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The 8 Man Rotation – The 2011 Season

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The 8 Man Rotation –
A Look at Sports and HR

The 2011 Season




by Steve Boese, Kris Dunn,
Lance Haun, Tim Sackett, &
Ma...
The 8 Man Rotation – A Look at Sports and HR
The 2011 Season

Foreword by William Tincup and Trish McFarlane

Introduction...
Legalities? Here’s How References Work in the Real World… - Kris Dunn
   http://www.hrcapitalist.com/2011/04/legalities-he...
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The 8 Man Rotation – The 2011 Season

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We know that most sequels suck.

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

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

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

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

We know that most sequels suck.

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

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

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

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

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The 8 Man Rotation – The 2011 Season

  1. 1. The 8 Man Rotation – A Look at Sports and HR The 2011 Season by Steve Boese, Kris Dunn, Lance Haun, Tim Sackett, & Matthew Stollak 1
  2. 2. The 8 Man Rotation – A Look at Sports and HR The 2011 Season Foreword by William Tincup and Trish McFarlane Introduction HR Planning and Strategy Is Your Company Better At Innovation if You Seek Patents or Simply Find the Next Tweak? – Kris Dunn http://www.hrcapitalist.com/2011/10/is-your-company-better-at-innovation-if- you-seek-patents-or-simply-find-the-next-tweak.html Please Welcome Our new VP of Marketing. Yes, That’s Really Him…-Steve Boese http://steveboese.squarespace.com/journal/2011/9/2/please-welcome-our-new- vp-of-marketing-yes-thats-really-him.html Waiting for the Siren’s Call – Matt Stollak http://truefaithhr.blogspot.com/2011/02/waiting-for-sirens-call.html Reality – Matt Stollak http://truefaithhr.blogspot.com/2011/07/reality.html Jerry Sloan: Another Great Example of Why Managerial Longevity Matters – Lance Haun http://www.tlnt.com/2011/02/11/jerry-sloan-another-great-example-of-why- managerial-longevity-matters/ Staffing and Career Considerations Albert Pujols and the Art of the Counter-Offer: It All Comes Down to Replacement Cost for the Same Performance... – Kris Dunn http://www.hrcapitalist.com/2011/12/albert-pujols-and-the-art-of-the- counter-offer-it-all-comes-down-to-replacement-cost-for-the-same- pe.html Treat Your Candidates Well – Because They’re Going to Stick to You Like Kareem If You Don’t… - Kris Dunn http://www.hrcapitalist.com/2011/05/treat-your-candidates-well-because-theyre- going-to-stick-to-you-if-you-dont.html 2
  3. 3. Legalities? Here’s How References Work in the Real World… - Kris Dunn http://www.hrcapitalist.com/2011/04/legalities-heres-how-references-work-in- the-real-world.html Grading Talent the Big Tuna Way – Steve Boese http://steveboese.squarespace.com/journal/2011/4/27/grading-talent-the-big-tuna- way.html Big Tickets and High Stakes – Steve Boese http://www.fistfuloftalent.com/2011/03/big-tickets-and-high-stakes.html Do You Remember What Unemployment Feels Like? – Tim Sackett http://www.timsackett.com/2011/11/21/remember-unemployment-feels-like/ Selection, Assessments, and the MLB – Tim Sackett http://www.timsackett.com/2011/04/06/selection-assessments-and-the-mlb/ Training and Development The Wisdom of Jeff Van Gundy – Part V – Steve Boese http://steveboese.squarespace.com/journal/2011/5/4/the-wisdom-of-jeff-van- gundy-part-v.html If “Everyone” is Responsible, is Anyone Responsible? – Steve Boese http://www.fistfuloftalent.com/2011/04/if-everyone-is-responsible-is-anyone- responsible.html Are You A Coach in HR? – Tim Sackett http://www.fistfuloftalent.com/2011/10/are-you-a-coach-in-hr.html 6 Ways LeBron James is Great at Team Building – Tim Sackett http://www.timsackett.com/2011/05/13/6-ways-lebron-james-is-great-at-team- building/ Performance and Talent Management Want Performance? Get Everyone Uncomfortable with a Mock Workplace Draft…-Kris Dunn http://www.hrcapitalist.com/2011/02/want-performance-get-everyone- uncomfortable-with-a-mock-workplace-draft.html Kris Dunn Just Scored a 47 on the Wonderlic Test!! – Kris Dunn http://www.hrcapitalist.com/2011/03/kris-dunn-just-scored-a-47-on-the- wonderlic-test.html 3
  4. 4. 4
  5. 5. #FACT: Great Talent Runs Freaking Hot – Deal With It…-Kris Dunn http://www.hrcapitalist.com/2011/03/fact-great-talent-runs-freaking-hot-deal- with-it.html High Performing Average Talent: Don’t Screw Them… - Kris Dunn http://www.hrcapitalist.com/2011/05/high-performing-average-talent-dont-screw- them-.html Moneyball and the Art of Figuring Out if HR Leaders are Overpaid… – Kris Dunn http://www.hrcapitalist.com/2011/09/my-hrevolution-session-moneyball-and-the- art-of-figuring-out-if-hr-leaders-are-overpaid.html R.I.P. Al Davis: Here’s My Favorite HR Quote From the NFL Sith Lord – Kris Dunn http://www.hrcapitalist.com/2011/10/rip-al-davis-heres-my-favorite-hr-quote- from-the-nfls-sith-lord-.html Rule #1 in Life, Business and HR: Don’t Tempt Fate by Talking Smack – Kris Dunn http://www.hrcapitalist.com/2011/06/rule-1-in-life-business-and-hr-dont-tempt- fate-by-talking-smack.html Why You’re Wrong About LeBron James – Steve Boese http://steveboese.squarespace.com/journal/2011/6/17/why-youre-wrong-about- lebron-james.html Halls of Fame – Steve Boese http://steveboese.squarespace.com/journal/2011/5/27/halls-of-fame.html Bench Pressing and Basketball – Steve Boese http://steveboese.squarespace.com/journal/2011/5/26/bench-pressing-and- basketball.html Do You Really Need Superstar Talent? – Steve Boese http://www.fistfuloftalent.com/2011/08/do-you-really-need-superstar-talent.html Throw Your Five Year Plan Out the Window – Lance Haun http://lancehaun.com/throw-your-five-year-plan-out-the-window/ Sometimes You Just Miss Your Shots – Lance Haun http://lancehaun.com/sometimes-you-just-miss-your-shots/ Workplace Gamification & Fantasy Football: Think They’re Related? You’d Be Wrong – Lance Haun 5
  6. 6. http://www.tlnt.com/2011/09/20/workplace-gamification-fantasy-football-think- theyre-related-youd-be-wrong/ Hire Slow, Fire Fast: Four Talent Selection Lessons From the NBA Draft – Lance Haun http://www.tlnt.com/2011/06/23/hire-slow-fire-fast-four-talent-selection-lessons- from-the-nba-draft/ 3 Things HR Pros Can Learn From “Moneyball” – Tim Sackett http://www.timsackett.com/2011/09/28/3-things-hr-pros-can-learn-from- moneyball/ HR’s September Call Up – Tim Sackett http://www.timsackett.com/2011/08/29/hrs-september-call-up/ Gangster – Matt Stollak http://truefaithhr.blogspot.com/2011/10/gangster.html Total Compensation Sharing the Wealth – NBA Style – Steve Boese http://steveboese.squarespace.com/journal/2011/9/13/sharing-the-wealth-nba- style.html The NBA, where a 30% pay cut was the better option – Steve Boese http://steveboese.squarespace.com/journal/2011/7/7/the-nba-where-a-30-pay-cut- was-the-better-option.html Employee and Labor Relations Jim Tressel Would Make a Crappy HR Director…-Kris Dunn http://www.hrcapitalist.com/2011/03/jim-tressel-would-make-a-crappy-hr- director.html The Mets and MLB Say No to 9/11 Hats Due to Funky Non-Solicitation Policy…- Kris Dunn http://www.hrcapitalist.com/2011/09/the-mets-and-mlb-say-no-to-911-hats-due- to-funky-non-solicitation-policy.html The Jim Boeheim Rule: Leaders Should Never Attack an Alleged Victim’s Credibility…- Kris Dunn http://www.hrcapitalist.com/2011/11/the-jim-boeheim- rule-leaders-should-never-attack-an-alleged-victims-credibility-.html 6
  7. 7. Dress Codes: Is Your Ban on Iverson Jersey and Stretch Pants More About Control Than the Customer? – Kris Dunn http://www.hrcapitalist.com/2011/11/dress-codes-is-your-ban-on-iverson-jerseys- and-stretch-pants-more-about-control-than-the-customer.html RARE: The Capitalist Says This Union Member Deserves Better Treatment From Management – Kris Dunn http://www.hrcapitalist.com/2011/10/rare-the-capitalist-says-this-union-member- deserves-better-treatment-from-management.html Employment Branding MBA: Why Nobody Cares Whether YOU Like Your Alma Mater’s Football Uniforms… - Kris Dunn http://www.hrcapitalist.com/2011/09/employment-branding-mba-why-nobody- cares-whether-you-like-your-alma-maters-football-uniforms.html Employment At Will: Why Coke People Won’t Get Caught Dead with Pepsi…. – Kris Dunn http://www.hrcapitalist.com/2011/08/employment-at-will-why-coke-people-wont- get-caught-dead-with-pepsi.html Labor Negotiations, Point Guards, and Genius Economists – Steve Boese http://steveboese.squarespace.com/journal/2011/9/27/labor-negotiations-point- guards-and-genius-economists.html When Does Terminating an Employee Become A Reward? – Tim Sackett http://www.fistfuloftalent.com/2011/08/when-does-terminating-an-employee- become-a-reward.html 7
  8. 8. Foreword Sticks and Balls For most people, sports... the doing and the talking about... is just as important to our culture as art. Loving sports is not about gender... meaning, guys are NOT modern day cavemen because all they do is mainline ESPN and sports talk shows. IMHO, loving sports is about relating to our fellow men and women. For example, what team do you root for / against? See, I like dynasties... meaning, I root for dominance. I like Manchester United, the Steelers (re: 70s), the Cowboys (re: 90s), the Lakers (re: Magic) the Bulls (re: Jordan), the Yankees, Alabama college football, Tiger Woods (re: the waitress tapping Tiger), etc, etc, etc. That speaks volumes about me. Those that love sports already know how to classify me... good, bad or otherwise... I've taken a position. I can defend it and admire the position of others as well. Albeit anyone that disagrees with me is a loser. Loser! What I love about the project that is “8 Man Rotation” is that my favorite writers wax philosophical about two of my favorite subjects: HR & sports. Like chocolate and peanut butter... separate they are good... together they are greatness. Please read AND share this content with all of your friends... those that love sports and those that abhor sports. ----William Tincup My fellow HR professionals, I am honored and humbled, yes honored to stand here today before you as one of the authors of The 8 Man Rotation....<scuffle of feet running to the stage>...oh, excuse me just a moment... Steve: Uh Trish, you’re not part of The 8 Man Rotation v.2. Sorry. Me: I’m not? Steve: No, you just need to introduce us. The STARS of the project. You’re not one of those. Me: I see. Well, I just thought that since I don’t play pro sports either that I could add as much value as you, Dunn, Haun and Stollak. Probably not as much as Sackett, but the rest I know I could take on. Steve: Um no, you’re not like us. We’re dudes. We know sports and stuff. Oh, and HR. You could always focus your writing on cheerleading or something. Me: Ok then. Well, I guess I’ll just introduce you all. Well readers, I’m back. It seems that I am not one of the esteemed authors of The 8 Man Rotation v. 2 . However, I do work in HR and as a real practitioner, I’m always looking for ways to figure out how to do my job better. Like you, I have turned to many of the recognized business leadership books for guidance. They really don’t help change much though. What better place to look for inspiration and 8
