal, if under 9th grade. Can you image the impression that makes on a young kid?! Now you might not know if the kid will actually project out to be great – but you get enough interested at a very young age and you begin to get talent you never got before. Long-tail recruiting. This is why campus recruiting is so important to many organizations for talent – you need both a long and short term recruiting strategy to fill your pipeline. There’s one other thing that will eventually work against the SEC recruiting which seems to happen at all great organizations – laziness. Success doesn’t always breed more success – many times in breeds complacency. The might be the biggest risk of all. The more success they have in recruiting and the more championships they win – the more other recruiters from outside conferences are going to be working harder to get ‘their’ talent. Their great success might be their biggest risk!
  • 55. Recruit Me Like You Mean It! Tim Sackett Originally Published on November 21, 2013 Have you guys ever seen a top level athlete in high school get recruited to play college sports? I'm not talking about your best friend Mary's son, Billy, who hit .338 his senior at Northern High and is getting a partial scholarship to St. Mary's Western Community College. I'm talking top 100 kids who have offers from USC, Notre Dame, Alabama, Texas, Florida, Ohio State, etc. Kids who get hundreds of text messages per day, phone calls from morning until night, separate deliveries from the Postal Service, UPS and FedEx – each day. Kids who go to play a Tuesday night non-league game against a team that has won all year and 37 coaches are in the stands only to watch them play. The coaches can't even talk to them after the game because of NCAA rules, but it's important they are there to be seen. Do you know anyone like that? Do you have any idea what it must feel like to be recruited like that? To feel that wanted. Schools do this, because there are millions of dollars at stake. Sportswear apparel contracts, TV contracts, etc. College athletics is a big time business – it's important for them to recruit the best talent to stay on top, or get to the top. Recruiters spend weeks on end and long hours recruiting top talent, sometimes over 4-5 years. They'll travel thousands of miles to stand 100 feet from a recruit, hoping the recruit notices they are there. Schools will spend hundreds of thousands of dollars recruiting kids each year. One recruit might cost a school a million dollars over a 4 to 5 year recruitment cycle. Crazy, isn't it?
  • 56. For what, really? These kids will play basketball/football/etc. Whether they play for Florida or USC, it doesn't really matter – there is really no major difference between the two. I know alumni will all disagree – but a high performing major DI school – the overall difference is very small. Sounds like many major employers, right? What's the real difference between working at Facebook or working at Google if you're a developer? Work, pay, crazy benefits are virtually all the same. Sure they try and sell you that they are different, but not really so much. I'm waiting. I'm waiting for one company to turn recruitment upside down. I'm waiting for one company to decide, we are going to go after talent like Nick Saban goes after talent at Alabama. We are going after talent to win – not a national championship, but to win our industry – to be the best, to develop the best, to crush our competition. Can you imagine what that might look like? I'm guessing recruitment would become pretty important to your organization. I'm guessing recruiters would probably not sit at a desk all day hoping talent sends them a resume from their posting on the corporate careers site. I'm guessing your recruiters would know exactly who they were going after them, and they would find them – where they ate lunch, where they worked out, where they went to dinner, went on vacation – and they would show up and start building a relationship. Your recruiters would have multiple people they were pursuing over years and everyone would know. Publicly, it would be known – “Google wants Tim Sackett!” Tim Sackett would know and feel how much Google wanted him. He would be pursued, just like he was the next great quarterback coming out of high school with a golden arm. Can you imagine how that would change the game? Ultimately, the talent you recruit is no different than those kids being recruited to play athletics. Those recruits will make millions of dollars for their schools. Your recruits will make millions of dollars for your company. The difference being – most the talent you recruit – comes with a proven track record. You just need to get out from behind the desk and start finding out who is the best. I wonder which company will do this first, to truly go out and start recruiting talent to come work for them – like they mean it!
  • 57. Recruiting When Money is NOT the Object – The Case of Dwight Howard Matt Stollak Originally Published on July 2, 2013 For the most part, firms compete for talent on the basis of salary - if you pay more than the next guy, you usually win out. When recruiting ace pitcher C.C. Sabathia, the New York Yankees made a major splash by offering $40 million more than other teams. But, what do you do when money is not the centerpiece of the discussion? With free agency bidding opening yesterday, take the current recruitment of mercurial NBA center Dwight Howard. Unlike most organizations, the NBA has a salary cap with a maximum contract that can be offered. In other words, all 30 NBA teams could offer Howard the same salary, and not a dollar more. With that in mind, what can a team do to make their case? 1. Is the boss someone you want to work for? The Los Angeles Clippers recently brought in coach Doc Rivers from the Boston Celtics in order to retain free agent star guard Chris Paul. 2. Can you reach the pinnacle of success in a short period of time? Obviously, the goal for any NBA team is to win the Championship....does your team provide the best opportunity to do so in the next 2-4 years?
  • 58. 3. Can you show that the talent is truly wanted? If you are the Los Angeles Lakers, do you put up billboards pleading for the talent to stay? Do you photoshop your employee's image over iconic locations in your city? 4. Are there other ways to make those salary dollars go further? The Houston Rockets might be attractive to Howard, as, unlike California, the state of Texas has no state income tax. Or, if you're Dallas, you have a restaurant willing to offer free chicken fingers for life (nearly $200,000 in food that Howard would not have to pay). So, take a look at the recruiting efforts in your organization. What would convince an applicant to come to your organization when salary is not the main driver?
  • 59. The 1% Rule of Candidate Experience Matt Stollak Originally Published on August 12, 2013 Imagine you're among the best and brightest at what you do. Your talent is recognized by nearly everyone. Any employer wants you to be part of that organization. If you are truly among the 1%, candidate experience is not going to matter (in the traditional sense). Say, you're the #1 ranked college basketball recruit, Jahlil Okafor. 346 Division 1 schools would love to have you join their program. 338 know they have no shot. Eight schools are under consideration, with one believed to be the leader (more below). That being said, the critical information (see p. 15) a typical applicant for a job might want to make the candidate experience worthwhile is not applicable • Application accepted? Most likely for Okafor, an offer to play for a particular university has already been made, and the application process is cursory. • Expected time to hear back from a recruiter? Again, he already knows the "job" is his if he wants it • If I have been knocked out of consideration. Doesn't apply here • Next step in process. The universities competing for your services are waiting for you to come for an official visit and say "yes" • If anyone has reviewed your information. Again, cursory • Where I am in the process. As a top notch college recruit, my guess is that each organization is in constant contact with Okafor, visiting him at basketball camps, calling him on the phone, texting him, and seeing him play during high school competition. And, this is going on for a matter of not days or months, but years. • What criteria is used to determine my job-fit. You're tall, talented, and skilled. You'll fit. • Fit with minimum qualifications. Uh, yes. • How I stack with other candidates. You're being wooed, and the school would accept you immediately • Number of applicants - this almost doesn't matter, except that schools have a limited number of spots. As Dave Telep, ESPN recruiter noted on Twitter on July 30 after a number of basketball camps, "July reality: if you know where you want to go and you aren't a Top-25 guy, make your decision before someone takes your first choice." "As of right now, most schools have 2-4 guys they'd take at your position. First one to call gets the spot." For Okafor, they would leave the spot open. • Expected feedback on application - this is almost immediate. • Again, if you're in the 1%, traditional candidate experience is not going to matter. However, there is a flip side. What if competing employers believe there is a leader?
  • 60. The ongoing rumor that Duke is the leader for the recruiting package of No. 1-ranked senior Jahlil Okafor and No. 3-ranked Tyus Jones is ruining the recruiting process for the two players, Okafor's father said on Friday. "It's disappointing. It's taking the fun out of the process for the two boys," Okafor's father, Chukwudi Okafor, said by phone on Friday. "That's a shame. Let the kids go through the process. I just want them to enjoy it, not the media, not Twitter, not the coaches, not the AAU coaches. Those kids are highly intelligent. They know what to do. Let it play out, and I think the world is in for something special." "They're going to make their decision. Everybody is saying they say this and they say that. It's not fair to them. It's not fair to the other schools. It's not fair to Duke. They might want to go to Duke, but decide not to go there because everyone is saying that's where they're going. I'd hate for that to happen." As Dave Telep notes, "I think a number of kids are genuinely torn about telling a school "no." In August, "no" is the best thing after yes. Both need to move on." If I am trying to recruit top talent to my school, there is a limit to the amount of resources and time I can pour into every candidate, let alone the 1%. If I am no longer in the running, I would prefer knowing that than trying to continue the facade of thinking I have a chance. Sometimes it is tough out there for the 1%.
  • 61. CHAPTER 3 Onboarding, Training and Development
  • 62. TRUE: The Engagement Level of Leaders Is More Important Than Employee Engagement.. Kris Dunn Originally Published on September 4, 2013 Simply put, because when leaders aren't engaged, no one is going to be engaged. If he's mailing it in, why should I give a ****? Reality: You shouldn't. And won't. We see it time and time again in corporate America. A leader has a bit of early success, then the results start to fall off a bit. Same leader tries to get back to what gave everyone hope early in their tenure. Try as they might, they can't replicate early results, and as it becomes evident that no one really expects them to be around for the long term, which causes the leader to do the worst thing possible. The leader starts to disengage, to slip away from being fully present, even when his body is there. They're more passive, usually because they've done what they could do, and it hasn't worked out. They've developed an external locus of control. They've quit a little bit, they've stopped fighting, etc. It's called leader disengagement. And your company/division/department/team can't win if this is your reality. Here's a great real life example from the NFL. More on Rex Ryan missing "cut day" as the head coach of the New York Jets from the Washington Post:
  • 63. "Rex Ryan called a personal timeout Saturday in order to attend his son’s first college football game and, this being Rex Ryan and the New York Jets being in a state of flux, he was greeted with a storm of criticism. On the day of the deadline for reducing NFL rosters to 53 players, Ryan bolted from the Jets’ headquarters and headed for South Carolina, where the Tigers were playing Georgia and Ryan’s son, Seth, is a walk-on who was playing in his first college game. The idea didn’t sit well with all of Ryan’s players. “[Rex has] got zero influence,” an unnamed source told the New York Daily News’ Manish Mehta. “[He] doesn’t care and he is letting everyone know. He just shows up for his check. … It’s a big [expletive] to all the players.” To be fair and balanced, some players and a lot of industry insiders were OK with Rex missing cut day. They thought it was good for him to go see his son. In the spirit of full reporting though, his son is a walk on and didn't play in the game, and was never expected to play. Would you expect a Department head in a company to have anything less than full awareness or to be present when layoffs are happening at a company with 200 employees? Don't be fooled. Rex Ryan missing cut day is an illustration of a guy who's given up, same as your VP of Sales that's missed quota for 2 straight years and stops going to meetings that require his attendance. The biggest tipoff to leader disengagment you'll see is absenteeism, not anything outrageous, just an uptick that looks a bit odd. Another telling sign of leader disengagement is when the leader in question starts asking others to make decisions that he/she once wanted a strong voice in. If your leaders aren't engaged, your employees won't be. Be on the lookout for the signs of leader disengagement, from the C-level all the way down to first level supervisor.
  • 64. What The HR Capitalist Learned From His First Job... Kris Dunn Originally Published on December 11, 2013 What I learned from my first job: 1. I didn't know anything. 2. The world was a much bigger place than I had imagined up to that point. 3. The best way to make a mark in the world was to show up and when given a chance to specialize, basically throw yourself into learning everything you could about the area of speciality in order to make yourself somewhat valuable to the organization you were in. My first job was as an Assistant Basketball Coach in college basketball, at a place called UAB. It featured a hall of fame coach in Gene Bartow, as well as a pedigree created for the program when it was formed out of nothing in the late 70's by Bartow. When I arrived, it was already known as a basketball school. Here's a picture of the kid at work in his first job:
  • 65. Could you find me in that picture? I'm the dapper guy. Not the white suit (yes, you are hilarious), the navy blazer with taupe slacks on the bench just to the right of the action. UAB is in white uniforms in this picture. The guy challenging the shot for us is a guy named Frank Haywood. He was a kid from the inner city of Birmingham, who was an undersized big man, who got great results because he would absolutely grind on a nightly basis. Every forward we brought in was supposed to take Frank's minutes. It didn't happen. There were lots of lessons with Frank and some of the other kids as well for me. The world is a big place, and the most talented aren't always the ones who get the best results. But the main lesson for me is #1 and #3 above, and it's what I would impart to my kids. Find a great place to learn, and don't be scared when you find out you know nothing. Realize you know nothing. Learn from everything, but find something you can own and do it better than anyone has ever done it at that organization. It doesn't have to be a big thing, just something that's in the daily operation. For me, that was advance scouting. I did all the scouting for upcoming opponents by travelling to watch them play and watching about a 24 hours worth of film on everyone we played. No one knew the tendencies better than me the years I was there, so as a 24-year old I was actually involved in meaningful conversations. Find a niche while you learn, youngsters.
  • 66. The WWE's Triple H on Moving Into Management: Your Company and Wrestling are the Same... Kris Dunn Originally Published on September 23, 2013 I'm always shocked how many closet wrestling fans there are out there. You know who you are, whether you comment or send me an email offline to tell me the reality (emails allow you to stay in the closet). The way it usually comes up for me is the fact that a former college roomate of mine and the best man in my wedding is the brother of the Undertaker. Nothing draws out the closet pro wrestling fans like that throwaway comment. And if some slightly greater exposure than normal to the pro wrestling game through the years has taught me anything, it's that the WWE works like any entertainment company does, and a lot of times it looks like any average company. For example, a wrestler name Hunter Hearst Helmsley (Triple H) has emerged as the organization's Executive Vice President of Talent and Live Events. It's a real job and has limited the amount of wrestling he actually does. Check out these clips from an interview with Triple H on Grantland: Triple H on how he got connected with decision makers that ultimately drove his career into management: "Starting a year after I got to the WWF, Vince would say, "Hey, you have an opinion on this, what's your opinion?" And I'd give Vince my opinions. Sometimes he liked it, sometimes he didn't, but we kind of established that working relationship so that when Russo left in the middle of the night to go to WCW, I went to Vince and I just said, "I
  • 67. understand how creative works. You can't bounce ideas off yourself. So if you want to bounce ideas off me, I'm happy to just hear you out and give you my opinion. Not saying you need it, just saying it's there." So two days later, my phone rang, and Vince said "Hey, pal, you got a minute? You talked to me about bouncing around some ideas. Can I run a couple things by you? See what you think?'' And that started it. Shortly thereafter, it was, "You want to start coming to production meetings? I could really use you in there." And I've been doing it since probably '98, '99." More from Triple H on why his co-workers (read: other wrestlers) didn't get jealous of him gradually growing more involved: "There were guys that looked at it like, "Well, that's bullshit." There were a few guys who went to Vince and said, "Hey, I'd like to be involved like that too." What they didn't get was — I'm not trying to put myself over, but there's a level of additional work that comes with it. So when everyone else's call time is one o'clock, I'd be there at 10 o'clock. Even if we had to drive in from the last show and I got in at four in the morning, if I told Vince I'd be at that production meeting at 10 a.m., I was at that production meeting at 10 a.m., bleary-eyed but ready to go. And those other guys would do that once or twice and be like, "Well, I'm not doing that. I'm not making more money from that, no one's paying me extra." I never looked at it that way. I've heard this saying before: Success is not a destination, success is what happens along the way. I dig what I do every single day. Everything else takes care of itself." Pro Wrestling. Your company. It all comes back to discretionary effort, often for periods of no extra pay, to advance. Share with your kids and the closet adult fans you know who are hooked on pro wrestling.
