The 8 Man Rotation:
A Look At Sports and HR
The 2013 Season
Table of Contents
Foreword by Robin Schooling
HR Planning and Strategy
Want to Be A Great People Manager? Don’t Watch the Ball... – Kris Dunn
Chivas USA: Is It Ever OK to Transform an Incumbent Organization Into One
Classified By Race/Nationality? – Kris Dunn
Visualizing Data – Sports and Otherwise – Steve Boese
Three keys if you want to become a more data-driven organization – Steve
Job Titles of the Future #7 – Professional eSports Player – Steve Boese
HR, You’re the GM of Your Company! – Tim Sackett
Monitoring Employees? Big Data? The NBA Has You Beat – Matt Stollak
Staffing and Career Considerations
HR as Big Data Marketers: “The Top Half of Our College Recruiting Class of
2009 Now Earns an Average of $109K Per Year… - Kris Dunn
Is Negative Recruiting Against Companies with a High Percentage of Gay
Associates in Our Future? – Kris Dunn
Hiring a Jock is Always the Smart Way to Go – Kris Dunn
HR/Career Slang: “Ball Don’t Lie”… - Kris Dunn
Working With Fallen Angels – Steve Boese
But he was great in the interview… - Steve Boese
Recruiting the ninth best guy on the team – Steve Boese
Vocabulary, Intimidation, and Recruiting – Steve Boese
Off Topic: When You Run out of Interview Questions – Steve Boese
The Google background check: How long can you hold this against someone? –
External Hires are Sexier – Tim Sackett
Program Kids – Hiring For Your Culture – Tim Sackett
How Recruiters Will Break Up The SEC Dominance – Tim Sackett
Recruit Me Like You Mean It! – Tim Sackett
Recruiting When Money is NOT the Object – The Case of Dwight Howard –
The 1% Rule of Candidate Experience – Matt Stollak
Onboarding, Training and Development
TRUE: The Engagement Level of Leaders Is More Important Than Employee
Engagement.. – Kris Dunn
What the HR Capitalist Learned From His First Job… – Kris Dunn
The WWE’s Triple H on Moving Into Management: Your Company and
Wrestling are the Same… - Kris Dunn
The Futures Market for Your Career – Steve Boese
The Wisdom of Earl Monroe – Steve Boese
What’s Your Culture really like? Ask the new guy from out of town – Steve
There Are Two Kinds of Leaders – Tim Sackett
Uncommon Trait of a Great Leader – Tim Sackett
LeBron James Isn’t Good Enough For My Team – Tim Sackett
On Challenging the 10,000 Hours Rule – Matt Stollak
Performance and Talent Management
How to Know If a Manager/Coach is a Psychopath or Simply Has a Hard Edge…
- Kris Dunn
PEACOCK ALERT: What it Means When an Employee Competes to Be “Best
Dressed at Work…” – Kris Dunn
5 Things You Need to Make Everyone Hate Your Success (The Duke Haterade
Primer)… - Kris Dunn
SUPER BOWL TALENT NOTES: The Right Harbaugh Won the Game… - Kris
Performance, Culture, and the Miami Dolphins – Steve Boese
Javale, Tim, and Setting the Right Performance Goals - Steve Boese
More Evidence That Texting is the Best Way to Connect with Talent – Steve
Trying to look better vs. trying to get better – Steve Boese
Star Employees and the Assignment of Credit – Steve Boese
No One Cares What You Don’t Have – Steve Boese
It’s Good To Have Enemies – Steve Boese
Have A Poor Performer, Call Their Parents! – Tim Sackett
Time to Change How We Choose Talent in the NBA and NFL – Matt Stollak
Counter-Offers: 5 Times Not To Counter A Top Performer… - Kris Dunn
New HR Job Title: HR Capologist – Kris Dunn
The Celtics, Coaching, and Compensation – Steve Boese
Employee and Labor Relations
Karma…Don’t Spit Into the Wind – Kris Dunn
Fire Fast: Too Many People in a Termination Decision Can Be Hazardous to
Your Career… - Kris Dunn
Manti Te’o, Notre Dame, and the Art of the Crappy HR Investigation… - Kris
Committing a felony is against team policy, and other things we shouldn’t have to
say – Steve Boese
Employee Tracking Data and the Inevitable Pushback – Steve Boese
You Call it ‘culture’ – to the talent it might just be ‘policy’ – Steve Boese
3 Reasons to Hire Back An Employee You Fired – Tim Sackett
To Haze or Not Haze At Work – Tim Sackett
I Once Got Fired in a Burger King Bathroom – Tim Sackett
How Many Hours of Work Are Too Many? – Tim Sackett
Labor Day and the NFL – Matt Stollak
There’s Still Work to Do When It Comes To Firing Employees – Matt Stollak
Forced Resignations and Other Noble HR Myths – Lance Haun
Special NBA Summer League Session
Why #HR Should Care About The NBA Summer League – Matt Stollak
Observations from the NBA Summer League – Steve Boese
My Vegas Weekend via Instagram (Featuring James Harden and Bro-Packs…) –
I was honored (truly!) when the guys asked me to contribute a foreword to the 2014 8
Man Rotation because I’ve been a sideline cheerleader since the first ball was snapped
back in 2010. I love reading these guys’ take on HR and sports; the workplace and
sports; the thrill of victory and the agony of…oh you know.
I dig what they talk about because there’s a truism in sports, the workplace and in HR:
if you’re not the winner, you’re the loser.
Sound a bit harsh? Then perhaps you would rather live in the land of lollipops and
unicorns where ‘everyone gets a trophy.’ Here in the real world the top- athletes and
the top employees have an unquenchable thirst to be victorious as they outplay their
opponents on the gridiron … or in the weekly sales meeting.
I love talking about HR and I love talking about sports. Each week of the NFL season I
spend 3 hours on the field with my favorite team as my heart pounds, my palms sweat
and nothing else matters but that we (WE!!) crush our opponent through a
combination of strength, sacrifice, and well-planned strategy. My fellow fans and I are a
community with a shared goal for the season (the big game y’all!) and we wear our team
colors as we laugh, curse and weep. We reminisce about the good plays from years
gone by and try, with all our might, to forget the botched and embarrassing ones.
I like people who approach work with the same passion and intensity and if you’re an
HR professional who approaches each day with the concentration of an athlete, coach
or even a die-hard fan then you, my friend, are doing it right. I don’t know about you
but I certainly want to work in an environment where my teammates want to drench
each other with a bucket of Gatorade every day – metaphorically speaking of course.
Does the head coach of a team ask “how can we get the crowd to cheer and make more
noise?” Nope. Rather, the coach says “let’s make the play on the field so freakin’ awesome
that the crowd can’t help but make some noise and cheer.”
There’s an HR lesson in there.
And there’s a bunch of HR lessons in this e-book.
Want to Be a Great People Manager? Don't Watch The Ball...
Originally Published on September 18, 2013
I've got a simple post today. It starts with sports and rapidly moves off that. Hang in
You know what separates good and great coaches in team sports from average
ones? They don't watch the ball. Regardless of the sport, the best coaches are the ones
who spend 80% of their time watching the activity off the ball. They figure the guy with
the ball is going to react to what's going on and do what's necessary. But the people
without the ball? That's where the action is.
Off the ball is where you have people reacting to what's going on in front of them,
behind them, to what they hear - all in an effort to be prepared and be in position to
make a play when the opportunity presents itself. There's a world of activity going on
off the ball, but almost all fans and many average coaches focus almost exclusively on the
You want to be a great manager of people? A great coach in your organization? Find
the equivalent of "off the ball" for the people you manage and coach.
• A direct report's prep (or lack thereof) to talk to an influential person in another
department at your company.
• Abruptness in email communication that doesn't fit the culture of your company.
• Giving "gifts" of time and effort in an organization that your direct report doesn't
have to - because it's good for them, you and the company - and almost always
• A direct report's ability to give feedback to people up and down the organization
in a way that makes everyone feel like she's looking out for them rather than
telling them they suck.
There's a million examples, so let your mind flow.
Real coaches don't watch the ball. They coach off the ball. In sports and in companies.
Be a baller as a manager. Don't watch the ball.
Chivas USA: Is It Ever OK to Transform an Incumbent
Organization Into One Classified by Race/Nationality?
Originally Published on August 2, 2013
There are obviously plenty of organizations where members are identified by their race,
national origin, gender, and age. I don’t have to list them here – you know them, and
many of you may belong to one or more, and those organizations are general present to
advance the cause of their members based on that identifier. More often than not, these
organizations serve their membership with an eye on protected status and a history of
discrimination that necessitated the special interest group to being with.
I know – that was a thick intro. You’re welcome. Now let’s get to the interesting part.
Is it ever OK for an organization that historically has had no such special interest
mission to move to special interest status? What if that meant they had to displace
workers and members who didn’t fit the mission moving forward based on race or
nationality moving forward? Is that OK?
Ladies and Gentleman, meet the Chivas USA soccer organization. Here’s the best
rundown I can find of the situation from the LA Times, I’m using the entire article here
due to the thickness of the issues included:
“Former Chivas USA youth team coaches Daniel Calichman and Theothoros
Chronopoulos have sued the club for discrimination after being fired as the team
sought a return to its “Mexican roots,” reports Matt Reynolds of the
Courthouse News Service.
The report states the coaches claim they were harassed, suspended and then
fired in March after raising discrimination concerns with the Department of Fair
Employment and Housing. In response, they have filed a legal complaint against
Chivas USA and its affiliates.
“Specifically, the defendants, at the behest of Chivas USA’s new sole owner,
Jorge Vergara, sought to import and implement similar discriminatory
employment practices to those practiced by Chivas de Guadalajara – a
professional Mexican soccer team that systematically refuses to field any non-
Mexican individuals. Rather than base their employment decisions solely on
considerations of merit or skills as do all other MLS franchises – Chivas USA
management unlawfully makes personnel decisions on the basis of ethnicity and
national origin,” the complaint states.