  9. 9. guidance than sports references about HR? I know these guys know sports and they know HR. So, without further adieu, I give you... The 8 Man Rotation v. 2. Go team! ----Trish McFarlane 9
  10. 10. Introduction We know that most sequels suck. This is true with most movies, but it is especially true about sports movie sequels. As anyone who paid their hard-earned dollars to see Major League II, Slap Shot II: Breaking the Ice, or Caddyshack II knows, great art is hard to follow. I know what you’re thinking. Does the world really need another collection of writings about Sports and HR? Wasn’t it beaten to death in the last edition? Yet, here we are with the 2011 season - 45 more posts ripped from the screens of the HR Capitalist, Fistful of Talent, Rehaul.com, the Tim Sackett Project, and True Faith HR. Its more points than Kobe or LeBron averaged, but fewer than the number of TDs Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees, or Tom Brady threw. And, the 2012 season is already looking bright…but, it’ll have to wait until next year. 10
  11. 11. CHAPTER 1 HR Planning and Strategy 11
  12. 12. Is Your Company Better At Innovation if You Seek Patents or Simply Find The Next Tweak? Kris Dunn Originally published October 14, 2011 Innovation. You want it. You need it. Is your company better at innovation if you seek to protect IP through patents or simply move on to the next big tweak that's going to change the game? I ask the question knowing the answer. Companies that have large amounts of IP have to protect themselves legally and financially by seeking patents. But that doesn't mean that innovation doesn't happen at a more rapid pace in industries that traditionally haven't had the ability to trademark innovation. Example? The NFL. More from Freakonomics: "Just about a year ago we posted about the incredibly innovative game of football. As we described, all of the innovation we’ve seen in football – the spread offense, the zone blitz, the wildcat, and dozens of other offensive and defensive formations, strategies, and counter-strategies – occurs without anyone ever asserting ownership. Rival teams are free to copy new plays, and they do. It’s not as if ownership would be impossible – existing intellectual property rules might cover at least some football innovations as copyrightable “choreographic works,” or as patentable processes. The fact remains, 12
  13. 13. however, that no one has ever tried to copyright or patent a new play or formation. And yet Belichick, and dozens of great football coaches over the years, continue to be creative. Why? Professional football is the apotheosis of cutthroat competition. In the NFL, innovations can pay even if they provide an advantage over only a few games (although for reasons we’ve explained, copying a football coach’s innovation effectively is often more difficult than it may at first appear). A few extra games in the win column are the difference between a decent season and playing in the Super Bowl." The post talks at length about the Buffalo Bills innovating a new twist to old technique of receivers "picking" for each other to get open. A picture of the formation appears above. Back to the question. Do most companies that don't protect IP through patents see a lot of innovation? How does HR innovate when they can't protect what they do with patents? Maybe the bigger question is the following - How do you encourage your teams to innovate to gain the short-lived advantage when you don't have the pressure of developing thousands of patents, like a Microsoft or a Motorola? I look at the picture above and the answer is pretty obvious. Do the equivalent of a film review with your team. Line up you and your competitor side by side, and be shocked at how similar you are. Give your team the task of doing two things in the next month that make your company look different (and more valuable for customers). Come back the next month and keep the innovation pressure on. Lesson - Find the equivalent of your receiver stack at your company. Last note, after Sunday's NFL games, I found the following play, on our coffee table, charted out below by my 8-year old son. It's the play where the Broncos did a hand off, then the running back flipped it back to Kyle Orton, who launched it 40 yards to an open receiver. Orton under-threw it (Tebow would have thrown it 45 yards... hahaha), but the vibe was on. My son, charting copycat plays on what he considered to be innovation. Good times. 13
  14. 14. 14
  15. 15. Please welcome our new VP of Marketing. Yes, that's really him By Steve Boese Originally Published September 2, 2011 So let's pretend you are a dedicated marketing pro at a low-key but solid wholesale grocery distribution company in Tennessee and you have seen notice or heard through the company grapevine that the VP of Marketing position is open. VP slots at small and medium size companies don't just open up every day, and as you learn more about the opening, you become more intrigued. Casual Friday in the Marketing department? You've got over 10 years experience marketing in this industry, almost five at the current company, and you have been given progressively more responsibility, high profile projects, and control over a small team and budget. You like the company, love living in the area, and have cemented solid relationships in the local business community as well as been an active participant in a few industry associations, even serving as a conference speaker on a couple of occasions. You have even let your Gen-Y staffers run with the whole 'social media' thing to support the company marketing efforts. It isn't for you personally, but you realize that times are changing, and empowering the right people to help navigate through these changes just seems to make sense. 15
  16. 16. All told, you have some really solid qualifications for the VP role, and if the company had one of those progressive HR constructs known as a 'succession plan', your name would almost certainly been in the 'Ready now' box for the VP of Marketing role. So as you sit down at your desk to have one last look at your resume before firing off an email to the CEO to forward your name for consideration for the VP position, you see a company-wide announcement drop in to your inbox. It reads : Please welcome our new VP of Marketing - Bruce Pearl. You think - What? Bruce Pearl? The former University of Tennessee Men's Basketball Coach that was fired for lying to NCAA investigators during an investigation into the program's recruiting practices? A guy who has been a basketball coach for the last 25 years or so, and whose only knowledge and experience in the grocery business is that perhaps occasionally he shops in one? That's our new VP of Marketing? The bit about the Marketing Manager I just made up, but back in the 'real' world the aforementioned Bruce Pearl was indeed just hired by the wholesale grocery distribution firm H.T. Hackney as their new VP of Marketing. Now I don't profess to know anything about H.T. Hackney, or the climate of the Knoxville area wholesale grocery distribution business, but taken simply at face value, the hiring of Pearl into a VP of Marketing role fresh off recent scandal, and perhaps more importantly, an entire professional career that had pretty much nothing to do with the grocery business or corporate marketing seems quite baffling. Sure, the company gets a short-term publicity pop, everyone in the area knows who Pearl is, and most probably never heard of H.T. Hackney before, but longer term, can or will a hire like Pearl cause more damage than good? I wonder if there really is a H.T. Hackney Marketing manager that won't get his or her shot because of this move. Or maybe there is a slate of great marketing pros that are looking for their next career move that would have made a super hire for the position. I guess time will tell, but I do think these kinds of stunt hires, particularly ones we see that are sport-related, don't seem to work out all that well. 16
  17. 17. In Hackney's defense, an article from ESPN announcing the Pearl hire refers to a news release where Hackney officials refer to Pearl's 'marketing and economic background as a student at Boston College', as some justification and support for the hire. In these tough economic times it's good to know that a solid education still carries weight in the job market. Even if, as in Pearl's degree, it was earned in 1982. 17
  18. 18. Waiting for the Siren’s Call By Matthew Stollak, Originally Published February 1, 2011 These are heady times in our little hamlet called Green Bay. The excitement is palpable as our football team is playing in Super Bowl XLV. Everywhere you turn, people are dressed in green and gold and conversation inevitably turns to what will happen in this weekend's game. However, some are taking this weekend's festivities a bit far. At least one Green Bay organization is experiencing a significant number of personal and family illness days being submitted for Friday, February 4, 2011, and Monday, February 7, 2011. Amazing how people can anticipate being sick several days in advance. With 85-90% of TVs in this area expected to be turned to the Super Bowl on Sunday, it is understandable that absence might be a little higher the day after, especially if the home town Packers emerge victorious. So, how does your organization handle absenteeism on the day after the Super Bowl? Will cases of personal and family illness be subject to verification by a doctor? Confession: I will be attending the game and flying back from Dallas on Monday. So, count me as absent. 18
  19. 19. Reality By Matthew Stollak Originally Published July 18, 2011 One of my favorite books about the film is Adventures in the Screen Trade by William Goldman. In it, the screenwriter of such films as Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid, and The Princess Bride,writes: "The "go" decision is the ultimate importance of the studio executive. They are responsible for what gets up there on the silver screen. Compounding their problem of no job security in the decision-making process is the single most important fact, perhaps, of the entire industry: NOBODY KNOWS ANYTHING." *Every studio except Paramount turned down Raiders of the Lost Ark. The studio wanted Tom Selleck to play Indiana Jones instead of Harrison Ford, but Selleck couldn't get out of his Magnum P.I. contract. *Universal turned down Star Wars *Columbia passed on E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial. We see the same thing happen in the sports arena. Scouts in the NFL battle over whether to draft Ryan Leaf or Peyton Manning as the 1st pick. Tom Brady gets drafted in the 6th round. Michael Jordan was not the first pick in the draft when he came out of college. Physics has the Law of Gravity Chemistry has Boyle's Law and the Laws of Thermodynamics Even Economics, the dismal science, has the Law of Supply and Demand But, does human resources have any laws or universal truths that all abide by? If so, what are they? Or, like their Hollywood and sports counterparts, NOBODY KNOWS ANYTHING. 19