  • 68. The Futures Market for Your Career Steve Boese Originally Published on October 21, 2013 Last week a really unusual story dropped about NFL Houston Texans player Arian Foster's plan to essentially 'go public' and have a personal Initial Public Offering. Through a sports management company called Fantex, the plan is for Foster to float shares in himself that would enable investors to have a claim on 20% of his future career earnings. Fantex is looking to sell as much as $10 million in Foster equity, taking a half million fee for themselves for the trouble. It is also a pretty good deal for Foster, (assuming the $10M in shares gets snatched up). He gets essentially an advance on $10M of future earnings he may or may not even realize. The shelf-life of NFL players, even top stars like Foster, is notoriously short. One bad step or rough tackle to the knees and the newly 'listed' Foster might not earn another dollar in the NFL. While the Arian Foster story is kind of a goof, and one that seems to only have even a chance of actually working due to his notoriety and fame, it did get me thinking about the feasibility of similar career earnings investment schemes for 'normal' people. Would there be a potential market for shares of your future career earnings for example? Could you convince someone to invests $50 or $100 in you today with the promise of a potential windfall as you climb the corporate ladder or start up the next big App that all the kids will be using next year? And if the market for 'you' might not be so hot, how about your kids? The ones that you are going to have to help get through college and are likely to end up back in their middle-school bedrooms with you after they graduate? Could you maybe help them
  • 69. float an IPO that just might raise enough money to put them in a 2007 Camry and a studio apartment downtown so you can finally create that game room in your house you have been dreaming about since 1995? The Foster story is basically absurd and it probably won't amount to much, but it does make you think about your own career a little bit I think. If you actually were a publicly tradable security what would your market look like? Would there be an intense battle by investors to get in on your IPO action? What would your ticker symbol be?
  • 70. The Wisdom of Earl Monroe Steve Boese Originally Published on September 23, 2013 Earl 'The Pearl' Monroe, for the benefit of readers who may not be familiar (shame on you), is a basketball legend who had a Hall of Fame career in the NBA with the Baltimore Bullets and New York Knicks in the 1960s and 1970s. Earl's talent was so immense and otherworldly that in addition to his more popular nickname of 'The Pearl' was also known as 'Black Jesus' early in his playing days. Monroe was a rare player - a creative, almost effortless scorer, (he averaged an astonishing 41 points in his senior year in college), who later in his career became an important and team oriented player on some fantastic teams, including one NBA champion in the 1973 Knicks. Earl has a new book out titled Earl The Pearl: My Story, and recently has been doing a number of interviews promoting the book, and the 40th Anniversary of that Knicks championship team of 1973. I caught one of these interviews, on New York sports talk radio, where Earl related a wonderful story of his earliest days learning to play. Earl got a late start, even for those days, as a basketball player, not taking up the game until he was 14 years old. As you'd expect, in the beginning Earl was not as good or polished as other kids his age who had been playing for a few years. Earl shared how he'd come home from the playground and tell his mother that he wasn't good enough, and that the other kids all mocked and teased him pretty badly. Earl's mom would have none of it. She told Earl to quit complaining. But in addition to the tough love, she also gave Earl a great approach to addressing his problem. She told
  • 71. him to get a notebook and write down the names of all the other boys that were better players than him and that were putting him down. Once the list was written, she then told Earl to keep working, keep practicing, and not to think about what anyone said. Then she said, once you improve your game and surpass a player on the list, cross out his name. And keep doing this until all the names are crossed out. Then you can throw away the notebook and know that you have accomplished something you set out to do. And then it would be time for the next goal, and a new list of names in a new notebook. It was a great story, and you could tell Earl enjoyed sharing it, and the memory of his Mom and how she helped keep him grounded, focused, and determined. It's also a really neat approach to achieving a difficult goal. Writing the list in the notebook served dual purposes - short term motivation - 'I need to be better than the next guy', while keeping the longer term goal in view - 'Once all the names are crossed out, I can move on to the next big challenge'. Very cool and even better to hear a legend like Pearl share the story. So, who is on your list in your notebook?
  • 72. What’s Your Culture Really Like? Ask the New Guy From Out of Town Steve Boese Originally Published on February 7, 2013 Company Culture, Employer Brand, Employer Value Proposition - there's been much written and spoken about these ideas and concepts in the last few years and for the most part a general acceptance has emerged that organizational leaders need to be very aware of internal culture, and its effects on morale, engagement, productivity and performance. While most HR and Talent pros 'get' that culture is important, and some even taking more proactive steps to promote their unique culture (mostly it seems through enhanced 'cultural fit' recruiting practices), there also seems to be quite a bit less written about revealing or unraveling the existing company culture. If you work in any type of organization today you certainly have your own opinion of 'What's it like to work here?', but I'd imagine most of us don't go around the office asking our colleagues for their opinion of 'What's it like to work here?' Aside from the annual employee survey where these kinds of questions are raised and the answers to them aggregated and placed in colorful bar graphs and pie charts, (Is there anything better than a pie chart?. I think not.), we can pretty easily get tricked into remaining comfortable that our personal view of 'What's it like to work here' is kind of the universal view of the place.
  • 73. But a more revealing (and hopefully honest) assessment of a culture or an environment might come from a different source than the aggregated and homogenized survey data, or from the long-held and personal views of organization veterans. It could be that the most refreshing look at the culture of a place comes from its newest members, and in particular, ones that by virtue of their past upbringing and history, would not have many deeply-held biases that might influence their opinion. Case in point - the impressions on American culture from a new visitor, the NBA's Alexey Shved from Russia, in his rookie season playing for the Minnesota Timberwolves, and enjoying his first extended period living and working in the USA. Hey Alexey, what's it like in America? "Well, everybody loves donuts here, and I eat them too. People mostly drink beer and not stronger drinks, exactly like in The Simpsons.” Nice. American culture through the lens of a recent entrant, with his primary frame of reference being the Simpsons cartoon. It's kind of amusing but also serves as a bit of a reminder that culture and the perception of a culture is a highly personal thing. And it also reinforces the point that no matter how much or how hard we try to shape the culture, (or at least the perceptions of a culture), people are going to have their own take on your place, your people, your vibe - you get the idea. Our pal Alexey's take about donuts and beer, while pretty funny, should also be a kind of wake-up call to those of us charged or interested in shaping, communicating, and propagating something as amorphous as 'culture'. No matter how hard you try, how slick your marketing campaigns are, and how much 'fit' drives your hiring, firing, and rewards processes - there is probably a new guy from out of town who looks around and sees donuts and beer.
  • 74. There Are Two Kinds of Leaders Tim Sackett Originally Published on September 4, 2013 College football season is upon us and one of things I enjoy most is reading all the leadership articles written about college football coaches. These types of articles come out in two ways during the year: 1. preseason when everyone is still in love with their coaches; 2. post-season when certain teams and coaches overachieved. GQ came out with one recently on one of the most polarizing coaches, and most successful coaches, in college football, Nick Saban. People assume I hate Nick because I’m a Michigan State fan and he left us to go to another college football team, LSU, that was in a better ‘football’ conference and had more tradition. I don’t hate Nick. I was disappointed he left, because he was good! Nick Saban is probably the most hated coach in college football because his teams kick everyone’s butt! 3 out of the last 4 national championships and favored to win another this year. He doesn’t joke around with the media and he never looks pleased. Here are some tidbits from the GQ article: “A few days after Alabama beat LSU to win the 2012 national championship, Rumsey and Saban were on the phone together…The two men almost never discuss football— Rumsey is the rare Tuscaloosan who doesn’t know or care much about the game, which, he suspects, has something to do with why he and Saban have become friends. But given that his golf buddy had just won the national championship, Rumsey figured he ought to say a few words of congratulations. So he did, telling Saban his team had pulled off an impressive win.
  • 75. “That damn game cost me a week of recruiting,” Saban grumbled into the phone.” Being upset over missing a week’s worth of recruiting because you had to play, and win, the national championship. HR folks should love that. It’s about the process. Have the right process and the results will happen, but please don’t change or stop my process! “Saban’s guiding vision is something he calls “the process,” a philosophy that emphasizes preparation and hard work over consideration of outcomes or results. Barrett Jones, an offensive lineman on all three of Saban’s national championship teams at Alabama and now a rookie with the St. Louis Rams, explains the process this way: “It’s not what you do, it’s how you do it.” Taken to an extreme—which is where Saban takes it—the process has evolved into an exhausting quest to improve, to attain the ideal of “right is never wrong.” At Alabama, Saban obsesses over every aspect of preparation, from how the players dress at practice—no hats, earrings, or tank tops are allowed in the football facility—to how they hold their upper bodies when they run sprints. “When you’re running and you’re exhausted you really want to bend over,” Jones says. “They won’t let you. ‘You must resist the human need to bend over!’”… Jones says that while all the talk of “the process” can sometimes seem mysterious—the cultic manifesto of that demonic head coach—it’s actually quite straightforward. “He pretty much tells everybody what our philosophy is, but not everyone has the discipline to actually live out that philosophy,” Jones says. “The secret of Nick Saban is, there is no secret.” I think there are two kinds of leaders in the world: 1. Charismatic Leader — This is the leader you love and will follow over the edge of a cliff. You feel connected to this leader. Your organization might be very good at getting results with this type of leader, but that isn’t necessarily a guarantee. 99% of folks think they want this kind of leader. It’s Steve Jobs, Tony Hsieh and Barack Obama. They capture your heart and mind. 2. Directed Leader — This leader seems more aloof when you meet them one-on- one, but they have laser like focus of your organization’s vision and mission, and they will not let anyone or anything take your off course. In the long term, if you buy-in to the vision and get to know this leader, you’ll do more than follow them over a cliff,
  • 76. you’ll throw others over the cliff for them! Saban falls into this camp. So would Abraham Lincoln. I don’t see these two leaders being at polar ends of leadership. They are actually running parallel, like two behavioral traits, because the best leaders have some of each. Steve Jobs could hold the stage, but he also had great vision. Some leaders just have more of one bucket than the others. To be a directed leader, to be so focused in on a singular vision, you have to be a little odd, a little different from what people perceive you have to be a little odd, a little different from what people perceive as normal. The fact is, most people don’t have the capacity to have the kind of focus it takes to be as successful as Nick Saban. One last thing from the GQ article: “Saban is a fit 61, owing in part to regular pickup basketball games with staff, a frenetic pace on and off the field, and a peculiarly regimented diet. He doesn’t drink. For breakfast, he eats two Little Debbie Oatmeal Creme Pies; for lunch, a salad of iceberg lettuce, turkey, and tomatoes. The regular menu, he says, saves him the time of deciding what to eat each day, and speaks to a broader tendency to habituate his behaviors.” Same meal every day, so you spend no extra time or energy even thinking about what to eat. Focus. Laser focus. Does your leader have this?
  • 77. Uncommon Trait of a Great Leader Tim Sackett Originally Published on January 16, 2013 For those who don’t know – I had great seats for the MSU vs. Iowa basketball game last week (see pic above of me being an idiot on national TV – it was AWESOME!). My company, HRU, does a bunch of IT business with MSU and we are big supporters (yep, I now have the infamous “donor” tag at MSU) of MSU athletics – heck, our corporate headquarters is about 2 miles from campus and roughly 1/2 of my staff are Sparty grads. All those things being put together – I was offered a chance to travel with the MSU basketball team to the Iowa game and got a chance to sit behind the bench for the game. So, what does this have to do with Leadership Traits? This is probably where you’ll believe I’ll go on and on about how great MSU Head Coach Tom Izzo (he’s also the guy on the front page of this blog in the pic with me) is – because he is – but you’re wrong. The leader I want to talk about is one of the team captains from MSU, Russell Byrd (only a sophomore). Here’s a kid who barely plays. Was a highly recruited kid out of high school, but still hasn’t found his shot at the college level. I think most of Spartan Nation was stunned when he was named one of the Captains for the 2012-12013 team. How does a kid who rarely plays, become Captain of the team?
  • 78. The uncommon trait of a leader – not being the most skilled. Normally, in most organizations, the people who ascend to leadership positions, tend to be the most skilled, or pretty close to the most skilled. It is very rare that a person is selected who isn’t the most skilled. Why? Traditional thinking says how can you lead people who are better than you. The reality is, and we know this in HR, having high skill in a function and having the ability to lead in that same function – really have zero correlation. No doubt, many great leaders are also highly skilled, but not always. Back to my Spartys! What I came away with from my trip with MSU Basketball was that Russell Byrd is a natural leader. I called him the mayor, the entire trip – I might be his biggest fan now! He never missed an opportunity to engage with those traveling with him – his teammates, his coaches, the team managers, us tag-along donors, the hotel staff, etc. It might be a handshake, eye contact with a wink and a smile or putting his arm around you and joking around. He was encouraging, always; he kept a positive attitude even when his own performance, that night, wasn’t what he would have wanted. While not having a good game, he set his own feelings aside, to pick up those on his team, who were more skilled, who needed some picking up. He put his team, before himself. When you think about succession in your organization, I wonder how many of us really look at one’s ability to lead vs. how skilled they are. I immediately assumed Russell Byrd would not make a good Captain for his team, based on his skill level. I think too often, those responsible for hiring leaders, do the same thing. We pass over many of our most influential employees and give the job to the best performer – who often struggles in that role. I’m not saying Byrd is a great leader because he’s not the most skilled, I’m saying he’s a great leader in spite of not being the most skilled. Great skill does not equal great leadership. Great leadership comes from having an ability to connect with people.
  • 79. LeBron James Isn’t Good Enough For My Team Tim Sackett Originally Published on October 9, 2013 Just putting together the roster for my annual Men’s City Rec Basketball team. I’ve been pretty lucky in the past and have gotten some great players to come out and let me jump on their back to the championships. As of right now here’s my roster for 2013- 2014 season: Current Starters (based on last years roster): Point Guard: Craig Miller – Mid 30′s, 5’10″- still in ‘decent shape’ (this means he’s younger and faster than most of us). He’s good for one wide open layup per quarter and one turnover. Shooting Guard: Don McCormick – 39, 6’0″ – He’s flat out money, I don’t think he’s missed a shot since 1998. Played DIII ball back in the early 90′s. His job sometimes makes it so he can’t make games – we struggle in those games. Small Forward: Marcus Jones – 47, 6’2″ – He’s our one black guy (we’d like more black guys, but it’s hard to find middle aged black guys in the suburbs who want to play with a bunch of white guys), he’s also the oldest guy we have. Really never makes a mistake unless it’s a no look pass to one of us which we weren’t expecting. Big Forward: James Brookes – 32, 5’11″ – He’s not a basketball player, he’s a weight lifter. Can’t shoot or dribble, but he’s good to hurt at least one opposing player each game, sometimes two. Center: Mikey ‘Stretch’ McGee – 42, 6′ 5″ – He’s our tallest guy. He likes to shoot the three. Could have played D1, ended up going the CC route. Currently he’s a UPS driver. The Backups: Point Guard: Me – 43, 5’7″- player/coach/manager – I get in if we are really up big or down big. I’ve never seen a shot I didn’t like. My philosophy: ‘Shoot till you get hot, then shoot to stay hot” The 6 footers: Ben, Jerry and Ken: All of these guys are 6 foot and basically play any position. I lumped them together because they really are the same player. Solid, can do it all, just don’t make them run too many minutes at one time. We are looking to add one more player to our roster this year. We lost Billy. He had to have his knee replaced and his real estate business was taking off again after the recession, so he’s out. Here are the three candidates we have to replace:
  • 80. 1. Matt Smith – New guy in town. He’s really in shape. His wife is way hot. He has a great basement man cave. Seems like he would fit in with the guys really well. 2. Josh Moore – Another six footer. He’s subbed for us in the past. Likes to shoot (meaning he takes my shots). The guys know him, but he rubs some guys the wrong way (mostly me, he takes my shots) 3. LeBron James – Yep! You read that correctly. Let’s just say I have a connection. Nothing in his contract to stop him from playing with us on Tuesday nights. His schedule actually allows him to make 90% of our 12 game schedule. We would own the league! Seems like a really easy choice right!? Wrong! You see, I went to the guys to vote. Knowing they would all laugh and Lebron would get his ‘Legion 124′ jersey shipped in the mail. But to my surprise Matt Smith won the vote. I couldn’t believe it, I had to find out why. Across the board the guys came back with the following reasons why LeBron wouldn’t be a good fit for our team: Wouldn’t find it a challenge, he would be bored, he was over qualified, he would end up quitting half way into the season, he wouldn’t take it seriously. We had a shot a Lebron James for our team, and we didn’t take him. Hard to believe, right? It’s your reality. Everyday you turn down great talent in your organization. You turn down LeBron James because you’re scared. We don’t say we’re scared. We give ‘legitimate’ reasons like: “You’re over qualified” and “You wouldn’t find this position challenging”. But we are just telling ourselves this, to make us feel better about making a terrible decision to turn away great talent. ‘Being over qualified’ for a position is the single lamest reason to turn down talent that HR and Talent Acquisition has ever come up with. The question is, would you turn down LeBron James if he wanted to join your team?