Calichman and Chronopoulos worked with the Chivas USA Youth Academy for
more than a year before there was a noticeable shift in the club’s philosophy,
according to the report. They claim there was a concerted effort to create a
Mexican-American roster and coaching staff.
The complaint cites an early March article by Kevin Baxter of the Los Angeles
Times, which explores the changes under owner Jorge Vergara. In it, manager
Jose Luis Sanchez Sola denies the club’s decisions were based on ethnicity.
New Chivas Manager Jose Luis Sanchez Sola says the moves were made for
soccer reasons and not based on ethnicity. But just one of the 14 players cut
loose has Mexican nationality while 10 of the additions are either Mexican-born
or have Mexican parents, making them eligible to compete for both Chivas USA
and Chivas de Guadalajara, which has never used a non-Mexican player in its 107
The coaches state in the complaint that Chivas USA did little to investigate their
claims of discrimination and now seek damages for a wide range of charges. They
include, but are not limited to, discrimination, harassment, retaliation and
Chronopoulos points to a meeting with Vergara as an example of the
discriminatory practices. Part of the complaint, as passed along in the
Courthouse News Service report, focuses on the owner’s humiliation of those
who didn’t speak Spanish.
“On or about November 13, 2012, Mr. Vergara – now the sole owner and
highest ranking senior executive at Chivas USA – called a mandatory meeting of
all employees, including plaintiff Mr. Chronopoulos. At the meeting, Mr. Vergara
intentionally humiliated all employees who were neither Mexican nor Latino. Mr.
Vergara brazenly announced that all non-Spanish speaking employees would be
fired. He asked, publicly, for those employees who were able to speak Spanish to
raise their hands (he initially asked the question in Spanish and then repeated it
in English). He then asked employees who spoke English to raise their hands.
After publicly identifying those employees who did not speak Spanish, he
announced that those employees who did not speak Spanish would no longer be
able to work at Chivas USA,” the complaint states.”
Calichman and Chronopoulos both played in Major League Soccer for various
clubs over the past two decades before moving into coaching roles. The
complaint was lodged in Superior Court. Along with Chivas USA, Chivas USA
Enterprises, Chivas USA Futbol Education, Insperity and Insperity Business
Services are also defendants against the charges, according to the report.”
So let’s do a quick reset. Chivas USA is a soccer organization that prior to the moves
outlined above, had a diverse roster with many races and nationalities represented.
Then, they made a move to make LA-based Chivas USA more closely resemble the
parent club in Mexico.
I could make the argument that it’s a sound business strategy in SoCal from a marketing
perspective—a way to differentiate the club. It’s also pro sports, and you know—we
tend to expect harsher realities there than we do in a normal workplace.
But wait, there’s more. Not sure if you caught it or not, but the coaches cited were
actually working in the Chivas USA youth club program. Many professional soccer clubs
have youth programs that serve as feeder groups and are part of the marketing strategy
as well. Sites like this one show what a recent Real Sports (show on HBO) feature
uncovered—the parents of those youth were asked to fill out forms identifying their
nationality at the time the other moves cited above were being made. So, it goes beyond
Smart marketing move or discrimination on the part of Chivas USA? Or both?
Visualizing Data - Sports and Otherwise
Originally published on October 25, 2013
As I wrap up 'Sports Week' on the blog I figured for a Friday I would keep it
simple take the easy way out and point your attention to the always interesting,
frequently amazing Information is Beautiful site where the contenders for their annual
Information is Beautiful awards are being featured.
The awards are meant to showcase and honor excellence in data visualization,
infographics, interactive data presentation, and tools with which to analyze and interpret
data and information. And, as luck would have it, several of the submissions in the Data
Visualization category have sports themes, as sports continues to be a ripe area for
advanced data analysis, and for new ideas about how to examine and interpret existing
The chart below, a graphic that presents some analysis and comparisons of the playing
statistics of the 2013 NBA All-Stars, naturally caught my attention, and there are
similarly well-crafted and visually appealing submissions about soccer, bike racing,
baseball, and more.
But beyond the mundane world of sports, there are more serious and probably more
important visualizations and tools that you should check out over on the Information is
With the seemingly endless amounts, types, and increased speed with which we are
becoming inundated with data about our business, our workforces, our labor market
and more, it has become more and more important that the ability to understand and
present complex data in a relevant, meaningful, and accessible manner is a skill set any
successful modern leader will need to possess.
Sure, the charts and tools that are over at the Information is Beautiful site might be a little
bit beyond your capabilities with design, and might be a little too much for the
presentation of the more banal kinds of data we often deal with as HR and Talent pros,
but there is certainly lots in terms of ideas and inspiration that anyone can take from
such visually stunning displays.
Three Keys If You Want To Become A More Data-Driven
Originally Published on July 30, 2013
So you've bought into it - Big Data, Moneyball for HR, workforce analytics - all of it. And
whatever you call this increased reliance on data, analysis, and more objective
information in your talent processes, chances are this represents a pretty significant
change to the way you've always done business, how managers and leaders have made
decisions, and perhaps most importantly how you evaluate and reward employees.
Of the many tough challenges you have to negotiate if indeed you are the designated
numbers geek/quant in your shop, once again the world of sports offers three recent
examples, (NOT AGAIN), that help to point out some key focus points or areas of
concern as you hatch your nefarious plans.
One - Make sure you as the 'stats' person, knows how to translate the
numbers into strategies that are likely to get buy-in from the team. From the
SB Nation blog - How and why NBA coaches communicate advanced metric to players, an
interesting piece on the Boston Celtics' new coach Brad Stevens and his desire to bring
more data and analytics to bear in the organization:
The numbers don't always offer solutions, but they do tend to generate better options
and that's all an NBA team can offer with each possession and every front office
decision. That's the next step in the analytics movement. What started in blogs has
been appropriated by front offices and has now trickled down to coaches.
Communicating those ideas effectively to players is the final hurdle.
Two - Make sure the team members know how to and understand the
importance of doing more accurate self-assessments in light of the new
measurements. It is great when management and leaders make the move towards a
more data-driven decision making process, but don't forget the folks on the front lines.
Here is a great example from a recent piece on the WEEI Radio site by former Major
League baseball player Gabe Kapler titled STATS 101: Why it's time to re-educate players in
To take it a step further, when we discussed our numbers with our agents, it was in the
form of the traditional verticals, the ones we used for decades prior. We correctly
assumed that our reps were using these statistics in conversations with the general
managers of our clubs. We stood in the truth that our value — our worth as baseball
players — was wrapped up in these metrics.
Times have changed, but substantially less among players. While progressive front
offices have altered the way they evaluate us, we have lagged far behind in the way we
grade ourselves. It’s akin to unhealthy communication in a relationship.
Three - Make sure what you are measuring and holding people accountable
for, is actually at least largely in their conrol or influence. This really isn't
exclusive to a more data-centric approach to business, it applies everywhere. We
generally can only control what we can control and penalizing the clever point guard
because the slow-footed center can't convert enough of his excellent passes near the
rim is not a long-term winning strategy.
More from the Kapler piece:
If, for example, we taught pitchers about Fielding Independent Pitching — which truly
spotlights what a pitcher can control (walks, strikeouts and homers) and removes balls
in play, thereby eliminating a fielder’s ability to have an impact on the outcome of a
play and consequently a pitcher’s line — we place the responsibility right where it
belongs. If we show a hitter how well hit balls and exit velocity/speed off the bat are
being examined more and more closely, then the hitter will freak out less when crushing
a ball off the pitcher’s forearm and having it ricochet safely into the glove of the first
baseman for an out. He may walk back to the dugout thinking, “Ka-ching!” instead of
throwing a water cooler and forcing some nearby cameraman to change clothes.
Let's do a quick review:
One - make sure you know how to communicate the value and merit of these
new statistical approaches to the team.
Two - make sure the team starts to do their own self-assessments through the
lens of these new data-driven approaches
Three - make sure you are holding people accountable for numbers that they
can legitimately influence and can they can own.
What other tips or recommendations do you have to transform an organization from one that
relies on gut feeling to one that counts on the data?
Job Titles of the Future #7 - Professional eSports Player
Originally Published on August 8, 2013
Like lots of guys of a similar generation, I grew up playing sports, watching sports, talking
about sports, etc. My Dad and my other adult male relatives were all big-time sports
people as well - simply put, there was not a day of my youth through teenage years
where sports in some fashion was not a part.
Fast forward about, well let's just say several years, and while sports are still a big part
of many American kids lives, (certainly girls sports are a much, much bigger thing today
than when I was a kid), there are lots more and different ways modern kids can choose
to spend their time, energy, and as we will see in a second, to feed their appetite for
And just like traditional sports like basketball and football have for many years offered at
least the most talented and driven kids a pathway to fame and monetary gain, we are
starting to see these newer forms of competition also present similar opportunities.
What am I getting at?
Check an excerpt from a piece in the LA Times - Online game League of Legends star
gets U.S. visa as pro athlete
International stars in sports such as baseball, hockey and basketball have long been
afforded special immigration status to play on U.S. teams. Think David Beckham, the
former Los Angeles Galaxy soccer player from Britain, or Dodgers rookie phenom Hyun-
Jin Ryu, a pitcher from South Korea.
Now add Danny "Shiphtur" Le, of Edmonton, Canada, to the elite list.
Le, an online gamer, is one of the world's top players of League of Legends, a virtual
capture-the-flag game in which two teams of fantasy characters compete for a glowing
orb. Le is so deft at racing down the virtual field and opening up gaps for teammates
that he recently became the first so-called eSports player to be granted a type of visa
normally awarded to athletes featured daily on ESPN.
With a generation of children having grown up playing video games, the decision by the
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services has been widely perceived as elevating
America's newest professional sport to the same class as old-school stalwarts.
And in a worldwide competition in which the winning team can take home $1 million in
prizes, the ability to sign the best players — whether from Canada or South Korea or
Russia — was seen as a must-have for U.S squads.