  20. 20. Jerry Sloan: Another Great Example of Why Managerial Longevity Matters By Lance Haun Originally Published February 11, 2011 An employee of 23 years quits suddenly. What do you do? That’s the question the NBA’s Utah Jazz were faced with when their coach of 23 years, Jerry Sloan, decided to resign suddenly during mid-season yesterday: I had a feeling this time was the time to move on,” an emotional Sloan said during a Thursday afternoon news conference. “[That's] a long time to be in one organization. Again, I’ve been blessed. Today is a new day. When I get this over with, I’ll feel better. My time is up and it’s time to move on.” Longtime assistant Phil Johnson also resigned, surprising even Sloan during their post-game chat Wednesday night with general manager Kevin O’Connor. “I came with him and I’ll leave with him,” the 69-year-old Johnson said Thursday. So, what would you do if you were in charge of the Jazz organization? Longevity in a profession with little of it Coaching is a profession with high turnover. In Sloan’s case, it’s extreme. For example, he was promoted to head coach in 1988. The next longest tenured head coach (Gregg Popovich of the San Antonio Spurs) was hired in 1996. The next in line (Doc Rivers of the Boston Celtics) was hired in 2004. A large majority of teams have had their coaches for less than five years. That makes Sloan’s 23 years at the helm even more remarkable. 20
  21. 21. The organization was stable with him leading the charge for so long. In an environment where coaches are often seen as disposable and could be changed at the behest of a star player, Utah was often the lone exception to that rule. He became an institution in Salt Lake City. All changed in a moment Coaching changes are becoming more common in mid-season, but coaching changes initiated by the coach himself? It’s unheard of — especially with Sloan’s longevity in the position. There has been speculation that an on-court dispute finally pushed him over the edge and into resigning. ESPN reported that Sloan had an argument with Deron Williams, a key player for the team. Even if it ends up not being the complete story, the timing itself would be an odd coincidence. Suffice to say, it wouldn’t be the first time a high performing star employee drove a manager out of a job. Star employees can demand much from other staff (including their managers) and it can be a difficult dynamic to handle as a manager. However, Sloan has dealt with top talent before and handled it well (the last time he had not one, but two top stars, he went to the NBA Finals two years in a row). Will longevity count? The Utah Jazz have tapped current assistant coach Tyrone Corbin to coach the team forward. What was unusual about this move is that teams usually place an interim tag on a new head coach, even if they intend to hire him after the season ends. Utah has been clear that it intends to keep Corbin past the end of this season. It will be interesting how the Jazz recover from this sudden turnover of its most visible management position. As I said in a post about longevity: I can’t imagine the actual dollar value of having a high-performing employee who knows the history, struggles, and successes of the organization so well. At a certain point, institutional knowledge becomes so second-nature that a person becomes nearly irreplaceable. And: 21
  22. 22. The last thing worth mentioning is if you have a great culture, longevity helps protect that culture from shifting. CEO’s and top execs who stay at a company for long periods of time have proven that year over year. Good luck to Jerry Sloan moving on, but maybe that luck should be reserved for the Jazz, who have to try to move on from the loss of a legendary figure in their organization. Even as a Portland Trail Blazer fan who rarely finds a reason to celebrate anything related to the Utah Jazz, I tip my hat to the legacy and example Sloan has given every coach. 22
  23. 23. CHAPTER 2 Staffing and Career Considerations 23
  24. 24. Albert Pujols and the Art of the Counter-Offer: It All Comes Down to Replacement Cost for the Same Performance... By Kris Dunn Originally Published December 9, 2011 I'm from Missouri and a St. Louis pro sports fan. In case you missed it, Cardinal great (pro baseball) Albert Pujols has left the Cardinals at the age of 32, signing a 10 year deal worth $254 Million with the Los Angeles Angels. The reaction out of St. Louis is disappointment, but with a hat tip toward the realization that matching that offer would have been a suckers play. It's a much different reaction than what happened in Cleveland when Lebron James opted to "take his talents to South Beach". The reaction should be different, because the situations are dramatically different. It all comes down to replacement cost, your brand and the profitability line. Lebron James was a mega-star in a superstar-driven league. The Cleveland Cavaliers couldn't replace him if he left. Cleveland as a sports town is a wasteland, a place where no free agent wants to dwell. Lose Lebron in Cleveland, you're not getting back to the top. Ever. The Cardinal franchise is something entirely different. Lots of world championships before Pujols arrived. A great baseballl town and region where veterans want to play to bask in fan support all summer long. Baseball is a sport where you need 20 contributors, and no one player can domineer the action - unlike basketball. 24
  25. 25. What would you do if Ed in Accounting told you he wouldn't be back in 2012 unless you gave him a 3 year deal giving him a annual 60% bump in comp? Hit the bricks, Ed. You're replaceable. What about Stan, your top sales pro? He's not coming back in 2012 unless you double his total comp and guarantee it for 4 years. He's a great revenue producer, careful.... You've got 4 other reps that are near quota. Stan's great, but you lose money on that comp structure. Don't let the door hit you on the butt on the way out, Stan. Countering the star comes down to 3 things: 1. What's the total comp point where the revenue/performance the star provides goes into the red? 2. How strong is your organization? Can you recruit good talent in to replace the star? Is your brand good enough where others want to work for you? 3. Is there anyone else that can come close to doing what the star does? Cleveland had no other options, thus the total freak out when Lebron left. St. Louis is pretty quiet in comparison the day after Albert took his talents to SoCal. Is your organization like the Cavs or Cardinal nation? 25
  26. 26. Treat Your Candidates Well - Because They're Going to Stick To You Like Kareem If You Don't... By Kris Dunn Originally Published May 24, 2011 I know - you've got lots of candidate volume. It's hard to get your ATS set up with a soulful message to at least give your candidates the solid of knowing where they stand. It's hard to call all the candidates back who at least had a phone interview to tell them personally where they stand. I know I ebb and flow in my ability to do this, so you surely do as well. We need to do better. Need motivation? Then consider this - it's not only the right thing to do, it's self-preservation. Those candidates you are failing to communicate with - especially the mid-level ones and up - are going to remember your lack of communication. They'll see it not as negative, they'll see it as neutral. Need a cautionary tale? Consider the case of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, one of the greatest basketball players of all time. He was great, but was unwilling to communicate. Now the world remembers and rather than him being celebrated as he grows old, he's a bit of an outcast. More from LA Observed: "In an interview with The Sporting News, Abdul-Jabbar went public with his feelings of being "highly offended" by the way the Lakers treat the star of five of L.A.'s championship years — and the NBA's all-time leading scorer. His number 33 is up on the wall, of course, but he feels "slighted" that the team erected statues to Chick Hearn and Jerry West and has not made firm plans for a statue of him outside Staples Center. He told the L.A. Times that it goes beyond the statue to include the Lakers' handling of him as a special 26
  27. 27. coach and a big pay cut. "The relationship is fractured," he says. "I don’t expect my relationship with the team to continue beyond this point." He amplified on Twitter, saying the "Lakers have given me the absolute minimum of respect" and "the status was just the las straw." Here's where it gets interesting. Kareem went public with his displeasure on the fact no statue of him is forthcoming, and the general public (remember - your candidates) remembers how they were treated. Look at this letter to the editor in LA: "Kareem, don't worry, you'll get over the way the Lakers treated you in five years or so. That's about how long it took for my 10-year-old daughter to get over the way you treated her 25 years ago when she asked you for an autograph. Karma." That was one of many letters. It seems that fans didn't react well to a surly, uncommunicative star. Just like candidates don't react well to your brand not communicating where they stand. Even someone like me has a Kareem story. The year was 1994. I'm an assistant coach at UAB under Gene Bartow and we were playing UC-Santa Barbara on an ESPN feature called "Big Monday" (Look it up, Kids). Kareem was part of the broadcast crew for the game and was at the shoot-around. Coach Bartow went over to talk to him, and because he's Coach Bartow, Kareem was at least neutral in his interaction. Then Bartow did what normal people do - he called over his assistants - including me - to meet the great Kareem. Kareem was sitting on press row and, I kid you not, did not make eye contact or acknowledge us as Bartow introduced each of us to him. Of course, he's Kareem and I'm nobody. Of course, you've got the jobs and they're just one of ten thousand candidates. Nobodies. You don't have time. Neither did Kareem - for anyone. Now, people remember. No statue for you, Kareem. No NBA coaching job for you, Kareem. You were one of the 5 best players of all time. How surly and unapproachable must you have been (and perhaps still are) for you to be on the outside looking in at this point in your life? The same thing can and will happen to your employment brand. 27
  28. 28. Communicate early and often with candidates this week. They remember, just like Laker fans related to Kareem. 28
  29. 29. Legalities? Here's How References Work in the Real World.... By Kris Dunn Originally Published April 7, 2011 Want to know why I write about sports a lot on an HR blog? Because it's the most transparent place in the world for talent decisions of all types - by far. Example: Lots of HR pros wring their hands about whether a manager can provide any negative information on a reference. They also wring their hands about providing a positive reference that doesn't get into the negative. To control all the bad stuff, many HR pros tell their people that they can only do name, title and dates of employment. Meanwhile, your managers are blasting away on people they don't like - just play the game and don't ask them for an official reference. Just say, "what did you think about working with XXXX?", or my backup favorite, "Can you give me a personal, not professional reference?" Case in point: The recent reference it appears Maryland hoops coach, Gary Williams, gave multiple candidates on NC State Athletic Director Debbie Yow. The two used to work together at Maryland (Yow was the boss) and across time, Yow wasn't happy with the often profane Williams. So she started trying to raise money among prominent boosters to buy him out. I actually had drinks with a booster who told me the backstabbing story about 6 months ago. Williams, like your managers, has a long memory. Yow was recently in the market to hire a new hoops coach at NC State. Candidates reportedly called Williams for the 411. More from the World Wide Leader: "The frosty relationship between North Carolina State athletic director Debbie Yow and Maryland's Gary Williams took a nasty turn during the introduction of the Wolfpack's new men's basketball coach. Yow -- who spent 16 years as Maryland's athletic director -- called out the Terrapins coach, who won the 2002 NCAA championship working under her, of interfering with the search. It happened during North Carolina State's news conference introducing Mark Gottfried, who replaced Sidney Lowe. Yow responded to a reporter's question to Gottfried about whether she had a reputation of being difficult to work with. "I don't have a reputation across all men's basketball of being difficult to work with," she said Tuesday. "I have a reputation of not getting along with Gary Williams, who has tried to sabotage the search. Come on, we all know that. OK, so whatever. 29