  • 81. On Challenging the 10,000 Hours Rule Matt Stollak Originally Published on August 5, 2013 I usually teach intro to business statistics every semester. While students grasp the concept of the mean rather easily, the notion of variance and standard deviation often takes a little longer. Take the 10,000 hours "rule," for example. Popularized in Malcolm Gladwell's "Outliers," the 10,000 hours rule basically states that through dedicated practice, reaching this "magic number of greatness" allows one to achieve a professional level of proficiency regardless of talent or skill. In the fascinating new book, "The Sports Gene," David Epstein (that will likely provide a number of posts to fulfill my #8ManRotation quota), challenges the belief in 10,000 hours. What is often ignored in the discussion are a couple of items. First, is the notion of sampling and research design. In the original 10,000 hours study of musicians, most individuals were already screened out, making it difficult to discover evidence of innate
  • 82. talent. It is extremely hard to create a longitudinal study where groups are divided into those who receive 10,000 hours of training against those who do not. Second, variability is not often discussed. Is 10,000 the hard rule, or do some take a longer or shorter time? In the Sports Gene, Epstein highlights the work of Guillermo Campitelli and Fernand Gobet who recruited 104 competitive chess players of varying skill for a study of chess expertise. They found that it took 11,053 hours to make it as a professional chess player. Much more interesting was the range of hours it took to attain master status. "One player in the study reached master level in just 3,000 hours of practice, while another player needed 23,000 hours." As a result, Epstein notes about the musician study, "it is impossible to tell whether any individual in the study actually became an elite violinist in 10,000 hours, or whether that was just an average of disparate individual differences." Epstein also shares an anecdote about the skilled Swedish high jumper Stefan Holm. Holm fastidiously practiced - 12 hours a day for years on end - to become a world class athlete, winning the Olympic gold medal in 2004 and equaling the record for the highest high-jump differential between the bar and the jumper's own height. However, in 2007, he faced Donald Thomas, a jumper from the Bahamas who had only just begun high jumping. In less than 8 months of training, Thomas cleared 7'7.75" to win the NCAA indoor high jump championship. Despite such insignificant training time, Thomas defeated Holm, winning the world championship. While not the sole reason, it was found that Thomas had an incredibly long Achilles tendon that better serves one's ability to rocket through the air. Nonetheless, being fat, 45 years old, and 5'9'' with a limited vertical leap, LeBron has nothing to worry about, even if I practice 10,000 hours or more. Much like Thomas had an incredibly long tendon, you can't teach height!
  • 83. CHAPTER 4 Performance and Talent Management
  • 84. How To Know If A Manager/Coach is a Psychopath or Simply Has a Hard Edge... Kris Dunn Originally Published on May 30, 2013 It's one of the oldest questions in the books, and with the news of Rutgers hiring an Athletic Director only to find out one of her past teams performed a mutiny to get her ran out of town (and she's the target of a 2008 harassment suit), let's ask it again: "How do I know whether a manager/coach who has a reputation for being tough is a psychopath or simply has a hard edge?' First, some facts - at least facts to me: 1. You can't burp in a high profile job without the media running with it and making it a week-long news cycle. 2. Media scrutiny has made it much tougher to be a hard @SS manager or coach in America. See #1. You're guilty until...well, you're guilty. 3. It doesn't matter if your manager/coach is obscure and will never be the subject of media attention for being tough. He or she is still going to be impacted by that media coverage. Employees, parents, kids - everyone - has a different threshold for what's acceptable ever since Bobby Knight threw that chair - or choked a kid out. So - as a HR pro, or a parent - you're tasked with figuring out whether that hard #$$ manager/coach is a psychopath or a good coach with a tough love side. How do you figure that out and not bite on what the media is feeding you - that everyone who is hard, critical at times is ruining the company/your child?
  • 85. It's simple. Simply measure the positive/negative feedback ratio that's provided by the manager/coach. Sure you hear the tough stuff. You're conditioned to be sensitive to that these days. The world has changed, but that doesn't mean your managers/coaches should tell the talent in question that everything is OK. Their job is to make the talent better, and it's not always pretty. So measure the positive/hard feedback ratio. If you have less than one positive, reinforcing comment for every harsh critique, odds are the manager/coach needs more balance. But - if that ratio is at 1:1 or higher, maybe you need to back off and observe a little more, giving the manager/coach credit for the positive feedback that's provided in the circle of coaching. Some of the people in the news may have been monsters as managers/coaches. Or they may have been trying to get more out of players and more balanced than they're given credit for. Circumstances vary. You should look at the positive/negative feedback ration before you chase the news headlines and consider your manager/coach a monster. Like Flavor Flav once wrote in a poem to America - Don't Believe the Hype. Make your own decisions.
  • 86. PEACOCK ALERT: What it Means When an Employee Competes to Be "Best Dressed" at Work... Kris Dunn April 29, 2013 Let's start with a picture. See below and then come back after the jump... That's a picture of 2 employees of the Houston Rockets - Chandler Parsons and James Harden. They're pro basketball players and they got the memo - you shouldn't be showing up to a post game press conference in normal clothes. Thus, Parsons with the Russian mafia apprentice club wear, and Harden with the scarf in late April Houston. But it brings to mind an important question. What's it mean when an employee in your organization suddenly becomes fashion-aware and starts taking chances with his/her wardrobe? I'm not talking about stretch pants in the call center or Nirvana-gear. I'm talking about an otherwise historically standard employee suddenly looking like their trying to win the cover of Esquire or Vogue. Here's my experience with what the change in dress (up the fashion curve, not down) could mean:
  • 87. 1. High performer is looking to make a move, and to get mentally prepared, they've decided that changing up their wardrobe is the best way to get their game face on; 2. Low performer who can't get love from anyone in the organization, but they consider themselves a player outside of work, so they're bringing their outside game to the office park in a desperate cry for attention; or 3. (Dudes only) Otherwise normal guy who's never really had many girlfriends now has significant other, and she's working at Express, Banana Republic, etc. She's taken over his life and since there's not a long history of having a significant other, he allows it. Your task is how to deal with the Peacock. It's pretty simple, and somewhat Darwinian: 1. High performer - you put up with it, but maybe make sure they're comped right, feeling the love, etc, to limit flight risk. 2. Low performer - goes on performance plan. It was overdue anyway. The super skinny jeans and the Russian club button up just serves as a strong reminder. 3. Guy who just landed rare or highly dominant girlfriend - you make fun of him without mercy, and see if grows a backbone. If not, you call him "Boris Nitkin" and explain that's his Leningrad club name. You thought Dress Code issues were all about short skirts, the fact your policy still has a panty hose rider in it in 2013, etc. You were wrong.
  • 88. 5 Things You Need to Make Everyone Hate Your Success (The Duke Haterade Primer)... Kris Dunn Originally Published on March 25, 2013 Capitalist Note: Duke is in the Sweet 16 and angling for another Championship. How's that working for you? I'm running this post from a few years back, because the teams I really wanted to follow this spring - Gonzaga and Ole Miss - are out. That leaves me with the boys from Durham. I watched them last night in the second round and was... like.... meh....   I kid. But I'm guessing that if you polled all the serious college basketball fans in America, you would find that around 80% hate Duke. Just flat out hate them. At one time, I didn't like Duke either, mainly because I thought they won because they usually had 8 high school All Americans, spread the floor and let the natural advantages they had dominate. It wasn't a complex thing for them to win. I changed my mind and became a Duke fan awhile back, because I thought they were actually over-achieving based on the talent they had. For those of you scoring at home, that makes me a "flip- flopper", or as the Duke haters like to say, a "scum-sucker".
  • 89. Why do the masses hate Duke so much? Here's one of the million primers from Cory Smith at the Samford Crimson: "Let's start with one of the most obvious reasons that no one can explain, and that is the players and the coach. The coach with the last name spelled like a first generation Icelander that you have to wear an oversized retainer to pronounce. You know the players, too. JJ Redick, Bobby Hurley, Greg Paulus. I have heard people say they do not like Duke's players because they are pasty white. I have a hard time with this one since I am of the Caucasian persuasion myself. I don't like Duke's players or Coach K because they come off as just plain smug. Much like most of the students accepted there, the players seem as though they think they are better than the opponents simply because they are at Duke. From Coach K's American Express commercial where he all but declares himself the Gandhi of college basketball to the look of disbelief on his and his players' faces when they are called for a foul while the victim crawls out of the third row of cameras, it is very clear that Duke loves Duke, and they cannot understand why everyone else doesn't as much as they do. That is with the exception of the media, namely Dick Vitale." The Duke hate started me thinking about other teams and corporations that, over time, the masses love to hate. You know the targets of this hate - it's sports teams like the Yankees, Duke and the Lakers, and corporations like Microsoft, Apple and yes Dorothy - even Google these days. These teams and companies are good at what they do and provide value, so why do people hate them? Here's my the Capitalist list of the top five things you need to have in place to make people hate you as much as Duke or Microsoft: 1. Lots of Sustained Success - Let's face it, it's not enough to win one title or launch one killer product. No, you need to be successful for a long time - a decade seems to be a nice round number for starters. Think about Microsoft, the Yankees and Duke - they all have success that's measured in decades, not single digit years. You hate them because you're tired of seeing it. 2. A Leader That Gets So Much Press You Can't Help But Hate Them- Coach K and the American Express commercials. Bill Gates back in the day. Steve Jobs in the mock turtleneck - again. George Steinbrenner in the luxury box with the Magnum P.I. shades. These images, combined with the other factors, make us pray for an alternative to rise out of the ashes - and eject the golden franchise back to the pack - not for one year, but for eternity. 3. Aggressive and Demonstrative Behavior Designed To Snuff Out the Competition and Keep Them On Top - Here's where it gets interesting. You think all that success is easy to maintain? Nope, in order to stay on top, you've got to be alert and ready to try and dismantle all comers - and everyone else is ALWAYS going to give you their best shot. So, you do what champions do - you dig in, get aggressive
  • 90. and try aggressively to maintain your position. For Microsoft, that meant embedding the browser in the operating system and killing Netscape. For Duke, it means their guards are trying to get themselves ready to play by slapping the floor on defense (like nails on a chalkboard for all the Duke haters) or holding the follow-through on their shot for an extra two seconds. You're on top, you compete to stay there. Sometimes it looks really cocky. Enter more hate... 4. Media Coverage of the Success and Culture - Apart from the press coverage of the Coach K and Bill Gates leader types, sustained success also brings one thing for sure - 24 hour coverage of the culture of the winning company/program. That means at one point, we heard so much about the Redmond campus we could scream. We hear so much about how the Duke program is different due to the academic mission of the University, we're rooting for the diploma mill instead. America loves an underdog, and in the 24/7 media world, Microsoft, Apple and Duke are overexposed from a media perspective. As a result, we hate. 5. The "They Only Win Because They're Rich" Objection - What follows sustained success? Money. Lots of Money. So when Microsoft, Apple, the Yankees and Duke win, they've got resources to throw at problems and competitors. If you're a Royals, Netscape or a NC State fan, what do you point to as the reason you can't get a win against the established power? Money, dude. We hate the winners because they're rich. We're not. We're unlikely to be rich anytime soon. HATE! It's human nature to hate the winners - the BIG winners. May your hate keep you warm in the winter of your career and help you raise your game. Or you can just hate without regard to your own performance. Either way is fine with me...
  • 91. SUPER BOWL TALENT NOTES: The Right Harbaugh Won the Game... Kris Dunn Originally Published on February 4, 2013 OK - you watched the Super Bowl or were around it. Eating. Drinking. Being a consumer of 5 million dollar commercials. Did you see who won? I don't mean the Ravens or the 49ers. I mean John Harbaugh beat Jim Harbaugh. Ball Don't Lie. Good guys win. John and Jim Harbaugh are brothers. John's the calm one who thinks before he reacts. Jim's the loud one that explodes often. John's likable to almost everyone but Steeler and Patriot fans. He could have been a lawyer or a teacher. Jim's the loud one. The combustive one. The one you only like if he's a part of your program. Both probably have the same coaching skills - raised by a coach, same food, same shelter. John's the guy you hire and he's around for a long time. Jim's the guy you hire to win and he's got a shelf life of about 5 years, at which time your organization probably gets sick of him and during the first downturn, there's a mutual parting of ways. Jim's the guy you hire to come in and turnaround an organization through force. John's the guy you hire and hope he stays forever. I'd hire Jim Harbaugh in a heartbeat, but I'd know it would end with some flames after we won a bunch. I'm glad John Harbaugh won on Sunday.
  • 92. Performance, Culture, and the Miami Dolphins Steve Boese Originally posted on November 11, 2013 Focusing on performance—getting the absolute most output, productivity, creativity, etc.—out of the workforce is generally seen as a positive managerial approach. Tim Sackett’s favorite CEO, Yahoo’s Marissa Mayer, is (for the most part), winning plaudits for tightening up the work rules, increasing performance expectations, and demanding accountability for employees and managers. And that, whether it manifests itself in more stringent attendance and telework policies, or more formal and consistent performance-management practices, can often mean the difference between a successful organization and one that sort of meanders about, and perhaps eventually withers and dies. More focus on performance, less management nepotism, higher standards for hiring and promotion, rewarding the best contributors and quickly moving out everyone and anyone that is not up to par, invested in the mission, or a good “culture fit,” (good luck with that one)—it would be hard to argue with any of these factors if you were truly interested in creating, sustaining, or resurrecting a high-performance organization. But any of those seemingly rational and well-conceived management philosophies, when taken to their extremes, pass the point of comfort for most rational people. Then you have a problem. Then you have what is going on in the world for professional American football and the Miami Dolphins. I am sure by now you’ve heard at least the basics of the story. One player, Jonathan Martin, leaves the team due to, by his claim, excessive and potentially criminal bullying at
  • 93. the hands of another player, Richie Incognito. Incognito, more or less, claims innocence, chalks up any of the alleged bullying behavior to the “normal” methods by which new players are acculturated to the team and to the profession. And to further complicate matters, there may or may not have been a managerial direction from Dolphin coaching staff to Incognito to “toughen up” Martin, for the purpose of making Martin a better player. And, mix in a large assortment of current and former players mainly placing the blame for all of this mess on Martin, and espousing that he should “man up,” as it’s the culture of the profession that expects that attitude and response of its members. But to put this back in an HR/Talent context, we can view American professional football as the pinnacle of the “performance-above-all” workplace culture. The performance of players in games, practices, meetings, even in off-season weight room workouts is meticulously recorded, tracked, and analyzed. Tiny variations in performance level are captured. For example, if a player turns up for the new season five pounds heavier or a tenth of a second slower in a 40-yard sprint, then the team will know about it, and perhaps take corrective action against the player. In games, every play is recorded, and each individual player is then graded on their performance on each play. Did they follow their assigned actions? Did they execute the task they were asked to complete? Did they exert the expected amount of effort? And with all this detailed performance data, it becomes pretty easy for coaches and team executives to note and take action on performance problems. Most commonly, a player will cede playing time to another, and sometimes a low-performing player will simply be terminated. The only thing that matters to the player is remaining on the team and playing. That is how they continue to cash their paychecks. The only thing that matters to the coaches and executives is that the team is successful; they too run a yearly risk of being shown the door if the team does not win consistently. There is no other job I can think of where there is a combination of day-to-day and week-to-week performance management that then collides with an insulated (and pretty unsavory at times) culture that suggests only certain kinds of people, (hyper- competitive, aggressive, dominant, angry), can succeed. The Incognito/Martin mess may seem like simply a football issue, that has no real impact or importance to the 99.9% of the rest of the workplaces in the world that don’t operate under the unique conditions of professional sports. But I think, (like I usually do), that sports, with the amazing transparency and visibility that exposes many of the talent-management decisions and practices, offers us a couple of lessons to think about and that are relevant in any organization. Rather than simply looking at the Dolphins’ mess and dismissing it as not applicable to us normals, I’d encourage you to think about it through the HR/Talent/performance/culture prism. Each additional step, data point, or program you begin tracking in order to better measure and take action, both positive and punitive based on performance, will take you
  • 94. closer to becoming a pure performance-is-the-only-thing-that-matters organization. You will, then, perform better. But you will start grinding up talent and there will be some hard feelings along the way. Just like the NFL. Each time you say things like “we hire for cultural fit” or “we like to find people who see the world the way we do” and then make hiring and talent-management decisions on those criteria, you get closer to becoming an organization where only a certain, narrow type of person feels welcome and can succeed—just like the NFL. And, on the surface, that might not be a bad thing. The NFL has been an incredible success story. It’s franchises are worth hundreds of millions of dollars. The stadiums are filled on Sundays. Everyone plays Fantasy Football and watches the Super Bowl. But achieving that kind of amazing and sustained performance as a business does not come without a cost. As the Incognito/Martin affair reminds us. The comic Steve Marin once said “Comedy is not pretty.” Neither, often, is high performance in organizations.
