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The 8 Man Rotation
2015
The 8 Man Rotation:
A Look at Sports and HR
The 2015 Season
By
Steve Boese
Kris Dunn
Lance Haun
Tim Sackett
Matthew Stollak
Table of Contents
HR Planning, Strategy, Data and Leadership
“Adapt or Die, or at Best Become Irrelevant (NBA Edition)” – ...
Total Compensation
“Culture Change or the Gig Economy: You Probably Can Choose Only One” – Steve Boese
“Should You Ask for...
Chapter One
HR Planning, Strategy, Data and Leadership
Adapt or Die, or at Best Become Irrelevant (NBA Edition)
By Steve Boese
Originally published April 30, 2015
Of course you ...
One thing more hard-core NBA fans will notice is that the most proficient 3-point shooting
teams, (Golden State and Atlant...
Do not fail to heed the lessons of the 3-point shot....
I am on record as saying you can learn everything you need to know...
DINOSAUR ALERT: When the New Leader Doesn’t “Get” Social
Media
By Steve Boese
Originally published June 15, 2015
You know ...
And this might not be a big deal, at least taken at face value, in the context of a football coach.
After all, NFL head co...
FIFA and LEADERSHIP: Are Leaders Responsible for Scandals Under
Their Watch?
By Kris Dunn
Originally Published on May 29, ...
As a leader, you can't know it all. But when your Financial Analyst who you know has 4 kids,
alimony to pay and routinely ...
MANAGERIAL DECISIONS: That’s What the Money is For
By Kris Dunn
Originally published on November 3, 2015
It would be funny...
Lessons related to managing talent:
1.Never let an employee who hasn't been a total team player make calls about how he is...
Sometimes You Have to Burn It All Down
By Kris Dunn
Originally Published on November 6, 2015
"Have you every heard of the ...
The Disease of ‘Nobody Believes in Us’”
By Lance Haun
Originally Published on May 4, 2015
Tell me if you’ve heard this bef...
When you look back at his hall of fame induction speech, it’s hard to get past the myth that he
created. You get the sense...
Chapter Two
Staffing and Career Considerations
More Reasons to Wear the Same Thing to Work Every Day
By Steve Boese
Originally Published on January 8, 2015
Lots of folks...
President Obama.
Karl Stefanovic. (Okay, I bet you have no idea who this guy is… hang in there, we will come
back to him)....
Not a single viewer complained. No letters or emails or tweets about the suit. Management did
not issue a correction or re...
Athletes Don’t Need Media, and What That Might Mean for the Rest of
Us
By Steve Boese
Originally Published on February 16,...
autograph signing, etc.), without having to rely upon mass media and the reporters that were
the conduit to the mass media...
Like Durant and Lynch don't need the mainstream media to communicate their message, or
validate their success, I wonder if...
Candidate Advice You Should Not Share with Candidates
By Steve Boese
Originally Published on March 31, 2015
Back in the 19...
2. Show up on time, be dressed appropriately, take a shower before the interview -
Everything that falls into the category...
Your Culture is Defined By Who You’re Willing to Re-Hire
By Steve Boese
Originally Published on May 6, 2015
First the news...
But the bad hire on a re-hire? That should NEVER happen. The people you are willing to re-
hire and who you are done with ...
White Collar Muscle Memory: Can You Fix What You Suck At In Your
Career?
By Kris Dunn
Originally Published on August 5, 20...
Running backs coach Sylvester Croom noticed it, too, and sauntered up to McNulty to say, "I think
he took that stuff to he...
Sex As A Part of the Recruiting Process: The Problem is Plausible
Deniability
By Kris Dunn
Originally Published on October...
time) took the fall for recruiting violations at a Top 20 program. He was out of the game for 2
years, and he eventually f...
Sometimes You Just Need to ‘Burn’ A Hire
By Tim Sackett
Originally Published on February 4, 2015
I love baseball. There is...
Does Buying Sex Go Too Far in Getting the Best Talent?
By Tim Sackett
Originally Published on October 26, 2015
Louisville’...
That’s the problem, right? Many of us don’t know ‘better’ talent when we see it. So, giving out
hundreds of dollars in rec...
A Farewell Tour for a HR Pro
By Tim Sackett
Originally Published on December 16, 2015
If you didn’t see it, one of the all...
Week #4 – CareerBuilder just wants to send you a little something to say thanks! Also, who’s
taking over for you? CB swag ...
Chapter Three
Performance and Talent Management
Good Stats, Bad Team
By Steve Boese
Originally Published on February 12, 2015
World B. Free
There is a phenomenon in sport...
Here is Costolo's take:
Twitter CEO Dick Costolo just finished speaking at the Goldman Sachs technology conference in
San ...
The Wisdom of Jeff Van Gundy Part VII – On Visible Failure
By Steve Boese
Originally Published on March 3, 2015
Over the w...
in the game. He does so many other good things on the court that contribute to a winning team
that we need to lay off abou...
The	culture	of	performance	and	firing	by	form	letter		
| Steve | Monday, June 8, 2015 at 7:26AM | Share
The Culture of Per...
A couple of things about the letter, and then I am out for the rest of a summer Monday.
1. First up, in a really hands-on ...
TALENT ASSESSMENT TIP: Watch Out for ‘Soft’ Eyes
By Steve Boese
Originally Published on June 25, 2015
As I am sure I have ...
The host of the show was a little taken aback by the comment, and asked the expert to
elaborate. The expert said, and I am...
Three Talent Management Observations From the First Day of NBA
Free Agency
By Steve Boese
Originally Published on July 2, ...
eschews the practice of attempting to begin wooing free agents at the stroke of midnight on
July 1, the official starting ...
Wearable Tech at Work: Three Lessons from the NBA
By Steve Boese
Originally Published on October 26, 2015
The NBA season s...
be on the verge of injury — or already suffering from one that hasn’t manifested itself in any
obvious way.
The piece goes...
You Can Learn Plenty from a Simple Employee Tenure Chart
By Steve Boese
Originally Published on December 2, 2015
Count of ...
'hollowed-out' tenure distribution?
I can think of at least three things, and I promise I am not trying to allow my knowle...
many who have not yet figured out what the heck is going on. And not enough folks heading up
towards their peak.
You are n...
What to Do When Your Best Employee Stops Being Coachable
By Steve Boese
Originally Published on December 18, 2015
Interest...
A request from Real Madrid manager Rafa Benitez for Cristiano Ronaldo to undergo studies to
improve his free-kick techniqu...
2. Be patient with failure before the 'try it this way' speech - I heard a really interesting
interview with the actor Ale...
FEAR THE BEARD: And Stop Doing Work That Doesn't Matter
By Kris Dunn
Originally Published on January 8, 2015
When it comes...
accident, Harden plays a brand of basketball that beautifully conforms to his GM’s innovative
visions.
Symbolically, Harde...
--3-pointers are the equivalent of new initiatives new project work that's strategic
to your career and/or your company. Y...
How to Deal with Average Results
By Kris Dunn
Originally Published on May 7, 2015
If there's one thing I've learned in a c...
DRAFT DAY - Mixing Up Your Teams At Work to Get Out of the Rut
By Kris Dunn
Originally Published on June 9, 2015
Let's fac...
The 8 man Rotation   2015 season
The 8 man Rotation   2015 season
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The 8 Man Rotation E-book on the intersection of sports, work, the workplace, HR, recruiting and life - over 100 pages of writing from your favorite HR writers. Authored by Kris Dunn, Tim Sackett, Matt 'akaBruno' Stollak (who also edited), Lance Haun and Steve Boese, The 8 Man Rotation - 2015 Season continues a tradition like no other - the very best writing on HR and sports.

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The 8 man Rotation 2015 season

  1. 1. The 8 Man Rotation 2015
  2. 2. The 8 Man Rotation: A Look at Sports and HR The 2015 Season By Steve Boese Kris Dunn Lance Haun Tim Sackett Matthew Stollak
  3. 3. Table of Contents HR Planning, Strategy, Data and Leadership “Adapt or Die, or at Best Become Irrelevant (NBA Edition)” – Steve Boese “Dinosaur Alert: When the New Leader Doesn’t ‘Get’ Social Media” – Steve Boese “FIFA and Leadership: Are Leaders Responsible for Scandals Under Their Watch?” – Kris Dunn “Managerial Decisions: That’s What The Money is For” – Kris Dunn “Sometimes New Leaders Have to Burn It All Down” – Kris Dunn “The Disease of ‘Nobody Believes in Us’” – Lance Haun Staffing and Career Considerations “More Reasons to Wear the Same Thing to Work Every Day” – Steve Boese “Athletes Don’t Need Media, and What That Might Mean for the Rest of Us” – Steve Boese “Candidate Advice You Should Not Share with Your Candidates” – Steve Boese “Your Culture is Defined by Who You’re Willing to Re-Hire” – Steve Boese “White Collar Muscle Memory: Can You Fix What You Suck At in Your Career?” – Kris Dunn “Sex As A Part of the Recruiting Process: The Problem is Plausible Deniability” – Kris Dunn “Sometimes You Just Need to ‘Burn’ A Hire” – Tim Sackett “Does Buying Sex Go Too Far in Getting the Best Talent?” – Tim Sackett “A Farewell Tour for a HR Pro” – Tim Sackett Performance and Talent Management “Good Stats, Bad Team” – Steve Boese “The Wisdom of Jeff Van Gundy Part VII – On Visible Failure” – Steve Boese “The Culture of Performance and Firing by Form Letter” – Steve Boese “Talent Assessment Tip: Watch Out for ‘Soft’ Eyes” – Steve Boese “Three Talent Management Observations from the First Day of NBA Free Agency” – Steve Boese “Wearable Tech at Work: Three Lessons from the NBA” – Steve Boese “You Can Learn Plenty From A Simple Employee Tenure Chart” – Steve Boese “What to Do When Your Best Employee Stops Being Coachable” – Steve Boese “Fear the Beard: And Stop Doing Work That Doesn’t Matter” – Kris Dunn “How to Deal with Average Results” – Kris Dunn “Draft Day – Mixing Up Your Teams At Work to Get Out of the Rut” – Kris Dunn “Your Company Has These Employees. Your Job Is To Remove Them ASAP” – Kris Dunn “That Time You need to Fire Someone – But Just Hired a Boss for Them Instead” – Kris Dunn “Sign of a Strong Employment Brand? Candidates Doing the Recruiting” – Matthew Stollak
  4. 4. Total Compensation “Culture Change or the Gig Economy: You Probably Can Choose Only One” – Steve Boese “Should You Ask for a 1200% Raise?” – Steve Boese “CHART OF THE DAY: Ever Wonder How the American Worker Share of Revenue Compares to Pro Sports?” – Kris Dunn Employee and Labor Relations “Looking for Some Great “Tom is Moving On” Communication Notes? Here You Go” – Kris Dunn “Maybe Major College Athletes Do Need A Union” – Kris Dunn “Mizzou Football: Leaders need to Make Sure Urgency is Obvious to All” – Kris Dunn “Rajon Rondo, Slurs in the Workplace, and “Maim Tom Brady” – Kris Dunn “How to Publicly Criticize Your Employees, Phil Jackson Style” – Lance Haun Special Sports and Entertainment Section “At ESPN, Product Beats Talent” – Steve Boese “Grantland, Simmons, and How Talent (Still) is Hard To Hold On To” – Steve Boese “Bill Simmons and ESPN: 5 Times When It’s Time to Fire Your Biggest Star” – Kris Dunn “Stuart Scott: The Real Innovators Are Always Hated Before Being Understood” – Kris Dunn “You’re Not Bill Simmons” – Tim Sackett “The 8 Man Rotation’s Favorite Sports Movies” – The 8 Man Rotation
  5. 5. Chapter One HR Planning, Strategy, Data and Leadership