  30. 30. "It's not a reputation. It's Gary Williams out there doing his thing. Whatever." Boom. That's why I use sports. Where else are you going to get that type of info on reference checking gone horribly wrong? Check out the video below for the venom. Also, it's an onboarding issue as well. What can Mark Gottfried (the new coach) be thinking as his boss publicly tries to hurt someone's career in such a direct fashion? PS - your managers are giving mind-blowing opinions on references every day. Someone is doing it right now... Fortunately, managers in the private sector don't have access to a camera and media outlets to document their feelings on how they've been wronged (or wronged others). Thank whatever God you pray to for that. 30
  31. 31. Grading Talent the Big Tuna Way By Steve Boese Originally Published April 27, 2011 Last night ESPN ran an interesting behind-the-scenes look at how American professional teams typically evaluate talent, with special guest former National Football League executive and head coach Bill 'Big Tuna' Parcells. The context of the show was the league's upcoming college player draft, the annual exercise where the league's teams assess, grade, and ultimately select from 5-10 players each to 're- supply' the talent on their teams. It is a massive, high-stakes, expensive, and critically important recruiting, assessment, and alignment exercise. Parcells' resume and achievements as a successful coach, and talent evaluator are solid - he served in very senior roles at several NFL organizations, winning two Super Bowl Championships as the Head Coach of the New York Football Giants. In the show Parcells' shared some of the talent selection criteria and thought processes that organizations that he was a member of, and in general, most other teams tend to follow when making player selections in the league's annual college player draft. Some of the criteria and processes were fairly obvious, and would apply generally to any talent selection or recruiting context, (players who had been kicked off their college team for disciplinary reasons should be avoided), but some of the other concepts Parcells discussed perhaps are not so apparent to casual observers, and just might have some additional applicability to more conventional talent selection processes. Here are three Talent Evaluation ideas straight from the Big Tuna: 1. Understand the predictors of success (some are not so obvious) In NFL football every team measures and grades the basic and easily understood physical characteristics of potential draftees, (height, weight, strength, speed), but during the show Parcells mentioned a few not-so-obvious keys he assesses, (e.g. for the position of cornerback, length of the player's arms). For potential quarterback 31
  32. 32. prospects, Parcells insisted he only wanted players that actually graduated from college, as he felt it demonstrated intelligence, and more importantly commitment. The larger point is every competitor has access to the same talent pool, the basic and obvious assessment criteria are widely known and universally adopted, so finding the less clear and more predictive evaluation criteria that other teams may not have discovered is one of the ways to claim some advantage and make better selection decisions than the competition. 2. Make sure everyone involved in Talent selection understands these predictors Once the criteria is established, and a process to collect and assess these criteria developed, Parcells emphasized the critical need for everyone involved in the talent selection process to understand the criteria, and consistently grade to the criteria. From scouts, to assistant coaches, to even the team owner, the definition of what a top candidate looks like has to be understood by everyone. There are so many players to assess, that no one member of the organization can possibly 'know' every candidate, so the selection process becomes a team effort, and the talent selection team has to have that common ground for any chance of success. Talent is talked about in the common language of the team's assessment ratings, and no conversation about talent fails to reference these assessments. 3. Know yourself Parcells described a common acronym used in football draft processes, NFU, which means 'Not For Us'. This term is assigned to players that the strict adherence to positional capability assessments or past production in the college game might indicate are good candidates and should be considered in the selection process. But these NFL players have raised some concern off the field, of their attitude, style, work ethic somehow will not be a cultural match to what the organization is looking for. Parcells strongly advises teams to know themselves, know the style they want to play, the kinds of mental makeups that players need to have to 'fit' on the team, and to avoid the temptation of selecting players with fantastic physical skills that might not 'fit' otherwise. These kinds of gambles rarely work out, and they are the ones that get coaches and talent evaluators fired. But in the end, despite incredibly detailed and complex processes for physical measurement, tests of intelligence, and well-documented and easily reviewed past performance in college football, selecting players for NFL teams is still and imperfect process. So-called 'can't miss' top prospects often fail to live up to expectations, while others deemed marginal prospects once vetted by the traditional processes end up as star players. Having a system and some ground rules to follow, to find ways to uncover predictors your competition may have missed, and perhaps most importantly a deep and confident organizational self-awareness are a few ways our pal the Big Tuna 32
  33. 33. offered up to try and land more Peyton Mannings and less Ryan Leafs (inside football reference, Google it). Big Tickets and High Stakes By Steve Boese Originally Published March 10, 2011 So you have to pull the trigger on the big hire. The kind of C-level, (or close), critical, visible, and organization-shaping call that can make or break your career as a talent pro at the firm, and may, if you swing and miss, cause a few others to go down with you. This is the big show, and the slate of potential candidates is impressive and deep. On paper, they all have the necessary tools, great experience with a track record of success. Similar and superior education and training, and the all have been coached to have the ‘right’ answers to your interview questions. Seemingly, no matter which candidate you choose, you can’t go wrong. But you get paid the big bucks to choose the best, not just narrow the field to three or four. And something tells you that the difference between the best choice and the worst is potentially huge. Believe me, in a couple of years, everyone will know if you made the right call.In true FOT fashion, this kind of selection conundrum reminds me of the situations that face talent selection executives at professional sports teams. How do teams make the distinction on draft day among competing prospects? Prospects that often have remarkably similar bodies of work to assess, whose physical traits are consistent with past successful players, and who come prepared and ready for your interviews, coached and advised well by a retinue of agents and business managers. Recently, a friend of FOT shared with me this story about the high-stakes selection process at one NFL team, (some small details modified to protect the identity of the involved parties). A few years ago, I sat next to the head of player personnel for an NFL team on a plane from New York to Dallas, just about a week before the NFL draft.We struck up a conversation about how he makes his picks. (He had been in charge of player personnel for the team for over 10 years, a stretch of time where the team had enjoyed considerably more success than most others). Prior to taking the job in the NFL, he had been a major college head coach at two different and winning programs. Simply put, he knew football. 33
  34. 34. We got to talking about how he makes hiring decisions, i.e. what players to draft and to try and acquire in free agency. It was a great conversation – one that I will long remember. He mentioned that each year he gets to decide which 20 year old his owner writes a $20M check to, and the owners get very pissed if he gets it wrong, and they don’t suit up on game day in the NFL, and become high-performing contributors to the team. With those kind of stakes, getting these high draft picks right often makes the difference between a consistent winner and a team that struggles. He told me what he does to better assess these young players who all have the physical tools to succeed. To get more insight into the mental makeup and character of the prospects, he focused on the following: 1. A personality test- one that the military uses- and he swears by it. He did not say which test specifically, but the idea of using assessments was clearly important to his selection process. 2. On college visits, he is not assessing athletic ability- they all have it, but rather he talks to the trainers in the locker room about what the kid is like after a loss, he talks to the teachers about what time they show up for class the day after a game, and what type of student they are and how they relate to other class members (all character questions). 3. Since many of these prospects came from, to put it nicely, potentially problematic backgrounds, (run-ins with the law, less than stellar behavior in college, some drug use history), really finding out as much as you can about the character and non- measurable aspects of their make-up was essential in their evaluation process. I also asked him what pick he was personally proud of, and he told me about his first draft with his current team, and he went on and on about [player name redacted], a quarterback, and how he felt I should keep my eye on him, and that his character was rock solid. As it turned out, the player in question has had an uneven career, with on-field performance a disappointment, and eventually was released from the team, to be picked up by another team in a back-up role. What is instructive about this story to me is that talent selection is talent selection – whether it is for the most junior role in your office, or for a NFL first-round draft pick set to become an instant millionaire. Character and personality are important no matter the role, and digging deeper to get a truer sense of these character and personality traits can mean the difference in identifying that all star among a similar looking and seeming slate of candidates. But even after all this, after these assessments, and examinations, and tracking down every cashier a candidate ever bought a Slurpee from to see if he was a nice guy, 34
