Great Talent Supports Great Talent

Too often leaders put up with a great talent who’s shitty to other employees. The belief is that because the employee is so talented we should be willing to put up with how they treat others. It happens all the time in organizations! All. The. Time.

Ichiro Suzuki is a very successful Major League Baseball player for the Seattle Mariners who just hit his 3,000 hit in the major leagues, that just adds to his thousand plus hits he had in the Japanese professional baseball league. All those hits make him arguably the greatest hitter of all time at the professional level of baseball.

ESPN did an article about Ichiro recently as he was coming very close to the 3,000 hit milestone in the MLB, a very rare feat. What most people don’t know is Ichiro almost left the MLB after only one season because his teammates treated him so badly:

“Suzuki explained later that in the middle of his career with the Mariners, when the team wasn’t playing well but he was an All-Star and Gold Glove winner, his teammates called him selfish and said that he cared only about individual accolades. After Griffey, Sweeney and Ibanez arrived, he says, they stood up for him and encouraged their teammates to worry about their own play first.”

It wasn’t until Seattle brought in other MLB All-Stars that Ichiro felt welcomed. Great talent, supports great talent. Okay, everyone on an MLB roster is talented, but even within those rosters, there are levels of talent. Ichiro is a hall of fame talent. Griffey is a hall of famer.

The point to all of this is your best talent should support the other best talent of your organization.  If you have great talent that isn’t supporting each other, you need to make a move. Great talent is talented if they don’t support the other talent in the organization. That might be the single most difficult thing for leaders to understand.

Your talent is wasted if you can’t find ways to lift up the other talent around you. Seattle was able to find talent that was willing to do that and Ichiro turned his talent into one of the greatest of all time, but he was also very close to just packing it in and going home.

I wonder how much talent walks out your door based on how they are being treated by others in your organization?

The Rooney Rules Killed NFL Diversity Hiring

What the heck is the Rooney Rule?

The Rooney Rule is a National Football League policy that requires league teams to interview minority candidates for head coaching and senior football operation jobs. It is sometimes cited as an example of affirmative action, though there is no quota or preference given to minorities in the hiring of candidates.”

Basically, in 2003 the NFL decided that finally, enough was enough in a league where the majority of its players are black and the majority of its head coaches are white. The Rooney Rule was established to try and fix this issue. When it first started it was more effective than previous hiring cycles and 26% of hires in the NFL for head coaches were of minority hires.

ESPN’s Outside the Lines discovered the problem has gotten worse, not better, over the past five years only where 1 out of 22 hires has been a minority head coach.

So, what happened?

It’s classic corporate problem fixing. The try and cure a symptom of the problem and not the problem. Follow my logic:

  1. We need more minority hires!
  2. The problem is perceived to be we don’t hire minorities, if we did, it would solve our problem. Minority coaches are just as good as white coaches, they just aren’t getting interviews.
  3. Look it works! We started mandating you had to interview minorities and instantly minority hiring went up. Give us a trophy!

Then, it stops working.

The Rooney Rule stopped working because interviewing potential minority head coaches was not the issue. The issue is we have a lack of minority coaches in general. I’m not sure why this is, but I have a theory.

When I was growing up many of my white male friends had a dream. That dream was to play college sports. Probably very similar to most black males of that same age. The other part of that dream was that would come back, teach gym and coach. I think this is where the paths separated in the coaching funnel.

I have three sons, all of whom play sports. When I hear them talk with their friends, I still hear the difference. The white kids want to be teachers and coach as a profession. The black kids don’t talk about this path as often. All of them want to play college athletics, but it would seem from my experience that at some point white kids believe teaching and coaching as a viable career and blacks are less likely to believe this is their career path.

Obviously, this is very anecdotal. I’m one guy with one experience, but I did coach youth sports for 17 years and saw this happen time and time again.

The Rooney Rule is failing not because minorities aren’t getting interviewed. The Rooney Rule is failing because not enough minorities are getting an opportunity to coach, or are not choosing the coaching path as a career.  One other issue that comes into play here is obtaining at least a four-year college degree and the access to affordable education.