  6. 6. Adapt or Die, or at Best Become Irrelevant (NBA Edition) By Steve Boese Originally published April 30, 2015 Of course you are following the human drama that is the NBA playoffs as closely as I am. That is a given. The playoffs are where the best teams rise to the top, the stars (and future stars) get their opportunity to shine, and is the case with many sports, more casual fans tune in to watch, as the games are now more important. If you are one of those casual NBA fans you might not be aware of one of the aspects of how NBA basketball has changed in recent years - namely the increasing volume and importance of 3-point shooting in the modern NBA game. In the past, most teams were designed (and attacked) from the 'inside-out', i.e. with dominant big men like Kareem, Hakeem, and Shaq dominating the play as their teams tried to feed them the ball close to the basket in order to take easy shots. But in the modern NBA most of the better teams have taken a different approach to offensive basketball, one that still values close to the basket attempts as in the past, but increasingly relies upon and values taking and making the 3 point shot. Take a look at the chart below that shows how each NBA team stacked up this year with 3 point shot efficiency, then some (not all sports-related) comments from me after the data:
  7. 7. One thing more hard-core NBA fans will notice is that the most proficient 3-point shooting teams, (Golden State and Atlanta), were also the teams with the best records in the league this season. And all of the top 10 or so 3-point shooting teams qualified for the playoffs, with several of them being considered real contenders for the title. Conversely, most of the teams on the far right of the chart, (the worst 3-point shooting teams), were in the conversation all year for 'worst teams in the league'. So enough basketball, let's talk why this might matter more broadly and in non-NBA contexts. There are at least three lessons from how the modern NBA has (almost) completely changed its collective attitude towards the 3-point shot that are relevant for normal folks with responsibility to make their organizations better. 1. There remains, despite easily and broadly available evidence of how increased proficiency at the 3-point shot leads to better team success, a still fairly significant set of team executives, coaches, and even pundits, who bemoan the growing importance of the long-range shot and long for the days of the 70s and 80s where more 'traditional' basketball was played. Teams that continue to leave these kinds of thinkers in positions of leadership and influence, (Lakers, Knicks), are simply going to continue to struggle to compete with more progressive and adaptive teams. Lesson - leaders who don't or can't adapt will take down the entire organization with them. 2. The adoption of the 3-point shot as a primary strategic choice by the more successful teams is largely and compellingly backed by data. On the obvious level, it does not take a math wizard to know that a made 3-point shot is 50% more valuable than a traditional 2-point basket. And it is easy to calculate that making only 33% of 3-point shots produces the same number of total points as making 50% of traditional 2-point shots (with 50% being the normal barometer for 'good shooting'). But despite the data being that simple to digest and understand, as we saw in point one above, lots of folks remained unconvinced for way too long. Lesson - 'Proving' your thesis with data to folks that are likely to be skeptical needs to be distilled into terms and concepts they will understand. In the NBA example talk about Winning, not 'True shooting percentage'. In your example, talk about sales, profits, market share, concepts your leaders will naturally embrace. 3. Basketball has been played for 100+ years. The NBA has been around since the 40s and the 3-point shot was introduced to the NBA game in the 70s. But it has taken about 40 years for the leading thinkers in the game to more fully embrace the shot as the strategic weapon it has become in the modern game. The simple math I alluded to above has not changed in all that time. Why did it take so long to take hold? Hard to say. Lesson - Even the most mature industries and companies can still innovate and be disruptive (and disruptive). Even a simple idea like 'What is the best way to play basketball?' is subject to improvement re-imagining. It is never too late. Until it is too late that is.
  8. 8. Do not fail to heed the lessons of the 3-point shot.... I am on record as saying you can learn everything you need to know about work, the workplace, people, and business from careful study of the NBA. I remain correct in this belief.
  9. 9. DINOSAUR ALERT: When the New Leader Doesn’t “Get” Social Media By Steve Boese Originally published June 15, 2015 You know what says 'I am pretty much out of step with most of the major developments and trends of the last decade or so?" A quote like this: I don't like social media. I don’t like it at all. I don’t know anything about it. I don’t do it, I don’t use it, I really don’t want anybody to know where I’m at all the time or what I’m eating. That might be a perfectly reasonable and harmless opinion if it was coming from say, your Grandma, or if it was uttered by someone 5 or 7 years ago when it still was not totally clear that Facebook and Snapchat and Instagram and Twitter would scale to the levels that back then would have seemed impossible to comprehend. And in business and marketing that might be an acceptable position on social media from someone buried in the innards of the organization, with no external-facing role or responsibility, and limited ability to influence others on social networks. I would still probably argue that most professionals can extract value and work on personal/professional development goals using social media as a tool, but in a big picture sense if the assistant accounting manager doesn't believe in Twitter or LinkedIn, that really is not that big a deal for the organization. But the above block quote wasn't taken from a recent conversation with Grandma, or from an article in Time Magazine in 2006, or even from some late night TV show random 'person on the street' skit. No, this quote was from the new Head Coach National Football League club the San Francisco 49ers, a Mr. Jim Tomsula. The new head coach doesn't 'get' social media, doesn't participate, and quite frankly can't understand why any of the rest of us do either.
  10. 10. And this might not be a big deal, at least taken at face value, in the context of a football coach. After all, NFL head coaches are notorious lunatics workaholics, often spending 80 - 100 hours a week on the job, watching film, preparing game plans, and running practices. When you work crazy hours under crazy pressure like that, who has time to worry about Twitter and Instagram and the like? Certainly not Jim Tomsula. But I think it is kind of a big deal, when a new, high-profile leader in the organization like Tomsula expresses those kinds of dinosaur-like opinions about social media. Sure, he, or any other prominent organizational leader doesn't really have to be some kind of Twitter personality, but in 2015, they need to at least acknowledge and hopefully understand something about the business importance of social media. And as a leader of people, many are very active on social media, (the 49er players, mainly), Tomsula has to be able to take his head out of the sand and at least attempt to relate to these players and understand their use of social media from their perspective. And lastly, when a leader like this expresses these kinds of backwards opinions it begs the question of whether or not they will be open to any kinds of newer, innovative approaches to business, leadership, and their specific industry. A huge shift in professional sports management over the last 20 years has been the dramatic rise in importance of advanced statistics and analytics for measuring both player performance and in the creation of game plans and strategies. Will this modern and new approach be embraced by a leader like Tomsula? Or will he not 'get' that either, and wonder why anyone would waste their time running regression analysis on last week's play selections instead of monitoring the players push around the blocking sled for the 897th time. A leader not 'getting' social media is fine. Maybe. But what it might say about the leader's ability to 'get', anything not exactly in line with their view of the world is more troubling still.
  11. 11. FIFA and LEADERSHIP: Are Leaders Responsible for Scandals Under Their Watch? By Kris Dunn Originally Published on May 29, 2015 In case you missed it, FIFA - the international governing body for soccer - got raided earlier this week in Europe: "This week in Zurich (or late last night for those of us stateside), Swiss plainclothes police entered the Baur au Lac; the five-star hotel was the site of this week’s annual meeting of FIFA, soccer’s global governing body. The officers ascertained room numbers from the front desk, headed upstairs, and arrested six FIFA executives. The Justice Department’s announcement primarily cites deals between FIFA, sports marketing groups, and broadcast corporations for the television rights to air the World Cup and other international soccer tournaments. Dating back to 1991, the indictment alleges, those involved conspired to receive bribes from marketing firms in exchange for exclusive television contracts—to the cumulative tune of more than $150 million. As Attorney General Loretta Lynch stated, “It spans at least two generations of soccer officials who, as alleged, have abused their positions of trust to acquire millions of dollars in bribes and kickbacks.” That begs a question - Are leaders responsible for scandals under their watch? FIFA head Sepp Blatter, who was not arrested, claims the usual defense. Here's his quote courtesy of the Washington Post: "FIFA President Sepp Blatter offered up a tepid defense of his two-decade reign as head of world soccer’s governing body by deflecting all responsibility for what he called the “actions of a few” while addressing the ongoing FBI investigation into corruption at the organization. “Many people hold me ultimately responsible,” Blatter said during the opening speech of the 65th FIFA Congress on Thursday. “We, or I, cannot monitor everyone all of the time. If people want to do wrong, they will also try to hide it.” Sounds reasonable, right? I'd agree with that sentiment, but sometimes the stuff going on is so blatant and dumb that you're a fool for not taking responsibility. Need examples? I've got a great one. FIFA awarded the next 2022 World Cup to Qatar. How likely is it that Qatar won that bid without kickbacks? Working against the Qatar bid was the extreme temperature in the desert country. The World Cup always takes place during the European off-season in June and July. During this period the average daytime high in most of Qatar exceeds 50 °C (120 °F), the average daily low temperatures not dropping below 30 °C (86 °F). So the World Cup gets awarded to a desert country where the average temp is 120 degrees in the months the tourney has to be played. Probably some monkey business going on there, right?
  12. 12. As a leader, you can't know it all. But when your Financial Analyst who you know has 4 kids, alimony to pay and routinely asks for a pay raise shows up driving a Tesla, you're probably responsible for taking a look at the books via an audit to make sure everything's cool. Somebody got harassed without your knowledge? Probably can't hold you accountable for that as a leader, although you're responsible for the broader culture. Kickbacks everywhere, especially via a culture that has long been rumored to mired with bribes? You're responsible as a leader. Everything in between? Proceed with caution as a leader, because why you can't always be held accountable, you're ALWAYS responsible for it.