  35. 35. sometimes, maybe too often, we make the wrong call. It isn’t always our fault of course. Even ‘can’t miss’ candidates sometimes do indeed, miss. 35
  36. 36. Do You Remember What Unemployment Looks Like? By Tim Sackett Originally Published November 21, 2011 I was reading a short interview recently in ESPN the Magazine about Nascar up-and- comer Brad Keselowski, who is having a great year on the track. The article was really around Brad’s advice/opinion on why he is having success and one point stood out to me over everything else. He said: “I worry about job security every day. If you ain’t worried about losing your job, you can’t drive at the right level. Even after winning at Pocono on August 7th, I remember thinking, at least this buys me a little more time. When the day comes that I’m not afraid of getting fired, I’ll lost my edge.” Nothing like professional sports to bring out performance anxiety! The fact is professional sports like Nascar, golf, tennis, etc., is the ultimate pay for performance model. For the most part, professionals in those type of individual sports only get paid if they perform well, and only keep getting paid if they continue to perform. It’s like the commission sales person – you either sell, or your kids don’t eat this month. Most people hate living and working under this pressure – but some thrive and Brad gives you a little insight to how they do it. Don’t ever get comfortable. Don’t ever stop feeling what it feels like to not have a job. Because when you do, you might as well start looking for a new job at that very moment. I love this! This is an insight to one’s soul. It sucks to be unemployed, especially is you’ve worked for a long time. To get up in the morning and not have some place to go is very unsettling, to say the least. But as HR Pros, how many times do we see people who have gotten to “comfortable” – who have forgotten what it feels like to be unemployed? Maybe even you are at this point right now! This is a gift that we can deliver to our employees. To sit down and have the “looks-like-you’re-really- comfortable-right-now” conversation. It’s not a threat, it’s a developmental conversation around – “what else” – what else could you be doing that you’re not, 36
  37. 37. what else is out there for you to accomplish and how can I help you get there, what else do you need to do to ensure you keep this job? To often we have these types of conversations with employees who are struggling, instead of with those who are coasting. If we had more of these conversations with our coasters, we would probably have very few struggling conversations – and believe me the coaster conversation is much easier to have – because it’s being had with positive intent. So, what can you do today? Think about unemployment – in fact – think about it every freaking day. About what it feels like, about what it will do to your life, about how you can stop it – because you can – don’t believe the hype that says you don’t have control – it doesn’t matter – Mr. Corporation will just lay you off. Those people who are pushing each day for better performance, who don’t settle, who don’t get comfortable – they aren’t getting laid off. Unemployment sucks – remember that! 37
  38. 38. Selections, Assessment, and the MLB By Tim Sackett Originally Published April 6, 2011 Major League Baseball is back this week, which means I now have something to do each night until November! Yeah me, I’m winning! More importantly the MLB gives us some great things to write about throughout the season. I don’t know of a sport where more there is more of a correlation to HR than Major League Baseball. Think about what the MLB does as compared to our daily jobs as HR Pros across the country:  No one does more analysis and assessments before hiring (drafting) than the MLB  No one has a larger succession plan in place than the MLB (minor leagues)  Pay for Performance compensation (Ok, I’ll give you a pitcher who has a 9-13 record and a 5.79 ERA should not get paid $5.6M per year – but we all have our market)  Constant employee motivation and leadership development – Employee Relations Issue (hitters in an 0 – 21 slump at the plate, Manager calls him out in the newspaper, etc.) You get the picture – the MLB is like one giant HR laboratory – but with an unending budget – and a heck of lot more Dominicans than your average U.S. workplace. The one thing I wonder is how long we (HR/Talent Pros) would have our job – if we had the same success rates in selection as our MLB counterparts? There are up to 50 rounds each year in the Major League draft – and a MLB team can sign as many Free Agents (those who didn’t get drafted or no longer have rights held by another team) as they want. In the end the failure rate of selection is astronomically high. From a Sports Illustrated article in 2010: 38
  39. 39. …major league teams selected 436 high school players after the 13th round. Only nine of those kids signed a contract that year and eventually made it to the big leagues — a 98 percent failure rate. After Round 26, teams selected 213 high school players, only one of whom, Victor Diaz, an outfielder who appeared in 147 games for the Mets and Rangers, played even a day in the big leagues — a 99.5 percent failure rate… Can you imagine a 99.5% failure rate in hiring in your organization! You would have your job for about 26 minutes! You think you have a hard time assessing talent, the folks working for MLB teams, it would seem, could use some help from some HR Pros and assessment vendors in revamping their selection process, because something isn’t working right – and you thought the athletes weren’t held accountable! There are good lessons to learn from their failure of MLB’s selection science (or should I say lack of selection science): 1. Don’t get caught up in the hype. What happens when 13 old guys stand outside the fence watching some 17 year old kid throwing 91 mph fastballs – they all lose their minds – HR folks aren’t much different – have you been to a college career fair for hard to find grads! Just because they have 1 skill doesn’t make them a star, and even if they have more, they might not be the fit for your “team”. 2. Past Performance Doesn’t Always Predict Future Performance. Oh, that one stings a bit. It’s definitely one major criteria to look at, but it doesn’t always ring true – many factors come into play – culture of previous organization, former leadership, position, industry, etc. 3. Don’t overlook small town, small school kids. It’s easy to pick up great business hires from Harvard – but what about one from Northern Iowa? Not every kid who goes to an Ivy League school is going to be great, and not every kid going to B and C business schools are idiots. 39
  40. 40. CHAPTER 3 Training and Development 40
  41. 41. The Wisdom of Jeff Van Gundy – Part V By Steve Boese Originally Published May 4, 2011 The sage was at it again the other night during the Oklahoma City - Memphis NBA playoff game. In case you don't know what I am referring to, former NBA head coach, and current TV analyst Jeff Van Gundy (JVG) dropped another bit of simple, yet essential knowledge about basketball that I think is also directly applicable to the workplace, management, and organizational dynamics. During the game Oklahoma City forward Nick Collison made a smart play on defense to cause Memphis to lose the ball, hustled to the offensive end of the floor, and then positioned himself properly to make a scoring move when the ball was rotated to him in the flow of the offensive play. It was a brief series of actions that were not necessarily terribly athletic or skilled or even that remarkable, but as a kind of orchestrated series did add up to an excellent and winning (apologies Chas. Sheen) play. Immediately after Collison, who is not a starting or star player on the team, completed the play, JVG observed that winning teams need guys like Collison, players that may not have all the physical skills of the top players on the team, but have found ways to contribute using capabilities and attributes that are mostly 'choices' and not simply genetic gifts. The money line from JVG: 'Guys like Collison, guys that grind, are essential. The best ones are coachable, accountable, and professional. And you can win with guys like that.' Coachable - willing to accept suggestions, able to make adjustments in style of play to fit the team goals, and cognizant that what may have worked in the past (in college, or on former pro team), might not be the desired behavior on the current team. 41
  42. 42. Accountable - understands the role, knows how the role impacts and contributes to the success of the team, makes the effort to put himself in the right situations, and simply does his job fully knowing the rest of the team depends on him to meet his objectives. And if other guys on the team, maybe the star players, are having an 'off' night, then he knows when to try and give a little more than normally needed. Professional - in the narrow sense, we are all professional, i.e. we are paid to perform. But what JVG really meant was a level of personal integrity, pride, and dedication to himself as a player, to his teammates, and to the supporters of the team. This means showing up and giving your best effort even when times are tough, when the team is down, or when you are not meeting your personal objectives. It means being proud of your contribution in every game, and even every practice. It means setting an example for others to follow, even if you don't hold a formal title or leadership role. Coachable, accountable, professional. All important. All under your control every day. Super talented people in any game or industry or field can get away with only one or two of these, and can still make incredible contributions to the organization. But if you are like most people, and are not in that rare category of naturally talented superstars, just focusing on being coachable, accountable and professional will go a long way in determining your success in any role. And stacking your team, no matter what the game, with those kinds of players will make you look pretty smart as a leader as well. And that my friends, is the Wisdom of Jeff Van Gundy. 42