Did you catch all that?
A professional video gamer from Canada was granted a special type of visa, (probably a
P1A), to live and compete in the USA with the rest of his elite team of gamers.
I know you are thinking this is a kind of joke, or at least a once-in-a-blue-moon kind of
occurrence. After all we are talking about video games, for gosh sakes. Not football, not
baseball. Stupid video games.
Except that I bet video games in general, and specifically League of Legends, the game in
which Le and his team competes in, are a much, much bigger deal than you realize.
More from the LA Times:
In the U.S. bracket of the championship series, eight teams compete against one
another on Thursdays and Fridays at a West Los Angeles TV studio.
The games are broadcast online and draw more than 1.7 million unique viewers. A
typical National Hockey League game on the NBC Sports Network last season drew a
quarter of that audience.
Gaming industry analysts estimate that more than 32 million people worldwide play the
game, about half of them in the U.S. The rest come from Europe and Asia. By those
calculations, 1 in every 20 Americans plays League of Legends. That dwarfs baseball,
from Little League to Major League Baseball.
Like I mentioned at the top, I grew up playing traditional sports under the watchful eye
of my Dad who also grew up playing those same sports. It would have fulfilled both our
dreams had I become an NBA star. But alas, short, slow, and unable to jump very high
(mostly) did me in.
A new generation of kids is going to grow up playing games like League of Legends, under
the watchful eyes of their Dads who also grew up playing League of Legends, (or World
of Warcraft, or similar).
And if those stats are accurate, or even close to it, that 1 in 20 Americans are playing
League of Legends then there are going to be lots of career opportunities that will
spring up from that ecosystem. Sure just like baseball and football there will be the
select few like Danny Le that will become elite-level professionals, but there may also be
a need for more event organizers, promotions, marketing, expert analyses, training
courses, and on and on.
Professional eSports Player, that has a pretty cool ring to it, and it makes the list as an
official SFB 'Job Title of the Future.'
HR You’re the GM of your Company!
Originally Published on August 6, 2013
I’m a huge baseball fan – specifically a Detroit Tiger fan – and I was reminded last week
by the Tigers how important talent is to your organization and how HR could be at the
center of it all. In professional sports, like Major League Baseball, they call the main
person in charge a General Manager (GM). He’s the person behind the scenes (kind of
like HR) making deals to keep their club competitive during the season or looking into
the future. It’s a very strategic role. While they are not managing or coaching players
on a daily basis, or playing the game – ultimately they are making decisions that have
huge impact to the team you watch play the game. Doesn’t that sound like a role you
would love to have in HR?
The Tigers made some major moves last week to a team that is already one of the best
in the majors. Why would a GM do such a thing? It would be like you going into your
sales department, who is having record breaking sales, and moving on of your top sales
people out and bring in someone new. Doesn’t seem like it makes sense – if it’s not
broke, why break it! The Tigers were facing a couple of things – 1. the pending
suspension of their starting shortstop; 2. the need to bolster their pitching staff for a run
at the world series. They also have some long term needs – an aging short stop, so they
need someone for the future. I know, I know – boring sports stuff – but it shows how
HR should be thinking in a similar matter. How do we keep our organization running
smoothly, and how do we make it better in the future – those two things don’t
necessarily go together.
It’s HR’s job to figure all of this out. It’s actually easier as an HR Pro to come into a
broken company. At that point you know what has to be done, and you start doing
it. If you come into a great company the question is how do you make it better, and
potentially any change you make might make it worse. Harder yet, is how do you make
that organization better, when it’s already doing great? Your the GM what do you
do? Sit on your hands and ride out the run? Look to the future and start getting the
next generation ready? It’s the heart of people strategy and the single coolest thing we
get to do in HR!
The Tigers are one of the top teams in the MLB for a simple reason – they have one of
the best GM’s, Dave Dombrowski. He constantly is looking for ways to make his team
better, but also not mortgaging the future away be giving away their developing talent.
It’s a difficult balance. It’s the same in your role in HR. Your organization needs you to
find ways to make them better right now, and keep them great in the future –
sometimes that means making unpopular changes. Sometimes that means you’ll be
helping influence your leaders to make courageous decisions. Decisions you not only
have to support, but champion. A good GM helps the fans of their organization see the
bigger picture – half marketing person, half prophet. HR needs to do the same. Our
employees look to leadership and HR during major decisions and changes to see the
reactions. They analyze every word, every facial expression and read into everything.
Great GM’s/HR Pros know how to paint a bright future and a realistic positive outlook
presence. Are you ready to be the GM of your organization?
Monitoring Employees? Big Data? The NBA Has You Beat
Originally Published on September 5, 2013
Watching the number of keystrokes your data entry operator makes? Scouring
Foursquare or Facebook place check-ins to see if employees are honestly missing work?
Well, the NBA is taking employee monitoring to a whole new level.
They are installing data-tracking cameras in all 29 arenas that will enable them to gather
If you are a referee, you will be monitored to see whether you are getting in position as
well as making the right call:
one reason the league acted fast was to immediately enhance its ability to monitor
referees — always a touchy subject. The cameras represent the most precise way to
grade the three on-court officials based on how consistently and early they get into the
league’s three set positions — called “lead,” “slot,” and “trail” — and whether they
make appropriate calls from those positions based on their exact sight lines. This is the
next stage in seeing which officials are the best, and thus deserving of high-stakes
assignments, and in quantifying that in ways that are hard to dispute.
The league has already started using the cameras to check on the enforcement of
defensive three-second violations out of concern that defensive players routinely break
the rule by lingering in the lane too long. (The results of said studies are inconclusive so
far, say several sources familiar with the inquiry.)
What about player performance? In "Airplane," when Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (as Roger
Murdock) was questioned on his effort, he said,
"LISTEN, KID! I've been hearing that crap ever since I was at UCLA. I'm out there
busting my buns every night. Tell your old man to drag Walton and Lanier up and down
the court for 48 minutes"
Now, with the installation of the data-tracking cameras, NBA teams can now measure
Teams can pay up to $40,000 extra to purchase (among other goodies) software that
helps track a player’s physical exertion. The in-game cameras represent one piece of
that. They can tell you how fast a player runs, how often he accelerates on cuts, how
often those accelerations end with him reaching top speed, and the height of a player’s
release point on jump shots. Some players recovering from injury, including Ricky Rubio
last season, have taken significant game time to get back to their previous speed and
fitness baselines. And an injury to one star, Manu Ginobili early in the 2011-12 season,
resulted in the other San Antonio starters exerting more physical effort with a standstill
shooter (Danny Green) in Ginobili’s place.
The other pieces, and perhaps the most important ones in determining a player’s
condition, come outside those 82 games and require the use of other forms of
technology: sleep and heart-rate monitors, GPS devices and accelerometers players can
wear during practice, and the careful tracking of weightlifting, diet, and other day-to-day
stuff. Put all that data together, and you can get a fairly complete picture of a player’s
condition, and of how indicators of his condition — running speed, jumping ability, etc.
— change over the course of a season. “This is where you can start to measure
fatigue,” says Brian Kopp, executive vice-president at STATS.
A revealing nugget: Teams really want the SportVU cameras to monitor their practices,
Kopp says. That’s difficult, since most teams practice somewhere other than their game
arenas. Some coaches and GMs might want the practice data simply to check on which
players work hard, and which loaf.
But others will want it to change the very concept of practice. How much practice time
do teams really need? And how taxing should those practices be? How should that
change during the season? There are higher-ups around the league who are ready to
radically rethink these things, provided the next-level data indicates they should.
And, think of the impact these measures can have on contract negotiations:
So imagine a player entering the final year of his rookie-scale contract and his agent
beginning contract talks only to hear a team official open with something like, “Our
camera data shows you really don’t hustle in the fourth quarter. Your running speed
slows down. You just stand around instead of going for rebounds. These are some of
the reasons we are offering you only $7 million per year.”
Wouldn’t that agent want to at least cross-check that data, to make sure it’s not B.S.?
The players union has already started the fight for access to that data. “All we want is
to make sure access is available,” says Ron Klempner, the union’s executive director. “If
teams are forming impressions about players that players are not in position to defend,
we want to make sure everyone is operating on an even scale.”
New technologies transforming how the NBA does business. Even Kareem Abdul-
Jabbar should be impressed.
HR as Big Data Marketers: "The Top Half of Our College
Recruiting Class of 2009 Now Earns an Average of $109K Per
Originally Published on August 5, 2013
Want to get the attention of someone in your next College Recruiting class? Start
thinking like a marketer and find stats that wow them. Take the title of this blog post:
"The Top Half of Our College Recruiting Class of 2009 Now Earns an
Average of $109K Per Year"
Honestly, it doesn't really matter what the stat is. Your company has great stories - go
find them. Slice and dice the data and find truth that tells your story in a unique way.
The headline to this blog post isn't real. But in a company with any type of size and
scale, I could go into your HRMS and find a great story to shake up your recruiting
Here's the formula:
1. Find a segment of your employee population that's been around for
reasonable time period.
2. Segment that segment until you find a killer stat involving money or
promotions. Preferably money.
3. Be brave enough to talk about money in your recruiting communications.
4. Rinse and Repeat.
Need a real world example? I'll give you one that's in the press this week and is actually
fun. Nick Saban and Alabama Football are using this in their recruiting pitches. Read it
and come back after the jump for some simple analysis:
51 Million and change. They took data and are using that in the recruiting
process. Pretty interesting. Compelling.
Let's think about college football - 85 scholarships or roughly 21 recruits per year on
average. Alabama could say that the top 10% of the Tide's 2012 team went on to sign
contracts worth 51 million.
How can you frame a similar message?
"The Top Half of Our College Recruiting Class of 2009 Now Earns an
Average of $109K Per Year"
Think about it - we need to become better marketers as HR pros. It's waiting for you
there in your HRMS. Go get the data and spin it already.