  • 95. Javale, Tim, and the Right Performance Goals Steve Boese Originally posted on February 6, 2013 Since nothing illuminates the challenges facing HR and Talent pros in selection, assessment, and performance management like professional basketball, I submit for your consideration the a lesson in employee motivation, or rather, an example of what I think is a sure way to fail to coerce the best performance out of a talented, but maddeningly inconsistent team member. The setup: Javale McGee is a member of the NBA’s Denver Nuggets, a five-year league veteran and possessor of most of the physical attributes that make for a very successful player – height, speed, agility, etc. But throughout his career McGee has been plagued by inconsistent play and the occasional embarrassing blunder. But interspersed with these performance challenges, McGee has delivered just enough examples of excellent and effective play that making a final evaluation on McGee as a player has been difficult. Essentially, McGee is that talented guy that for some reason just doesn't produce as often and as consistently as his coaches would like, and that inconsistency continues to hold back his development, as he simply isn't ‘trusted’ enough to take on a more significant role on the team. The Nuggets coach, basketball lifer and legend George Karl recently had this to say about McGee, and how he’d like to see JaVale’s performance improve: “I think he’s a tremendous talent. I think he’s an incredible, athletic, 7-1, whatever he is. For me, I just want him to be more consistent on the fundamental area of basketball and more than anything, I want him to be more committed to the concepts and philosophies and fundamentals of our team.”
  • 96. “Probably simple and solid,” Karl said, when asked what he tells McGee most. “I think he tries to be spectacular. Basketball is a game of possession after possession of doing things the right way, doing your job and letting the spectacular come. I think JaVale tries to find the spectacular and forces the spectacular. But I just want him to be more Tim Duncan-like. I tell him I like Tim Duncan. I want Tim Duncan. That’s what I want.” For those of you who might not get the reference, is the long-time San Antonio Spurs player, a four-time NBA champion, a three-time NBA Finals MVP, and one of the Top 10 greatest players in the history of the NBA.Duncan has been the consummate professional – consistently a high-performer, a winner, and by all accounts a ‘team-first’ player who throughout a long career has delivered in the clutch, and will be remembered by basketball fans as an all-time great. Duncan is like the smartest, most capable, most reliable, most successful, and great-to- work-with colleague you have ever worked with in your entire career. And JaVale McGee is like that quirky co-worker that seems to float from project to project, tossing out seemingly bizarre ideas, never really meshing with the team, but that every so often offers something so insightful or even remarkable, that it makes the group say, ‘Wow, that is an incredible idea!’ Of course George Karl wants McGee to be more like Tim Duncan. Heck, I want to be more like Tim Duncan. Duncan is Bill Gates, Lou Gerstner, Warren Buffett – take your pick. But me or JaVale simply wanting to be as great as Duncan won’t make it so. It’s even less likely that a coach like George Karl or a manager or leader in any business that is faced with trying to coax better performance out of someone like McGee will have much success by telling them to ‘Be more like Tim Duncan.’ It’s an impossibly, unrealistically high standard. It’s Karl’s job to coax the best possible performance out of McGee and the rest of the players on the team, not to try and remake them or re-imagine them in the image of an all-time legend. And it’s your job to do the same in your own career, and for the people that you lead.
  • 97. More Evidence That Texting is the Best Way to Connect with Talent Steve Boese Originally posted on August 13, 2013 A few months ago I had a piece on the blog titled 'The most engaging method of communication you're not using' about the increased growth and the massive engagement levels driven with text communications. I used the above chart from Business Insider to back up much of my take on how if you really want to engage with people - employees, candidates, prospects - whomever - that getting permission to communicate via text was the way to go. A practically equal number of texts sent and received across all age cohorts indicate incredible engagement and interaction in the medium. When people receive a text, they generally reply. And the sheer volumes of messages being sent by members of the 18-34 year old age range both indicate that more and more texting (or similar short, disposable communications tools), will need to become a tool in your toolbox if you want and need to effectively connect with people.
  • 98. Want a more practical and real-world, (ok a sports world) example of how this change in communication methods is playing out with top talent? Last week American soccer star Clint Dempsey transferred from Tottenham, the English Premiere League club he had been playing for, to the Seattle Sounders of the US- based Major League Soccer. This was pretty big news for US soccer fans, as well as relatively important news for world soccer in general. Dempsey is not only a club-level star, he is probably the US National Team's best all- around player, had seen success in a top-flight European league, and is still relatively close to his prime playing years. And with the World Cup only one year away, for a player of Dempsey's ability and national team importance to move to Major League Soccer and away from the English Premier League was a big story. But back to the point of this post and how texting plays into this. Check two excerpts from a recent interview with Dempsey, as he describes the process of changing clubs, his role on the US National team, and some of the communications that took place between him and club and country leaders over that time. Did you have a heart-to-heart at one point with Tottenham manager André Villas-Boas? Dempsey: I didn't. I really just had a heart-to-heart with my family, talked to my wife, to my mom and dad, to my brothers and my sister. And had a few sleepless nights just going over that decision and wanting to make sure I was making it for the right reasons, and that I felt good about it. You have to get that gut feeling that you're doing the right thing. It was good for me to be back with Tottenham in preseason and be around it to make that decision instead of being removed from it on vacation in the summer. I was able to be there, be in training and really think about it. After I left, [Villas-Boas] sent me a really good text. He was happy with what I was doing and I was going to be part of his plans. He wished me the best. I'm grateful for him. He gave me an opportunity to see what it was like to play at a big club. So I'll always be grateful for that, just to get that experience. Later in the interview, Dempsey discusses some upcoming US Men's National Team games and his conversations with coach Juergen Klinsmann.
  • 99. Have you had a chance to talk to Klinsmann since you made the decision to go to Seattle? Dempsey: Just text. He said he wasn't going to bring me in for this game, but he was looking forward to making history in Costa Rica [in the World Cup qualifier on Sept. 6. The U.S. has never won in Costa Rica in nine tries] and making sure we book our tickets to Brazil [for the World Cup]. I'm excited about getting my 100th cap, and hopefully we do make history in Costa Rica. Did you catch that? Dempsey leaves one high-profile English Premiere League team Tottenham - and only communicates with Villas-Boas, his former manager there via text. Then as the move to Seattle impacts his fitness and availability for some upcoming National Team games and again he only communicates with US manager Klinsmann via text. A top talent like Dempsey makes a major career move and the two most important executives involved in the process only interact with him via text message. And no one, not Dempsey, not Dempsey's family, not the author of the SI piece, raises any objections or questions about the choice of text messaging as the communication method. No one asks, 'He only sent you a text? He didn't call? He didn't have a meeting with you?' Look at Dempsey's quote again "After I left, [Villas-Boas] sent me a really good text." He sent me a really good text. And it seems like for Dempsey, 30-year old soccer star, that is just fine.
  • 100. Trying to Look Better Vs. Trying to Get Better Steve Boese Originally posted on May 9, 2013 Quick take from the world of the NBA - and no, I'm not tapping the sports world solely to try and surpass in 2013 the number of contributions I had last season towards The 8 Man Rotation - A Look at Sports and HR E-book. So here's the take - if you are an experienced professional near the top of your game, but still have some room to grow to truly reach your ultimate goals - the big promotion, the fatty paycheck, or in the sports world, it might be the Championship title, etc. the outside advice that you seek and who you choose to engage with makes a pretty big statement about your dedication to your craft. What do I mean by that? Let's take a look at two recent examples from the Association: Exhibit A - Deron Williams of the Brooklyn Nets hires his own personal beat reporter Here's an odd story from today's Wall Street Journal, about a new member of the Brooklyn Nets corps of beat writers. Devon Jeffreys is a credentialed reporter like all of the rest, but he's really only at Nets games to cover one player: Deron Williams. And he's there to cover Deron Williams for a website that Deron Williams himself is the owner of: Athletes having a personal website to trumpet their accomplishments is nothing new, but Williams's site is rare in that it features content that is written like regular news stories, save for the fact that Williams is always the central figure. Exhibit B - Kevin Durant of the OKC Thunder hires his own personal performance analytics coach/consultant Kevin Durant has hired his own analytics expert. He tailors workouts to remedy numerical imbalances. He harps on efficiency more than a Prius dealer. Durant sat in a leather terminal chair next to a practice court and pointed toward the 90-degree- angle at the upper-right corner of the key that represents the elbow. “See that spot,” Durant said. “I used to shoot 38, 39 percent from there off the catch coming around pin-down screens.” He paused for emphasis. “I’m up to 45, 46 percent now.”
  • 101. Pretty obvious that these two 'hires', or personal development strategies represent two strikingly different approaches to performance improvement. Williams' personal beat reporter is there to make Williams look better. Durant's analytics coach is there to help Durant get better. Now to be fair these examples are kind of cherry-picked - Williams might have his own analytics coach, personal trainer, dietitian, etc. to help his actual game improve. And Durant might have his own PR reps and spin doctors to help his public image. Both players have the resources necessary to have all of their professional bases covered. So it isn't completely fair to call them out in this way with imperfect or incomplete information. But you and me? If we are engaging with experts or taking the time to get some outside 'performance' help, we probably do have to make choices about where to invest our more limited resources, and perhaps more importantly, our limited time. I think about this a lot in the context of what people do online - maybe it's changing profile pics every other day or making sure they shoehorn in a comment on every LinkedIn group discussion that they know people in their field will see. Or perhaps it's the proliferation of personal branding or career coaches - to me that entire field only exists because people are getting a little too focused on looking better vs. actually getting better. If you worry about looking better too much, you might end up looking a little better, sure. If you care mostly about getting better, then the looking part takes care of itself.
  • 102. Trying to Look Better Vs. Trying to Get Better Steve Boese Originally posted on November 15, 2013 As loyal readers know, I am all about the fashion and as such, am a subscriber and regular reader of GQ Magazine. In the most recent GQ, buried in an interview with journalist and TV personality Keith Olbermann, who as you might know has kind of a checkered career past and has burned lots of bridges with many of his former employers, like CNN, MSNBC, and ESPN, was an interesting take from KO on how star employees interpret and assign the credit for their success. Here is the take from Olbermann: So I don't think there are huge divergences between my personality and what they see on TV. And I think that's why I have been gainfully employed doing this. I'll always deliver what an employer wants. At some point they decide the result is more trouble than they want, or they convince themselves that they have created all this success that I created for them. As in my last prominent employer at NBC, which they're learning that perhaps they were wrong about that. Olbermann has had lots of success, and been a star or high performer (who eventually flamed out) at every stop along the way. But it would be a mistake to only focus on the
  • 103. flame-outs and not on the psyche of the star performer that Olbermann speaks to so candidly. Look at that part of the quote again - At some point they decide the result is more trouble than they want, or they convince themselves that they have created all this success that I created for them. While from the outside, anyone looking at Olbermann's career arc would tend to focus on the 'He is more trouble than he is worth' argument, stars like KO usually see it from the latter point of view - that they themselves are driving success, not the company. I think the quote provides a really useful reminder for any leader or manager or organization that is grappling with one of those similar 'It is worth keeping this guy/gal around?' kinds of conundrums. Star performers can be prickly. They can demand a lot. They want to be paid more than your salary range says is permissible. Like Olbermann, they can be a real pain in the a$$. But before you decide to simply cut them loose and be done with their ego and BS, make sure you ask yourself who is really responsible for their success, and if indeed, it is repeatable or transferable. It's ok to let the star walk if they want too much, or they become too impossible to work with, but be ready to explain to someone in an expensive suit how the drop-off in organizational performance was worth it.
  • 104. No One Cares What You Don’t Have Steve Boese Originally posted on October 24, 2013 No matter who you are, where you work, and the time/budget/resources/talent that you have at your disposal to carry on your campaigns for conquest of the world the unassailable fact is that someone out there has access to more/better/faster/smarter than you. Unless you are a recruiter or Talent pro at Google. Then you have already won, and there is no need to read any further. But if you are not in that prime position of recruiting for or managing talent at the clear market or geographic top dog then from time to time you run into what are 'competitive disadvantages' in your efforts to find, attract, coach, develop, retain, and squeeze the best performance from your workforce. Someone else can offer a better starting salary to college recruits. Someone else has a better, more comprehensive benefits program. Someone else has won a few of those 'Best Places to Work' awards, (the ones you can't be bothered to fill out the application for). Someone else has a reputation for sticking with their strategy, even when times are tough, and not announcing layoffs three days after posting record earnings.
  • 105. You get the idea. No matter how great you are, someone out there is probably doing it better. You can let your relative disadvantage be that crutch you rely on, and the excuse you fall back on when explaining why you can compete with the better funded, faster, sexier, and generally 'not that different that you, just not as obviously dysfunctional' others in your space. Or you can take a page from the Triqui Indian (or Mexico) boys basketball team, and not only compete, but win and dominate an international competition while PLAYING BAREFOOT. From a CNN piece describing the team and the tournament: Despite most of the team being of short stature and playing barefoot, the Triqui Indian boys from Mexico won the championship -- and the hearts of many -- at the International Festival of Mini-Basketball held in Argentina. Their coach, Sergio Zuniga explains that playing barefoot is a reflection of the poverty in their community in the state of Oaxaca. "The boys train barefoot, they always walk barefoot. There are no resources to buy shoes," Zuniga commented in an interview with the Basketball Federation of the Province of Cordoba, where the tournament was held. The seven games against six local teams ended with incredible scores: 86-3 over Celestes; 22-6 against Cordoba University; 72-16 against Central; 82- 18 over Hindu; 44-12 against Monteeis and 40-16 over Regatas de Mendoza. The National Sports and Physical Culture Commission of Mexico named the team as the "Barefoot Giants of the Mountains." Awesome. A team of poor, short, and certainly disadvantages and barefoot kids from the mountains of Mexico remind us that whatever barriers or obstacles or 'It's not fair' complaints that we might offer up are just about always pretty hollow, and kind of meaningless.
  • 106. The message? Find a way. Don't settle. Don't let the competition beat you before the game has even started. And don't underestimate the determination of a foe that by virtue of playing through some remarkable challenges have become much, much tougher than you realize.