  43. 43. If “Everyone” is Responsible, is Anyone Responsible? By Steve Boese Originally Published April 21, 2011 Hiring decisions are often lengthy, arduous, complex undertakings, where even the best, top-performing organizations can only hope to achieve more ‘wins’ than losses’. Think about it. What percentage of your organization’s hires in the last two years would you, (or more importantly, your managers), classify as quality hires? About half? More? Do you even know? Hiring is hard, while simultaneously being critically important to all organizations. If this weren’t the case, we would not have a multi-billion dollar industry surrounding and supporting the hiring process from all angles, (job boards, ATS systems, executive recruiters, RPOs, staffing firms, career coaches, resume writers, and on and on…), and quite honestly myself and the fine team of professionals here at Fistful of Talent who serve up these bits of wisdom and nonsense insight each day would not have all that much to write about. While hiring is admittedly hard, so too is the opposite point on the employee life cycle, separation. Knowing when to end the employment relationship, either by the employer acting unilaterally, (You’re fired! Clean out your locker!), or by the employee seeking a change, (admittedly often easier and cleaner), can be as complex and difficult as the mutual agreement and meeting of the minds needed to bring someone on board in the first place. But while many separation decisions can and do seem pretty straightforward and simple, particularly ones involving employee termination for cause, sometimes even the most seemingly obvious and straighforward cases of ineffective management, poor decision making, lack of critical perspective, and lack of application of basic common sense, cases that can occasionally result in tragic outcomes, don’t always result in the kinds of punitive and decisive actions that seem to be so clearly warranted. On October 27, 2010 a student at Notre Dame, Declan Sullivan, was tragically killed when the 40-foot hydraulic lift he was standing on while filming the school’s football team practice was toppled by what was estimated to be a 53 mph wind gust. Immediately after the accident, Sullivan’s death, while certainly a shock and a tragedy, seemed to call out for blame to be assigned. Why was the team conducting practice outside in such poor conditions, when an indoor facility was available? And why was a student, Sullivan, on a lift 40 feet in the air on such a windy, sort of frightening day? Certainly someone messed up. Someone made a terrible decision that ended up with the worst possible effect. Someone has to take the blame, at a minimum be terminated from their employment? 43
  44. 44. Right? Notre Dame concluded its internal investigation of the tragedy this week, with no one involved in the incident being placed at fault or punished. The reasoning behind the absence of discipline? Here’s the quote from Notre Dame President, the Rev. John Jenkins:“We did not find any individual who disregarded safety or was indifferent to safety. Consequently, there was not any individual discipline,” Jenkins said. “Our conclusion is that it’s a collective responsibility that must be dealt with collectively as we move forward.” So the take is essentially – ‘We are all responsible. We all conspired to make a series of bad, ill-informed, and essentially idiotic decisions, that tragically led to Declan Sullivan’s death.’ None of us were on the field that day. We can’t know for sure how scary it must have been on top of that lift as the winds were howling. Declan himself seemed to know however. He apparently tweeted that day - “Gusts of wind up to 60 mph today will be fun at work… I guess I’ve lived long enough.” It was scary up there. It was dangerous. It should have been apparent to someone in a position of responsibility to get Declan off of that lift. The Athletic Director, the Head Coach, whomever Declan directly reported to that day. Someone. But since Notre Dame determined it really wasn’t any one’s specific job or task to monitor wind speed once practice started, thus blame and punishment could not be reasonably assigned. So the investigation has concluded. Declan is never coming back, and while Notre Dame has now changed and implemented procedures to ensure this type of accident never happens again, still everyone remains in their jobs, and while they certainly can never forget the tragedy, the impact and meaning will naturally fade over time. I’ll close with a question for all the organizational leaders and talent professionals reading this piece - ‘If ‘everyone’ is responsible, is ‘anyone’ responsible?’ 44
  45. 45. Are You A Coach in HR? By Tim Sackett Originally Published October 10, 2011 I read an article recently in The New Yorker, probably the best article I’ve read all year, on the importance of “Coaching” by Atul Gawande. Atul is a writer and a surgeon, smart and creative – I should hate him, but he’s so freaking brilliant! From the article: The concept of a coach is slippery. Coaches are not teachers, but they teach. They’re not your boss—in professional tennis, golf, and skating, the athlete hires and fires the coach—but they can be bossy. They don’t even have to be good at the sport. The famous Olympic gymnastics coach Bela Karolyi couldn’t do a split if his life depended on it. Mainly, they observe, they judge, and they guide. As an HR Pro, I’ve always believed that HR has the ability to act as “coaches” across all vestiges of our organizations. The problem we run into is this – “You can’t coach me! You don’t know the first thing about Marketing, or Operations, or Accounting.” You’re right, good thing I’m not “teaching” you that! That’s why we hired you. Having a coaching culture in your organization starts during the selection process – are you hiring people who are open to being coached? More from The New Yorker – Good coaches know how to break down performance into its critical individual components. In sports, coaches focus on mechanics, conditioning, and strategy, and have ways to break each of those down, in turn. The U.C.L.A. basketball coach John Wooden, at the first squad meeting each season, even had his players practice putting their socks on. He demonstrated just how to do it: he carefully rolled each sock over his toes, up his foot, around the heel, and pulled it up snug, then went back to his toes and smoothed out the material along the sock’s length, making sure there were no wrinkles or creases. He had two purposes in doing this. First, wrinkles cause blisters. Blisters cost games. Second, he wanted his players to learn how crucial seemingly trivial details could 45
  46. 46. be. “Details create success” was the creed of a coach who won ten N.C.A.A. men’s basketball championships. I think this is critical in working with adult professionals. Coaches aren’t trying to “teach” them new concepts, but helping them self-analyze and make improvements to what they already do well. We/HR can make our workforces better – not by focusing on weaknesses/opportunity areas – which we spend way too much time on – but by making our employees’ strengths even stronger. Coaching has become a fad in recent years. There are leadership coaches, executive coaches, life coaches, and college-application coaches. Search the Internet, and you’ll find that there’s even Twitter coaching. Self-improvement has always found a ready market, and most of what’s on offer is simply one-on-one instruction to get amateurs through the essentials. It’s teaching with a trendier name. Coaching aimed at improving the performance of people who are already professionals is less usual. I’m talking about turning HR into “Life” coaches or “Executive” coaches – those types of “coaches” are way different – and fall more into the “therapists” categories – than what I see HR acting as “professional” coaches. Professional coaches work alongside their Pros – day-to-day – see them in action, and work with them to specifically improve on those things that impact the business. They don’t care that you’re not “feeling” as “challenged” as you once were, and need to find yourself. I think the biggest struggle HR Pros will have in a role as “coach” – our ability to understand most employees have low self-awareness (including ourselves!). Being a great coach is measured on your ability to get someone to see something in themselves, they don’t already see, and make them truly believe it. If we can get there in our organizations – oh boy – watch out! 46
  47. 47. 6 Ways LeBron James is Great at Team Building By Tim Sackett Originally Published May 13, 2011 I had to write an article about great team building and LeBron James – basically because Kris Dunn (The HR Capitalist and Chief FOT’er) hates how LeBron took his talents to South Beach – and now he’s on the verge of winning his first NBA Championship. Fast Company’s latest edition has an article titled: What LeBron James And The Miami Heat Teach Us About Teamwork that takes 6 shots at why LeBron and his Miami Heat team did a great job a building a championship contender. The 6 Team Building principles from the Fast Company article: 1. Start With Sacrifice. LeBron and Bosh both left millions of dollars on the table to go to Miami to play with Dwayne Wade. Dwayne Wade gave up being the highest paid player on “his” team. All 3 wanted to win championships and were willing to make some sacrifices to make it happen. 2. The Rule of Many. It takes more than just 3 stars to make an NBA team – or at least an NBA winning team. With the big 3 together, many other veterans were willing to take less money to join the team, giving the Miami Heat the most experienced roster in the NBA in total NBA years of playing experience. All 3 stars had connections they used to get these players to join, most notably using prior relationships to get these veterans to join their quest. 3. Adversity is an Asset. “Nothing brings a team together than a common adversary.” The Miami Heat’s adversary? Well everyone not associated with the Miami Heat! When Miami started this season they were suppose to walk through everyone, yet, they struggled and people loved that they struggled. This adversity worked to pull a team together and work even harder to reach their potential. 47
  48. 48. 4. When the Going gets Tough, Turn to one Another. Say what you want about the Big 3 in Miami, then one thing you’ll be hard press to say is that they don’t support each other. When the whole world was asking “who’s team is this?” they said “ours”; when the whole world asked “who’s going to take the last shot in tight game?” They said, “whoever is open”. Great teams understand the value to chemistry and believing in each other. 5. Manage From Inside-Out. The easiest thing the Miami Heat could have done this year, when they were struggling early, would have been to fire their coach and replace him with Miami Heat President and Hall of Fame coach, Pat Riley. But, they didn’t. Instead Riley mentored and worked with Heat coach, Eric Spolestra, helping him understand how you lead a roster filled with superstars. 6. Beware of the Blame Game. Team chemistry is everything. History of littered with the most talented teams that didn’t reach their potential, and with teams that lacked talent, but won championships, all because of Chemistry. Don’t underestimate this when putting a team together in your organization – great chemistry with average talent, will almost always beat great talent that lacks chemistry. There are a ton of Miami/LeBron haters out there – but when you look at what that group of players and the organization has done to build a team – it seems like they are on the right track to be a championship level team. 48
  49. 49. CHAPTER 4 Performance and Talent Management 49
