If you want to learn how to hire and promote talent, look to the NFL (for lessons on what NOT to do).This is my fourth season as a co-manager of the Hedge This fantasy football team. Over the last four years, I’ve observed some of the most dysfunctional coaching I’ve ever seen, especially with regard to running backs. Here’s the situation (no Jersey Shore comments please):
Teams sign running backs to huge multi-year contracts. These players immediately start to suck and underperform. Coaches and owners keep these players in because….well….they signed them to those huge multi-year contacts.
Well guess what? There’s a hungry, young, talented running back on your bench who’s getting paid a lot less and just loves the game and is grateful to put on a uniform every day. Every day in practice, he runs better, trains harder, and embodies everything you wished the rest of your running backs were. This guy needs to be in the game.
Can anyone say Peyton Hillis, Lesean McCoy, Rashard Mendenhall, and Frank Gore? These were all bench running backs behind overpaid “all-stars” who got their one chance at glory and crushed it.
The best part about observing this disease in the NFL is that performance stats are a completely open data set and analysed by every sports fan in the nation.
When the back-up is averaging five yards per carry and your “star” is averaging two, the whole world sees it and screams for the obvious answer – PUT THIS PLAYER IN THE GAME AND BENCH YOUR SLOW, ageing, MULTIMILLION-DOLLAR BUST. They see an obvious decision based on data and stripped of the personal and financial biases existing in the coaches and owners decision processes.
The phenomenon that creates this poor player promotion is a disease that exists in corporate America too.
Large companies often don’t spot and promote young talent early enough or fast enough. It’s partially because the people on top want to protect their jobs. It’s partially because in a bureaucracy some believe in a need for “order” and earning your promotions based on a regimented time schedule. It’s partially because of poor talent management programs.
Well guess what corporate America, there’s a crop of companies out there stealing your entire bench (and some of your starters too). When you don’t promote your best talent fast enough, we find them and promote them for you.
If you want to keep your best talent, put them on the field, give them more responsibility than they can handle, and push aside their overpaid, under-performing bosses (if you are one of these bosses, get off your arse and start attacking every day like you were fighting for the job you already have).
Startups and small businesses, keep hiring people who have to punch above their weight class and are hungry. This will create a culture of over-performers and an energy that is infectious.
(Thanks to Caleb Stokes, my Hedge This co-manager and an awesome opera singer, who suggested I write this piece).
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