  • 107. It’s Good to Have Enemies Steve Boese Originally posted on October 22, 2013 Quick bit of background for the non-NBA fans that might be reading this. There are two NBA franchises that call Los Angeles home - the Lakers, who have been one of the most successful teams in all of North American sports over the decades, and the Clippers, who have been one of the least successful, inept, and downright sad organizations in their history. Additionally, both teams play their home games in the same arena - the Staples Center. If you are a casual or even a non-fan of the NBA chances are you at least know the famous Laker teams led by all-time legends like Jerry West, Kareeem Adbul-Jabbar, Magic Johnson, Shaquille O'Neal, and Kobe Bryant. You have probably not ever heard of the Clippers. The Lakers have consistently played for and won championships, while the Clippers at best have been a faceless also-ran, and at worst, have been the laughing stock club of the league. But in the last couple of seasons the fortunes and outlooks are starting to shift, just a little for the Los Angeles teams. The Lakers, beset by injuries and the aging of their star players are in a downward trend, while the Clippers, with much younger and dynamic stars are more optimistic than ever about their chances to compete for the NBA title. To add to the Clippers' sense of optimism, the team hired a new coach, the respected Doc Rivers, who has won a title as coach of the Boston Celtics, and is widely regarded as one of the top 5 coaches in the sport. The presence of a leader like Rivers, along with
  • 108. the group of young and talented players has the Clippers thinking big for the upcoming season. But before the Clippers can 'win' the NBA, they need to first climb out of the shadow of their much more well known, and successful (at least historically), co-tenants of the Staples Center, the Lakers. And Doc Rivers has, before the first game of the new season has even tipped off, fired the first blow on his home turf - by ordering the Lakers' 16 NBA Championship banners that hang from the Staples Center rafters be covered up with posters of members of the current Clippers squad when the Clippers are playing their home games. Some details from the Ball Don't Lie blog: The Los Angeles Clippers and Lakers both moved into the Staples Center during the 1999-00 season, the only NBA teams to share an arena. Since then, the Lakers have hoisted five NBA championship banners to add to their 16 in total, alongside two other conference titles in that span. In that time the team has also added two more retired numbers to the jerseys that hang at the top of the arena, bringing that total to nine, while also hoisting two tributes to the championship Minneapolis Lakers and late Hall of Fame broadcaster Chick Hearn. In that time, the Clippers have accomplished … well, they made it to the second round a couple of times. New Clippers coach Doc Rivers is attempting to change that. After the laissez-faire turn of former coach Vinny Del Negro, the former Boston Celtics coach has decided to instill a defensive mindset and more consistent offensive philosophy for a Clippers team that disappointed with a first round exit in last year’s playoffs. And to drive a team-first point home, he’s asked the Staples Center to cover the Lakers banners when the Clippers take hold of the arena. From the Los Angeles Times. Said Rivers, "Listen, I think this is our arena when we play," Rivers said. "So I just thought it would be good that we show our guys. No disrespect to them. But when we play, it's the Clippers' arena as far as I know." To the non-sports fan this may seem pretty insignificant, as in, 'So what, the Clippers are covering up the Lakers banners when they are playing. Big deal.'
  • 109. But to a professional team, and their fans, these championship banners symbolize excellence, dedication, sacrifice, hard work, and ultimately team pride. To cover them up is a like an insult or a gesture of disrespect, (at least that is how I would interpret the move). But from Rivers perspective, the decision makes complete sense. His team can't even think about winning the NBA title until they begin by 'winning' their home court. And unique to the Clippers, winning their home court means conquering one of the most successful, and world famous sports franchises of them all, the Lakers. Life is better, or at least more interesting with a few enemies. Batman needed the Joker. Luke Skywalker needed Darth Vader. Maverick needed Iceman. I am sure Rivers and the Clippers want to be the 'new' Lakers in Los Angeles, but to get there they are going to have to see their neighbor as more of their enemy. And to crawl out from under the Lakers' shadow, covering up the banners that testify to Laker success is a smart move. Sure, it may tick off the Lakers, but that is the idea I think. You can't climb to the top without making a few enemies along the way.
  • 110. Have A Poor Performer, Call Their Parents Tim Sackett Originally posted on March 13, 2013 It’s a different world we live. 30 is the new 20, which makes 20 the new 10, which makes me, still old. I’ve mentioned this before, and people always felt like it was always tongue in cheek, but I think it’s time as HR pros and leaders we start having parents in on our performance conversations. I’m serious! I have a great real-life example from the world of the NBA. Klay Thompson, a member of the Golden State Warriors, was involved in a fight recently and fined $35,000. No big deal, right? Typical NBA pro sports behavior. But, wait! His dad, former NBA player Mychal Thompson, keeps his son’s finances and “grounded” him from his weekly allowance! From the Bleacher Report: “The 23-year-old doesn’t have access to his money, all cheques are paid to Mychal and Julie who take care of his accounts for him to make sure Klay’s financial situation is set up for his post NBA career. So, naturally, Papa Thompson’s going to teach Klay a lesson of his own by fining him personally also, however Klay will find out the old fashioned way. “He will [find out he's been fined by us] when he sees that cash envelope show up a little short this week,” he said.” 23 years old. How many young 20′s do you have working in your office? How many of those young 20′s and late 20′s and possibly 30′s – could use a little wake up call from Mom and/or Dad!?
  • 111. If HR has taught me anything, it’s most leaders are terrible at holding their employees accountable and managing performance. It’s not getting better, it’s gotten worse over the past 5 years. Most organizations eliminated or reduced leadership training during the recession, so our leaders haven’t gotten better, they’ve gotten worse. We can start spending a ton of resources to train them and get them up to speed – or – we could just hand them Billy’s Mom’s number and have her come by the office one day. Kind of like a conference at school! “Mrs. Sackett, we are glad you could take time out of your busy day to talk about Timmie. You see, Timmie is a little…well, let’s say Tim’s performance isn’t where it should be for someone of his age, experience and education. I was hoping you might be able to help me get Tim back on track. Here are some examples of what Tim’s been doing…” Can you imagine how 99% of those poor performers involved in this conversation would change!? We laugh because it seems absurd that we would have to call in someone’s parents to adjust their performance, but I truly think in the right circumstance, it could really work. I’ve seen it work well with good performance. I’ve had a past boss speak to my mother about my good performance and she lite up like a Christmas tree, made me feel proud. After that happen to me, I did it with some employees who worked for me, with the same result. If it works so well on the positive side – why should we dismiss it wouldn’t work on the correction side? Before you let go of your next poor performer – do me one favor – make one more call – one last ditch effort – call Mom and Dad in for a meeting.
  • 112. Time to Change How We Choose Talent in the NBA and NFL Matt Stollak Originally posted on May 3, 2013 Over the past week, two major events in talent management occurred in the NFL and NBA Sunday, April 28 was the deadline for, basically, those basketball players who still have at least one year of college eligibility remaining to declare for the NBA draft. Similarly, this past weekend saw the 7 round NFL draft. Unlike most organizations, where employers can choose to hire whomever they want at whatever rate of pay they want, and applicants can choose to apply at organizations where they want to work, the NBA and NFL have a restricted model of employment. Instead of choosing one's employer, candidates must declare they are ready to turn from amateur athlete into a professional, and are subject to the whims of the professional teams if they are to be selected. However, there is a risk involved, particularly for the player - once you make that declaration, in most instances, you cannot return to the amateur ranks. This past weekend, 21 out of 73 (28.8%) early NFL entrants went undrafted. This was only a slight improvement over 2012, where 20 out of 64 (31.3%) were not chosen. The NFL has put in place a draft advisory committee to give advice about where players may potentially be drafted, but, in many instances, the advice is either misguided or goes unheeded.
  • 113. Currently, few (if any) prospective NFL players take advantage of NCAA rule In football, an enrolled student-athlete (as opposed to a prospective student-athlete) may enter the National Football League draft one time during his collegiate career without jeopardizing eligibility in that sport, provided the student-athlete is not drafted by any team in that league and the student-athlete declares his intention to resume intercollegiate participation within 72 hours following the National Football League draft declaration date. The student-athlete's declaration of intent shall be in writing to the institution's director of athletics. (Adopted: 10/31/02, Revised: 4/14/03, 12/15/06) The NBA draft rules are just as convoluted. The NCAA’s rule is that any player that has entered the NBA Draft with eligibility remaining and that hasn’t signed with an agent must withdraw their name from consideration by April 28th or lose their collegiate eligibility. Once that April 28th date passes, you can choose not to be drafted, but you cannot return to college and play. Further, the NBA has instituted an age rule regarding eligibility: • All drafted players must be at least 19 years old during the calendar year of the draft. To determine whether a player is eligible for a given year's draft, subtract 19 from the year of the draft. If the player was born during or before that year, he is eligible. • Any player who is not an "international player", as defined in the CBA, must be at least one year removed from the graduation of his high school class. With the April 28 date now passed, 46 players with college eligibility remaining joined 31 international players, as well as a bevy of college seniors, to enter a selection system with just two rounds and only 60 slots. Quite a few are going to walk away disappointed. Its understand why the rules exist....the NBA players union want to protect veteran players, and a greater influx of younger talent means less potential slots for older ones. For college coaches, they want to better be able to project what their roster will look like for the upcoming year and plan for scholarships. However, why should the player suffer with regard to bad advice? So, here is what I propose: 1. Eliminate all restrictions on whom a team can draft. If an NBA or NFL team with the first pick wants to draft a high school player or one with college eligibility, let them. That player can choose to sign with the team or not. 2. However, the teams retains all rights to any player drafted only in the first round until their college eligibility is used up. By maintaining rights to that player, even for years on end, they are able to hold on to a
  • 114. valuable asset. That player can sign with the team, or they can also trade him away, if they are unable to sign him. It would also be interesting to see some teams drafting later in the first round gamble on a player who may not turn pro initially. 3. Eliminate the transfer rule of a player sitting out a year if he transfers. Players might have signed with a school expecting minutes to be available to play based on a player likely entering the draft early. Now, if a player doesn't go pro, he has the opportunity to play elsewhere without having to sit out a year. Further, coaches are able to change schools without having to sit out a year. The same luxury should be extended to players. In sum, most players turn pro early because they anticipate being picked in the first round of the draft where money is guaranteed. Further, it is extremely unlikely that any player chosen in the first 15 picks is going to turn down the money available to him. Finally, players who did not get chosen in the round they expected can return to school without being penalized for poor advice.
  • 115. CHAPTER 5 Total Compensation
  • 116. Counter-Offers: 5 Times Not To Counter a Top Performer.... Kris Dunn Originally Published on October 11, 2013 If you follow baseball, then you've heard of the St. Louis Cardinals. Second only to the Yankees in World Series championships. The Cardinals had a decision to make with mega-star Albert Pujols two years ago. Should they give him a contract worth 300M over 10 years? The answer for the Cardinals was "no". They let him walk to the Angels, and there was a lot of hand-wringing in the city about what it meant for the franchise. They won another world series in their first year without Albert (2012). They just won a divisional series this year and are down to the final four in the playoffs. Which just goes to show you, you can't be held hostage by your talent threatening to walk to other companies. Simply put, there's 5 reasons/times not to counter top talent that's getting to walk to another company. Consider not countering if one of these is true in your situation, and don't counter if more than one is true. Here's my list: 1. They earn too much in respect to the revenue they produce. At some point, there's a point of diminishing returns. Don't counter if you are there. 2. The replacement for the talent in question brings 85% of the value at 65% of the cost. More diminishing returns analysis. 3. You have a history of panicking when people leave. You're training people to expect counters, and you might be replacing merit increases for "saves" with the best people in your company. You're better than that. 4. The talent in question is getting ready to break down/slow down. Is this ageism? Might be. Albert has broken down from day one with the Angels, so clearly the Cardinals had this in mind. What's the equivalent in your company? I'll let you decide that. 5. You don't like them. Life's too short, yo. Combine this one with any of the factors above and you shouldn't counter just for the sake of your own sanity. Sometimes it's right to counter. Lots of times it's not. Don't fall into the trap of always going into save mode. Evaluate the prospects like a true dealmaker would. You're a player, act like one.
  • 117. New HR Title: HR Capologist Kris Dunn Originally Posted on June 28, 2013 It’s almost July, and for those of you in really big companies, that means one thing— you’re almost ready to start thinking about budget season for 2014. Yes, that soul- sucking process where your operators try to hide FTE sand and your Finance department slowly cuts them down to size. Because lets face it, the operators you support are addicted to not filling open headcount as a means to make budget. You’ve seen this movie before. But the sequels seem to feature a much meaner Finance department, which means your operators have no hope of keeping the FTE sand in their budget. Meaning you have a golden opportunity to emerge with a new title: HR Capologist. What the #$## is that? Let me explain. Professional sports are filled with quants who are replacing old school scouts as the pivotal talent manager in any sports franchise—and the new wave of number-driven talent evaluators are called Capologists. Most professional sport leagues have salary caps, and the goal of the Capologist is to ensure that the franchise is making smart decisions about whom they bring aboard and what they pay them. Brad Pitt movies have been made about this – see Moneyball. The stats in baseball and basketball that help identify hidden value are called things like Wins Against Replacement (WAR), and they matter—a lot. Hate sports? Stay with me for a second because it has more to do with you than you think.
  • 118. What goes on with Salary Caps in sports is important to the HR/Talent leader for the following reasons: 1. Your salary cap is your salary budget after Finance whacks it down to size. You’ve got a cap people—time to start embracing your inner geek. 2. The pressure is on to do more with less. It’s been that way for a while, right? Maybe you ought to start helping your operators due something other than complain about it. You talk about OD stuff; this is your chance to do real OD. 3. Your big measurement/lever against your company’s “salary cap” is revenue per employee. If you get more revenue per employee, your company wins. As I’ve pitched before, the great thing about RPE is that whatever you think you excel in as a HR/Talent leader (hiring, training, performance management, etc.), you can use your specialty to get more revenue out of the same total spend on people. 4. In sports, more wins for the same or less money is the result of good capology. In corporate American, production as measured by more revenue per employee is the equivalent of wins. The HR Capologist does one of two things: 1. They do more with the same or less while hiring like they always have – this is what I outline above. Use what you are good at in HR to get more revenue per employee—it’s real world OD. 2. They start looking for cheaper talent that can do a lot (proportionally) to what traditional talent can do. Can you find talent that can do 85% of what the incumbent can do for 65% of the cost? If so, then you’re a natural HR Capologist. Want to start looking into being an HR Capologist in your current role? Start publishing Revenue Per Employee numbers and then start having lots of conversations with your operators about how to improve that metric to get more out of the salary cap you’ve been given. Time to geek it up and let the conversations drive where you go next.
  • 119. The Celtics, Coaching, and Compensation Kris Dunn Originally Posted on June 28, 2013 The Boston Celtics shocked the professional sports world earlier this week when they named Butler University Men's Basketball Coach Brad Stevens to be their new Head Coach, replacing the recently departed long time coach Doc Rivers. The signing of Stevens as the C's new on-court leader was notable and surprising on several levels:  None of the NBA writers or pundits seemed to have Stevens named as a potential replacement for Rivers or even in a fuzzy, 'sources say' kind of way  Stevens has no prior NBA experience as an assistant coach or a player, the most common kind of experience possessed by first-time NBA head coaches  There has been a recent history of failure at the NBA level for a number of very high profile college coaches, i.e. success in college coaching hasn't not been carrying over to the NBA  Stevens, at 36, immediately becomes the youngest head coach in the NBA  And finally, while at Butler for the last six seasons, Stevens' teams had success, including reaching the National Title game twice, (losing on both occasions), he had not reached the 'top' of the college coaching ranks reserved for the leaders of most historic and storied programs like Duke, Kentucky, or North Carolina.
  • 120. All in all, the announcement of Stevens, by all accounts an excellent coach and still rising star in the profession was one that took nearly everyone off guard. And it may or may not work out for the Celtics and Stevens, but dig just a little deeper into the details of the deal, and the former coach Rivers' contract, and then it begins to make more sense from a pure Talent Management perspective. The Celtics are a team that is in rebuilding mode - they recently traded away two of their most highly paid and best performing players Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce to the Brooklyn Nets, and rumors are circling that their other key franchise player Rajon Rondo might be next to be shipped off. The team clearly wants to build around some younger players and hopes to utilize the increased number of draft picks acquired in the recent trade with the Nets to stockpile more young, (and importantly, cheaper), talent. And in essentially trading Rivers, the former head coach who has over 12 years experience as an NBA head coach and led the Celtics to the NBA Championship in 2008, for the much less experienced Stevens, the C's also give us all in the talent game a lesson and reminder of the tradeoffs that organizations have to make when chasing talent, and more importantly, aligning the talent strategy to the business and organizational reality. Rivers with his years of experience, demonstrated success in the job, and reputation amongst the players was a very highly compensated coach - he had 3 years and $21 million remaining on his Celtics contract. At $7M per season, that is the kind of compensation that elite NBA head coaches can expect. Stevens, by comparison, signed for 6 years and $22 million. Still a lot of scratch, but by NBA head coaching standards not so much. You pay Rivers, or similar, $7 million a year because he is a proven championship coach. These are incredibly hard to find. But the Celtics are not going to be a championship- caliber team next season, and probably for two or three more after that. They are essentially starting over after six or seven years of really high-level, title-contending play. Paying an elite-level coach top of the market compensation in this scenario makes no sense. It's wasted money (not to mention Rivers himself losing interest in the club as well). So you make the smart move - bet on a younger coach, hopefully on the rise, at half the salary of the last guy knowing that in the next couple of years anyway, his inexperience in the role won't matter too much because the team isn't ready to contend. Maybe it
  • 121. works out, and the Celtics look like geniuses for locking up a great coach at a bargain rate. But the key here is the Celtics know who they are right now. For all their storied history and many championships over the years, they are not an elite team at the moment. And that fed into the call and the decision to release their elite coach, some of their elite players, and move in a new (and cheaper) direction. All organizations say they want to attract and retain the 'best' talent. But sometimes doing what is necessary to land the 'best' talent doesn't make sense from a broader organizational context. And when you need to move off what is needed to land the top talent in terms of compensation, then you also likely need to think more expansively and creatively about who you can bring in. Maybe you place a bet on an up-and-comer. Maybe you don't worry so much about '10 years experience doing exactly the same job'. Maybe you find a way to land the next star employee before the competition does. You have to know who you are, and make talent decisions accordingly.