  50. 50. Want Performance? Get Everyone Uncomfortable with a Mock Workplace Draft… By Kris Dunn Originally Published February 2, 2011 It's late winter here in the Southeast, so that means only one thing if you're a dad with active sons who play sports... It's draft time in Little League baseball... Draft time!! The meat market goes all the way down to the 7 year olds these days, meaning you can't just get a team of kids together and play. You have to sign up for the local league, go through evaluations, then teams are drafted. That's right for all you non-kid or non-sport families, there's a draft. From pick #1 to pick #150, it goes down in Darwinian fashion. If you're a coach, that means you evaluate way too much. So much so, that you begin to see talent scout profiles seep in to the proceedings around you, including the following: -Mr.Star Chaser: This coach picks the highest kid on the board (ranked according to evaluation scores) regardless of any other factor. Too bad there's no trades after Little League drafts, because this stockpiler could do some deals. -Mr. Retail's For Suckers: Won't pick the next kid on the board. Too smart, has the master plan, and the conventional wisdom won't do. He's finding value elsewhere according to his own personal system. -Mr. Deep Background: Makes dozens of calls to folks who know each 7 year old. I heard Jimmy watches way too much iCarly too. I'd pass on Jimmy as a result. -Mr. Zero Sum Game/One-Up: Thinks he knows who you want, so he'll be attempting to "one-up" you all the way through the draft. 50
  51. 51. -Stat Boy: Kept stats on all teams the entire last season. Has "Access" database to prove it... -The Minister of Misinformation: Did you hear Johnny was thinking about pulling out of baseball to play Lacrosse? Tread carefully if you're planing on picking him... <sucker> The only things missing from the proceedings? A website with rumors and Mel Kiper mocking my historically weak drafts across the years. Apparently my profile, focused on drafting for long last names I think look cool on the back of baseball jerseys, is as suspect as the ones above. Which begs the question - Can you imagine if you held a similar draft to restructure workplace teams doing similar work? Let's say you had a draft to restructure an inside sales force/financial brokers/name the function of 100 people across 10 teams and bonus money was on the line. My guess is you'd see all the same profiles emerge as you started to evaluate the talent pool and plot draft strategy. Of course, at the end of the day, the administrative assistant, who drafted based on how much karma each last name had, would do as good as you. Because there's no accounting for intangibles, personal baggage and team chemistry in the draft order (you wouldn't have the time or technology to capture those things), it's more of a crap shoot than you'd like it to be. Me? I draft parents when it comes to Little League. It's just easier that way. 51
  52. 52. Kris Dunn Just Scored A 47 on the Wonderlic Test!! By Kris Dunn Originally Published March 3, 2011 Not really, but wouldn't it be cool if that were the case? 47 out of 50! You'd know I was really, really smart. Savant-like really. Of course, you'd have no clue whether I could actually perform any job in your organization to a satisfactory level... For those of you who don't know, the Wonderlic is a cognitive ability test, and it's always heavily publicized this time of year due to its use at the NFL combine. Greg McElroy scored a 48 and is really smart. Vince Young scored a 6 and we wonder why he struggles. Overreactions ensue. Overreacting to any single measurement when evaluating talent is a sucker's play. I'd say McElroy's success in the NFL will have more to do with whether he has the arm stregth to throw a 20 yard out against NFL cornerbacks. Vince Young seems to have struggled in the NFL due to emotional reactions and meltdowns when things go wrong. Both unrelated to the Wonderlic. Don't fall in love or get divorced from talent over one metric. Your momma told you to shop around. Good advice when viewing talent from the perspective of a single measurement. 52
  53. 53. #FACT: Great Talent Runs Freaking Hot – Deal With It By Kris Dunn Originally Published March 14, 2011 Here's the big thought for a Monday: If you really want to save your business, sometimes you're going to have to hire talent that comes with some baggage. When you really need a change agent, sometimes they come with.... issues... Translation: Great talent runs hot. There are going to be some broken eggs. Please put on your helmet, because while they're engaged in saving your #$$, the same passion that drives them to run your business makes them make incredibly poor decisions elsewhere. Case in point. USC basketball coach Kevin O'Neill. O'Neill was brought in after USC went through the NCAA wringer with the OJ Mayo/Tim Floyd issues. USC needed a change agent and a big talent to prevent them from falling into obscurity. They hired O'Neill. He runs hot and stuff happens as a result. Here's more on what happened at the Pac-10 Conference Tourney last weekend from pointguardu: "Kevin O'Neill went on a drunken tirade along with his wife after beating Cal yesterday. In fact, he didn't even change his suit and went straight to the JW Marriott lobby bar. O'Neill and his wife were in a hotel lobby of the JW Marriott and visibly intoxicated when they exchanged words with a group of Arizona fans. O'Neill reportedly threatened the fan that USC was going to “beat the hell out of Arizona.” Words were exchanged and our sources say that O'Neill's wife struck one of the Arizona fans. O'Neill and his wife were escorted out of the hotel, and Arizona fans were left wondering what just happened. 53
  54. 54. The fan was UA booster Paul Weitman and they ran into each other at the elevators. KO believes Weitman is responsible for his firing at the UA (O'Neill used to coach at Arizona) and obviously still holds a heavy grudge. Mind you Weitman is 70+ years old. Apparently KO's wife, Roberta, started the melee by roughing up Wetiman with one of her rings. KO then got involved and when hotel security intervened the things got even uglier." O'Neill is known as a great coach. He's also known to be a hot head. See the picture above for all you need to know about great talent running hot. That's a picture at the hotel before the incident. Check out the drink. Check out the position of the shirt related to the suit belt line. Great talent runs hot. If your business has to be saved, what type of downside risk are you willing to take? That, my friends, is the question. 54
  55. 55. High Performing Average Talent: Don’t Screw Them By Kris Dunn Originally Published May 20, 2011 Two words: Nick Collison. Who is Nick Collison? Collison is a backup forward for the Oklahoma City Thunder who averages 5 points per game. Even if you're not a basketball fan, you might recognize the Thunder since it's the franchise that currently showcases NBA superstar Kevin Durant (who I like to call the "other" KD). Why are we talking about Nick Collison? Last night the Thunder were playing the Dallas Mavericks in Dallas in the Western Conference Finals of the NBA Playoffs. The game was back and forth, and like most basketball teams, there's a point in the game when both teams have good portions of their bench in the game to rest the starters (read: the stars). That time came and went in the 4th quarter of the game. Dallas brought back their stars. The Thunder were playing well, so Thunder coach Scott Brooks stayed with his bench in the game against the Dallas starters. A funny thing happened - the scrubs made a run and went up by 10 with 4 minutes to go. The announcers were looking down the sidelines, expecting the Thunder starters to check into the game to finish it out. Brooks stayed with the scrubs. They built the 10 point lead, it was theirs to finish. Dallas made a run and cut it to six with 2 minutes left. Scrub and longtime NBA role player Nick Collison found himself with the ball and a clear path to the basket. He was fouled hard. Nick goes to the free throw line. Misses both, Dallas comes down and scores, cutting the lead to 4. "You gotta come back with the starters", the announcers chirp. Brooks stays with the scrubs. 55
  56. 56. Oklahoma City has the ball back on the other end. A guard is trapped off a pick and roll, and the pass goes to - you guessed it- Nick Collison. He didn't miss a beat, driving and getting fouled. Thunder up 4, Collison bricked the last two and is left in the game at closing time. The Dallas arena is going crazy. He just bricked two, he's going to do it again and the Mavericks are going to get a win! Scott Brooks is going to lose his job over this one! My god, it's the playoffs! What is he doing? Nick Collison doesn't flinch. He drops two free throws to put the lead back to 6, then makes a great defensive play on the other end to basically put the game out of reach. Nick. Freaking. Collison. Stars on the bench. Nick and fellow bench friends on the floor. You got us the lead, finish it out. How much street creditability did Scott Brooks buy with that move? How much deeper is his bench as a result of sticking with the scrubs who were performing well, even when it looked like it was all going to go to hell in the biggest game of the year? You want a deep team in your company? When the role players deliver, let them take it to the finish line. Don't bring in the stars to run a pitch or meeting or project that the role player delivered. Don't flinch when it looks like they're going to fold. You'll likely be surprised related to what they're capable of if you let them finish it out. Especially if you show you believe when they struggle near the end. Nick. Freaking. Collison. 56
  57. 57. Moneyball and the Art of Figuring Out If HR Leaders Are Overpaid By Kris Dunn Originally Published September 30, 2011 I'm in Vegas over the weekend to participate in HRevolution - a great unconference for HR Pros. The title of my session is FOT Live. Catchy, huh? A placeholder of sorts because I really didn't know what I wanted to talk about. But as I began seeing the promotional lead-up to the movie Moneyball, my thoughts on the session became pretty specific. I'm going to talk about how you figure out if an HR Leader is undervalued or overvalued. Are you paying too much? What metrics can you look at to figure out who (if you had access to the right information) is undervalued in the HR marketplace? Moneyball for HR Leaders. Not for HR Pros to determine what others are worth. To determine what different HR Pros are actually worth. The good news is I don't need to have all the answers. HRevolution is set up in a way where dialog and conversation drive the session. So really what I have to do is start the conversation and keep it out of the ditches. I do have one strong opinion from which my worldview on HR pros is based. I also think that the value/worth question for HR leaders applies to any generalist who is responsible for a client group of employees. Unlock the Moneyball for HR formula, and you can apply it all the way down to the HR Manager. As long as they're responsible for a flock. 57
  58. 58. A cautionary note: As I thought about the best way I would go about determining whether an HR Leader was undervalued or overvalued, my thoughts were a little chilling. If any of the past CEOs I've worked for walked up to me with the ideas that came into my head, I would have automatically protested. You can't measure me like that. I don't control all the levers that type of measurement implies. You're right. Most HR Leaders don't have as much control as they would like. But the talented ones find ways to get results without the assigned authority. That's why they're undervalued in the marketplace before the market figures out what's up. Then their value gets driven up in a hurry. Sometimes. I'm looking forward to the conversation and learning from whoever joins me. Whether it's 2 people or 50, I suspect I'll learn more than I give. Moneyball for HR Leaders. Should be fun. 58