Is Negative Recruiting Against Companies with a High
Percentage of Gay Associates In Our Future?
Originally Published July 2, 2013
There's obviously lots of movement in our society toward workplace equality for LGBT
individuals, and this post isn't meant to be a debate on whether you agree or disagree
with that. With so much activity pointing to the fact that equality is going to be legally
defined to a greater extent soon, this post is simply about one aspect of what might be
coming with that future.
One fallout you might see from the change: Negative recruiting against
companies/departments/teams/managers that are open LGBT-friendly may occur
at the street-level of talent acquisition.
Why in the hell is this on my mind? I recently saw a piece by ESPN's new ombudsman
that led me to an old article from ESPN The Magazine talking about homophobia in
women's sports. Here's a taste:
"On every top recruit's college visit, there comes the moment of the final pitch, when
the head-spinning hoopla finally gives way to the business of basketball, when the high
school girl steps away from the rah-rah of all the games and the ego-stroking of all the
VIP intros to sit down with the head coach. During one teen's big moment, a heart-to-
heart with Iowa State's Bill Fennelly, the decorated coach of 23 years sang an insistent
refrain. "He kept drilling that 'this would be a family,'" says the player, who asked not
to be named. "'You should come here,' he said, 'because we're family-oriented.'"
To the recruit, those seemingly comforting words cloaked a deeper meaning. Two of the
four schools she was considering were purported to employ lesbians on their staffs. Her
stop in Ames, in fact, was on the heels of a trip to one of those allegedly "gay
programs." There, coaches avoided discussing anyone's off-court lives. Iowa State, in
contrast, pushed the personal hard. "They threw it out constantly," says the player, who
became a Cyclone. "'Iowa has morals, and people who live here have values,
wholesome values.'" The implication, to her and to another former Cyclone who
confirmed her account, was that at other schools, "there's something going on you don't
Now before you go bashing Iowa as a whole, you should know that the state usually
shows up on the LGBT-friendly chart related to equality legislation, so it's more about
the program and less about the state. But that illustrates a long term trend of negative
recruiting on LGBT issues in women's college sports:
"Why, exactly, depends on whom you ask. Gay rights activists, coaches and players
speak at length about what they see as a longtime and underhanded recruiting tactic in
women's sports: Pitches emphasizing a program's family environment and implicit
heterosexuality are often part of a consciously negative campaign targeted at another
program's perceived sexual slant. In a survey of more than 50 current and former
college players, as part of The Magazine's seven-month look at women's basketball
recruiting, 55 percent answered "true" when asked if sexual orientation is an underlying
topic of conversation with college recruiters."
You should go read the entire article, because it's pretty alarming and insightful at the
same time. The article goes on to talk about multiple situations, even going on to
identify the reason two of women's basketball biggest programs (UConn and Tennessee)
don't play each other is because one (UConn) deployed negative recruiting, accusing the
other (Tennessee) of being a safe haven for lesbians.
So back to the future. One reason negative recruiting on LGBT issues in corporate
America won't happen is that as society finds acceptance to a greater degree, fewer
people will care, and more will accept the concept individually.
But thinking there won't be a backlash of negative recruiting is probably idealistic at
best. After all, those that are fervently anti-gay have never really been faced with a
society that openly accepted LGBT issues. As that acceptance grows, you can expect
those who are anti-LGBT equality to activate to a greater degree, and deploy negative
recruiting behind the scenes - with conversations like the one outlined above as the
low-risk, high impact way to engage.
I don't see negative recruiting in play at the enterprise/company level. I do see it coming
into play on a position by position, hiring manager by hiring manager basis as LGBT
acceptance grows, and with Freedom of Religion as the backdrop, I can almost
guarantee you that you'll see it in LGBT discrimination case defense strategies. You can
already see it, right?
"I told the recruit that we have a family-oriented team and obviously we want someone
who fits that."
Then, the defense wonders aloud why the defendant in question doesn't have the right
to talk about his religious beliefs?
Negative recruiting around LGBT issues - coming to a Supreme Court decision near you
Hiring A Jock Is Always The Smart Way to Go
Originally Published on January 17, 2013
OK – the title made you look. You had an emotional reaction because there are a lot
of dumb @#@ athletes out there who would make horrible hires. You're right, I was
just trying to manipulate you with the headline.
First up, I'm always a little taken aback by the anti-sports crowd. Lord knows the group
at FOT and some of our contributors write enough about the connection between
corporate talent and sports. There's even a website dedicated to an annual ebook
featuring FOT writers and close friends of FOT writing about – you guessed it – the
connection between talent and sports (download it here). Many readers think we
should stop the madness. Some have unsubscribed as a result.
We interrupt your regularly scheduled programming of sports/talent metaphors to talk
about something important – when does it make sense to hire a jock? When are they
going to be a better hire than a non-jock?
Sports teaches a lot of things – teamwork, drive, being coachable, time management,
working towards a goal that no one but you cares if you chase, being under pressure
with others actively hoping you fail, to name a few. But sports at its worst can also raise
up some ugly sides of the human condition – feelings of entitlement, thinking rules don't
apply to you, an over-weighting of a single area of life, etc.
The key in knowing when hiring a jock is the right thing to do? Find college athletes in
situations where the positives outweigh the risks. Here's my list of great times to hire a
jock over a non-jock when all other things are equal:
-Hire Division 1 and Division 2 major sport athletes (football and
basketball) who didn't start at the collegiate level and maintained
strong grades (3.0 and above) and involvement outside of sports while
being on full scholarship. Being a full scholarship athlete in a major sport is a
full-time job, and if the grades are good and they still were involved in other
areas of college life, odds are you are looking at a driven person who is going to
fit well with your team. They've already been humbled – they're not playing a
lot, but they've maintained all the commitments and they had to do what it took
to get there in the first place. Not easy – hire them if you can.
-Hire Division 1 and Division 2, minor sport athletes who had all the
qualities outlined above (strong grades, involvement outside of sports)
but were on partial or no scholarship. Being a minor sport athlete on
partial or no scholarship at the D1 or D2 level isn't easy – usually these kids have
the same time commitments as many of the major sport athletes and aren't
doing it for the money, they're doing it because they love it. These kids make
great team members and if they've found a career area they have similar passion
for, look out! Sky is the limit.
-Hire any star at the Division 3 level in any sport who had all the non-
sport qualities listed above. A dirty little secret to Division 3 is that it's all
non-scholarship, and schools actively use sports participation as a general
recruiting tool to drive enrollment. It's not uncommon for D3 football programs
to bring in 130 kids with the promise of playing football. They're not providing
athletic scholarships to any of them, probably just a 10K discount on a 35K
annual tuition bill through grants and non-athletic scholarships. It would have
been much easier for these kids and their families to go to a cheaper, brand
name state school, but there they are – chasing the dream. There's passion and
drive in these kids, so grab them when you can, they won't be available long.
So that's my cheat sheet on the best times to hire jocks. D1 and D2 full scholarship
jocks with bad grades? Move on people – the stereotypes aren't always true, but the
risk is high enough you shouldn't bite. Sort first for GPA above 3.0 and some
involvement in non-sport activities as well, then sort by D1 and D2 non-starters, D1
and D2 minor sport athletes of all types and D3 stars.
Boom. I just gave you the formula. Haters activate in the comments, please.
HR/CAREER SLANG: "Ball Don't Lie"...
Originally Published on January 3, 2013
Got a new term/phrase for most of you - Ball Don't Lie. I like it, and if you like sports
even a little bit - I think you should use it. Here's the meaning from Urban Dictionary:
BALL DON'T LIE - A phrase commonly used by professional basketball player Rasheed
Wallace; once famously yelled by coach Flip Saunders. "Ball don't lie" is said when a
player misses one, two or all three of his free throws after a questionable (read as:
bullsh##) foul call is made by an official. The ball is, essentially, the unbiased judge who
will not reward the player by going in if the apparent foul was indeed bullshit.
Here's how it's used:
Announcer - *Andrew Bogut locks arms with Rasheed Wallace and trips over
his own feet, prompting a foul call from the referee*
Rasheed (on the court): That's BULLSH##, man!
Announcer - *Andrew Bogut toes the line and proceeds to miss his first free
Rasheed: BALL DON'T LIE!
Announcer - *Bogut then attempts a second free throw and misses again*
Rasheed: BALL DON'T LIE!
How can you use that in the workplace? Let's say you give a manager some prime HR
advice, only to have them go against your counsel. You know they're wrong, and things
go horrible for them as a result. People around you know that you gave them advice on
how to handle the situation, and ask you what you think.
You could tell them you gave them good advice. You could say, "I don't want to say I
told them so, but...". BORING.
Just respond as follows: BALL DON'T LIE. Tell them to look it up.
Backstory on why this is on my mind. Some of you know that I coach a lot of youth
basketball in the winter. After hundreds of games in my coaching career, I picked up my
first career technical in December. The circumstances we're pretty grim. Last game of
the day, the officials had done 3-4 games before ours. They're not calling a lot a
result. One of my players gets savagely hacked on the other end going up for a shot -
for like the fourth time in a row.
Me: Can I get a foul call when someone hacks across both arms on a layup?
Ref: I'll do the calling coach, you coach.
Me: All I need to you to do is call the obvious fouls, blue (blue is an accepted nickname
for refs, same as calling them a ref).
Ref: I need you to sit down and be quiet.
Me: There's no need to waste energy trying to put me in my place. Just call obvious
Ref: Sit down coach, or I'm going to give you a technical.
Me: Again, there's no need to try and show me up. Just call the fouls. Maybe actually
run to the half of the court where the play is happening.
Ref: Sit down coach, or I'm going to give you a technical.
Repeat the last two sentences of the exchange 3 more times before the ref finally T's
me up. As a result, the other ref comes and tells me I have to sit down, not stand, for
the rest of the game.
One of my finer moments. My kids were coming to the bench to give me high/low fives.
I waived them off. Stay classy San Diego. I sat down.