  • 122. CHAPTER 6   Employee and Labor Relations
  • 123. KARMA: Don't Spit Into the Wind... Kris Dunn Originally Published on December 2, 2013 "You don't tug on Superman's cape You don't spit into the wind You don't pull the mask off that old Lone Ranger And you don't mess around with Jim"   What did you do with your holiday weekend? Me? I chilled out and then went to the Iron Bowl in Auburn, AL, the 2013 version that's being called the game of the century. You know the drill by now - The Iron Bowl is college football, Alabama vs Auburn in the annual grudge match. The 2013 version was #1 Alabama (dynasty) vs #4 Auburn (always the underdog in this matchup). The game was close. It looked to be going to overtime until Alabama coach Nick Saban made a classic decision that ignited "Karma". An Alabama player stepped out of bounds and it looked like time had expired. Then the Alabama sideline started wearing out the officials to put one more second on the clock. They could have let it go, but politic they did. They got the one second. Then they make another KARMA igniting decision - they decided to try a FG that had about a 5% probability of connecting.
  • 124. And Auburn ran the missed FG 109 yards for the game's winning touchdown with no time remaining on the clock. KARMA. You know what I'm talking about. You ask for something that you really know isn't quite right. You then get your wish, and you try to stretch the break you've been given into something more. KARMA. That's what Alabama got. In the old days, the second never would have been put back up. It was more like .2 of a second, and that would have been attributed to clock operator margin of error. But in today's world of technology, you can get the review. Then you can decide what to do with the break you've been given on a technicality. KARMA. Let's examine some of the ways that your managers and employees tempt fate by asking for things that aren't quite right, only to have their "smart" request come back to bite them in the ***: 1. You make a hire. It doesn't go well and some conduct related thing is moving your hire to term. You man up and save the day, and that new hire rewards you by doing something that's fundamental worse in the month that follows your "save". You look like a moran. 2. A sales pro who's a high performer is accused of harassing a team member. There's no evidence, but everyone knows he's a bad guy. You save him because he can sell. 3 months later he's in another harassment situation, this time with texts to prove it. Whoops. 3. A customer service rep has a couple of horrible run-ins with clients. You give them a second chance they probably don't deserve, and you end up loosing one of your biggest clients 2 months later due to bonehead things the rep you should have fired said to the mega-client. Here's your formula for KARMA in the workplace: <Somebody shows their *** + You save them against what your mom would have told you to do = Future horrible result/KARMA>. Don't spit into the wind. Don't save people who shouldn't have been saved. Don't kick the FG you know you won't make in the biggest game of the year. KARMA.
  • 125. FIRE FAST: Too Many People In a Termination Decision Can Be Hazardous to Your Career... Kris Dunn May 28, 2013 In case you missed it, Rutgers University is in the news again for another questionable hiring/firing decision - this time related to hiring a new Athletic Director, Julie Hermann. Here's a quick rundown from NPR: "Over this past weekend, New Jersey's Star-Ledger reported that in the late 1990s, when Hermann was coaching the women's volleyball team at the University of Tennessee, players had accused her of ruling "through humiliation, fear and emotional abuse." The Star-Ledger's report has, understandably, put pressure on Rutgers to explain how it came to hire Hermann if such allegations had been made about her. In Tuesday's Star-Ledger, columnist Steve Politi argues that the school is giving Hermann "the benefit of doubt that Tim Pernetti never received." In his statement, Rutgers' president says the school's search for a new athletic director "included a thorough background check conducted by one of the world's leading private security firms." And, Barchi adds, "Julie's record established her as a proven leader in athletics administration with a strong commitment to academic success as well as athletic excellence, and a strong commitment to the well-being of student athletes." It goes without saying that a deep background check of legal channels probably isn't going to uncover a internal investigation 15 years ago, right? Hermann has stated she was never notified of the run her players made to have her fired. But wait - there's more. Rutgers has hired Hermann to replace Tim Pernetti — who stepped down in April after it was learned that Rutgers men's basketball coach
  • 126. Mike Rice had been videotaped assaulting his players and spewing homophobic slurs at them during practices. Pernetti lost his job because he had learned about Rice's misconduct last December, but agreed with the recommendations of the school's lawyers and human relations staff to only suspend the coach for three games and fine him $50,000. Rice was fired in April after the videotapes went viral. Buried under the reports and videotape of Rice treating his players like crap was this little nugget of gold from Pernetti, who had plenty to say when asked why he didn't fire Rice immediately after seeing the tapes that showed Rick acting like an abusive moron towards his players. From Pernetti's resignation letter: "As you know, my first instincts when I saw the videotape of Coach Rice's behavior was to fire him immediately. However, Rutgers decided to follow a process involving university lawyers, human resources professionals, and outside counsel. Following review of the independent investigative report, the consensus was that university policy would not justify dismissal. I have admitted my role in, and regret for, that decision, and wish that I had the opportunity to go back and override it for the sake of everyone involved." Holy ####. Which is to say that if you catch someone throwing things at employees and generally being abusive, you probably need to move to fire that person and not be talked into "we don't have enough". Don't have enough power to make that happen? Go to your boss and have them sign off on retention of said abuser. In writing. That always loosens up the term process a bit. Rice was awful to his players. Pernetti got the tape, brought lots of people to rubber- stamp the term and group-think ensued. The moral? Group-think can be hazardous to your career. Fire morons fast.
  • 127. Manti Te’o, Notre Dame and the Art of the Crappy HR Investigation... Kris Dunn Originally Published on January 21, 2013 When bad stuff happens, who's left to sort out fact from fiction at your company? More often than not, it's the HR Manager/HR Director that leads the client group and is responsible for the employee relations scene as part of that responsibility. About 50% of the biggest HR leadership job (5K FTE count) I ever had was pure play employee relations, and I have to say there are times when I miss going into a pure, high stakes, "he said, she said" situation, preparing with data and interviewing the people involved. Conducting a fair, yet aggressive, investigation of bad stuff in your company is a hallmark of a great HR Manager and up (director, VP) generalist. People who can aggressively interview and figure out who's lying are worth their weight in gold. Of course, there's the wrong way to conduct an internal investigation of bad stuff. The Manti Te’o/Lennay Kekua/Notre Dame affair is a great example. Notre Dame decided not to interview anyone or get aggressive in any way before they pronounced Te'o a victim. More from the Big Lead: "The South Bend Tribune published a thorough accounting of Notre Dame’s reaction to the Manti Te’o/Lennay Kekua affair. This accounting revealed Notre Dame’s “investigation” to be cursory, almost designed not to find anything unsavory. It confirmed what Te’o intimated in the ESPN interview. Investigators, hired a week after speaking to Te’o, conducted no interviews. Investigating something that happened on the Internet, they did not examine e-mails, cell phone records or any other form of electronic correspondence.
  • 128. The investigation ordered by Notre Dame was limited to the electronic search, Brown said. Investigators did not interview Te’o or his family, nor did anyone attempt to contact Ronaiah Tuiasosopo or any of his relatives. In response to questions, university officials said the investigators did not examine cell phone records, e-mails or other electronic communication to determine the length or extent of Te’o’s communication over the past few years with the person claiming to be Lennay Kekua, nor did the university ask Te’o to take a lie detector test." What's missing from Notre Dame's action plan in this investigation? What can you learn for your company? When bad stuff happens, you investigation plan is basically as follows: 1. Find as much data as possible about the situation - emails, phone records, etc - any thing in print or digital that help you get your head around what you're dealing with. 2. Create a list of people you need to talk to/interview. Order them in a way where early interviews are really about collecting data to add to #1. As you get later in your interview schedule, you're talking to people closer to the issue in question. 3. When you start interviewing the primaries in the situation (those who know what the truth is, you just have to get it out of them) you do the following: a. Use the data you have to gradually box them in to agreement on the general situation in question. b. Use critical data points to test if their telling you the truth - you generally need data from #1 to do this. c. If you catch them in a lie related to 3b, use that fact to leverage them to come clean and give you more than they were going to. d. Rinse. Repeat. Don't be scared to stay in an interview for a couple of hours. Welcome to the world of the effective HR investigation. If it sounds like nasty business, it is. Only the best HR Managers and Directors are really good at what I've outlined above. But at the end of the day, you want an HR Manager/Director who knows how to leverage investigations and the people in them to get to the truth. You want them on that wall. And yes, you need them on that wall. Who else is going to do it? You? If Manti Te'o was an employee, Notre Dame gets an F for how they handled it. And a bunch of internal onlookers feel less certain about the Notre Dame brand as a result.
  • 129. Committing a Felony is Against Team Policy, and Other Things We Shouldn’t Have to Say Steve Boese Originally Published on August 1, 2013 It is quite possible that after the National Basketball Association, my next favorite league/sport to watch and follow is soccer's English Premier League. It is a fantastic sport to watch, and the top level of English teams like Manchester United, Arsenal, and Chelsea are some of the most valuable and popular sports teams in the entire world. The Premier League club I support is Liverpool, (for reasons too boring to re-tell), and while I am not a super hardcore supporter, I do try and keep up with the off-season player transfers and signings by the club and other elements of club-related news. But this bit of Liverpool team news that was reported earlier in the week, Liverpool issue list of 'unacceptable' words to fight discrimination made me pause for a moment, as it is once again, in classic 8 Man Rotation style, the worlds of sports and HR colliding. Rather than try to summarize the entire piece, I will just lift quote from the Guardian piece referenced above: Liverpool have issued members of staff with a list of "unacceptable" words and phrases in their efforts to combat all forms of discrimination at Anfield. The guide, part of a wider education programme run by the club, details terms that employees should deem offensive under the headings of race/religion, sexual orientation, gender and disability. Most are self-explanatory and the guide advises that it is "important to understand the context of what's being said", as in the use, under gender for example, of "princess" or "don't be a woman" on the Anfield terraces next season. Liverpool's list of what is "usually offensive and the club considers unacceptable" has been given to all full-time and casual members of staff who have contact with the public on matchdays or on a daily basis. The club were widely criticised for their support of Luis Suárez when the striker was found guilty in December 2011 of having used racially abusive language towards Patrice Evra but view their education programme as one of several proactive measures taken to combat discrimination.
  • 130. That is fantastic, (sarcasm on). A list, organized by type of slur, of the things that you probably ought not to say at work, heck, you probably ought not to say anywhere. I can only imagine the day the HR or Operations folks (or whomever crafted this list) sat around the conference table saying things like, 'There has to be more ways to offend gay people. C'mon - let's think darn it!'. I get why Liverpool specifically, and football/soccer more generally take the issue of discrimination seriously enough to want to be extremely precise and particular about the standards of behavior and discourse that are expected, and what, again specifically, is unacceptable. There continues to be ugly incident after ugly incident of incredibly offensive and even violent actions that are in one way or another tied back to the sport. They can't pretend that is not the reality and recent history in their industry. But then again, creating and distributing a printed list of these (mostly), obviously offensive words seems a little strange too. Did they really think their employees don't realize the N-word is offensive and it should not be used in the workplace? A bunch of years back when he was the head football coach at Oklahoma University, Barry Switzer was asked during a press conference to try and explain the reasons for a recent spate of player run-ins with the law, including a couple of pretty serious charges like car theft and assault. After trying to talk about the team expectations and support structures in place to try and prevent such incidents an exasperated Switzer finally said, 'I didn't think I had to put a sign on the locker room wall saying that 'Commiting a felony is against team policy.' That story is what I recalled when reading about the Liverpool 'list of things we shouldn't have to tell you not to say, but we can't figure out why enough people don't realize that so we had to make this list to be sure'. People can be really disappointing sometimes I guess.
  • 131. Employee Tracking Data and the Inevitable Pushback Steve Boese Originally Published on March 18, 2013 Last week I had a piece about the development of a new set of technologies that are effectively designed to collect, aggregate, synthesize, and help management interpret every interaction, activity, and action that employees take in the workplace. The idea being that this ocean of data about employee activity - who they meet with, for how long, how many emails they send and to whom, even how often and where they take smoke/coffee/Instagram breaks - can be mashed up with other more traditional workplace measurements about productivity, revenue, performance reviews, etc. to arrive at a more enlightened if not optimal set of recommendations, (and possibly rules) to optimize work and worker activity. Of course collecting this level and type of data about employee activity, if it indeed catches on in the workplace, will inevitably collide with employee notions about privacy first, and then once most if not all employees accede to this nature of data collection, (perhaps under threat as a condition of employment), to concerns about the 'fair' or proper interpretation of the data. What employee actions and activities are 'good' or 'beneficial' to overall performance of the organization as opposed to the individual's own performance will also be a bone of contention - it really is a big data version of the classic 'results vs. how those results are obtained' conundrum.
  • 132. It is hard to say how these issues will develop in traditional workplaces, but to catch a glimpse of how it might work out, (and the potential for management vs. employee conflict), I naturally look to the world of sports, in this case NBA basketball. In the league these days the collection and use of more and more advanced statistics and data about player and team performance are changing the way teams and fans evaluate player performance and attempt to optimize the use of their talent to improve results. The specific example I want to call out is about David Lee of the Golden State Warriors. By traditional and historical measures, (points, rebounds, assists), Lee is a superior player - as evidenced by his selection to the NBA All-Star team earlier this season. But to those who closely observe the league, and supplemented by more advanced statistical and player movement video technology, Lee's poor play on defense all but cancels out his fine offensive performance - essentially rendering him about an average player on balance. Lee, to his credit, admits his defensive play has not always been stellar, but his comments about therecent attention being placed on the use of newer data sets and analyses to question his overall contribution is interesting and perhaps a bit instructive - “At this point I could care less. I’ve worked hard to improve my defense. I think I’m a much better defensive player today than I was a year ago and definitely to start my career. There’s a lot of different numbers to support a lot of different things. You can’t have it both ways. You can’t say me putting up 20 and 10 doesn’t matter because ‘numbers don’t matter,’ but at the same time, ‘charts at MIT matter.’ You can’t have it both ways.” And that part of the quote in bold above - 'You can't have it both ways' - is really at the heart of the problem for the Big Data in the workplace movement as it marches inexorably into the future, (and as in the NBA, the present), of the workplace. Having more data about employees doesn't necessarily make us any smarter or able to understand that data, and how it might be applied to improve workplace performance. And it definitely doesn't make us any wiser as to how to handle the inevitable employee pushback when our interpretation of performance, backed with the data we think is important, doesn't align with theirs. With more data we can tell more stories, but we can also find data to justify any story we want to be heard.
  • 133. David Lee wants us to emphasize the data the paints him in an All-Star light - 20 points and 10 rebounds a night. His detractors want to point out that he is an ineffective interior defensive player - and can point to a new, hardly understood set of charts and graphs to back that up. The truth is probably somewhere in between, along with one other truth - more data about your employees probably won't make your job as a Talent pro any easier.