  13. 13. MANAGERIAL DECISIONS: That’s What the Money is For By Kris Dunn Originally published on November 3, 2015 It would be funny if it weren't so awful. Earlier this week, the world series in professional baseball was lost in part due to a manager bending to the desires and whims of an employee. Let's get the rundown from Business Insider: "The New York Mets lost the World Series in heartbreaking fashion on Sunday night after yet another late-inning collapse. Fighting to push it to Game 6 with his team down 3-1 in the series, Matt Harvey pitched the game of his life through eight innings, with the Mets holding a 2-0 lead. Given the innings debacle with Harvey's arm — there was disagreement about how many innings Harvey would be able to pitch this season and whether he would even be available in the playoffs — Mets manager Terry Collins told Harvey in the dugout that he was done for the night. Harvey didn't take it well, arguing and telling Collins that he was going to stay in for the ninth inning." Those of you that watched it know the rest of the story. Collins caved to his employee, one that earlier in the year didn't want to work as hard as his team wanted him to, and the rest was history. Harvey went back to the mound to face the Royals in the 9th, and promptly gave up a walk and double. By the time that Collins pulled Harvey, the momentum had shifted, the Royals tied the game in the 9th and ultimately won the game - and the series - in extra innings.
  14. 14. Lessons related to managing talent: 1.Never let an employee who hasn't been a total team player make calls about how he is used when he's suddenly engaged - meaning the situation is now perfect to him. 2. Once you make a call to go a certain direction, you look weak if you allow someone to pimp you into reversing your decision. 3. If you're a manager of people, we're paying you to make decisions. So maybe you should make them, stand by them and man up. 4. If you've got specialists in your company, let them be specialists. Collins had a closer for that situation, and it's widely accepted in baseball that's the right way to go. It's great to listen to your team. But listening happens before you make a decision to go a certain way - once you make your call, go the way you want to go. We're paying you to make decisions. Karma has a way of punishing you when you know what to do and then change your mind in a moment of weakness.
  15. 15. Sometimes You Have to Burn It All Down By Kris Dunn Originally Published on November 6, 2015 "Have you every heard of the scorched earth policy? No? Look around - everything you see is about to die." --Bill Parcells How about that for an uplifting note to go into the weekend with? That quote is attributed to hall of fame coach Bill Parcells (professional football) as he talked to a veteran on the Dallas Cowboys shortly after he had become the Cowboys coach years ago. That story was told on the Russillo and Kanell show on ESPN earlier this week. It underscores a brutal reality. For new leaders trying to get true cultural change in negative situations, employee turnover is probably necessary. We talk a lot about progressive people policies. Engagement. Puppies. Apple Pie. Sometimes, people just gotta go. Average leaders try to get people on the bus even when they're signaling they think the new bus sucks. Great leaders in new situations understand they have a small window where the organization will accept harsh change. Sometimes new leaders have to burn it all down.
  16. 16. The Disease of ‘Nobody Believes in Us’” By Lance Haun Originally Published on May 4, 2015 Tell me if you’ve heard this before: • They said we couldn’t do it • Nobody thought we would win • It’s us against the world Or a hundred different variations of the same theme. Nobody believed in us. We had to do it on our own to prove the doubters wrong. We were successful when everyone else thought we wouldn’t last. Let’s acknowledge one thing: It’s usually trope. It’s a figure of speech. Most of the time, it might be a couple of people against you and seven billion people who didn’t even know you exist. There is no “they” or if there is, you can call them out by name. Here’s the problem, though: The “nobody believes in us” mythology comes off as petty when exposed to the light of the truth. Consider Michael Jordan. The myth that gets told is that he was cut from his high school basketball team. I hear this one all the time, from motivational speakers to casual observers of Jordan’s career. Jordan wasn’t cut from his high school basketball team, though. From a Sports Illustrated profile on Jordan’s high school coach: He was still Mike Jordan then, not Michael Jordan, just another sophomore guard among 50 eager boys competing for 15 spots on the varsity and 15 more on the junior varsity. There was no doubt that Mike Jordan could handle the ball, but his shooting was merely good and his defense mediocre. Mike Jordan was seven or eight inches shorter than Michael Jordan would be, only 5’10” at age 15, and at least one assistant coach had never heard of him before that day. … “Michael—well, Mike—Jordan was placed on the junior varsity level. Uh-huh? He was placed on the junior varsity level. He wasn’t cut away from the game that made him.” He was placed on the JV team because he was the same height as I was at 15 years old. Yet Jordan, master of taking slights — however minor — and making mountains into molehills for competitive fuel, convinced himself that he was cut.
  17. 17. When you look back at his hall of fame induction speech, it’s hard to get past the myth that he created. You get the sense, even after being recognized at the pinnacle of basketball’s greatest players, that it wasn’t enough. It was never enough. * * * * * I talk a lot about competition with our clients. It’s definitely something to pay attention to, of course. But most of the time, when I chat with your competitors, there is a good chance they don’t think of you the way you think they do. That’s if they even think about you at all. More often, it’s your organization against: • Macro or microeconomic business pressures that affect everyone • Market awareness of the problem you’re solving or alternative solutions • Yourself (whether cash flow, processes, prioritization, or a hundred other possibilities) Nobody may believe in what you’re doing, but conversely, nobody is probably working against you either. At least in any active or conscious way. Instead of being head down, focused on what you’re great at, and getting the word out, you’re spending precious mental energy and time on beefs that don’t exist, scores that don’t need settling, and working towards something your clients don’t care about. In the process, you look like someone who’s priorities are out of whack or whose pettiness interrupts their own success.
  18. 18. Chapter Two Staffing and Career Considerations
  19. 19. More Reasons to Wear the Same Thing to Work Every Day By Steve Boese Originally Published on January 8, 2015 Lots of folks spend 10 or 15 or maybe even 30 minutes each morning staring at the closet trying to figure out what outfit to wear to work that day. Recently hired University of Michigan Football Coach Jim Harbaugh is not one of those people. He is rarely seen not wearing his 'signature' Walmart Khakis and black long sleeve shirt. Why? As Harbaugh puts it, "It's gotten to the point where I save so much time a day knowing that I don't have to stand in front of the closet, trying to decide what outfit to pick out. About 15 - 20 minutes a day. That adds up, day after day." Harbaugh isn't the only successful, famous person who adopted this 'wear the same thing every day' philosophy. So did Steve Jobs. So does President Obama (for the most part). Wearing the same thing every day does save time, and it may even be kind of liberating. But most of us don't even consider it. I wonder why. A few months ago I posted about this idea over on Fistful of Talent, and since the Harbaugh story put the issue on my mind again, I am going to run that FOT post below, because I still think it is interesting, and I am kind of too busy today to come up with anything better. ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Steve Jobs. Mark Zuckerberg.
  20. 20. President Obama. Karl Stefanovic. (Okay, I bet you have no idea who this guy is… hang in there, we will come back to him). What are these four gentlemen all famous for? Check that—a better question is this: What do these four gentlemen all have in common? Besides being extremely successful in their chosen fields of endeavor (even Karl—I will explain), they all at one time or another adopted a personal uniform, i.e., they essentially elected to wear (more or less) the same basic clothes every single day. Jobs, of course, became renowned for his black turtlenecks and blue jeans. Zuck, for his seemingly endless supply of gray t-shirts and hoodies. President Obama wears only gray or dark blue suits. And our man Karl, who, in case you are not familiar is an Australian morning TV host, has worn the same blue suit on the air every day for a YEAR. The reason that the first three men in this list elected to adopt their signature style are remarkably similar. Each man felt like they had much more important things to worry about than fashion or even simply choosing what to wear each day. So by adopting a “uniform” of sorts, they effectively eliminated one set of decisions from their daily routine. And there is at least some science that suggests that reducing the sheer number of decisions that one has to make can help to avoid something known as ‘decision fatigue’, a situation where the quality of decisions deteriorates after a long or prolonged period of decision making. When decision fatigue sets in, it can be hard to make appropriate trade-offs and can lead to decision avoidance and irrational—even careless—choices. But let’s get back to Karl Stefanovic, the person on this list you are likely least familiar with. Karl, in an experiment of sorts and influenced by his observations that there exists a double standard in TV and entertainment between how men and women’s appearance are judged, decided to wear, on air, the same blue suit every day for a year. Karl’s theory was that he could easily get away with wearing the same “uniform” everyday on TV, but his partner, a woman, would be excoriated by the public (and probably by management) for attempting the same stunt. And while we don’t know for sure what would actually have happened if his co-host Lisa Wilkinson tried the same move, we do know the result of Karl’s “wear the same suit on TV every day for a year” experiment. The result? No one noticed.
  21. 21. Not a single viewer complained. No letters or emails or tweets about the suit. Management did not issue a correction or reprimand. No one cared. Karl was, in his words, not being judged on what he wore or how he looked, but rather on “my interviews, my appalling sense of humour—on how I do my job, basically.” But if co-host Lisa (or any high-profile female personality or executive) tried the same stunt, can we honestly say that the reaction would be the same? If Ginny Rometty or Sheryl Sandberg or Marissa Mayer wore the same clothes every day (like Jobs and Zuck and Obama), would we EVER stop talking about what they are wearing and focus on their performance? Probably not. Men get judged (primarily) by what they do. Women, especially in visible, important positions, never seem to be able to shake the criticism and commentary about things like clothes and hairstyles. The truth is that it hardly matters at all what people wear or what they look like. What matters is what they do. For Jobs and Zuck, we don’t give that conclusion a second thought. Why can’t we say the same thing for the rest of us?
  22. 22. Athletes Don’t Need Media, and What That Might Mean for the Rest of Us By Steve Boese Originally Published on February 16, 2015 Fresh off the recently concluded Super Bowl where one of the pre-game sub-plots that we heard about incessantly was Seattle Seahawks star Marshawn Lynch's reluctance/defiance in his 'engagement' with the collected media types at the event. Lynch, whether due to some kind of genuine shyness or anxiety, or because he simply wanted to be kind of a jerk, would not answer media questions prior to the game. He simply answered every question with "I'm just here so I won't get fined." And that lack of cooperation/participation, made some members of the media insane with anger. I'm writing this post while waiting for the NBA All Star Game to tip off, and while sitting through the (really long) pre-game show, I hit upon this piece, about NBA superstar Kevin Durant's frustration with dealing with that sport's media types. In the piece, Durant, who is usually portrayed as a really nice, and genuine guy, is quoted as saying: "You guys really don't know (expletive)," Durant told reporters in his final interview session before Sunday's All-Star Game. Durant was later asked what stories he would like the media to focus on more. "To be honest, man, I'm only here talking to y'all because I have to," Durant said. "So I really don't care. Y'all not my friends. You're going to write what you want to write. You're going to love us one day and hate us the next. That's a part of it. So I just learn how to deal with y'all." For ages, sports media were intermediaries - they connected sports teams and star athletes to their adoring public. As recently as 10 years or so ago, there was almost no way for most athletes to engage with more than a handful of fans at a time, (before and after games, at
  23. 23. autograph signing, etc.), without having to rely upon mass media and the reporters that were the conduit to the mass media outlets. And reporters loved this. They loved having access, being important, being on some level the voice of both the athletes (by sharing their quotes), and of the fans, (by asking the questions of the athletes that the fans only wished they could). For 100 years this was how things worked. But like pretty much everything else in the world, social networks, and smart phones, and wifi everywhere, and personal branding concepts are flipping that relationship between athletes and sports media, or at least eliminating most of the reasons the relationship needed to exist in the first place. Star athletes like Lynch and Durant can (and have) amassed hundreds of thousands of followers on various social media networks, can send messages to these followers anytime they like, and enjoy the fact that one of their tweets is likely to reach many, many more eyeballs than a reporter's bylined article in the sports section of the New York Times. So it isn't really surprising that stars like Lynch and Durant are increasingly taking a more disinterested, even adversarial posture with the sports media. They feel, perhaps rightly, that the media are out to paint them in a less-than-positive light, and in a modern world where stars can and do build and nurture their own fan bases, the risk and low reward of dealing with traditional media is just not worth the hassle. So if anything, I would expect more and more athletes taking Lynch and Durant's approach to media in the future. What might this new tendency for star athletes to shun traditional media mean for us 'normals?' Two things come to mind. The first one, and maybe the sort of obvious one, is that traditional middlemen, like many sports reporters, have little use in the modern, social world. No one needs a random reporter from Si.com or ESPN to ask any star player 'How did it feel when?' questions and then post the athlete's responses. The star can post their own tweet, or pic on Instagram, or whatever, to let their fans know 'How it felt.' The only middlemen that have a future it seems, are the ones that are based on an app and an algorithm, (Uber, AirBNB). People as middlemen? Not so much. The other thing I think worth considering is the more general idea of how status and power and influence are determined or accrued. In sports, it used to be a really, really big deal for an athlete to get on the cover of Sports Illustrated magazine or on a Wheaties cereal box. And while those achievements might still matter in 2015, I wonder how much they have fallen in prestige compared to say, getting 1M Twitter followers or 500K views of a YouTube video of the athlete in action? And for us, us regular folks, how much in the future will working at the 'right' companies matter to our long-term career objectives, or will building our own identity, persona, brand, and portfolios, independent of corporate interests mean even more?