The team picked their shooter for the technicals to be shot in front of me. He shot and
missed both, at which time I stated the following, with the villain official in front of me:
"Ball don't lie!" (somewhere between loudly spoken and a soft yell).
Use it on the next hiring decision gone wrong when you told them so.
Working With Fallen Angels
Originally Published on August 8, 2013
Ever since the passing of the legendary New York Yankees owner George Steinbrenner
in 2010, probably the most interesting owner in all of USA-based professional sports
is Mark Cuban, the owner of the NBA’s Dallas Mavericks.
Cuban made his fortune, (a prerequisite for professional sports franchise ownership
these days), in the early days of the internet, selling his company Broadcast.com at the
height of Dotcom frenzy to Yahoo for $5.9 billion (yes, that is billion with a ‘B’), in
Yahoo stock. He purchased controlling interest in the Mavericks in early 2000, and since
then has been at times the league’s biggest cheerleader, critic, and informal
spokesperson. He has also become committed to building his organization around some
core guiding principles – the HR/Talent pros reading this would probably call it company
culture I suppose.
This past week in a lengthy post titled Let’s Talk Mavs #MFFL, on his Blog Maverick site,
Cuban opened up to the team’s fans, and really the public in general about many of the
options, thought processes, and eventual decisions that the team made as they
attempted to re-make the roster in the aftermath of the NBA Championship they won
in the spring of 2011, the ‘lockout’ shortened season of 2011/2, as well as the recently
concluded 2012/3 season and the ensuing scramble to make deals and sign new players.
Now I don’t expect the average FOT reader to be all that interested in the intricacies of
the NBA’s collective bargaining agreement with the player’s association, or the strengths
and weaknesses of specific players, but for the HR/Talent pro there is lots to learn from
Cuban’s approach to building and caring for his organization, and his willingness to be as
open and transparent about the process.
So here’s the point, or perhaps more accurately the questions that I want to pose to
FOT Nation culled from Cuban’s piece, about whether or not you see your organization
(or should see your organization), as a place where the right people can perform even
better than they have in other settings, or earlier in their careers. Or are you largely
assessing candidate’s ability to perform based almost totally on how they have
performed in these past settings, that may or may not be comparable to yours?
For an interesting take on this, check this excerpt from Let’s Talk Mavs #MFFL where
Cuban is discussing evaluation of potential new Mavericks players, (or in your terms,
‘Recruiting’), to get the gist:
We also feel like we have some players that will be far better on our team than they
were on previous teams. I like our ability to work with what I call “fallen
angels”. Players who are traded or left unsigned because everyone in the league
thinks that they can only be the player they saw in another organization.
We have taken players like Jason Terry, Jerry Stackhouse, Brandon Wright, Tyson
Chandler and you can even say Vince Carter among others that were perceived as
having this problem or that problem and had them contribute in new ways that were
beyond what the “experts” expected.
We pay less attention to what they did in their last system than what we believe they
will do in our system with our group of players. We are not always successful as last
year pointed out, but we have a good track record.
In 2011 and 2012 you could not swing a cat at an HR/Talent conference without
someone going on about ‘Moneyball’ and the lessons we as talent pros needed to take
from that story and had to try and apply in our organizations. But where almost all of
these ‘Moneyball’ analyses missed the mark was in their conclusion that the real lesson
was to apply more metrics and statistical approaches to talent management. If we just
had more data about people, it almost didn’t matter what data, we’d make smarter
talent management decisions and FINALLY get some respect from the CFO and CEO.
But ‘Moneyball’ really wasn’t about that, at least not fundamentally. The lesson was that
the way to ‘win’ in an unfair game (one where your competition had significantly larger
financial resources), was to figure out which assets were undervalued and acquire more
of them, and which ones were overvalued, and sell them to the competition, (or simply
cut them loose).
So back to Mark Cuban.
In evaluating potential new players based not only on what they have done for other
clubs, (information every other team also has access to, and is therefore not a
competitive advantage for anyone), and assessing their specific potential value to the
Mavericks, and by building an internal system and culture where they believe the right
players can actually improve, Cuban is playing a form of Moneyball recruiting as well, one
not just based on the numbers. It is based on the rest of the market undervaluing talent
that Cuban knows can thrive if put in the right setting.
I will repeat the questions then – Do you see your organization as a place where the
right people can perform even better than they have in other settings, or earlier in their
Or are you largely assessing candidate’s ability to perform based almost totally on how
they have performed in these past settings, that may or may not be comparable to
Is your shop a place for these ‘fallen angels?’
But He Was Great in the Interview…
Originally Published on January 8, 2013
This post probably will take 500 words to get to the point which is this: As a talent pro,
or more specifically, as someone that has responsibility and obligation to make a career-
defining hire, be very wary of a 'great interview' that can cause you to take short cuts
in your process, unnecessarily cloud your thinking, and frankly, to make a hire today that
if you had given it at least a couple of more days of consideration, you might not have
So here is the backstory and yes, I am starting my official 'I am going to continue to write
about sports and talent in 2013 campaign' with this post.
The Monday immediately after the end of the NFL season is known as 'Black
Monday', named as such for the normal purge and firing of anywhere from 5 -10 head
coaches, (and their staffs) by losing or otherwise disappointing teams from across the
league. This purge also sets off a bit of a frenzy of speculation, posturing, interviewing,
and hiring by these same teams as they all seem to be pursuing many of the same
individuals from what is (generally) a small and highly sought after candidate pool.
One such NFL team caught up in the coaching game of musical chairs (again), was the
Buffalo Bills, a team caught up in a decade-plus funk, and owners of the league's longest
streak of missing the post-season playoffs. The Bills released their prior coach Chan
Gailey on Black Monday, and led by newly empowered team executive Russ Brandon,
(this coaching search and hire would be his first BIG decision and will likely define his
tenure), set about what Brandon described would be 'exhaustive'and 'leave no
This exhaustive search lasted about three days, and resulted in the hire of Syracuse
University Head Coach (and former NFL assistant), Doug Marrone, who in four years at
Syracuse had won exactly as many games he had lost, (25-25). Depending on your point
of view, the decision to hire Marrone, certainly not considered to be among the most
desirable of the head coaching talent available, was described as 'curious', a 'stretch', and
The great sports site Deadspin ran a piece that compiled reactions to the Bills' hiring of
Marrone, and I wanted to call out the pull quote from the Sporting News take on the
When Marrone interviewed, he must have been extremely impressive.
Marrone wasn't even the hottest college coach on the market
Ouch. And there were other similar kinds of reactions from various media outlets and
Bills fans - a mix of surprise, disappointment, and rationalization that a .500 college
coach was the right person to tap to rebuild and transform a moribund NFL team.
Obviously, only team executive Russ Brandon and perhaps a select few other team
officials know what was really asked and said in Marrone's interview that was 'extremely
impressive' enough for the team to conclude its 'exhaustive' search after three days and
offer Marrone the position, which for him, represents a huge step up in pressure,
expectations, and compensation. But Brandon has to know his own performance, (and
likely his employment), is largely riding on whether or not Marrone ends up succeeding
as Bills coach - and as a talent professional well, that is quite a bit of stock to put into
what must have been an 'extremely impressive' interview.
Maybe it's just me, but I worry a little bit, or am just a bit leery when I hear of coaches,
heck any other candidates that are described as being 'great interviews'. It strikes me as
just a half-step above being a 'snappy dresser', and we all know how much that helps win
Recruiting the Ninth Best Guy on the Team
Originally Published on July 9, 2013
In college and professional sports 'stunt' recruiting demonstrations- mocking up team
jerseys, creating fake pictures or scoreboard videos with the player in the new team
colors, or imagined play-by-play calls of a player hitting a big shot or winning a
championship for his or her would-be new team are not really new or all that novel
College teams especially, and sometimes professional ones too, use these kind of
demonstrations to try and impress the candidate/recruit, to get them to more clearly
envision themselves joining the team, and to play into their egos somewhat - not only
will they come to the school or team for the expected reasons, (get an education, make
some money, etc.), but they will also achieve their bigger dreams as well - win titles, be
idolized, create a legacy - that kind of thing. For big-time and highly sought after recruits
these kinds of displays are kind of expected and probably don't do all that much on their
own to sway the recruit's decision. After all, once the 5-star high school running back
sees about a dozen of these same kinds of pictures/videos from every major college
program in the country the effect of any of them is pretty diminished.
But where these kinds of gestures can still be effective I think is at the next, or even
next-next tier of recruiting - for those candidates that are not All-Stars or Top Talent
or whatever expression you prefer. For the players/candidates that might only be solid
contributors, important to the overall cause but not the most important factor, perhaps
just a little bit in the way of treatment typically reserved for the big time prospects can
be the most effective lever the recruiter can pull.
Take a look at this piece, Chris Copeland signs an offer sheet with Indiana after the team
Photoshopped him into an ESPN Mag cover on the Indiana Pacers efforts to sign the former
New York Knicks and now free agent Chris Copeland - a guy who just broke into the
league at 28 years old, and on a good team like Indiana figures to be the 8th or 9th most
From the Yahoo! Sports piece:
This isn’t a new exercise, teams have been Photoshopping potential free agents into would-be
uniforms as part of a free agent pitch for years, but it’s still cool to see. Chris Copeland has
signed an offer sheet with the Indiana Pacers, and before doing so the Pacers sent him this gift
box (pic on previous page).
Copeland is a D-League alum that couldn’t even hook on with some of the better leagues that
international basketball has to offer, playing in outposts like Belgium and the Netherlands
before catching on with New York as a long range shooter and active defender.
Indiana’s biggest weakness in its run to Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals was its depth,
and in acquiring both C.J. Watson and eventually Copeland, the team has smartly shored up
that pine with players that should fit right into (Pacer Coach) Frank Vogel’s system.