  • 134. You Call It ‘Culture’ – To the Talent It Might Just Be ‘Policy’ Steve Boese Originally Published on February 25, 2013 Fresh off last week's launch of The 8 Man Rotation, 2012 Season free Ebook on all things Sports and HR, I am stocking the pond for the 2013 edition with another dispatch from the sports world - but one that I promise has more broad relevance and applicability. In baseball, and perhaps in all of North American major professional sports, the New York Yankees are the most famous, most successful, and most storied franchise in history. Legendary players, achievements, 27 World Series championships, and the occasional bit of controversy have been the hallmarks of the team throughout its long history. With this long history comes tradition certainly, and traditionally the Yankees have continued to reinforce elements like their uniforms, which are the same design, more or less, as they have always been, and with no player names on the back, only numbers. The Yankees shun most of the other 'entertainment' elements that have become a fixture of professional sports - they have no costumed mascots or cheerleaders. They try for the most part to project a sense of professionalism in how they play the game, and how their players, (employees really), also project themselves when they are representing the team. For players this means (among other things), an 'appearance' code - uniform shirts buttoned and worn a certain manner, and curiously enough still in 2013, a ban for players on facial hair. Yep, you read that correctly. If you want to play for the Yankees that means no mustaches, beards, goatees, Van Dykes or facial hair of any type. The Yankees ownership obviously feels, and has for a long time, that the facial hair ban helps to ensure and support their company brand and culture - professionalism, attention to detail, and very 'corporate' in nature. To them surely this 'rule' really is not so much a rule or a policy, but an outward manifestation and expression of that culture. And it is entirely up to them as an employer to feel that way. But one man's (or company's) culture is another man's policy - and in some cases this culture/policy has the effect of deterring otherwise 'top' talent from the organization. The latest example of this in action for the Yankees - check these quotes from the Tampa Bay Rays' pitcher David Price. Price is one of the best pitchers in the league,
  • 135. and when he becomes a free agent in a couple of years, would be precisely the kind of talent the Yankees would pursue. Here's what Price has to say about the Yankees and facial hair: "If I ever did hit that free-agent market, there would be teams I wouldn't sign with simply because of the stuff that I've heard -- every rule they have." Taking note of his beard, I told Price he'd have to shave if the Yankees traded for him. "I wouldn't stay there very long then,” he responded. “I wouldn't sign a long-term deal there. Those rules, that's old-school baseball. I was born in '85. That's not for me. That's not something I want to be a part of." Sure, you can get a little cynical here and tell me - 'If the Yankees offered him $10M more than any other team, he's shut up and sign the contract and shave the beard.' That could very well be true, but that isn't really the important point to me. One man's 'culture' is another man's policy. Sure in this case maybe the culture/policy is having its desired effect - preventing what would possibly be a bad hire. Price, if he went to the Yankees would bristle over the facial hair ban, and probably lots of other culture/policy issues as well. Not judging anyone here - the Yankees have been really successful for a long time doing it their way, and Price has an absolute right to his opinion and his desire to be treated as a professional. Not judging, but just reminding that living up to and reinforcing your culture means sometimes turning away some fantastic talent that doesn't see your culture the same way you do.
  • 136. 3 Reasons to Hire Back An Employee You Fired Tim Sackett Originally Published on July 1, 2013 There is an unwritten HR law that needs to be addressed. This law states: “If you fire an employee, at no time in the history of mankind should you hire back that employee to your organization.” So it is said, so shall it be… I was reading an article recently about ESPN’s new CEO, John Skipper, when he was asked about bringing back former polarizing Sports Center anchor, Keith Oolbermann. Here’s what Skipper had to say about the possibility of bringing back Olbermann: “I wasn’t here when Keith was here, but he is very talented. So I had dinner with Keith — it was delightful and fun. And I would not have had dinner with him if we didn’t sit around and think about whether there was a reason to bring Keith back. I haven’t met with him again, but we don’t have a policy here that you can never come back.” So, ESPN doesn’t have a policy about bringing back terminated employees. Do you? I know of companies that actually have it written into the policy manual about bringing back terminated employees. Sometimes it’s a time thing – ‘it has to be more than 5 years’ – or a position thing – ‘it has to be into a different position than they had previously’ – or a severity thing – ‘the termination could not have been for cause’, etc. Sometimes it’s just the classic unwritten rule thing! Regardless if it’s written or
  • 137. unwritten any organization that refuses to hire back terminated employees is extremely shortsighted! Let’s be clear – I’m not saying you should bring back the jerk who embezzled money or sexually harassed every female employee. What I’m saying is – if you analyzed every single termination you’ve had over the past 10 years in your organization, there are probably some really good hire-backs in that group! But you wouldn’t know that – because it’s not something you’re going to do – it’s a policy…err…un-policy thing! Here are 3 reasons you should potentially hire back a previously terminated employee: 1. They’re the best at what they do. Yep – talent and performance trumps all. Well, mostly! If the person got fired for some kind of behavior that they can’t or won’t change – well, it will end bad again – but many times – having years away and proving themselves all over again in another organization – makes these folks ultra- valuable again to your organization. 2. New Leadership. Let’s face facts – a large percentage of your terminations happen because of personalities not matching. In almost every leadership change organizations see high turnover. This doesn’t truly mean those leaving are bad employees – it’s a phenomenon that happens when you new leadership and ideas meet old leadership behaviors and ideas and they don’t match. 3. Former Employee and You (your organization and leadership) have had significant growth. I’ve seen some young, less experienced people get fired, who 5 - 10 years later were completely different people. All of that blind fight and energy that had when they were younger which distracted from their talent is gone, and what you have left is this focused high performing employee. At the same token, our leader who was less experienced and didn’t know how to handle high potential employees, now does. Growth happens. Unfortunately, 99% of organizations refuse to bring back an employee who was fired, ever! It’s too bad really – you’re probably missing out on some great talent, especially if you’re in a smaller geographic area with limited talent pools to begin with. Sometimes it’s up to get our organizations to become a little more open minded to the fact that change happens, and not every person who gets fired, is a bad employee.
  • 138. To Haze or Not Haze at Work Tim Sackett Originally Published on November 7, 2013 If you follow sports, especially NFL football, you haven’t been able to get away from the nonstop coverage of the hazing issue that took place with the Miami Dolphins between two of their offensive lineman. Long story short, veteran offensive lineman, who is white, decides rookie offensive lineman, who is black, isn’t being man enough (whatever that means). So, veteran begins hazing him to get him tougher by leaving racist voice mails, threatening the rookie’s family, trying to force him to pay for $30,000 dinners. This Miami Dolphin veteran feels this is normal NFL rookie hazing behavior, which usually includes carrying a veteran’s luggage at away games, carrying shoulder pads off practice field, maybe buying some donuts for morning meetings, or picking up some pizzas for lunch. The rookie he decided to haze was a Stanford graduate, with parents who are Harvard graduates. Where do you think this is going? The question comes up constantly in workplaces, of which the NFL should be considered a workplace, shouldn’t ‘some’ hazing be allowed? It’s easy for all of us to say “NO!” It’s hard for us to know that in many, many instances our positive, not negative, workplace culture is built on many forms of hazing. Phil Knight, the Godfather of Nike, wrote in his own autobiography, Just Do It, that his own sales reps, called ‘Ekins’ (Nike backwards), all got Nike swoosh tattoos on their calf when they were hired. It wasn’t required, but if you wanted to ‘fit’ in, you got it. Hazing at one of the largest, most successful companies in the world.
  • 139. At my own company we tell new recruiters that they have to use their first commission check to buy everyone a round of drinks. Knowing that this check will never cover the amount of what that tab will be. (For the record – we just threaten this and don’t tell them the truth, but I always get the tab!) Hazing, all the same. I’m sure, as you read this, that you are thinking of things that happen in your own company. “We decorate peoples cubes for their birthdays” or “We make the new employee stand up in a meeting and share their most embarrassing moment” or “We don’t let the new employees know when it’s jean’s day”. All harmless, all hazing. Show it comes down to one small question: Should you allow hazing or not? Or do you just call it something different like, cultural norms, team building, trust exercises, initiation, rite of passage, a test of loyalty, etc.? I wonder how many of us admonish this veteran Miami Dolphin player (who for the record isn’t a choir boy) as a monster, while we turn a blind-eye to what is going on in our organizations. What is happening in Miami, and I’m sure many sports franchises, fraternities/sororities, college locker rooms, etc., is very similar to what is happening in the hallways of your office building, on the floor of your manufacturing facility, sales bullpen and cube farm. We allow hazing because it has become a societal norm. “Well, I went through it, so should everyone else that comes after me.” “Getting the tattoo is part of ‘who’ we are.” “She’s ‘one’ of us, she gets it.” This is what a NFL player was doing. He was doing what he was taught to do by those before him. By the culture he was working in. No controls. Just culture. The funny thing about culture is that ‘it’ happens. Whether we like it or not, our culture happens.
  • 140. I Once Got Fired in a Burger King Bathroom Tim Sackett Originally Published on October 4, 2013 It didn’t escape me this past Sunday that USC head coach Lane Kiffin was fired in a private room at an airport. Kiffin and the USC team were just returning from a loss at Arizona State University and the AD thought the best thing to do was fire him in the airport. An airport seems like an odd place to perform a termination of a Division 1 Football coach. I mean, why fire him at the airport, why not bring him into the AD’s office, the next day or that evening, and have that conversation? Make sure you have all of your paperwork and have talked through everything with your legal team. It wasn’t that I was surprised. Being in the HR field for 20 years, I’ve had my share of odd places to fire people. For the most part you can call an employee into their bosses office, an HR conference room, etc. to be fired. The tricky ones are when you’re dealing with an employee who is off site, a remote worker or the supervisor and worker reside at different locations. Sometimes leadership termination locations can be tricky as well. I started to think where were some of the odd places I’ve had to terminate an individual? Here’s the top 4 I could come up with: 1. My Car. Yep, right there in the front seat of my Hyundai. I was a Regional HR Manager and was mostly on the road working out of my car. I once had to fire a
  • 141. manager in my car. From a spatial standpoint it was a little uncomfortable. Think about any serious conversation you’ve ever had in a car. You have to turn sideways, you’re only inches from the other person. 2. A Burger King. It wasn’t the bathroom! But afterwards, I joked with an HR coworker of mine that ‘I got busy in a Burger King bathroom’ doing HR (Digital Underground shout out!). Many times we don’t want to terminate someone onsite at your own work location, so you set up some elaborate scheme to get them offsite and terminate them there. The problem is, you’re in a public location! You might have the best intentions and you show up at 10am at your local Burger King just as they have a class field trip going through and learning about the new “Satisfries!” It’s recipe for disaster, but everyone I know in HR has at some point made the decision to go offsite to terminate someone! 3. A Starbucks. Starbucks might actually be the official SHRM location for Terminations! Starbucks should sell official naming rights for a termination spot. Nothing says ‘Termination’ like a nondescript meeting notice at Starbucks on a Friday afternoon around 3pm. Coffee shops in general are great firing locations. Quiet, you don’t have to buy anything if you don’t want, and it seems semi-plausible that you might actually just meet an employee there to discuss work stuff. 4. A Walk-in Freezer. When you work in restaurants, sometimes the only private place you have is the walk-in cooler and/or freezer. The freezer works best for two reasons: 1. You want these conversations to go quickly; and 2. Tears will freeze. Plus I think the extreme cold helps to break the shock factor. So, what about it HR Pros – give me your best/worst location for terminations that you’ve had to use!
  • 142. How Many Hours of Work Are Too Many? Tim Sackett Originally Published on November 11, 2013 An article out last week on spoke to the Detroit Lions head coach’s, Jim Schwartz, work schedule which averages 100 hours per week! Let’s break that down: - 7 days * 24 hours = 168 total hours in a week - 100 work week / 7 days = 14.2 hours per day What does a 14 hour day look like? You get into the office at 6 or 7 am and you don’t get home until 8, 9, 10pm. Every day, every week. I know what you’re thinking. Well they only play 20 games. He gets half a year off! Plus, he makes millions of dollars. First, NFL never stops working. The off season might be busier than the actual season. Why do so many of these coaches work 100 hour weeks? From the article: “The mentality of most coaches borders on the paranoid-obsessive end of the spectrum. Good coaches care about the littlest details. It takes time to wade through film, meet
  • 143. with coaches and players, script practices, design game plans and perform the oodles of other responsibilities that need to be perfect… “We’re here a ton, but then I go up and I talk to a coach about anything and I’m sitting in his office and I peek down and glance underneath his desk, and there’s a pillow and a blanket,” Lions wide receiver Nate Burleson said. “For a brief moment, I laugh and I’m like, ‘Holy smokes, this guy sleeps in his office.’ But then when you really think about it, it’s like, ‘This guy really sleeps in his office.’” It begs the question, should the NFL or any employer put a limit on the amount of hours that a person can work? Airlines do it for their pilots and flight crew. Safety is paramount and the last thing you want is a pilot that has not slept for 18-24 hours. Many other occupations do it for similar reasons. Safety always seems to be the one factor in limiting work hours. Is the NFL not concerned about the safety and health of their coaches? They limit the amount of practice time for their players. How many of us wish we had employees who loved what they did so much they wanted to work 100 hours per week!? BambooHR’s founders limit their entire staff to 40 hours per week. They kick them out if they try to work more. That seems a bit radical. I’m sure my staff would love me doing that to them, but 40 hours in most workplace environments seems to be the minimum, not the maximum. I’m not even focusing on whether the hours in the ‘office’ or at home. Just total work hours. How many hours are too many? Hit me in the comments. My feeling is there are times in every occupation when more or less hours are needed to do a great job at whatever it is you’re doing. One week I can be a rock star 40 hours. The next week I might look like a total slack for working 60 hours. I’m a big proponent of work when you need to. The old farmers saying of ‘there are times to make hay’, runs true in every organization. If you have someone who is consistently, over long periods of time, working 60+ hours, you’ve got a staffing problem.
  • 144. Labor Day and the NFL Matt Stollak Originally Published on September 2, 2013 Its tough to be a NFL player this time of year. Teams must reduce their rosters to a limit of 53 players. Those individuals who made it through training camp and 4 preseason games may have found themselves looking for work. The 2006 Heisman Trophy winner, Tim Tebow, is unemployed. The #3 pick in the 2007 NFL draft, Vince Young, was cut by the Green Bay Packers. According to Peter King, Five quarterbacks picked in the top 50 of the last seven drafts were cut: Vince Young and Matt Leinart (2006), Brady Quinn (2007) and Tim Tebow and Jimmy Clausen (2010). Brian Billick says picking a quarterback is no better than a 50-50 proposition between success and failure. Let’s see, based on the five drafts between 2006 and 2010. (It’s too early to make definitive judgments on quarterbacks in the league for two or fewer years.) Let’s look at the quarterbacks picked in the top two rounds from 2006 to 2010, and their fate:
  • 145. Of the 21 quarterbacks drafted in the top two rounds of these five drafts, six are solid starters, and eight are out of football. Let’s now cut it down to first-rounders only. Billick, it turns out, is prescient. If you don’t count Sanchez as a starter—and I don’t see how you can term him a starter right now—six of the 12 first-round picks over a five-year period are starting in the league. So it’s still a crapshoot. Meanwhile, despite hundreds of hours of scouting, observation, and interviews, 78 undrafted players from the 2013 NFL draft made active rosters. As screenwriter William Goldman says, "nobody knows anything." 3 days until kickoff! Happy Labor Day everyone.
  • 146. There’s Still Work to Do When It Comes to Firing Employees Matt Stollak Originally Published on March 27, 2013 You're Tubby Smith, head coach of the Minnesota Golden Gophers. You're successful in your job, leading your teams to 20 win seasons in 18 of the 21 years you've been a head coach. You've won a National Championship in 1998. You just led your team to a NCAA appearance and a 2nd round victory over the UCLA Bruins. You would not only think that you would be able to keep your job, but if you were to be fired, you would at least get the courtesy of knowing before the rest of the world. Alas, being a Hall of Fame-caliber coach buys you none of that. According to Andy Katz at ESPN: Tubby Smith and his staff had no idea they were about to be fired Monday morning as they sat in a staff meeting at 10 a.m. going over recruiting, offseason workout plans and evaluations of the Gophers' loss to Florida the previous day. Members of the Minnesota staff said they were sitting in the meeting when they started receiving text messages from coaching colleagues telling them they had been fired. Smith told them that he had to meet with the administration at 1 p.m. It was then, according to the staff, that Smith and ultimately the staff found out they had been fired. When others outside the organization are finding out about your termination before you do, HR is not doing their job (or the very least, being kept out of the loop). One wonders as well about the impact on future hires. Would you take a job with an organization that treated its high profile coach in such a manner? If you're thinking about taking the Minnesota head coach job, my guess is you should be able to negotiate an extra hundred grand or two as a result.