  24. 24. Like Durant and Lynch don't need the mainstream media to communicate their message, or validate their success, I wonder if we are soon moving to a time when accountants, marketers, HR pros - whomever, won't need that same kind of validation from corporate owners. Think of Durant's quote about sports media again. Y'all not my friends. You're going to write what you want to write. You're going to love us one day and hate us the next. That's a part of it. That quote could just as easily be about GM or Apple or Microsoft or your company.
  25. 25. Candidate Advice You Should Not Share with Candidates By Steve Boese Originally Published on March 31, 2015 Back in the 1970s and early 1980s after a spate of run-ins with the law and arrests and general bad behavior amongst members of his Oklahoma University football team, then-coach Barry Switzer was asked by a reporter what he planned to do about better controlling player's off- field conduct. Switzer, probably out of frustration, and the fact that that morning another player had been arrested for assault, is said to have replied "Frankly I am not sure what else I can do, short of putting up a sign in the locker room that says "Committing a felony is against team policy"." Switzer's point was that he should not have to remind the players of really obvious things - things every decent person just knows to be true, regardless of who they are or how experienced they might be. I thought of that old story when I saw another version of the endlessly repeated 'Advice to job candidates' tips pieces, that includes, among other nuggets, a recommendation to 'Be nice to the receptionist' when showing up for a job interview. That advice is terrible. Not because candidates shouldn't be nice to the receptionist, rather because no decent person, yet alone candidate, should have to be reminded to be nice to the receptionist, or anyone else. In fact, as an employer you would not want to artificially inject fake 'niceness' into a candidate who otherwise would not be nice. It would be better to catch them being an ass and reject them up front, rather than get duped by some fake interview day charm and learn only later how much of a jerk they really are. So with that said, here are my Top 3 pieces of candidate advice you should not share with candidates: 1. Be nice to the receptionist/security guard/limo driver - sort of covered above, but worth repeating. No one, once they are older than about 9, should have to be reminded to be 'nice.' In fact, 'nice', needs to be the default setting. You should expect more than 'nice' from people that you really want to be around for more than 3 minutes at a time. Translated - I can accept 'nice' from the Starbucks barista, people I am going to work closely with for 40 hours a week had better be damn nice, if you get my meaning.
  26. 26. 2. Show up on time, be dressed appropriately, take a shower before the interview - Everything that falls into the category of 'Basic rules of conduct in a civilized society' should not be repeated under the mantle of candidate advice. The only exception possibly being when advising students preparing for their first experience in an interview setting, where some coaching on dress/conduct might be warranted. For everyone else though, if a candidate needs to be reminded to skip the flip-flops for the interview, then you should just let that candidate flip-flop on out of your office. 3. Research the company/industry prior to the interview - 'Normal' people will read 27 reviews on Yelp before choosing a lunch restaurant and scour page after page of Amazon ratings while considering which pair of earbuds to buy. So we have to remind candidates to know something about the company they are about to interview with? If a candidate turned up for an interview less informed about your company than they were about the last season of The Walking Dead, then again, you want to catch that lack of intellectual curiosity and conscientiousness up front. I am sure if we really wanted to we could dredge up several more pieces of 'Candidate Advice' that are really just 'How to behave like a decent human being' tips, but you get the idea. Not taking a cell phone call in the middle of the interview probably deserves a mention too, but I think you get the idea. You don't want to coach your candidates to be decent human beings, you want your process to allow those 'not decent' folks to reveal themselves before you make the mistake of hiring them. Otherwise, you could find yourself tacking a 'Committing a felony is against company policy' sign on the break room wall.
  27. 27. Your Culture is Defined By Who You’re Willing to Re-Hire By Steve Boese Originally Published on May 6, 2015 First the news on how owner and Class A jerk, James Dolan continues to destroy my single, favorite sports team, the New York Knicks. From the Deadspin piece The Knicks and their Owner James Dolan, Are Shameless Garbage: Earlier today, James Dolan announced that Isiah Thomas, who once sexually harassed one of his co- workers while he was head coach of the Knicks, was going to be named president of the WNBA’s New York Liberty. To most people, putting a sexual harasser in charge of a women’s basketball team is a bad look, but the Knicks would like those people to know that they don’t care about bad looks. For those who might not be familiar with the entire back story, the facts of the case are these. 1. Isiah Thomas was once the Head Coach and President of Basketball Operations for the New York Knicks from 2006 - 2008 2. In October of 2007, a Federal Court in Manhattan, in response to a claim by a female former team executive, Anucha Browne Sanders, ruled that Thomas had sexually harassed Sanders, and that Madison Square Garden, the owner of the team, improperly fired her for complaining about the unwanted advances. 3. Sanders was awarded $11.6 million in punitive damages from the Garden and James L. Dolan, the chairman of Cablevision, the parent company of the Garden and the Knicks. Of that figure, $6 million was awarded because of the hostile work environment Mr. Thomas was found to have created, and $5.6 million because Ms. Browne Sanders was fired for complaining about it. 4. After finally being fired by the team in 2008, Thomas has drifted in and out of several basketball roles, serving as a college coach at Florida International for a bit, and recently as a TV commentator. 5. And now, yesterday, the aforementioned James Dolan, who still presides over the Knicks and their Women's NBA team, the New York Liberty has not only re-hired the sexual harrasser Thomas, he has also placed him in a position of authority for the WNBA's Liberty. If you were a player or coach on the Liberty you can't be feeling really happy about reporting to a confirmed workplace sexual harasser like Thomas. I think if I had to pick one, singular data point from the sea of human capital data and information that is available to organizations today that reveals the most about an organization's culture and what it is they believe in (if anything), it would be which former employees that they are or are not willing to re-hire. Initial hiring is kind of a crap shoot, even the best shops make 'bad' hires every so often. And really great organizations are sometimes guilty of waiting too long to pull the lever on a termination, even when it is justified or the person is just not working out. It happens.
  28. 28. But the bad hire on a re-hire? That should NEVER happen. The people you are willing to re- hire and who you are done with forever tells anyone what kind of an organization that you want to be. You know exactly who these people are, what they can do, and whether or not you would be proud to have them represent your organization. The Knicks, it seems, want to be an organization that no one can take pride in.
  29. 29. White Collar Muscle Memory: Can You Fix What You Suck At In Your Career? By Kris Dunn Originally Published on August 5, 2015 If there's an interesting debate in the world of talent, it has to be whether the talent you hire can fix things they are bad at - or even if they should try. After all, if the love-fest to Marcus Buckingham and StrengthFinders has taught us anything, we love to say that weaknesses shouldn't matter. Then we find a weakness and assassinate you for it. Welcome to corporate America, chump. Oh, we read the book and will talk about it in glowing fashion, but hey - you suck at that thing. We can't ignore that. Of course, whether something that's broken with a candidate is fixable or not - that really has more to do what what the item is, right? Is the candidate shortcoming a tactical thing they can fix? Or is it deeply embedded in their DNA? To give you an example, consider the world of NFL quarterbacks and Marcus Mariota, the second overall pick in last spring's NFL Draft. More from ESPN: "During summer work, Titans coaches pointed out a glitch in Marcus Mariota's dropbacks to handoffs. It's something they discussed with him, and they said they'd work out upon his return for training camp. But in the team's first practice Friday, quarterbacks coach John McNulty noticed the problem was gone.
  30. 30. Running backs coach Sylvester Croom noticed it, too, and sauntered up to McNulty to say, "I think he took that stuff to heart." "There were a couple things in his footwork with the run game, and now he's got it aced," McNulty said. "So obviously he worked on that over the five weeks." So Mariota altered his footwork on handoffs. I'd tell you that's the equivalent of one of your managers doing a better job at level-setting/setting expectations at the start of meetings. You are in control. You initiate the action. There's very little chance of variables coming in that make you revert to what you're comfortable with. Mariota can alter footwork on handoffs. But Tim Tebow couldn't alter his throwing motion to become NFL ready. Why is that? Because dropping back to throw a pass in the NFL is chaos - with giants bearing down on you and trying to end your career. Under that type of pressure, we rely on what's embedded most deeply in us. Tebow couldn't practice new technique enough to overcome this reality. What about your employees? You can teach them successfully to do small things that they're in control of. But when the #### really hits the fan and things are unscripted, you can't change who they are. What do you suck at? Can you fix it? If it's small enough, the answer is yes. If it's a broader theme that transcends many different types of situations in your career, the answer is likely no. If you try to fix the big things, you're going to look like Tebow. Better to find the right environment for how you throw the football, ummm - how you're wired behaviorally.