For those who don’t know most NFL coaches get their start by coaching in the NCAAs. To coach in the NCAAs you must have a four-year degree at almost every school I’ve ever heard of. In fact, there have been NCAA head coaches fired for lying about having a degree and it was found they actually didn’t when switching jobs and the new institution did a degree verification.

So, why should you care about NFL diversity hiring?

In a nutshell, this is all of our organizations trying to diversify our workforce.  If you don’t try and fix the real problem, getting minorities to believe your profession is a viable career path, you’re never going to fix your issue, you’re just going to poach the few in the field from each other.  That means you need specific minority scholarship programs, minority internship programs, etc. At a level, that is commensurate with the level of hiring you’re trying to achieve!

I hear executives all the time talk about increasing minority hiring, but it’s just talk, not programs and dollars. This is the NFL’s issue as well. The NFL needs to specific program under the Rooney Rules that gets teams to hire more minority coaches in general, not just head coaches. They’ve begun with the NFL Minority Fellowship, which in 2015 had 134 participants, and their is hope this will have an impact in the future. Programs like these are what organizations need if you’re serious about diversity hiring.

The 8 Man Rotation – 2015 Season – HR & Sports!

So, about seven years ago some HR nerds and basketball junkies thought it would be a good idea to take all of our sports-related blog posts and throw them into a book. The 8 Man Rotation ebook was born. Since that time, each year, the professor Matt Stollack after finishing grading all of his finals, digs through our blogs and compiles the annual book. The 2015 Season is the sixth version of the

The 2015 Season is the sixth version of the 8 Man Rotation, where Steve Boese, Kris Dunn, Lance Haun, Matt Stollack and I get to fill our need to write about sports and tell you how it’s just like HR! We love this stuff! Check it out:

The 2014 #8ManRotation eBook is Here!

I’ve got some buddies in the HR industry: Matt Stollak (aka The Professor), Lance Haun, Steve Boese and Kris Dunn.  Five guys who like HR, love sports and we all write about it many times throughout the year.  Back in 2010 we decided, with the majority of heavy lifting done the Professor, to put all these posts together as an annual ebook.  Today we release the 2014 edition of The 8 Man Rotation.

The title “8 Man Rotation” comes from a basketball concept where 8 players are rotated in a normal playing group.  We only have 5 of us writing for this, but 5 Man Rotation isn’t really a thing.  Let’s face it, it’s our book, we’ll call it what we like.   If you like HR, Talent and such, and have a passing interest in how this might all relate to the popular sports stories throughout the year, this is for you!

The 2014 Forward is brought to you by the venerable Paul Hebert! Enjoy.

Dad Ball!

Yo! I’m on vacation this week, don’t try and come rob my house, it’s a ‘staycation’!  I’m going to run some oldies but goodies so I can let my creative juices focus on Gin and Tonics. Here you go:

This one goes out to a special friend who is going through this right now!

Let me do this with full disclosure – my name is Tim Sackett, and I’m a Parent Coach…I feel like I have to give the AA introduction, because I’m definitely going to need therapy once my kids are all through the parent-coaching stage!   Coaching your own kids is probably the closest thing to child-parent-abuse without physical contact that I can imagine.  Dads completely lose their freaking minds when coaching their own kids – but not all in the same way – so I’ll give you run down of types of Dad Ball Coaches:

Coach Moses: This is the Dad who thinks his kid walks on water!  You know the type, this is the Dad who has a kid who is probably a decent player, but there are other kids who are better, but he continues to put his kid in prime positions in the field and batting lineup – even when they don’t produce.  Coach Moses will tear apart a team faster than any other type of coach.  The only time a Coach Moses can be successful, is when their kid is truly the best kid on the team – and it’s very apparent.

Coach Dalai Lama: This is a Dad who tries to make it all about the “experience”.  This Dad is all about fairness, and equality – winning isn’t the goal, learning is the goal.  After all these are just children, and we’ve been given this gift and opportunity to mold them, and we need to protect this opportunity like the fragile butterfly out of the cocoon.  This is also the team that get’s beat by hundred runs every game!