  • 147. Forced Resignations and Other Noble HR Myths Lance Haun Originally Published on December 11, 2013 This week, I read a story on ESPN about how Mack Brown, coach of the University of Texas football team, is going to resign this week: The source reiterated Brown would not be coaching at Texas in 2014. “By the end of the week, that will be the outcome,” the source told ESPN. “That will happen. It’s a shame after 16 years he’s not able to do it on his own with dignity and grace.” I have no idea if it will actually happen, but that part about doing it on his own terms, with dignity and grace? Yeah I’ve heard that song and dance before. Coaches get fired and hired all of the time. In fact, Brown’s case is an anomaly. 16 years at one school, as head coach, is damn near impossible. The guy they want to hire — Nick Saban — has had four jobs in that same time period. It’s also not the first time people have probably wanted him gone, either. The idea that Mack Brown deserves the grace and dignity to part on his own terms (or should have come to the conclusion on his own and fallen on his sword) is a mythology rooted in faux “We Care” corporate double-talk though. Here’s the real deal: when
  • 148. you’re the second highest paid coach in the country and you perform worse than many of the guys making half (or less) of your salary, it’s probably time for the college to cut you loose. A forced resignation, an encouraged resignation, or a resignation that Texas allows Brown to do on his own terms? It’s a transparent attempt by a weak organization to shirk their decision-making responsibilities. I’ve been a part of conversations where I’ve encouraged people to look for a new job (after, obviously, many months of working with them). I’ve also been a part of conversations where managers want to let legacy employees hang around while they look for new digs (or, even worse, await retirement). They deserve it, they’ll say. In reality, they don’t want to have the tough conversations or take responsibility. They hope the employee will feel enough guilt to leave on their own or they’ll find something new. There’s nothing noble in forcing a resignation to keep your own slate clean. Own your decision and make it.
  • 149. Special NBA Summer League Section
  • 150. Why #HR Should Care About the NBA Summer League Matt Stollak Originally Published on July 15, 2013 On Thursday, I will join two of my colleagues behind the 8 Man Rotation in Las Vegas (we always leave one behind to keep it going in case something befalls the rest of us) for two to three days to catch some NBA Summer League action. Why do we want to head to the desert in summer time to spend 8-10 hours a day in a gym watching exhibition basketball when those games don't matter? Because, in actuality, the games DO matter....for those playing. In his piece on Grantland, Steve McPherson describes what it is like for those involved: These are guys who have worked their entire lives to be one of the 450 players in the top basketball league in the world. Guys who spent their whole lives being one of the best basketball players in any situation they ever found themselves in. And now it’s just the grind. They’re simply looking for their shot. The ones hoping for that shot are almost universally flawed in one way or another: undersized or stuck between positions; not good enough at one specific thing to be useful to a team; dogged by problems we can’t even see, the kind of stuff many of us carry around......... But for these players — who are among the top one or two percent of basketball players in the world — it’s their big chance. Not to become something they’re not, but to see their years of work turn them into what they’ve always been striving toward. Those playing over these few days in Orlando and in Las Vegas are no different than the applicants to your organization. They're polishing their resumes, taking your work sample test, engaging in your role play or simulation, trying to impress you enough to take a chance on them.
  • 151. For us watching, it will be passing entertainment...but for those involved, it will be all too real, with stakes that truly matter to them.
  • 152. My Vegas Weekend via Instagram (Featuring James Harden and Bro-Packs)... Kris Dunn Originally Published on July 21, 2013 Went to Vegas last weekend with a couple of bloggers of note - Steve Boese and Matt Stollak. Our destination had a nerd quality to it - The NBA Summer League, where professional basketball hopefuls convene to prove they have what it takes to be one of 400 players that play in the best hoops league in the world. Now - you should know that only about 5% of the players who attend and play in the Vegas Summer League are actual NBA players - the rest are draft choices and free agents who are scrapping and doing whatever it takes to impress the teams. For example, your world champion Miami Heat had zero players who were on the championship roster playing in Vegas. Instead they had 15 guys who were incredible, but for the most part had never graced an NBA roster. Why go to that? First, we like hoops. More importantly, I go because there's a huge morality play on talent going on at the Summer League. If NBA veterans are the best 400 players in the world, what we saw is 401-1000, and the differences are pretty small between spots 300 to 400 in the NBA and the better players in the summer league. Who decides? What makes the difference between making a roster and going to Turdistan to play next winter? Anyway, let's lighten it up. He's the story of the weekend as told through my Instagram account First up, what Vegas trip is complete without a Strip photo? Here's the view from my room - stayed at Palms Place at the Palms, which is like staying at the W, except with more mirrors so you can check your - shall we say - posture - wherever you are at in the room. KD had his own room - and he didn't really need all the mirrors, but he doesn't make the rules in Vegas.
  • 153. I went to a couple of casinos, and just to get teed up, I watched Rounders a couple of nights before, where I was reminded how Matt Damon always got into Teddy KGB's head. Alas, I've never really been bitten by the bug, so I just drove Steve and Matt crazy by encouraging them to "Splash the Pot" early and often, regardless of where we were and what we were doing. Picture #2 - the only thing that mildly interested me was the early odds on who would win the NBA title next year, a photo I'm including here. Couldn't find any value. I like the Pacers at 12:1, but I would LOVE them at 20:1. Feel me? Like KGB, I'll splash the pot whenever the ##*# I want.
  • 154. Picture #3 - Helicopter parents exist everywhere, even in the NBA. The guy in the Lebron shades is Quincy's Acy's dad, who talked so much trash behind his own son's bench that I thought someone would have come to take care of it. He was pure helicopter dad, equal parts bombastically encouraging his son and downgrading him verbally when he screwed up. Bonus - Quincy's mom to his right was talking equal trash to his teammates when she felt like they didn't kick it to him soon enough. Quincy's actually a good player, and was on the Toronto roster last year. Only in America.
  • 155. Picture #4 - Stars have entourages, and James "Fear the Beard" Harden was no different. He appeared right in front of us to watch a game featuring one of a his former teammates, and had at least 3 non-hoops friends in tow - just like Vinny Chase in Entourage. We saw all kinds of great NBA players and coaches watching the games all weekend, Harden's the only one who got security. They final turned around the fifth time I encouraged the Suns' Summer League team to "Splash the Pot". I kid - they turned around when an attractive lady had a question. After ignoring a line of kids for autographs for an hour, of course. To be fair, the Beard would have never stopped signing autographs if he started. That's why he's got his own Eric, Turtle and Johnny Drama - so someone else can tell security he's not going to sign.
  • 156. Picture #5 - My biggest regret is we didn't have enough dudes (or replica jerseys) to have our own Bro-pack. This guy was part of a Warriors Bro-pack, and Warriors fan loved his Warriors. So much so, he pledged his loyalty by creating a sign that said, "I'm a Warriors" (plural). Nothing to round that sentence out - like "fan", "bro" or any other identifier. "I'm a Warriors". Of course you are, Warriors Bro-pack leader. Of course you are.
  • 157. That's a wrap. I'm encouraging you to Splash the Pot this week. After all, it's your HR department and you can Splash the Pot whenever the #### you want. Drop me a note if you want to go to the NBA Summer League next year. We're thinking less hoops (2 games a day) across 3 days and field trips to Casinos, Penn and Teller shows and In-and-Out Burger.
  • 158. Observations from the NBA Summer League 2013 Steve Boese Originally Published on July 23, 2013 I spent this past weekend in Las Vegas, (either my favorite city in the world, or one I'd like to see nuked, more on that in a moment), with my 8 Man Rotation bros Kris Dunn and Matt 'The Professor' Stollak, taking in two full days of NBA Summer League action. Regular readers of the blog, and of the rest of the 8 Man gang, know that we think sports is an incredibly great and transparent laboratory where talent management, recruiting, coaching, and team building, (all the things that sound really 'HR-ish'), play out live, in real-time, and in public. And the NBA Summer League is a fantastic place to see lots of these angles live, up close, and in a setting that for big-time pro sports, is almost impossible for regular fans to replicate normally. Summer league is about young talent fighting to show what they can do, for aspiring coaches and team execs to get some in-game experience, and for everyone else to play 'NBA General Manager' for a few days and sort out who will be the next star, or harder, the next 10th man on the bench for a mediocre club. But nuggets of insight abound, so in no particular order, here are some observations or takeaways or lessons that we will probably never truly learn from the weekend's action: 1. German Rondo. One of the two individual players our crew spent the most time discussing was Atlanta Hawk first round draft pick Dennis Schroeder. Schroeder, out of Germany, resembles in body type, mannerisms, and in style of play, current NBA star Rajon Rondo of the Boston Celtics. Thus, our crew dubbed Schroeder the 'German Rondo.' Schroeder even displayed a little of the quirkiness of Rondo, who is let's just say a 'different' kind of dude when he, after discovering his shoe was untied, purposefully fouled the man he was guarding so that play would stop and he could re-tie the kick. While German Rondo was working on the double knot, the Hawks summer coach, Quin Snyder, (I really should write about that guy too one day), unceremoniously pulled GR from the game, being none too pleased with the young player's decision to foul in that spot.
  • 159. German Rondo The HR/Talent point? With the real Rondo, and it seems like with German Rondo too, sometimes, maybe most of the time, super talented performers are going to act, think, do and say things you wish they wouldn't. But that is often the price of admission. 2. Data and the ability to use it will separate the winners and losers in almost every field. Matty the Professor was the only member of the crew interested much in actually gambling in Vegas, KD and I being mostly kind of uninterested/boring. But the real point to me was the Stollak 'system' at blackjack that Matt tried to explain to me that I really can't understand, but seems to work for him. The point? It is a new world my friends - the folks that can figure out how to analyze data, think about problems through a lens of information and likely outcomes - they are the ones that will be telling us all what to do in a few years. The geeks took over the world in the last decade, the next one will belong to the quants. 3. Every job is creative. I probably dropped in on three different casinos on the trip and of the hundreds of interesting observations one can glean from the combination of gambling, alcohol, lights, sounds, and despair - how about this one - that creativity matters in every job. Every casino had scores of video slot machines, each one having its own theme or 'creative' behind it to try and interest and entertain the player, (so they will lose more coin). The best one I saw was a Van Helsing machine, (pic below). For whatever reason I found it incredibly interesting that somewhere there was a meeting in the video slot making company where someone said 'I know, what about Van Helsing?', and some decision maker type shouted 'Yes!'
  • 160. You want to feed this machine a $20 spot, right? 4. Context is everything. How you stack up depends on who else is in the pool. And if you are having trouble standing out, you either need to get better, (hard), or broaden the scope of who you're being compared to in order to look better, (also hard, but probably less overall work). Or said differently, if you want to feel a little better about your life choices, (as shaky as they may have been), take a stroll through a Las Vegas hotel lobby anytime between 4AM and 6AM. Not a lot of 'high achievers' out and about I would bet. 5. Not all progress is good. A recent trend that I think is pretty ridiculous is the increase in hyphenated last names. You've seen more of them in the last 10 years I bet than in the prior 50. The Summer League poster child for this affliction was Chris Douglas-Roberts, playing for the Los Angeles Lakers. CDR (what we called him since saying 'Douglas-Roberts' all the time is just a hassle), has had a checkered career. Lots of talent, great athleticism, but a seeming disdain for most of the parts of the NBA game that seem too much like 'work', (help side defense, rebounding, general hustle). I can't blame CDR's apparent squandering of all that talent on his silly last name, but it certainly doesn't help. New Moms and Dads to be? Do us all a favor and don't drop a 'hyphen' on your kids. They will thank you for it someday.
  • 161. 6. Your most important leaders need to think about talent all the time. If you're business rises and falls based on the talent level of your team, then your leaders better put in the time to evaluate that talent. While the Summer League rosters are made up of rookies, draft picks, and guys trying to claw their way back into the league, and very few recognizable players are actually on the court, the stands are chock full of elite NBA coaches and executives. We spotted head coaches like Eric Spoelstra, Tom Thibodeau, Mike D'Antoni, and Mark Jackson in the crowd at different times. These NBA head coaches were there to watch players that mostly won't even get training camp invitations, much less playing time when the real season starts. But the 11th man on the bench matters to a great NBA team, heck, even the 12th man on the bench matters, and if you really care about talent in your organization you don't stop caring after the starting five. And your leaders are the ones that need to set that tone. 7. Development means everyone. That is if you are really committed to raising the talent bar in the organization. The Summer League is not just about finding which rookies and draft picks can actually play in the NBA, it's a bigger industry talent play. Announcers, halftime entertainment, anthem singers, even the guys selling T-shirts - it's all about building a pipeline and figuring out who is ready to step-up. Sure, some of the 'performances' were a little rocky, but that is why you work out the new talent on a smaller scale, in a setting that is close enough to the real thing, but one where there is opportunity to learn, and not a lot of downside if you fail. Mess up the national anthem at the NBA All-Star game? You will be a YouTube sensation within five minutes. Make the same fool of yourself in front of 1200 fans in Summer League? You will have a laugh and the ability to bounce back much more easily. Young and inexperienced talent almost always benefits from these smaller stakes kinds of plays. 8. Your city (might be) gone. At dinner one night the 8 Man crew, joined by special guest and longtime 8 Man friend Jennifer McClure, engaged in a pretty spirited discussion about our least favorite American cities, i.e. which one would you take out with a tactical nuclear strike if you were forced to pick one. There were a wide range of opinions and options slung around the table, (someone does not like New Orleans for example), but the oddest choice to me was when Jen dropped 'Las Vegas' as her pick for total annihilation. Odd in that we were having that discussion in Las Vegas. What city would you most want to take out if given the opportunity? 9. There's power in numbers. KD nailed this on his Summer League recap post as well. Next year the 8 Man Rotation Summer League trip back to Las Vegas is already on, and we want to go big. So that means you are invited. Yes, I mean you. Bros, gals, HR nerds - everyone. Hit me up for details, or let me know if you want to join our super- exciting NBA Summer League Facebook group where we will be sharing all the information to get ready for next summer.
  • 162. About the Authors STEVE BOESE Steve is a Co-Chair of Human Resource Executive Magazine’s HR Technology Conference, the leading global event for the HR Technology Industry, and a Technology Editor for LRP Publications. Essentially, Steve is some kind of a big shot. Steve is also a leading HR blogger and hosts the “HR Happy Hour Show” a popular internet radio program and podcast dedicated to opening the lines of communication among HR thought leaders, practitioners and service providers in the global human resources field. He is a frequent speaker at national and regional HR industry events, and has even been invited back to some of them. Steve’s blog was selected as the number one Talent Management Blog by the editors of the Fistful of Talent in February 2010. Steve is a graduate of the University of South Carolina and resides in Rochester, NY. Tweet him @steveboese KRIS DUNN Kris Dunn is Chief Human Resources Officer at Kinetix and a blogger at The HR Capitalist, and the Founder and Executive Editor of Fistful of Talent. That makes him a career VP of HR, a blogger, a dad and a hoops junkie, the order of which changes based on his mood. He currently resides in Birmingham, AL. Tweet him @kris_dunn. LANCE HAUN Lance Haun is Editor at the Starr Conspiracy and contributor to and Before writing about HR and recruiting full-time, he was an HR pro for seven years. You can find him on his blog at or on Twitter as @thelance TIM SACKETT Tim Sackett, SPHR, is the President of HRU Technical Resources in Lansing, MI. 20+ years of human resources leadership experience, across multiple industries, on both the corporate and agency side – so he gets both sides of the desk. When he’s not working or blogging at The Tim Sackett Project – he’s probably coaching basketball or baseball for one of his three sons. He currently resides in Dewitt, MI. Tweet him @TimSackett.
  • 163. MATTHEW STOLLAK Matthew Stollak, Ph.D., SPHR, is an Associate Professor of Business Administration at Saint Norbert College. He also serves as chapter advisor for the Saint Norbert College Student SHRM Chapter, and blogs at True Faith HR. Matt is a graduate of Michigan State University, Brandeis University, and the University of Illinois. He currently resides in Green Bay, WI. Tweet him @akaBruno
  • 164. Steve Boese's HR Technology HR Technology, Teaching, and a little Barbecue THE TIM SACKETT PROJECT HR Pro, Dad, Backup Point Guard on my over 40 men's team