  31. 31. Sex As A Part of the Recruiting Process: The Problem is Plausible Deniability By Kris Dunn Originally Published on October 27, 2015 In case you missed it, the University of Louisville and head basketball coach Rick Pitino are locked in an extreme controversy - A graduate assistant (member of the coaching staff) has been accused of bringing strippers into the dorms at U of L during recruiting visits and paying the dancers to have sex with recruits. Here's a taste of the allegations for those of you that haven't seen it - From ESPN: “Five former University of Louisville basketball players and recruits told Outside the Lines that they attended parties at a campus dorm from 2010 to 2014 that included strippers paid for by the team’s former graduate assistant coach, Andre McGee. One of the former players said he had sex with a dancer after McGee paid her. Each of the players and recruits attended different parties at Billy Minardi Hall, where dancers, many of whom stripped naked, were present. Three of the five players said they attended parties as recruits and also when they played for Louisville. Said one of the recruits, who ultimately signed to play elsewhere: “I knew they weren’t college girls. It was crazy. It was like I was in a strip club.” This one is interesting to me, because I started my career in college basketball. The reasons I got out were as follows: 1. I thought I was going to be poor longer than I wanted. 2. Most importantly, I thought there was a 50/50 chance I would be 35 years old and left holding the bag for a recruiting violation that EVERYONE in the program knew was the reality. Let me unfold that second point. When I was a Graduate Assistant and a young Assistant Coach in college basketball, one of my peer-based mentors (a guy who was 33 to my 24 at the
  32. 32. time) took the fall for recruiting violations at a Top 20 program. He was out of the game for 2 years, and he eventually found his way into the NBA where he's thrived as a scout, assistant coach and has even served as interim head coach. Everyone in his program knew shortcuts where a part of the process. But, the head coach took careful methods to ensure he wasn't to close to the action. It's called plausible deniability. I didn't directly know, so I shouldn't be held accountable. Sex to recruits isn't the right thing to do. But load a Graduate Assistant up with cash and instruct them to make sure recruits have a good time, and you get what you get. But you didn't tell them to bring hookers into the dorm, right? Perfect. Maybe you could have set a few boundaries? Pitino's big play as this has broken was to call on the former graduate assistant to come forward and tell the truth. He doesn't mean it, and he doesn't want that kid to be interviewed by anyone. Real leaders don't rely on plausible deniability as their fall back position. Real leaders describe what's acceptable in broad terms, then trust their people to execute the plan with autonomy. If you manage people in any business, there's some form of plausible deniability available in your role. If you're a real leader, your job is to eliminate that, then own the actions of your team if and when they fall down. That's leadership.
  33. 33. Sometimes You Just Need to ‘Burn’ A Hire By Tim Sackett Originally Published on February 4, 2015 I love baseball. There is a concept in baseball where a pitcher will ‘burn’ a pitch, here and there. Basically, it means that the pitcher isn’t actually trying to throw a strike, they are using this pitch to set up another pitch. For intensive purposes, the pitcher is wasting that pitch for the greater good. Have you ever done that in HR and hiring? Have you ever burned a hire? I have. In large organizations you sometimes have to burn hires to prove points and/or get hiring managers on your side. I remember a time when we first started using a very complex pre- employment assessment. The hiring managers hated it. They didn’t believe in the science. They didn’t believe what the assessment was telling us. That’s the funny thing about really good assessments. They only work if you, and your organization, are bought in to the belief that using this assessment, in the long run, is going to give us better hires overall. In this instance I’ve allowed hiring managers to hire individuals who the hiring managers love, but the assessment told us was going to fail, knowing I was probably right. I was willing to burn a hire, to prove a point about the greater good of the tools we were using. I wouldn’t continue doing this, but sometimes you have to be willing to prove out your beliefs. This sets up the assessment for future success, and ultimately better hires. I’m also willing to burn hires on executive referrals. Too many times in my career I’ve been contacted by high level executives and board members of the companies that have ‘requested’ I get a job for their kids, or their sister’s kid, or some other family member. For the most part, on average, these hires are horrible. But, I’ve learned that fighting this is never a good career move, so you burn a hire. When I talk to HR people about doing this, many a very much against burning hires, or at the very least, willing to admit they burn hires! Rarely, will you find a HR or Talent Pro willing to state publicly they burn hires, but behind closed doors we know this happens often. Sometimes the battle isn’t as important as the war your fighting internally, so you let hires go through the process you would normally stop. This doesn’t make you bad at HR or Recruiting, this makes you strategic. Like the pitcher, you’re just setting yourself and your organization for success. To do that sometimes you just have to burn a hire here and there.
  34. 34. Does Buying Sex Go Too Far in Getting the Best Talent? By Tim Sackett Originally Published on October 26, 2015 Louisville’s basketball program is under fire because of recent allegations by former recruits and players who claim that Louisville paid for strippers to entertain them on recruiting visits, that included paid sex. From ESPN: “Five former University of Louisville basketball players and recruits told Outside the Lines that they attended parties at a campus dorm from 2010 to 2014 that included strippers paid for by the team’s former graduate assistant coach, Andre McGee. One of the former players said he had sex with a dancer after McGee paid her. Each of the players and recruits attended different parties at Billy Minardi Hall, where dancers, many of whom stripped naked, were present. Three of the five players said they attended parties as recruits and also when they played for Louisville. Said one of the recruits, who ultimately signed to play elsewhere: “I knew they weren’t college girls. It was crazy. It was like I was in a strip club.” Before you come down on Louisville, the reality is, this is probably happening at many institutions. Jalen Rose, former NBA player, University of Michigan Fab 5 and ESPN Commentator, also said his recruiting visits to UofM, MSU, Syracuse and UNLV were like bachelor parties and all included having sex and alcohol. I think most of us would completely agree that taking seventeen and eighteen-year-old boys onto a college campus for this type of activity is wrong. My question is where does recruiting cross the line when it comes to adults and working for your company? I can’t imagine ever ‘paying for sex’ for a recruit, since it’s mostly illegal, unless you’re in certain counties in Nevada. I also can’t imagine providing drugs to potential recruits for any company I might work for, but then you see what’s going on in Colorado and Oregon. I think you cross the line in how you recruit when you cross the line of your moral makeup of the majority of your employees and stakeholders. Some companies are very comfortable taking recruits out to bars and getting drunk. Many companies can’t even fathom that kind of behavior! But, doesn’t wining and dining have a place in professional recruitment? If you could get a great software developer, one that might cost you a $25K headhunting fee, doesn’t it make sense to drop a few hundred dollars on a potential candidate? It certainly does, if you know who your best candidates are!
  35. 35. That’s the problem, right? Many of us don’t know ‘better’ talent when we see it. So, giving out hundreds of dollars in recruiting swag doesn’t work when you give it out to everyone! It only works when you give it to the best. Then, it also doesn’t work every time. It’s like the famous line from Anchorman, “60% of the time, it works every time!” Louisville didn’t get every recruit who they paid hookers to have sex with them, but they landed some of those recruits. Buying Beats headphones with your logo and sending them to software developers won’t land everyone you send them to, but it will attract some to take that next step. Those cost $199. Is hiring great talent worth $199? Oh, hell, yes it is! But, no one is sending Beats to software developers. I’ve always said that college athletics is always on the forefront of what true recruiting is. Highly sought after talent. Hard to attract to your organization. They find ways to make the best candidates feel extremely special. This is way beyond candidate experience. This is closing. Paying for sex goes beyond what I’m willing to do, to get the best talent to come and work for me. But, I’m willing to do a lot of other stuff to attract the best talent! What about you?
  36. 36. A Farewell Tour for a HR Pro By Tim Sackett Originally Published on December 16, 2015 If you didn’t see it, one of the all-time greats of the NBA, Kobe Bryant, recently announced he was going to retire. Kobe is a personal favorite of mine, because, besides Jordan, he might be the most competitive player I’ve ever seen play. If you played against Kobe, he hated you. If you played with Kobe, he put up with you! I love me some Black Mamba! So, Kobe is now on his city by city farewell tour. This happens in sports all the time for the great ones. We got to see it last year with Yankee great Derek Jeter. It’s always the same thing. Each city/team tries to outdo each other with giving gifts and paying tribute to the all-time great player. Everyone plays nice. Hugs (I like that part). Gifts. Don’t guard me too close so I can make a few plays for the fans to remember me by! You know the drill! When a HR Manager decides to retire, we never get a farewell tour. I think we should! Here’s what an average HR Manager Farewell Tour would look like: Week #1 – Your benefits vendor invites you out to Applebee’s for a free lunch. Go ahead get the appetizer, the sirloin, and the strawberry lemonade! Heck, throw in a brownie bite. Yeah, in might go over your $25 limit, but this is your tour, no one is going to care you took $28, not $25! Week #2 – Your HRMS vendor wants to drop off a little something to congratulate you. Looks like a bottle of wine! (Pro tip: I would ask if it’s alcohol on the front side, then meet them in the parking lot!) Week #3 – Your EAP vendor dropped off bagels from Panera, with three kinds of cream cheese! Way over $25, but you’re really sharing with the group, so you can divide that out. Pretty safe! (Pro Tip: On your farewell tour, make sure to bring in a toaster into the office, if you don’t already have one – some will always drop off bagels!)
  37. 37. Week #4 – CareerBuilder just wants to send you a little something to say thanks! Also, who’s taking over for you? CB swag is always great. Pick through the box for the good stuff first, then throw the rest in the break room. It will be gone in no time! (Pro tip: if you spend a bunch with your job board vendor – like $25K+ – you can turn this into a lunch!) Week #5 – Your ATS vendor called to wish you luck. You just happen to drop the ‘hint’ you can’t wait to go to more movies! It’s a passion of yours! You love going to the theater, but it’s so darn expensive! Theater gift card will be coming soon in the mail! Week #6 – It’s the employee cake and ice cream social event. You have to throw this one in, even though, you’ll be the one ordering your own cake and ice cream! It’s your party, make sure you get the cake you want, and not that cheap crap you order for all the other employees who retire! Week #7 – Save this one for last! It’s time to call on your staffing vendor! Staffing vendors are an easy steak dinner and drinks kind of night. You do this last because you don’t want to come back to the office and look anyone in the eye after this night. Staffing folks can party, and still believe that if they get you drunk you’ll tell them all your secrets. The secret is, we don’t have any! The bigger the organization the longer you can stretch out this tour since you probably have more vendors. It’s your tour, do with it what you will. Just remember, you earned it!
  38. 38. Chapter Three Performance and Talent Management
  39. 39. Good Stats, Bad Team By Steve Boese Originally Published on February 12, 2015 World B. Free There is a phenomenon in sports, most notably in NBA basketball, knows as 'Good Stats, Bad Team', which referred to the sometimes over-inflated to the positive personal statistics, (points, rebounds, etc.), that some players accrue largely by virtue of playing for a bad, losing team. The explanation for this situation is pretty sound and understandable. Even the worst NBA teams are likely to generate near 100 total points and 45 - 50 total rebounds, even while losing. And someone on the team has to take shots, score points, grab rebounds, etc. So often a good player, playing on one of these bad teams, can look statistically to be almost a great player just by looking at their stats. He might get 5 or 6 more points per game and 3 or 4 more rebounds than if he were on a more competitive team, and surrounded by more talented teammates. This might not seem like that big a deal, but even small increases in points and rebounds are a big deal in the NBA - they translate to more valuable contracts, possible All Star game appearances, and recognition as an 'elite' player amongst fans and peers. So NBA team management has to be careful when dealing with these kinds of 'Good Stats, Bad Team' players, and attempt to quantify the impact on their performance when considering adding such a player to an already good team. You can take a look at Kevin Love of the Cleveland Cavaliers for a current example - since moving from the perennial bad Minnesota Timberwolves to the LeBron James-led Cavs this season, Love's numbers are down across the board, and has struggled at times fitting in to a team where he is no longer the best player. The 'Good Stats, Bad Team' concept was on my mind not just from watching another 4 hours of basketball last night, but from this piece, highlights of a recent interview of Twitter CEO Dick Costolo, where Costolo warned leaders of sort of the opposite of 'Good Stats, Bad Team', i.e. poaching managerial talent from already successful companies.
  40. 40. Here is Costolo's take: Twitter CEO Dick Costolo just finished speaking at the Goldman Sachs technology conference in San Francisco, and he said that he's spending a lot of time instilling proper management practices into his leadership team. It's particularly important because a lot of these employees are young, and have only had one other job. They sometimes think that just because something worked well at their previous company, it will work well at Twitter. Not so. As Costolo put it, "It might have just been that company X was making an extraordinary amount of money and you could've done anything." Did you catch that? It is the reverse take on 'Good Stats, Bad Team'. In this context it could be called 'Average Manager, Great Team', maybe. Costolo warns us that when hiring talent out of great, successful companies that we need to be a little careful that maybe some portion, maybe a large portion, of the individual's success was due to the great company/team of which they were a part. Maybe in that context, anyone could have been successful in the role. And finally, it reminds us to at least consider what might happen when taking an individual out of that successful context and placing them into a new, (and possibly less successful, less talented context), might mean for their performance. It is a pretty interesting concept, and probably worth keeping in mind if you have convinced yourself that you only want to recruit from Apple, Google, (insert the name of the best company in your industry).
  41. 41. The Wisdom of Jeff Van Gundy Part VII – On Visible Failure By Steve Boese Originally Published on March 3, 2015 Over the weekend as I was doing blog writing/research, i.e., watching NBA basketball, I caught the better part of a game between the Chicago Bulls and the Los Angeles Clippers. At a few points in the game the Bulls invoked a strategy of intentional fouling commonly known as 'Hack-a-Shaq', named after NBA legend Shaquille O'Neal, a notoriously poor free throw shooter. The idea of the 'Hack-a-Shaq' gambit is that since the player targeted to be intentionally fouled is such a poor free throw shooter that he would likely miss both free throws most of the time, thus resulting in an 'empty' or non-scoring possession for his team. Stack a few of these empty possessions in a row, and the fouling team could conceivably stake a large lead, or close a large deficit. In the Bulls v. Clippers game, (ably announced by Mike Breen and former NBA coach and the star of this semi-regular 'Wisdom' series on the blog, Jeff Van Gundy), the Bulls' target for executing the 'Hack-a-Shaq' strategy was the Clipper center DeAndre Jordan, who like Shaq himself, is a terrible free throw shooter, making only about 40% of his attempts from the line. To set some context, the league average is about 75% accuracy, with the best free throw shooters making about 90% of their attempts. So Jordan is bad, really, really bad at shooting free throws. And the Bulls exploited that weakness in Jordan's game by repeatedly and intentionally fouling him, and he proceeded to make only 5 out of 12 attempts on the game. And each time he was fouled, he had to stand on the foul line, alone, while all the players, fans, and TV viewers got to watch him struggle, and fail quite a bit during the course of the game. It was during one of these potentially embarrassing Jordan trips to the line where Van Gundy, (JVG), dropped this little nugget of wisdom, (and note, I am paraphrasing here, I was not recording the game so I don't have JVG's quote word for word): Everyone needs to stop stressing about the 'Hack-a-Shaq' and how poorly DeAndre Jordan is shooting free throws. He is the league's top rebounder and one of, if not the best, defensive center
  42. 42. in the game. He does so many other good things on the court that contribute to a winning team that we need to lay off about the free throws. Every player has weaknesses, his are just more noticeable to the naked eye because he's up there on this own at the free throw line where everyone can see. A super point by JVG, not just the one about Jordan's other demonstrable and measurable positive attributes like rebounds and blocked shots, but rather that since Jordan's struggles at the line are so obvious and clear to see, that we over-emphasize them, and hold Jordan somehow more accountable than we do for other player's whose weaknesses might be so apparent. There are lots of players who don't really play effective team defense, who don't set solid screens for their teammates, don't contest opponents' shots, or who fail to box out on the defensive glass - but these weaknesses are hard to see, really hard to see for the casual fan. But excelling in these areas all contribute to winning, and also happen to be areas where Jordan himself excels. We can 'see' Jordan fail at the free throw line. It is visible failure, even. But we fail as observers when we don't see all the less obvious things he does well. And this is not solely a basketball or sports phenomenon. (Here is the part of the 'Sports and HR' post where the formula tells me I have to relate this tale back to HR or Talent Management or some such) You know what, I think I am going to skip that part of the formula, I think you can probably make the connection.
  43. 43. The culture of performance and firing by form letter | Steve | Monday, June 8, 2015 at 7:26AM | Share The Culture of Performance and Firing by Form Letter By Steve Boese Originally Published on June 8, 2015 Super look at just one of the ways that a 'performance is the only thing that matters' culture that is professional American football manifests itself over at Deadspin last week in the piece This is the the letter you get when you are cut from an NFL team. Take a look above at a typical player termination letter from one of the league's clubs, the Houston Texans:
  44. 44. A couple of things about the letter, and then I am out for the rest of a summer Monday. 1. First up, in a really hands-on job like 'NFL Player', physical ability to perform issues are number 1 and 2 on the 5 possible termination reasons. For the rest of us who are not NFL players, this could equate to keeping up our skills, learning new ones as business and technology shifts, and importantly, not 'faking' it in terms of what we say we can do. 2. Reason 3, and the one that this example from 2006 shows, says basically, 'You are just not good enough, i.e., the other guys on the team are better'. No details, no wordy explanations or nuances. Just a cut and dried 'You're not good enough.' That's cold, but again, completely aligned with the organizational values and culture. Performance trumps everything. Want a high- performance culture? Then you have to be ruthless in trimming the organization of people who don't meet the standard. And you as a leader can't let it bother you too much either. 3. The organization also has a broad right to terminate you for 'personal conduct that adversely affects or reflects on the club'. Heck, that could be just about anything, since it is the club who gets to evaluate the 'impact' of your behavior. In other words, we (mostly) care about your physical condition and your performance, but we can fire your butt for just about anything we want at any time. Heck, that sounds a lot like many of the places us 'normals' work too. Employment at will is a great deal for sure. Until you get fired, well, just 'because.' Hiring, promoting, rewards, and even terminations all play a big role in defining, supporting, and communicating an organization's values and culture. If you are going to go all-in on high performance, well, you need to remember the dark side of that decision too. And firing by form letter is one example of that.
  45. 45. TALENT ASSESSMENT TIP: Watch Out for ‘Soft’ Eyes By Steve Boese Originally Published on June 25, 2015 As I am sure I have previously covered on the blog here and over at Fistful of Talent, professional sports drafts offer up extraordinary amounts of interest and intrigue and insights about recruiting and talent management that remain relevant for HR/Talent professionals everywhere. Team management, coaching staffs, and professional talent assessors all spend months evaluating the top playing prospects coming out of college and the European (and other) professional leagues. The teams spend ages watching the players in game video, measure all manner of player's physical attributes, (down to things like hand size), and often will schedule in-depth personal interviews to try to get a better feel for a potential player's likelihood for success in the NBA. But even after all of this analysis of the player's actual performance in actual games, their 'measurables' like height, speed, jumping ability, etc., and 1-1 interviews, AND in a sport that has embraced advanced statistical analyses more so than any other in order to assess performance and shape strategy, there remains some let's just say odd ways to judge talent. On one of the many sports talk radio shows I listened to in advance of tonight's draft, one of the network's 'expert' basketball analysts warned against drafting one particular prospect, a 7- footer from Latvia named Kristaps Porzingis. This expert's objections to a team using a high draft pick on Porzingis didn't mention lack of ability to shoot or to pass, didn't mention some specific physical limitation the Latvian has that would make him unlikely to succeed in the NBA, nor bring up anything at all related to how data and statistical review of his game led to this negative assessment. No, the main objective of this particular expert talent evaluator was, according to him, that Porzingis has 'soft' eyes.
  46. 46. The host of the show was a little taken aback by the comment, and asked the expert to elaborate. The expert said, and I am paraphrasing here, was that when he gazed at Porzingis he doesn't see a look that convinces him that Porzingis will want to work hard and compete at the extreme levels of intensity the NBA requires. In other words, Porzingis didn't have the proverbial 'Eye of the Tiger', but rather he had 'soft' eyes, and thus will never make it in the NBA. The host of the show, still a little dumbfounded by this kind of talent assessment, eventually let the point go and moved on, but you could tell he remained unsure of the predictive ability of the expert's 'soft' eye test. The relevance of this little tale for the rest of us? That you may have a sophisticated candidate assessment tool, a success profile you have developed from analysis of top performers, and a structured and sound interviewing process designed to consistently identify the best candidate for a position. You may have all of that, but if you run into a decision maker with their own version of the 'soft eyes' test then all your data, and process, and structure could be in jeopardy. It will be interesting to see where Porzingis and his soft eyes end up getting selected tonight. With my luck, the 'expert' will be right in his assessment and Porzingis will end up failing for my Knicks.