Again, not that big a deal, I suppose, teams can and have been doing these kinds of
stunts for ages. But what is distinctive in this example is the approach and attention paid
by the Pacers to a guy, Copeland, who will almost certainly not be a star on the team,
and will not even be a starter on the team. Sure, the actual contract offer (2 years for
$6.1M) reflects that, but making the player feel as wanted and as needed as a big time
recruit with the simple little photoshop magazine cover, (that probably took someone
all of 20 minutes to do), shows that the Pacers understand what is important when
working with talent.
There will probably be a few games next season where the contributions of bench
players like Copeland mean the difference between a win and a loss. The NBA grind is
relentless, and often teams have to get better-than-expected efforts from the 8th or 9th
best guys on the team when the stars are not playing well or are tired or someone in
the starting lineup gets injured.
By showing the ninth best guy on the team that he is still important, that he is wanted,
that he too, can envision himself on magazine covers the Pacers teach us all a lesson
about making talent feel important.
Even those who are not so-called 'Top Talent.'
Vocabulary, Intimidation, and Recruiting
Originally Published on July 9, 2013
There was a terrific piece by Dan Wetzel from Yahoo! earlier in the week on the recent
rise to prominence of the Stanford Football program and that featured an in-depth
interview with the team's head coach David Shaw. If you don't follow college football
and are not familiar with Stanford's team, the essential bit of information is this - after
many years as a middling to unsuccessful program the team, under former coach Jim
Harbaugh (now the head coach of the NFL's San Francisco 49ers), and current coach
Shaw has had a recent and remarkable run to national prominence, posting a 35-5
record over the last three seasons, and sending a steady stream of players on to the
All this success has transpired while the program contends with what have been
traditionally seen as disadvantages in big-time college sports - Stanford is a really tough
school to qualify for academically, and once enrolled, the academic demands the school
places on its students, (football players too), often rule the school out as a choice for
the kind of elite football prospect that a major college program needs in order to
compete with the likes of Alabama, Texas, or South Carolina. So getting enough
talented players that are good enough for Division 1 play AND that can qualify
academically AND actually want to attend Stanford - well, you see what kind of a
recruiting challenge that faces Shaw and his staff.
So beyond validating a potential recruits' interest in Stanford, reviews of their high
school game tapes, verification of the academic transcripts, and ensuring their SAT
scores are suitably impressive - what else does Shaw do when determining if a player
would be a good match for the Stanford program?
He evaluates a player's vocabulary. Yep, their vocabulary. Check this from the Yahoo
Superior academics are mandatory for admission and success at the elite university.
Great athletic ability, strength and speed are a necessity to play for the reigning Pac-12
champions. Character, leadership and motivation are highly valued intangibles.
And then there is something unique Stanford coaches evaluate when meeting with a
prospect, something that few would think predicts football success.
"Vocabulary," Shaw said.
"Yes, you look for vocabulary," he said. "Can this kid express himself in a way that
befits a Stanford man?
"You walk around and talk to our kids, they look you in the eye," Shaw continued. "And
we play that way. We are going to play right at you, in your face, 'Here is who we are,
here is how we play.' There is a one-to-one correlation. There is no doubt about it to
me. The inability to be intimidated by a person or a situation is something that is
Really interesting spin on the recruiting evaluation process - particularly in a job
where 'success' is complex and multi-dimensional (probably similar to the roles in your
Sure, 'success' as a college football player entails excellence at some significant physical
levels - speed, strength, etc. But at a place like Stanford, 'success' also means excelling in
a demanding academic environment, one where a player almost certainly will not be the
smartest person in the room, and where there status as an athlete probably doesn't
afford them any special treatment greater than someone who is a great scientist or
developer or entrepreneur.
Look again at the last line in the David Shaw quote above - "The inability to be
intimidated by a person or a situation is something that is significant." It is pretty
easy to tell who is or isn't going to be intimidated on a football field, but in business and
in life - well, it is not so easily discerned.
Can a person's vocabulary be a good proxy for that rare quality - the ability to not get
pushed around a conference room or in a meeting, or to use a recently trendy term, to
'lean-in' even when it would be easier to withdraw?
No matter what we think, it seems to be working for Shaw and Stanford.
Off Topic: When You Run Out of Interview Questions
Originally Published on July 9, 2013
Book, can, drum, mirror, door. (I will come back to this later, but try and
remember this list).
Recently, the National Football League, (where they play....... for pay), conducted its
annual Scouting Combine - a several day long series of events, interviews, feats of speed
and strength, etc. designed to give its member clubs a chance to assess and evaluate lots
and lots of potential draftees, (job candidates), in one place, and under consistent and
Gary Hume, Girl Boy, Boy Girl
The hopeful candidates run 40 yard dashes, do the broad jump, perform bench presses,
and in addition to these physical tests, (again, which provide a really solid way to
compare the performance of players), also undergo some mental and cognitive
assessments, (most notably the Wonderlic test).
But having the same information as all your competitors, (40 times, bench presses, etc.)
doesn't really help a team gain a recruiting advantage - none of the information is
powerful since it is completely open and free. For a team trying to decide which players
to draft - they need to get past the size and speed and test scores, and really get some
unique insight into the player. What motivates him, does he have passion for the sport,
is he likely to be a 'good' teammate, and not be a 'me-first' prima donna.
And if you are the Cincinnati Bengals, you also want to know if the player can
remember five random words in order.
Check this excerpt from a recent piece on Deadspin, on the Combine experience of
draft hopeful Lane Johnson –
"One thing caught me off guard. I was meeting with Cincinnati, and I went
in there and they told me to remember five things. They just listed five
things like a bear, a flower, a tree, a man and like a dog. And they told me
to remember those terms, at the end of the meeting to see if I could
remember them. And from that point on, they listed numbers. They said,
like, 9167, and then told me to repeat them in reverse order. So that was
probably the weirdest meeting I've ever been a part of."
Nice. And classic Bengals in a way as well.
Now there could be some real validity in asking a question like this - a check on a
player's concentration, their short-term memory, ability to pay attention to instructions,
etc. that might have some validity and value in the assessment process. Maybe the
performance on a question like this is highly predictive of future success as an NFL
Or maybe it's just a random question, full of weirdness and confusion, signifying nothing.
But if you do find yourself at a loss for any more clever interview questions the next
time you have a candidate in for a chat maybe you can try it out and see what happens.
Remember the five things?
The Google Background Check: How Long Can You Hold This
Originally Published on February 20, 2013
Check this interesting piece on Deadspin last week from the world of High School
sports titled'Disgruntled Goalie Scores On His Own Net, Flips Off Coaches, Skates Off
The Ice Forever. On the surface it seems like a kind of amusing, if a little sad, tale about
a senior high school ice hockey goalie, feeling like he had been slighted and had unfairly
lost playing time to a sophomore goalie. The senior then used the occasion of the
team's last game to vent his frustration with his coaches and the situation in a classic
I won't embed the video here, or mention the goalie's name - both can be found at the
Deadspin piece, but in case you don't have time to check the footage (you do, it's
literally about 12 seconds), here is the gist of what went down:
With three minutes remaining, and Farmington up by one, (he) corralled the puck
behind the goal. The video picks up there as he skates it in front and casually slips
it into his own net. He sends a middle finger to his bench, fires off a salute, and
skates back to the locker room. The game was tied, and Farmington—with a
third-string goalie in net, the sophomore was out with an injury—would concede
another goal a minute later to lose.
You can certainly chalk up the senior's demonstration/protest/tantrum to a youthful
indiscretion and an immature way to express his anger. Sure, he was wrong to put the
puck in his own net, he was wrong to flip off the coaches, and he was wrong to put
himself above the team in that way. Whether or not he was a better goalie than the
sophomore really isn't important here, but for anyone that has been in that kind of
situation, you can at least feel for the kid's point of view.
Again, in the end, it's really just a kid acting out inappropriately, like most kids will do at
least once in a while, and that most of us probably did ourselves when we were that
age. No big deal really, it was only a silly hockey game, and the kid will learn his lesson,
(or maybe he won't), and everyone will move on and forget.
But I wanted to call it out on the blog this week, after having a quick scan through the
75-odd comments on the Deadspin piece, and noticing at least a half dozen comments
similar to this one from someone named 'Loose Cannon':
/Googles '(the kid's full name)'
//discards resume, moves on
- Hiring Managers
Again, I'm leaving out the kid's real name, as I think as evidenced by the comments from
'Loose Cannon' and several others he is never really going to be able to erase this
incident from the interwebs. No matter what he goes on to in his life, a Google search
for his name, like many, many Recruiters and hiring managers will execute, will bring up
these words and images that show immaturity, selfishness, and lack of respect for
But I kind of feel bad for the kid. Not because of what 'Loose Cannon' thinks, (I have a
feeling he isn't hiring anyone anytime soon), but rather for the fact that this episode is
going to trail him for a long, long time - maybe forever.
I know I did some stupid things back in the day, things I would not want my potential
next boss to read about it in detail.
Our young goalie friend here doesn't have that option now.
Let's hope the HR person or recruiter that does the first Google search on him in a few
years can empathize.
It will help if he or she was also brought up in the YouTube age I think.
External Hires are Sexier
Originally Published on December 3, 2013
It was announced last night that the University of Southern California (USC) will hire
the University of Washington’s head coach, and former USC assistant,Steve Sarkisian. It
was been an up-and-down season for USC who fired their head coach, Lane Kiffin,
halfway through the season after starting 3 -2. Kiffin was replaced by current assistant
coach Ed Orgeron, who then took the team and went 6-2 the rest of the season after
taking over for Kiffin. The players wanted Orgeron to get the head coaching job. USC’s
athletic director decided to go outside the program to find his next head coach, despite
I know, I know, you thought you were coming to read about HR stuff – well you are –
Doesn’t this sound familiar to you? Not the coaching and football stuff, but how the
decision was made to hire?
Here you have someone internally who has been loyal and successful, and instead of
giving that person the promotion, the organization decides that an external person, who
really hasn’t proven anything (in this case Sarkisian has been marginally successful at the
University of Washington). This just doesn’t happen with football coaches at big
universities, this happens at every level of organizations all over the world!