Coach Knight (as in Bob Knight):  This is the Dad who yells – yells – and yells.  He yells at the players, yells at the umpires, yells at the other parents, yells at his mother – you get the idea.  These are the guys that believe the only way you get the most out of your kids is by yelling at them to keep them motivated.  This is usually the most hated of all Dad Ball coaches – but from personal experience, I’ve had some Coach Knights that were actually the best coaches.

Coach Bobby Boucher (pronounced Boo shea):  From the Adam Sandler movie The Waterboy – This is a Dad Ball Coach who played the sport in high school, but wasn’t any good – thus the “waterboy” reference…  You can imagine, this coach is trying to re-live their failed youth, but driving their team to win the league championship.  This coach is usually the main figure on the team – out in front of the actual team – the winning is all about their job as a coach, the losing is all about those idiot kids failing.  Nothing like a grown man re-living this life’s failures through the blood, sweat and tears of adolescent boys!

The one cool thing about my kids getting older and into high school is Dad Ball is most likely over.

The 8 Man Rotation 2013 Edition

I’ve got some buddies in the HR industry: Matt Stollak, Lance Haun, Steve Boese and Kris Dunn.  Five guys who like HR, love sports and we all write about it many times throughout the year.  Back in 2010 we decided, with the majority of heavy lifting done the Professor, to put all these posts together as an annual ebook.  Today we release the 2013 edition of The 8 Man Rotation.

The title “8 Man Rotation” comes from a basketball concept where 8 players are rotated in a normal playing group.  We only have 5 of us writing for this, but 5 Man Rotation isn’t really a thing.  Let’s face it, it’s our book, we’ll call it what we like.   If you like HR, Talent and such, and have a passing interest in how this might all relate to the popular sports stories throughout the year, this is for you!

You can check it out on The 8 Man Rotation site.

Also, check out the forward by Robin Schooling!

The Best Sports Related Job Ever!

Do you know what the ingredients are to the best sports related job ever?

1. Basketball

2. The 5th Richest person in the world

3. Beautiful weather, water and beaches

4. A Gigantic Yacht with a basketball court on it.

Mix all that together and you get one of the best jobs ever invented!   Pulled directly from the critically, award winning, Wall Street Journal:

The Oracle chief has had basketball courts on at least two of his yachts, said Tom Ehman, who handles America’s Cup matters for Mr. Ellison. He said Mr. Ellison liked to relax by shooting hoops, and has had someone in a powerboat following the yacht to retrieve balls that go overboard.

Mr. Ellison, is Larry Ellison, co-founder of Oracle, and 5th richest person in the world, worth about $48 Billion.  Larry likes basketball, a lot.  Likes to shoot hoops on his yachts.  For those who have ever shot hoops, the ball tends to bounce off the rim and backboard when you miss.  For those who yacht.  Those tend to be on Oceans, or big bodies of water.  So, when you mix those two together, you would suspect you’re going to have some basketballs go ‘into the pond’ every once in a while.

Now, with $48 Billion, Larry could probably just forget about any basketballs that went over board and just keep using new balls.  The problem is, having a couple dozen basketballs go overboard every time you play, might bring some unwanted attention on your from those who are environmentally conscience.  But, don’t fret, there is an easy solution.  Pay some dude to follow you’re yacht in a smaller boat and pick up those wayward balls!

That my friends is the best Sports Related Job ever!  On a boat all day, warm sun, cool drinks, picking up a few basketballs every once in a while.  I don’t think I could ever create a better summer job, ever!

You know the boat you’re picking up basketballs with is top notch.  You don’t have a piece of crap follow around a $200M yacht.  You’re probably outfitted in some cool uniform.  Paid lunches, delivered out on the water.  Great tan.  Good music.  Absolutely, no stress.  You’re getting paid well.  The guy has $48B and is asking you to retrieve basketballs for G*d’s sake! Where do I sign up?  I would do that job in a second, and would be the best ever at it!  No one would ever be better than me picking up basketballs in the ocean.  I really think I could retire from that job.

Just mark this down as crap you’ll never understand because you’ll never have $48B.

(Hat tip to Daniel Savich for passing the article on to me, and having the great boss who ever lived!)