  59. 59. R.I.P. Al Davis: Here’s My Favorite HR Quote From the NFL Sith Lord By Kris Dunn Originally Published October 10, 2011 Al Davis, the funky longtime owner of the NFL's Oakland Raiders, died this weekend. Things Al Davis will always be remembered for: --Building a franchise culture that embodied renegades and misfits, and still winning in the early days (but not lately). --Drafting Jamarcus Russell out of LSU, giving him $30M large and never having him produce. --Providing the whole wardrobe for a series of gangsta rap groups including NWA, Eazy-E and of coures, the DOC. --Doing a funky press conference where he not only talked about a "final warning" letter he had sent former coach Lane Kiffin, but actually read it word- for-word to the press. But that's not all. Al also had one of his flunkies throw it up on an OVERHEAD PROJECTOR while he was reading it. In 2009. But I digress. I'm having fun with the memory of Al, but the phrase "Just Win, Baby" will always be attributed to Davis. It's a great HR phrase signaling the need for results, but it's not even my favorite performance quote from Al Davis. This memory from Ben Horowitz is: "As I was feeling sorry for myself, I randomly watched an interview with famous football coach Bill Parcells. He was telling the story of how he had a similar dilemma when he began his Head Coaching career. In his very first season as coach, Parcell’s team, The New York Giants, was hit with a rash of injuries. He worried incessantly about the impact of the injuries on the team’s fortunes, as it is difficult enough to win with your best players let alone a bunch of substitutes. When his friend and mentor Raiders owner Al Davis called Parcells to check in, 59
  60. 60. Parcells relayed his injury issues. Parcells: “Al, I am just not sure how we can win without so many of our best players. What should I do?” Davis replied: “Bill, nobody cares, just coach your team.” That might be the best CEO advice ever. Because, you see, nobody cares. When things go wrong in your company, nobody cares. The press doesn’t care, your investors don’t care, your board doesn’t care, your employees don’t care, even your mama doesn’t care. Nobody cares. And they are right not to care. A great reason for failing won’t preserve one dollar for your investors, won’t save one employee’s job, or get you one new customer. It especially won’t make you feel one bit better when you shut down your company and declare bankruptcy." You have reasons why the project/job didn't work out. We get it. You're probably even right... But the truth is, when you start talking about reasons it's probably not going to work out before the final results are in, it's weak. Nobody cares. They just tally up the score at the end and the world keeps on spinning. Hard but true. Thank you, Al Davis. May the world remember you in your 1970s and 80's glory and not what happened in Oakland since 2000. 60
  61. 61. Rule #1 in Life, Business and HR: Don’t Tempt Fate By Talking Smack By Kris Dunn Originally Published June 13, 2011 Rule #1 in life, business and Human Resources is pretty simple: Don't tempt fate by talking smack. You stay humble because you know how tough life is. Here's what I mean. You're living your life, and things are going pretty well. You don't tempt fate and put a target on your back by talking smack and judging the performance of others, the life circumstances of others and basically taking a "holier than thou" attitude. You don't do that in business or Human Resources, and if you believe what I'm talking about, you don't do that in life either. The Miami Heat and Lebron James talked smack. Lebron dismissed the whole city of Cleveland in an ill-advised televised special saying he was leaving Cleveland and going to Miami. When he arrived in Miami, the Heat held a celebration reserved for championships (this one was held before the season started), rose their 3 stars up on a smoke-filled stage on a rock-concert lift flexing and posing, then the three stars proceeded to say that 7 championships was the goal and expectation. (Their contracts said they would be together for 7 seasons). Translation: Tempting fate. Putting the target on your back. Refusing to stay humble. The focus on staying humble manifests itself in three ways in my life. When I catch myself judging people and feeling good as a result in my thoughts, I'm quick to note that it could all turn around on me as well. When I catch myself saying or almost saying something self-serving regarding my performance or state in life, I cringe. And god help me if I put something self-serving in print to be forwarded at the will of those who received a wayward email of questionable intent. 61
  62. 62. You and I are far from perfect. But most of us have at least some self-awareness. Talking smack is never in your best interest. You don't tug on Superman's cape. You don't spit in the wind. Fate and paybacks are a bitch. Lebron James and the Miami Heat talked smack. Then they lost the championship on Sunday night. Does this quote from the post-game news conference sound like someone who has learned that tempting fate is never a good idea? "Moments later, however, he (Lebron James) trash talked those that were happy to see the Heat lose, ignoring that they brought all that on themselves. 'At the end of the day, all the people that was rooting on me to fail, at the end of the day they have to wake up tomorrow and have the same life that they had before they woke up today,' James said. 'They have the same personal problems they had today. I’m going to continue to live the way I want to live and continue to do the things that I want to do with me and my family and be happy with that. They can get a few days or a few months or whatever the case may be on being happy about not only myself, but the Miami Heat not accomplishing their goal, but they have to get back to the real world at some point." It's not you, it's them - right Lebron? Haters. And so fate remains out there for the Heat. Will they win six championships now? Or will the reluctance to understand Rule #1 prevent them from winning a championship forever? Dallas is your NBA World Champion. Even if you don't like sports, you have to admit two things as it relates to Rule #1. Justice is served. Fate is a bitch. 62
  63. 63. Why You’re Wrong About LeBron James By Steve Boese Originally Published June 17, 2011 Subtitled : I am not sure I completely believe what I am about to argue in the post either, but someone had to take an opposite position. ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- The facts of the case are these: 1. Last summer two-time league MVP, consensus best player in the NBA, and one of the best all-around players in league history LeBron James, a free agent no longer under contract with his team of seven seasons the Cleveland Cavaliers, elected to sign a contract to play for the Miami Heat. The 'decision' by James to join the Heat was panned not so much for the actual business and competition factors, but rather for the manner in which it was announced - a one-hour TV special on ESPN, that in combination with the backlash against James from the jilted Cleveland community, ended up backfiring on James, portraying him as an out-of-touch, arrogant, self- important and egocentric person. 2. James, (and his new teammates Heat stars Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh), compounded the PR disaster spawned by 'The Decision', with an over-the-top, flashy, introduction event in Miami, where James and the others (in uniform), pranced around a smoke-filled stage and opined about winning not just one NBA title, but 'six, seven, eight... ' titles. I am paraphrasing a bit, but you get the idea. 3. The Heat concluded an up and down season, (it was painful at times to watch these three star players attempt to co-exist on the court, when each was accustomed to being 'the man'), with a 58-24 record, good for first place in the NBA's Southeast Division, and the third-best overall record in the league. 4. Entering the NBA playoffs the Heat then defeated in succession the Atlanta Hawks; their nemesis, the Boston Celtics; and the league's top regular season team the Chicago Bulls. Each series was decided 4 games to 1, making the Heat an impressive 12-3 in the first three playoff rounds. 5. In the NBA finals, the Heat were defeated by the Dallas Mavericks, a veteran team playing at the top of their form, 4 games to 2. James was harshly criticized for poor play in the series, particularly in the 4th quarters of Games 4, 5, and 6 (all Dallas 63
  64. 64. victories). James lack of production in these situations served in stark contrast to Dallas leader Dirk Nowitzki, who consistently made big plays and shots to lead Dallas to the title. 6. Immediately following the Game 6 loss, James further damaged his already shaky reputation by implying that people hoping he and the Heat would lose would 'got to wake up tomorrow and have the same life that they had before.' While James would also have to wake up and continue his life, strongly implying that his life, with his millions of dollars, mansions, private jets etc. was somehow superior to yours, mine, and pretty much everyone else's. These are the basic facts of the case, my apologies for going on so long about them prior to mounting my apologist defense for King James. If you are like my friends and fellow bloggers Kris Dunn at the HR Capitalist, or John Hollon at TLNT.com, you have taken LeBron to task for arrogance, lack of humility, inability to win or lose gracefully, and over-confidence. While Kris and John and the hundreds of other writers that have participated in the LeBron dogpile have their points, I'll offer three (hope I can come up with three), reasons why they and you are wrong (or at least a little hypocritical) about LeBron. 1. History LeBron is most often compared, unfavorably, to Michael Jordan, the greatest player in NBA history. Jordan won six titles with the Bulls, the first one in his seventh season in the league. This was on a team with another all-time Top 50 player in Scottie Pippen and the greatest coach of all time, Phil Jackson. LeBron just completed his 8th season in the league falling just two games short of winning his first title. And since he started his NBA career at a younger age, LeBron is only 26, while Jordan was 28 when he claimed his first title. Sure, maybe we take shots at LeBron because he compares unfavorably to Jordan, but lets not forget Jordan was a a transcendent, once in 50 years or so player. Everyone compares unfavorably to Jordan. No matter what line of business you are in, be in basketball, software development, or running a company, chances are you won't hold up well either when compared to the legends of your field. 2. We like to selectively remember LeBron left Cleveland, and several million dollars in salary on the table, to play for Miami in a situation that he (rightly) assessed as providing a better opportunity to win the title. In sports, fans usually take to task players that are perceived as being only in it for the money. Now LeBron likely earns so much from off the court endeavors that the few million he walked away from in Cleveland did not play into his decision rationale all that much, but it still sets him apart from probably 90% of professional athletes whose primary objective is to wrest every last dollar from their 64

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