The fact of the matter is, external hires are sexier!
It’s a weird organization dynamic that takes place. Internal people become idiots,
external people are genius. Why do you think your organization pays big bucks to bring
in consultants to basically tell you to do things you already knew you needed to do, and
have been trying to get your organization to do? It’s because you’ve hit ‘idiot’ status in
your organization – which means, you’ve been there over a year, and are no longer
considered and external genius!
I see it constantly when I go and consult in the Talent Acquisition field. I’ll go and talk
with the rank and file workers who are doing the work each and every day. I’ll then go
and talk to the executives. The rank and file know what needs to be done, the
executives don’t thing their people have a clue, and the big miss is usually the executive
who is unwilling to give his or her team the resources needed to make the change. That
is until I tell them that is what is needed, then all of sudden ‘my’ ideas, the same ideas
the team already knew needed to be done, are ‘genius’!
How do you combat this phenomenon? You have two routes:
1. Quit every 12 months and move to a new company to regain your sexy status.
2. Don’t make your ideas your own. We get caught up in wanting ‘our’ ideas to be
what we do. If you know you’ve reached ‘idiot’ status in your organization, this will
work against you, because your ideas will be considered worthless. Show your
executives who else in the industry have tried this and how it went. Give examples
of companies outside your industry having success with it. Best of all, show how
your competition has had success with something. Make you idea, someone else’s
idea, someone more sexier than you!
Remember, you’re not alone in feeling this way. It’s very common for organizations to
believe external hires, thus their ideas and beliefs, are much sexier than you. It doesn’t
mean you need to give into this belief, you just need to show you can be more savvy
about how you move things through your organization. Also, be positive about using
the influence a new sexy hire has. They have this brief window of being a genius, find
out ways to work with them to use this fading power! Soon they’ll be an idiot like you.
Program Kids – Hiring For Your Culture
Originally Published on November 21, 2013
If you didn’t catch it last week, Michigan State Basketball, rated #2 in the country,
knocked off the University of Kentucky, rated #1 in the country. An early season
match-up in college basketball which ultimately has little impact on the bigger picture of
this basketball season, but it was fun to watch!
What the game really ended up being about was two different sets of kids, not based on
their uniform, but based on their path. Kentucky, under current coach John Calipari,
has become a NBA basketball factory of first round draft picks. Coach Cal has basically
made the decision to use the NBA draft rules, that a kid must be one year out of high
school and over 19 before being draft eligible, to build his winning program. He basically
sells to the best high school basketball kids in the country, who could probably jump
immediately to the NBA, that you come to UK for 1 year, then leave and go to the
NBA. This system is working really well for him! These kids come and take classes for
one semester, and then basically leave as soon as basketball is over in March. Doesn’t
really seem to fit the goal of intercollegiate athletics, but what the hell, he’s winning…
On the other side you had Michigan State and coach Tom Izzo (to be fair, I’m a big fan
of the program and Tom, I think Coach Cal is a cheater and a liar) whose has built one
of the best programs in the country over the past 19 seasons, by taking almost the
opposite way to success. Tom goes out and recruits ‘Program’ kids. Tom grew up in
Northern Michigan; he was raised with a blue collar work ethic. He is everything that
Calipari isn’t. He isn’t flashy. He’s loyal. He wants his kids to leave MSU better men,
not better basketball players. While Tom would take a top player, he’s only ever taken
a kid who was ‘one and done’, and even that kid didn’t think that would be the case
when he came to MSU. The kids who get recruited to MSU know they’ll be broken
down, taught how to play defense first, team basketball, it’s about the program, not
about you. As you can imagine, a kid wanting to jump right to the NBA, doesn’t find
this attractive. Coach K at Duke is very similar, although, he tends to get a few one-
and-dones based on his past success!
The game was close at the end, but not really as close as the final score. MSU had
juniors and seniors on the floor – grown mature men. Kentucky had kids on the floor,
very, very talented kids, but kids all the same.
Both programs successful. Both programs win. I like one way more than another, but I
can’t argue the successful business model that Coach Cal has produced.
It brings up a great question for HR/Talent Pros and leaders of organizations. We all say
we want the ‘best’ talent. We want ‘rock stars’. But I wonder, do we? Do you want
‘Program kids’, hires that fit your culture? Or do you want ‘One-and-dones’, hires that
have extreme talent, but might not want a long-term career with you?
You might say it’s a hard comparison because we are talking about amateur (Program
Kids) versus professional (One-and-done) level talent. Of course in business we would
always want professional level talent. But I’ll argue that Program hires, those who fit
what and where you want your organization to go will always be better in the long
run. What happens when the next big school or pros come calling for Coach
Cal? What happens to Kentucky? It would left in shambles. The strategy doesn’t have
legs because you must rebuild every year. What happens if another big time school with
a flasher coach starts getting all the one-and-dones? Program kids don’t want to go to
Hiring for cultural fit has huge impact to long term organizational success.
How Recruiters Will Break Up the SEC Dominance
Originally Published on February 11, 2013
NCAA Football fanatics love recruiting signing day! That one day, each year, when you
get to find out how good your team will be in 2-3 years. For the past 5 plus years the
SEC Conference has been dominating college football’s signing day (as well has the
National Championship games!). 2013′s Signing Day was no different. Of the top 300
college football recruits – 41% signed on to play football at a SEC school! (see chart
There really isn’t much difference in recruiting a college athlete than there is in
recruiting talent to your organization. The SEC dominance in football recruiting, is
similar to the dominance that Google has over Yahoo or Facebook. The dominance
that Gap might have over similar retailers, etc. If you are being dominated in recruiting
by your competition there are some things you can do, and there are some things that
will happen naturally to help return balance to the universe. Here’s how I think Big Ten,
Pac12, ACC, etc. conference will break up the SEC’s dominance in college football
recruiting, and how you can do the same with your organization:
1. Stars want to shine – Great you go offered to go to Alabama, along with 20
other 5 star recruits – it all becomes relative. Recruiters, in non-SEC schools,
must sell the ‘opportunity’ for these kids to star right away at their schools. A 5
star kid at Alabama might be a backup for 2-3 years. While at another school
they could start as a freshman. Not every recruit will buy into this – but many
will. Sell opportunity.
2. The NFL Dream – It says something about you when you’re the 9th best player on
your team to NFL scouts. The 9th best NFL player at Alabama might be much better
than the best player at Michigan State – the best player at Michigan State is getting more
publicity and more NFL scout action than the 9th best player at Bama. The difference
might only be 3-5 rounds in the NFL – but that’s huge! Sell the NFL dream that 99% of
D1 football recruits have.
3. Stop selling “Michigan Man” – 2nd tier conferences and schools sell this concept
of being the right ‘kind’ of person for a school – University of Michigan calls it ‘The
Michigan Man’ – we only want kids who are Michigan men, blah, blah, blah. Really!? Well
then, I only want to recruit ‘Alabama Men’ because they seem a quite a bit better! If
you, a recruiter, is selling this concept of culture to top level recruits – it might make
you feel really good about yourself – but it doesn’t ring true for great talent. Nick Saban
doesn’t sell ‘Alabama Men’ – he sells championships. Sell winning, sell being number one
in your industry. People love playing/working for a winner.
4. Set Up Shop – Eventually you are going to see Big Ten recruiters actually living,
buying a house, etc. full time in SEC territory if they truly want to compete for talent in
those areas on a regular basis. Having a local presence, establishing local relationships
with high school coaches, etc. says a ton to a player and his family. Flying in once every
few months, when Johnny Alabama is there every week, says something completely
different. Works the same for your organization – want Silicon Valley talent to come to
Tulsa – you better get some feet on the ground!
5. Start Early – You know there are very little recruiting rules in place for kids under
the 9th grade! A ‘donor’ for your school could fly in a 8th grader, buy him a sweatsuit
and take him to his suite to watch your game – all legal, if under 9th grade. Can you
image the impression that makes on a young kid?! Now you might not know if the kid
will actually project out to be great – but you get enough interested at a very young age
and you begin to get talent you never got before. Long-tail recruiting. This is why
campus recruiting is so important to many organizations for talent – you need both a
long and short term recruiting strategy to fill your pipeline.
There’s one other thing that will eventually work against the SEC recruiting which
seems to happen at all great organizations – laziness. Success doesn’t always breed
more success – many times in breeds complacency. The might be the biggest risk of
all. The more success they have in recruiting and the more championships they win –
the more other recruiters from outside conferences are going to be working harder to
get ‘their’ talent. Their great success might be their biggest risk!
Recruit Me Like You Mean It!
Originally Published on November 21, 2013
Have you guys ever seen a top level athlete in high school get recruited to play college
sports? I'm not talking about your best friend Mary's son, Billy, who hit .338 his senior
at Northern High and is getting a partial scholarship to St. Mary's Western Community
College. I'm talking top 100 kids who have offers from USC, Notre Dame, Alabama,
Texas, Florida, Ohio State, etc. Kids who get hundreds of text messages per day, phone
calls from morning until night, separate deliveries from the Postal Service, UPS and
FedEx – each day. Kids who go to play a Tuesday night non-league game against a team
that has won all year and 37 coaches are in the stands only to watch them play. The
coaches can't even talk to them after the game because of NCAA rules, but it's
important they are there to be seen.
Do you know anyone like that? Do you have any idea what it must feel like to be
recruited like that? To feel that wanted.
Schools do this, because there are millions of dollars at stake. Sportswear apparel
contracts, TV contracts, etc. College athletics is a big time business – it's important for
them to recruit the best talent to stay on top, or get to the top. Recruiters spend
weeks on end and long hours recruiting top talent, sometimes over 4-5 years. They'll
travel thousands of miles to stand 100 feet from a recruit, hoping the recruit notices
they are there. Schools will spend hundreds of thousands of dollars recruiting kids each
year. One recruit might cost a school a million dollars over a 4 to 5 year recruitment
cycle. Crazy, isn't it?