Hiring Back An Employee Who Left You

Did you see what happened last week on the college football carousel?  The University of Louisville hired their ex-coach, and current Western Kentucky Coach, Bobby Petrino.  For those who don’t know the Bobby Petrino story check out his detailed coaching timeline on SB Nation (it’s awesome!) – I’ll give you a five second tour:

I. Hired Head Football Coach at University of Louisville – doing great (2004)

II. Hired Head Coach NFL Atlanta Falcons (Jan. 2007) – didn’t do great

III. Leaves mid-season and takes University of Arkansas Head Coach job – did good (December 2007)

IV. Head Coach Arkansas, has a motorcycle crash with a 25 year old female assistant on the back that wasn’t his wife and that he was having an affair with, and that he hired – Power drunk. (April 2012)

V. Fired as Head Coach at Arkansas – not good (April 2012)

VI. Hired Head Football Coach Western Kentucky University- did good (December 2012)

VII. Hired Head Football Coach University of Louisville. (January 2013)

There’s a bunch of other luggage along the way that SB Nation points out which leads me to only one question – Was it a good hire by Louisville to take Bobby Petrino back?

I asked a couple of my friends and fellow #8ManRotation authors this same question – here are their responses:

Matt (akaBruno) Stollak:

How much time off does a mercurial talent deserve before being brought back?  Is Jim Tressel looking at the Petrino hiring and thinking he is up next?

Similarly, how does Louisville Football Core Values ( continue to exist when Petrino has blatantly violated #1 and #2.    Is it all about winning?  What message does it send to staff and players?

Steve (Mr. HR Tech) Boese:

Even a cynic like me is surprised by this move. I guess the argument was he hit rock bottom and now has done the football equivalent of finding Jesus or something, But it is also about positioning, Louisville does not want to be a stepping stone job between the MAC and the Big 10 or SEC, (they are delusional about this, but I think it is true). So at some level they see this hire as a the best they could do with that in mind. No successful power conference coach would leave for Louisville so with Petrino they find the closest they could to that ideal.

Petrino going to Western Kentucky after his biggest screw up at Arkansas and before coming back to Louisville also serves to give Louisville some cover on this. It is kind of like Western Kentucky took at least some of the flak for letting the guy back in to the world of coaching and at least in theory that will diminish the heat that Louisville is going to take.  Kind of like Petrino went to jail (getting canned at Arkansas), then got released to probation, (Western Kentucky), and now the ankle bracelet has been finally cut off (back to Louisville).

Here’s my take:

The best hires that most companies will never make are the ones like this.  He was great for us.  Went someplace else and had a meltdown. Now we won’t hire him back either.  For some reason, he was great with you.  Don’t discount what certain environments, certain cultures, etc. will do for someone’s performance.  Bobby Petrino is a broken man, coming home to where he had his most success.  This might turn out to a great hire for Louisville.

What do you think?


External Hires Are Sexier

It was announced last night that the University of Southern California (USC) will hire the University of Washington’s head coach, and former USC assistant, Steve Sarkisian.  It was been an up-and-down season for USC who fired their head coach, Lane Kiffin, halfway through the season after starting 3 -2.  Kiffin was replaced by current assistant coach Ed Orgeron, who then took the team and went 6-2 the rest of the season after taking over for Kiffin.  The players wanted Orgeron to get the head coaching job.  USC’s athletic director decided to go outside the program to find his next head coach, despite Orgeron’s success.

I know, I know, you thought you were coming to read about HR stuff – well you are – kind of!

Doesn’t this sound familiar to you?  Not the coaching and football stuff, but how the decision was made to hire?

Here you have someone internally who has been loyal and successful, and instead of giving that person the promotion, the organization decides that an external person, who really hasn’t proven anything (in this case Sarkisian has been marginally successful at the University of Washington).  This just doesn’t happen with football coaches at big universities, this happens at every level of organizations all over the world!

The fact of the matter is, external hires are sexier!

It’s a weird organization dynamic that takes place.  Internal people become idiots, external people are genius.  Why do you think your organization pays big bucks to bring in consultants to basically tell you to do things you already knew you needed to do, and have been trying to get your organization to do?  It’s because you’ve hit ‘idiot’ status in your organization – which means, you’ve been there over a year, and are no longer considered and external genius!

I see it constantly when I go and consult in the Talent Acquisition field.  I’ll go and talk with the rank and file workers who are doing the work each and every day.  I’ll then go and talk to the executives.  The rank and file know what needs to be done, the executives don’t thing their people have a clue, and the big miss is usually the executive who is unwilling to give his or her team the resources needed to make the change.  That is until I tell them that is what is needed, then all of sudden ‘my’ ideas, the same ideas the team already knew needed to be done, are ‘genius’!

How do you combat this phenomenon?  You have two routes:

1. Quit every 12 months and move to a new company to regain your sexy status.


2. Don’t make your ideas your own.  We get caught up in wanting ‘our’ ideas to be what we do.  If you know you’ve reached ‘idiot’ status in your organization, this will work against you, because your ideas will be considered worthless.  Show your executives who else in the industry have tried this and how it went.  Give examples of companies outside your industry having success with it.  Best of all, show how your competition has had success with something.  Make you idea, someone else’s idea, someone more sexier than you!

Remember, you’re not alone in feeling this way.  It’s very common for organizations to believe external hires, thus their ideas and beliefs, are much sexier than you.  It doesn’t mean you need to give into this belief, you just need to show you can be more savvy about how you move things through your organization.  Also, be positive about using the influence a new sexy hire has.  They have this brief window of being a genius, find out ways to work with them to use this fading power!  Soon they’ll be an idiot like you.


How many hours of work are too many?

An article out last week on spoke to the Detroit Lions head coach’s, Jim Schwartz, work schedule which averages 100 hours per week!  That’s break that down:

– 7 days * 24 hours = 168 total hours in a week

– 100 work week / 7 days = 14.2 hours per day

What does a 14 hour day look like?  You get into the office at 6 or 7am and you don’t get home until 8, 9, 10pm.  Every day, every week.  I know what you’re thinking.  Well they only play 20 games.  He gets half a year off!  Plus, he makes millions of dollars.  First, NFL never stops working.  Off season might be busier than the actual season.

Why do so many of these coaches work 100 hour weeks? From the article:

“The mentality of most coaches borders on the paranoid-obsessive end of the spectrum. Good coaches care about the littlest details. It takes time to wade through film, meet with coaches and players, script practices, design game plans and perform the oodles of other responsibilities that need to be perfect…

“We’re here a ton, but then I go up and I talk to a coach about anything and I’m sitting in his office and I peek down and glance underneath his desk, and there’s a pillow and a blanket,” Lions wide receiver Nate Burleson said. “For a brief moment, I laugh and I’m like, ‘Holy smokes, this guy sleeps in his office.’ But then when you really think about it, it’s like, ‘This guy really sleeps in his office.'”

It begs the question, should the NFL or any employer put a limit on the amount of hours that a person can work?  Airlines do it for their pilots and flight crew.  Safety is paramount and the last thing you want is a pilot that has not slept for 18-24 hours.  Many other occupations do it for similar reasons.  Safety always seems to be the one factor in limiting work hours.  Is the NFL not concerned about the safety and health of their coaches?  They limit the amount of practice time for their players.

How many  of us wish we had employees who loved what they did so much they wanted to work 100 hours per week!?

BambooHR’s founders limit their entire staff to 40 hours per week.  They kick them out if they try to work more.  That seems a bit radical.  I’m sure my staff would love me doing that to them, but 40 hours in most workplace environments seems to be the minimum, not the maximum.

I’m not even focusing on whether the hours in the ‘office’ or at home.  Just total work hours.  How many hours are too many?  Hit me in the comments.  My feeling is there are times in every occupation when more or less hours are needed to do a great job at whatever it is you’re doing.  One week I can be a rock star 40 hours.  The next week I might look like a total slack for working 60 hours.  I’m a big proponent of work when you need to.  The old farmers saying of ‘there are times to make hay’, runs true in every organization.  If you have someone who is consistently, over long periods of time, working 60+ hours, you’ve got a staffing problem.