  47. 47. Three Talent Management Observations From the First Day of NBA Free Agency By Steve Boese Originally Published on July 2, 2015 I continue to be on record as stating that HR/Talent pros can learn just about everything they need to know about talent management, leadership, team dynamics, managing for performance, and a million other things from careful observation of professional sports - and most notably the NBA. Yesterday was the first full day of the league's free agency period - the time where teams are free to recruit, negotiate with, and sign to new contracts those players whose contracts had expired - thus making them 'free' agents. As usual, Day 1 of free agency led to a flurry of announced and rumored deals between NBA teams and the most coveted of these players, three of which I want to mention here, as they all reveal some interesting insights towards talent and how top talent and exemplary organizations think. 1. LeBron James and the 1-year deal - While the norm across the NBA on Day 1 of free agency has been for the most prized free agents to agree to 4 and 5-year deals for very large dollar amounts, (Kevin Love, Draymond Green, DeMarre Carroll, etc.), the league's very best player Lebron James is reported to only be willing to accept a 1-year deal from his current team, the Cavaliers. This short-term deal, while being riskier for James, (in case he gets injured), secures his leverage with team ownership, as he can demand that the Cavs do everything possible to field a contending caliber team, with the threat of losing James looming at the end of each season. Keep LeBron happy and you get to keep him. So while lots of talented players are willing to take 4 and 5 years, the best player doesn't need that security, he would rather keep the power shifted in his direction. The same probably holds true for the best, most-talented pros in any field. You need them more than they need you. 2. Gregg Popovich will not call you at midnight - Popovich, the longtime coach of the San Antonio Spurs, one of the league's most admired and successful teams of the last 15 years,
  48. 48. eschews the practice of attempting to begin wooing free agents at the stroke of midnight on July 1, the official starting point of free agency. According to Pop, "I'm not calling anyone at midnight, I'll be in bed. And if that's the difference in someone coming or not coming, then I don't want them." That stance cements two points in the recruiting process for the Spurs. One, they don't need to try and impress free agents with the (silly) gesture of the midnight phone call. And two, they realize that any player that requires that kind of a gesture in order to have their ego massaged is probably not the kind of player the famously unselfish and team-first Spurs are interested in having anyway. This is a great example of an organization living up to and reinforcing their specific culture in the recruiting process. 3. LaMarcus Aldridge is not impressed - One of the most in-demand free agents this year is LaMarcus Aldridge, formerly of the Portland Trailblazers. In his meeting with the Los Angeles Lakers, a storied team that has recently fallen on hard times, Aldridge came away unimpressed. The reason? The Lakers presentation focused too much on off-the-court opportunities that the Los Angeles market can provide, and not enough on how the team plans to actually get better at playing basketball. Aldridge has his pick of about a half-dozen teams, the market price for a player like him is pretty well defined, so money is not really an issue, so it actually boils down to the work and the opportunities to be on a competitive team that matters to him. The Lakers are trying to play off a reputation that might have mattered 20 years ago, but is lessened in its value today. Lesson here? You might have been a top place to work in 1998, but that matters almost nothing today to talented pros who want to grow in their careers. As these three short examples indicate, the power dynamics at play between organizations and the best talent are always fascinating to watch. While different, they all lead us to just about the same place - he/she who holds the power gets to make the rules. And that balance is just that, a balance. Which means it can shift, subtly at first, but sometimes dramatically, leaving the unprepared side to wonder what the heck just happened.
  49. 49. Wearable Tech at Work: Three Lessons from the NBA By Steve Boese Originally Published on October 26, 2015 The NBA season starts tomorrow! It could not have come soon enough for this NBA junkie. While my beloved Mets have made things interesting with a surprising run to baseball's World Series, I live and breathe for NBA basketball. This is for two reasons primarily. One, the NBA is simply the best, most exciting, most watchable sport there is. And two, basketball provides a tremendous source of insights for all things HR and the workplace - leadership, recruiting, talent management, assessment, compensation, and increasingly - the use of advanced performance analytics for evaluation, talent management, and strategy development. Case in point, the increased use of player movement and performance tracking technology to better understand patterns, tendencies, and importantly, fatigue and diminished output/effort in a player. Check this excerpt from a recent piece on the topic from Grantland, From BMI to TMI: The NBA Is Leaning Toward Wearable Tech, then some comments from me after the quote: The NBA is putting its own money into the study of wearable GPS devices, with the likely end goal of outfitting players during games, according to several league sources. The league is funding a study, at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota, of products from two leading device-makers: Catapult and STATSports. The league declined comment on the study. Most teams already use the gadgets during practices, and Catapult alone expects to have about 20 NBA team clients by the start of the 2015-16 season. The Fort Wayne Mad Ants wore Catapult monitors during D-League games last season in an obvious trial run for potential use at the parent league. Weighing less than an ounce, these devices are worn underneath a player’s jersey. They track basic movement data, including distance traveled and running speed, but the real value comes from the health- and fatigue-related information they spit out. The monitors track the power behind a player’s accelerations and decelerations (i.e., cuts), the force-based impact of jumping and landing, and other data points. Team sports science experts scour the data for any indication a player might
  50. 50. be on the verge of injury — or already suffering from one that hasn’t manifested itself in any obvious way. The piece goes on to make some interesting points about how teams can use the devices in a practice setting in order to make decisions about player rest and practice strategy. But since the NBA player's are represented by a union, in-game use of these devices will have to be collectively bargained according to the piece. What can we extrapolate to 'normal' workplaces from the NBA's experiments and experiences with these kinds of wearables? I can think of three main things: 1. Union shop or not, organizations are going to have to take data privacy, usage, and access issues very seriously and head-on. Players that are angling to secure their next contract might not want widespread access to their performance data if it begins to show some performance degradation that might not be apparent to the naked eye. If you want any employee to wear a tracking tool like this, you have got to ensure the 'right' level of privacy and control for your situation. 2. Your primary use case for wearable tech should be a positive one. And probably your secondary use case as well. If wearables are going to be used to prevent injuries, help workers find efficiencies, or better align tasks to workers, (and even to a specific day or time), then it is likely you will have a better chance at employee adoption of this kind of tech. If employees think your primary goal of these devices is to identify the 'weak links' in the organization in order to apply discipline, (or to weed them out), then the reaction is going to be less-than- enthusiastic. There is already a pretty large 'Big Brother is watching' inherent bias you need to overcome, don't make it worse by treating wearable tech at work like some kind of house arrest ankle bracelet. 3. Wearable data has to be interpreted in context. Every basketball game is unique. The opponent, the combinations of players on the court, the external conditions, (travel, amount of sleep, diet, etc,), all vary from day-to-day and game-to-game no matter how hard coaches try to have things consistent. Careful analysis of player tracking data and performance has to include and attempt to understand how external factors impact performance. Player tracking data is going to create tremendous amounts of data for team management to analyze - on top of the pretty large data sets they already have been crunching. And when this kind of data is available to every team, the competitive advantage ceases to be simply having the data - the advantage shifts to the organization that is the best and extracting insight from the data. I am sure there will be more to unpack as player movement and tracking data becomes more of a mainstream form of analysis, but for now, these are the big takeaways for me. I love the NBA. You should too. Everything you need to know about HR an Talent can be learned in 48 minutes a night. Trust me... it will be a great season!
  51. 51. You Can Learn Plenty from a Simple Employee Tenure Chart By Steve Boese Originally Published on December 2, 2015 Count of employees by years of tenure. Quite possibly the simplest workforce metric, (can we even call it a 'metric?'. I guess), that exists. And since it is so simple, really it is just counting up the number of employees at different levels of tenure like 1 year, 2 years, more than 10 years, etc., it probably can't tell us all that much about the conditions or capabilities of a large workforce right? Well maybe this simple metric can tell us a little more than we think. Take a look at the data below, and before you skip ahead to the rest of the post to see where the data is drawn from, ask yourself what this simple data set might say or at least suggest about the organization in question: EXPERIENCE NUMBER First year 10 Second year 13 Third year 1 Fourth year 0 Fifth year 1 6-9 years 21 10-15 years 38 16-20 years 27 21-27 years 10 Source: (see below) So what can we discern from the data above, on the tenure counts of a group of employees that do pretty much the same job inside a mid-sized organization? Obviously there is a visible 'gap' in experience levels across this group - there is a huge cluster of the total of 121 employees in the group (about 61%) having more than 10 years experience and another smaller, but not insignificant grouping having between 1 and 2 years experience, (about 20%). But in between these clusters at the extremes of experience? Not many employees at all. In fact there are only 2 out of 121 employees having between 3 and 5 years experience on the job - often the 'sweet spot' for proficiency in many roles, but more on that in a second. What might we then deduce about the potential issues that might face any organization, (and again, we will get to which specific organization data set represents soon), with this kind of
  52. 52. 'hollowed-out' tenure distribution? I can think of at least three things, and I promise I am not trying to allow my knowledge of who this organization is to reach these observations: 1. Something in this organization's recruiting/onboarding/mentoring/early development for new employees is not working. To have effectively about zero staff in the 3 - 5 years of experience cohort says you either are bringing the wrong type of people into the role, or are failing to get them up to speed to the point where they are succeeding within 3 years. The chart, simple as it is, can't tell us what exactly is wrong, but that certainly something is wrong. 2. Although this is just a tenure chart, and not an 'age' chart, it doesn't require too much of a stretch to conclude that this organization is going to face a pretty serious issue with older workers either retiring or with them simply unable to perform in the role at a high level once they hit a certain age. There are pretty significant physical and fitness requirements for this role, making it not the kind of job that most people can continue in much past say 60 or so. This lack of balance in experience with the heavy skew towards 10 and 15 year plus employees is going to present acute issues in the next 3 - 5 years (and possibly beyond). 3. An organization with this kind of tenure distribution probably has not kept up from a talent management and recruiting perspective with the increasing demands of the role. Like most jobs, the one held by the folks in this chart has become more complex in the last few years, has more scrutiny and pressure placed upon the people in the role, and the employees have more at stake in terms of money and prestige for the organization that employs them. In a nutshell, this job, while being around for about 100 years or so, has in the last 10 or so gotten much, much harder. And the 'gap' in the talent pipeline shows us that recruiting, development, and mentoring efforts have not kept up. Entire new classes of new hires are gone inside if 5 years. Ok, so who is this organization/group of employees who are reflected in the above chart? No one but the National Football League's on-field officials - the 'Zebras' that officiate and adjudicate the action on the fields of America's most popular professional sports league, the NFL. And increasingly, these on-field officials are in the news for all the wrong reasons - missed calls, bad calls, failure to recognize clearly concussed and barely vertical players after they are smashed in the head, and so on. This group of employees, as a group, have been performing poorly for some time now. And the talent pipeline as we see above does not indicate that things are about to get any better anytime soon. The big lessons for the rest of us? Pay attention to tenure. Sure, it is not the only or even the most important simple metric to think about. But if it takes 3 or 4 or 5 years for someone to really become expert at the job, and you have hardly any employees in those buckets, then you are going to have organizational performance issues. You will have too many folks on the downslope of their capability and too
  53. 53. many who have not yet figured out what the heck is going on. And not enough folks heading up towards their peak. You are not always recruiting, developing, mentoring, and retaining to ensure high performance this week - sometimes you are doing all of those things to ensure high performance four years from now. And football is still dumb.
  54. 54. What to Do When Your Best Employee Stops Being Coachable By Steve Boese Originally Published on December 18, 2015 Interesting tale on coaching, power dynamics, and the implications of chasing 'top' talent above all from the world of sports (Shock!), that is going down at one of the world's most famous and influential soccer clubs, Real Madrid. If you don't follow world soccer, all you really need to know is that Real Madrid consistently ranks amongst Europe's (and the world's) best club teams. They regularly compete for Spanish league and European Champion's League (a competition open to only the top club teams from across Europe), and their roster is filled with top-level talent, most of whom feature for their national sides in the World Cup and other national contests. Simply put, Real Madrid is an elite club filled with elite players, none of whom more talented and famous than Cristiano Ronaldo, one world soccer's most talented players. Ronaldo has won the Ballon D'Or (award for the top soccer player in the world) three times, and has served as the captain of his Portuguese national team since 2008. In short, Ronaldo is the epitome of 'top talent' - he is a soccer player sure, but his level of success and prestige could be in any field really, for the point I am (finally) about to get to. Turns out that Ronaldo, as one of the best players in the world, is not all that keen on being 'coached', even when the coaching seems directly related to a recent performance issue. From a piece posted recently on the Irish Independent on Ronaldo's reaction to a suggestion for potential performance improvement from Real Madrid's manager Rafa Benitez:
  55. 55. A request from Real Madrid manager Rafa Benitez for Cristiano Ronaldo to undergo studies to improve his free-kick technique has worsened the fragile relationship between the pair according to reports in Spain. The Portuguese star is hailed as one of the finest dead ball specialists in the world, but his struggled to find the net as regularly in recent times. Ronaldo's strike against Malmo last week during the 7-0 Champions League rout of the Swedish side was his first goal from a free-kick in seven months. According to José Félix Díaz of (Spanish paper), El Chiringuito, Ronaldo's opinion of the under pressure Spaniard (Benitez) plummeted after attempting to improve his free-kick precision by asking the Portuguese superstar to undergo a biometric study. The reporter claims the Madrid star left the room when this was suggested. A lot to unpack here, but let's try to tease out the important points in concise fashion: 1. Ronaldo is the best player on a very successful team 2. Ronaldo has (or late) been struggling in one specific performance area - scoring goals from direct free kicks, something at which he in the past has been very proficient 3. His manager, (essentially his boss for the rest of us), suggests some advanced work and analysis to get at the root of the issue, and (ideally) to generate some changes in Ronaldo's technique and preparation in hopes of improving his performance on free kicks 4. (Allegedly), upon hearing these suggestions from his manager, Ronaldo storms out of the room, declaring the meeting is over Essentially, Ronaldo has ceased being coachable. His past success, stature, and position of value over replacement, (if you get rid of Ronaldo you are almost certainly not replacing him with anyone nearly as talented), have left him, at least in his view, immune to coaching or any other attempts at manager-led performance improvement. Ronaldo is Rafa Benitez' and Real Madrid's problem now, but you might one day have a similar problem with a top performer on your team. Let's admit it, after a while most of us once we hit a level of good performance are not all that excited to be told how we should be better. So what can you or any manager do when faced with this situation? I can think of a couple of things, and also one important 'look in the mirror' type question as well. 1. Play the 'example' card - By not taking direction and coaching from Benitez, Ronaldo is also sending a message to the rest of the team that it is ok around here to not be receptive to coaching. While that may not matter to a player as talented as Ronaldo, there are not many, (really hardly any), other players of his caliber around. You can try to appeal to the star's sense of example or legacy here. You can appeal to the star's ego a little bit too by playing the 'Just try this so you can show the younger/newer/less talented than you guys what THEY need to do to get better.
  56. 56. 2. Be patient with failure before the 'try it this way' speech - I heard a really interesting interview with the actor Alec Baldwin recently on whether or not actor's (many of them possessing giant egos like our pal Ronaldo seems to), appreciate taking direction on their performances from movie and TV directors. Baldwin's take was that he did appreciate direction, but he liked it to come naturally or more organically. He liked the ability to try a scene three or four times for the director before the director interjects with a coaching nudge, a 'how about we try it this way?' approach to getting to the director's desired outcome. The idea is that talented people can take coaching, but they sometimes need more time and space to accept the coaching than the average performer. 3. Ask yourself if you are 'managing' because you are the 'manager' - Big talents, big stars like Ronaldo are at times a threat to those ostensibly 'above' them in the organizational hierarchy. Ronaldo knows that Real Madrid can't easily replace his talent, but could fairly easily replace his manager Benitez with a similarly qualified manager if the need were to arise. Benitez knows this too. And often in sports, as is probably the case in corporate life as well, a manager will feel threatened by this power imbalance, and 'invent' coaching interventions for the star talent just to attempt to assert his/her 'official' authority in the relationship. This is the 'I am the coach, and he/she needs to listen to me no matter what' kind of thinking. But if you are the manager/boss, you need to really careful if you push this too far. Talent (still) runs the world. And you will only start to seem petty and paranoid if you continually are coaching talent that has mostly figured everything out on their own. Most managers never have someone as great as Ronaldo to 'manage'. The interesting question in all this I think is what it really suggests about what the best managers are all about. Is it coaxing that last 1% of performance out of a 99th percentile talent like Ronaldo? Or is it helping raise the game of the vast majority of the 60th - 70th players on the team and bringing a few of them up into the 'top' performer category? Think about it.
  57. 57. FEAR THE BEARD: And Stop Doing Work That Doesn't Matter By Kris Dunn Originally Published on January 8, 2015 When it comes to resolutions, you always hear the same thing every year: "This year, I'm going to say no." "This year, I'm going to stop spending time on activities that don't matter." The intent is great - but the execution leaves something to be desired. Most of us want to say "no" more, but when we're back in the workplace grinding it out on a day to day, week to week basis, it's hard. So we keep going to the same meetings, we keep getting dragged into work projects that aren't ours and really don't allow us to have impact, etc. So how do you actually say "no" and stick to it? I think you need some examples for how the world is changing in other industries. This is going to shock you, but I have one from sports. Wait, ladies! Don't leave. There's an element of fashion to this as well. One of the most recognizable figures in the world of sports is James Harden (pro basketball). Harden's known for his style - outrageous outfits and an iconic beard - see the picture to the right. He's also known for doing three things that deliver incredible results in today's version of basketball - he shoots three pointers, gets to the rim and gets fouled/shoots free throws with high efficiency. More from Grantland: "When Daryl Morey, the mad scientist of analytics, landed Harden in the trade of the decade, he not only got the superstar he coveted, he also acquired the perfect instrument for his basketball laboratory. Morey told Grantland that Harden “is a good fit here, but James would be a good fit with all 30 teams.” Be that as it may, the pair has become perhaps the most stylistically harmonious player-GM arrangement in the NBA over the last two months. By design or by happy
  58. 58. accident, Harden plays a brand of basketball that beautifully conforms to his GM’s innovative visions. Symbolically, Harden might be the most important player in the world. He’s a manifestation of the current trends in offensive basketball. The things that make him such an unusual superstar serve as a league wide harbinger of what’s to come. By now, everyone knows that the Rockets’ offensive philosophy is built around 3s and paint shots; they avoid the midrange the same way Gwyneth Paltrow avoids Quiznos. As this chart shows, they invest heavily around the hoop and behind the 3-point line. For Houston, even a below-average 3-pointer or paint shot is a better investment than a good shot in Kobe and Byron Scott’s hairy midrange neighborhood. As a result, the team scores a minuscule 6.2 percent of its points in the midrange, and is happy to sacrifice efficiency in its favorite spaces in favor of volume. While Bryant and Scott turn a blind eye toward the newfangled ways of the NBA, Morey and Harden bask in their glow." So what, right? Hold up - let me give you the picture below to show you the impact and make work-related comparisons: The chart to the left is the NBA league-wide. Lots of 3's, lots of stuff at the rim, but a lot of stuff everywhere else, too. The chart to the right is Harden's Rockets. Lot's of threes, lots of stuff close to the rim, but almost nothing in between. The Rockets refuse to shoot mid-range jump shots because the further you move from the rim, the lower your shooting percentage drops. But, at the 3-point line, you get 3 points instead of 2. So the risk of moving that far out is worth it. They like 3's, but if you're only going to give them 2 points, they're getting close to the rim come hell or high water. Want work related examples? I thought you'd never ask. Here you go: --Shots at the rim are the equivalent of routine work you know is essential and will return steady results if you focus on it. You do this because it has a proven track record of driving revenue.
  59. 59. --3-pointers are the equivalent of new initiatives new project work that's strategic to your career and/or your company. You won't be successful with this all the time, but when you are successful, it delivers a big pop. Just like a 3. --Everything in green within the chart to your left is the busy work, the stuff that distracts you from what's most important. You should do less of this, because it's lower percentage, doesn't have upside and let's face it - if you're going to spend time on things that might not pay off, you may as well go for big wins - the equivalent of shooting from 3. Harden and the Rockets have figured out the middle stuff hurts their pursuit of wins. You should print this chart and put it near your desk to remind you to say no to crappy meetings, busy work you can say no to, etc. Fear the Beard.
  60. 60. How to Deal with Average Results By Kris Dunn Originally Published on May 7, 2015 If there's one thing I've learned in a career of being a manager/coach (both in corporate America and in sports), it's that when I'm not satisfied with the results I'm getting, I almost always should have changed what I was doing earlier. Flat results + Doing the same thing = more flat results. Why do we keep doing the same things even though we see diminishing results? That's easy to answer - because the way we are doing it has a history of being successful. You got great results doing it the way you've been doing it. You go through a rough patch and you're sure that it will turn around. Except it doesn't. What changed? You've got a changing environment around you - the situation is different, the competition is different, people with influence showed up and are changing the way people listen to you, etc. But you keep doing it the way you've done it before. Damn them all to hell - it worked before, it can work again. Except sometimes it can't. And if you're like me and do an ex-post facto review of "what happened", you'll look at yourself be critical that you didn't react to the circumstances better. You should have changed what you were doing earlier. As soon as you felt the flat results, you should have started tweaking. Do yourself a favor today. Don't try and power through bad results doing things the same way. Change it up and see what happens. You'll be glad you did.
  61. 61. DRAFT DAY - Mixing Up Your Teams At Work to Get Out of the Rut By Kris Dunn Originally Published on June 9, 2015 Let's face it, if you've worked anywhere for more than a year, things get a little stale. Not stale from a perspective that the sky if falling and everything's broke, more like from the perspective that you're not necessarily doing your best work. Your organization has limitations. When you were young (in the job, not in dog years), you fought against that BS. Now that you've been in the job for awhile, the battle on a daily basis is somewhat less. Why should you fight? The organization is what it is. For that reason, some days the company gets your best, and some days they don't. That's why I love the idea that came from my good friend Steve Boese in a FOT post. Steve took a look at how fantasy sports games have evolved to a daily thing to manage our attention space. Element 1 – Make every day ‘Draft’ day Most traditional fantasy players will tell you that their favorite day of the season is ‘Draft’ day, that one day prior to the starting the season where the Fantasy team owner selects his or her roster of players for the upcoming season. Draft day is exciting, challenging, and just more fun than the actual fantasy games themselves. The daily fantasy games have figured out a way to allow the players to ‘draft’ every day, thus giving them more of what they enjoy. The lesson for the rest of us? Understanding what, where, and when in any process that creates the most interest and excitement for customers or employees and devising a way to create ‘more’ of that is a sure way to increase engagement and adoption. It's true. There's a major BILLION dollar business unfolding in daily fantasy sports, and it's all predicated on: 1. We have no attention span. 2. We grow to hate the teams we own (or are on at work for purposes of this post)

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