For what, really? These kids will play basketball/football/etc. Whether they play for
Florida or USC, it doesn't really matter – there is really no major difference between
the two. I know alumni will all disagree – but a high performing major DI school – the
overall difference is very small. Sounds like many major employers, right? What's the
real difference between working at Facebook or working at Google if you're a
developer? Work, pay, crazy benefits are virtually all the same. Sure they try and sell
you that they are different, but not really so much.
I'm waiting for one company to turn recruitment upside down. I'm waiting for one
company to decide, we are going to go after talent like Nick Saban goes after talent at
Alabama. We are going after talent to win – not a national championship, but to win
our industry – to be the best, to develop the best, to crush our competition. Can you
imagine what that might look like? I'm guessing recruitment would become pretty
important to your organization. I'm guessing recruiters would probably not sit at a desk
all day hoping talent sends them a resume from their posting on the corporate careers
site. I'm guessing your recruiters would know exactly who they were going after them,
and they would find them – where they ate lunch, where they worked out, where they
went to dinner, went on vacation – and they would show up and start building a
relationship. Your recruiters would have multiple people they were pursuing over years
and everyone would know. Publicly, it would be known – “Google wants Tim
Sackett!” Tim Sackett would know and feel how much Google wanted him. He would
be pursued, just like he was the next great quarterback coming out of high school with a
Can you imagine how that would change the game?
Ultimately, the talent you recruit is no different than those kids being recruited to play
athletics. Those recruits will make millions of dollars for their schools. Your recruits
will make millions of dollars for your company. The difference being – most the talent
you recruit – comes with a proven track record. You just need to get out from behind
the desk and start finding out who is the best. I wonder which company will do this
first, to truly go out and start recruiting talent to come work for them – like they mean
Recruiting When Money is NOT the Object – The Case of Dwight
Originally Published on July 2, 2013
For the most part, firms compete for talent on the basis of salary - if you pay more than
the next guy, you usually win out. When recruiting ace pitcher C.C. Sabathia, the New
York Yankees made a major splash by offering $40 million more than other teams.
But, what do you do when money is not the centerpiece of the discussion? With free
agency bidding opening yesterday, take the current recruitment of mercurial NBA
center Dwight Howard. Unlike most organizations, the NBA has a salary cap with a
maximum contract that can be offered. In other words, all 30 NBA teams could offer
Howard the same salary, and not a dollar more.
With that in mind, what can a team do to make their case?
1. Is the boss someone you want to work for? The Los Angeles Clippers
recently brought in coach Doc Rivers from the Boston Celtics in order to retain free
agent star guard Chris Paul.
2. Can you reach the pinnacle of success in a short period of
time? Obviously, the goal for any NBA team is to win the Championship....does your
team provide the best opportunity to do so in the next 2-4 years?
3. Can you show that the talent is truly wanted? If you are the Los Angeles
Lakers, do you put up billboards pleading for the talent to stay? Do you photoshop
your employee's image over iconic locations in your city?
4. Are there other ways to make those salary dollars go further? The
Houston Rockets might be attractive to Howard, as, unlike California, the state of Texas
has no state income tax. Or, if you're Dallas, you have a restaurant willing to offer free
chicken fingers for life (nearly $200,000 in food that Howard would not have to pay).
So, take a look at the recruiting efforts in your organization. What would convince an
applicant to come to your organization when salary is not the main driver?
The 1% Rule of Candidate Experience
Originally Published on August 12, 2013
Imagine you're among the best and brightest at what you do. Your talent is recognized
by nearly everyone. Any employer wants you to be part of that organization.
If you are truly among the 1%, candidate experience is not going to matter
(in the traditional sense).
Say, you're the #1 ranked college basketball recruit, Jahlil Okafor. 346 Division 1
schools would love to have you join their program. 338 know they have no shot. Eight
schools are under consideration, with one believed to be the leader (more below).
That being said, the critical information (see p. 15) a typical applicant for a job might
want to make the candidate experience worthwhile is not applicable
• Application accepted? Most likely for Okafor, an offer to play for a particular
university has already been made, and the application process is cursory.
• Expected time to hear back from a recruiter? Again, he already knows the "job" is his
if he wants it
• If I have been knocked out of consideration. Doesn't apply here
• Next step in process. The universities competing for your services are waiting for
you to come for an official visit and say "yes"
• If anyone has reviewed your information. Again, cursory
• Where I am in the process. As a top notch college recruit, my guess is that each
organization is in constant contact with Okafor, visiting him at basketball camps,
calling him on the phone, texting him, and seeing him play during high school
competition. And, this is going on for a matter of not days or months, but years.
• What criteria is used to determine my job-fit. You're tall, talented, and skilled. You'll
• Fit with minimum qualifications. Uh, yes.
• How I stack with other candidates. You're being wooed, and the school would accept
• Number of applicants - this almost doesn't matter, except that schools have a limited
number of spots. As Dave Telep, ESPN recruiter noted on Twitter on July 30 after
a number of basketball camps, "July reality: if you know where you want to go and
you aren't a Top-25 guy, make your decision before someone takes your first
choice." "As of right now, most schools have 2-4 guys they'd take at your position.
First one to call gets the spot." For Okafor, they would leave the spot open.
• Expected feedback on application - this is almost immediate.
Again, if you're in the 1%, traditional candidate experience is not going to matter.
However, there is a flip side. What if competing employers believe there is a leader?
The ongoing rumor that Duke is the leader for the recruiting package of No. 1-ranked
senior Jahlil Okafor and No. 3-ranked Tyus Jones is ruining the recruiting process for the
two players, Okafor's father said on Friday.
"It's disappointing. It's taking the fun out of the process for the two boys," Okafor's
father, Chukwudi Okafor, said by phone on Friday. "That's a shame. Let the kids go
through the process. I just want them to enjoy it, not the media, not Twitter, not the
coaches, not the AAU coaches. Those kids are highly intelligent. They know what to do.
Let it play out, and I think the world is in for something special."
"They're going to make their decision. Everybody is saying they say this and they say
that. It's not fair to them. It's not fair to the other schools. It's not fair to Duke. They
might want to go to Duke, but decide not to go there because everyone is saying that's
where they're going. I'd hate for that to happen."
As Dave Telep notes, "I think a number of kids are genuinely torn about telling a school
"no." In August, "no" is the best thing after yes. Both need to move on." If I am trying to
recruit top talent to my school, there is a limit to the amount of resources and time I
can pour into every candidate, let alone the 1%. If I am no longer in the running, I
would prefer knowing that than trying to continue the facade of thinking I have a
Sometimes it is tough out there for the 1%.
Onboarding, Training and Development
TRUE: The Engagement Level of Leaders Is More Important
Than Employee Engagement..
Originally Published on September 4, 2013
Simply put, because when leaders aren't engaged, no one is going to be engaged. If he's
mailing it in, why should I give a ****?
Reality: You shouldn't. And won't.
We see it time and time again in corporate America. A leader has a bit of early success,
then the results start to fall off a bit. Same leader tries to get back to what gave
everyone hope early in their tenure. Try as they might, they can't replicate early results,
and as it becomes evident that no one really expects them to be around for the long
term, which causes the leader to do the worst thing possible.
The leader starts to disengage, to slip away from being fully present, even when his body
is there. They're more passive, usually because they've done what they could do, and it
hasn't worked out. They've developed an external locus of control. They've quit a little
bit, they've stopped fighting, etc.
It's called leader disengagement. And your company/division/department/team can't win
if this is your reality.
Here's a great real life example from the NFL. More on Rex Ryan missing "cut day" as
the head coach of the New York Jets from the Washington Post:
"Rex Ryan called a personal timeout Saturday in order to attend his son’s first college
football game and, this being Rex Ryan and the New York Jets being in a state of flux,
he was greeted with a storm of criticism.
On the day of the deadline for reducing NFL rosters to 53 players, Ryan bolted from
the Jets’ headquarters and headed for South Carolina, where the Tigers were playing
Georgia and Ryan’s son, Seth, is a walk-on who was playing in his first college game.
The idea didn’t sit well with all of Ryan’s players. “[Rex has] got zero influence,” an
unnamed source told the New York Daily News’ Manish Mehta. “[He] doesn’t care
and he is letting everyone know. He just shows up for his check. … It’s a big [expletive]
to all the players.”
To be fair and balanced, some players and a lot of industry insiders were OK with Rex
missing cut day. They thought it was good for him to go see his son. In the spirit of full
reporting though, his son is a walk on and didn't play in the game, and was never
expected to play.
Would you expect a Department head in a company to have anything less than full
awareness or to be present when layoffs are happening at a company with 200
Don't be fooled. Rex Ryan missing cut day is an illustration of a guy who's given up,
same as your VP of Sales that's missed quota for 2 straight years and stops going to
meetings that require his attendance.
The biggest tipoff to leader disengagment you'll see is absenteeism, not anything
outrageous, just an uptick that looks a bit odd. Another telling sign of leader
disengagement is when the leader in question starts asking others to make decisions
that he/she once wanted a strong voice in.
If your leaders aren't engaged, your employees won't be. Be on the lookout for the
signs of leader disengagement, from the C-level all the way down to first level
What The HR Capitalist Learned From His First Job...
Originally Published on December 11, 2013
What I learned from my first job:
1. I didn't know anything.
2. The world was a much bigger place than I had imagined up to that point.
3. The best way to make a mark in the world was to show up and when given a
chance to specialize, basically throw yourself into learning everything you could
about the area of speciality in order to make yourself somewhat valuable to
the organization you were in.
My first job was as an Assistant Basketball Coach in college basketball, at a place called
UAB. It featured a hall of fame coach in Gene Bartow, as well as a pedigree created for
the program when it was formed out of nothing in the late 70's by Bartow. When I
arrived, it was already known as a basketball school. Here's a picture of the kid at work
in his first job: