Sports fans around the world skip work to watch their teams

A new survey by the Workforce Institute and Kronos finds that “employees around the world have, to varying degrees, called in sick to work over a sporting event. Whether they stayed home to watch it on television, attended it live, played the sport themselves, or needed a day off after staying up late to watch, sports have a significant impact on attendance at work.


Extreme Hiring Process – the NFL Draft

So the NFL Draft was held last week. How did your team do? Did you get a future super star? It should be obvious, right?

The circus that has become the NFL draft is by far one of the most unique and extreme hiring processes ever seen, not only in sports but in any industry – a spectacle like no other. To put it into a Workforce Management context, think about your recruiting and hiring process. What other industry (besides maybe the FBI, Secret Service, CIA, etc.) puts so much evaluation and scrutiny into their selection of a new hire? Especially one with no professional experience! How do you hire a recent college grad? Sift through hundreds of resumes? Maybe use a college job fair?

The NFL hiring process is a 2-3 month public boot camp, with physical and mental testing that would result in countless HR violations in most industries. After detailed review of film and analysis of the previous three or four years of on and off the field performance, players are then subjected to the NFL Scouting Combine. At the Combine, all invited players have every aspect of their physical make-up and skill sets measured, documented and ranked. Every test is now not only open to the media, it is broadcast on television! Everything from a players’ speed, strength and agility to their height, weight, wingspan and body fat percentage are made public. Then there is the Wonderlic Test – an IQ test, used by many employers, that is given to all players entering the draft. While this practice is common in many industries, these scores seem to have less of bearing on a prospect’s chances of being hired than in any other industry. Following the combine, players are asked to hold additional workouts – sometimes called Pro Days, where more football specific sessions and interviews are held to showcase their abilities.

Here’s where it gets interesting… when teams begin to hone in on the prospects they want, not only do they perform “reference checks”, they do full blown background investigations. Players that may have questionable character or may have had some type of trouble in the past could be subjected to private investigations. These findings are often also publicized.

What’s fascinating is that will all of this “selection science” used by the NFL, the success rate for top picks is not nearly as high as you would think. The two top draft choices last week were quarterbacks. Will they turn out to be like a Peyton Manning or John Elway, Hall of Fame-bound champions, or a big miss like JaMarcus Russell, David Carr, Tim Couch and Ryan Leaf? With all of the effort put into the selection process, how can that happen? Have you ever hired your top choice candidate, only to be let down when they turn out to miss the mark?

While these NFL Draft pick busts still happen, the selection science seems to be getting better and yielding much more success. Which may just be why more detailed analysis and science is being applied to hiring in the workforce. From healthcare, to hospitality and retail, organizations in almost every industry are improving their hiring process, reducing turnover and strengthening their growth and profitability with more advanced employee selection and hiring.

30% Management Turnover Annually

Is there any industry besides professional football where over 30% of franchise owners would fire (or potentially fire) their top manager after a difficult year?

Imagine this: you are the owner of 300 retail stores. At the conclusion of the holiday season you fire 20% of your store managers for missing their goals, while putting another 15% on warning to improve or else. And you do this every year. Does that seem like a sound model for doing business? Amazingly, this has become common and accepted in the National Football League.

Why is this annual performance review, resulting in such drastic changes in management, accepted in sports and frowned upon in retail, public sector, manufacturing, etc. Specifically in the NFL, these firings have become so regular, the Monday following the end of the regular season has now been dubbed “Black Monday”, and media outlets post online polls as early as September, speculating who will be fired first!

As of this morning, six NFL coaches have been fired based on their team’s performance this season,

January 3rd, 2011 – Eric Mangini – Cleveland Browns

December 31st, 2010 – John Fox – Carolina Panthers

December 26th, 2010 – Mike Singletary – San Francisco 49ers

December 5th, 2010 – Josh McDaniels – Denver Broncos

November 22nd, 2010 – Brad Childress – Minnesota Vikings

November 8th, 2010 – Wade Phillips – Dallas Cowboys

What’s the driving force behind “Black Monday” in the NFL? If these teams were franchises of a business in another industry, could workforce management strategies have helped any of these coaches keep their jobs? In most cases the answer is clearly “no”.

Take the Broncos (McDaniels) and the Browns (Mangini). These were clearly cases of inexperience and poor management of mediocre talent, along with bad hires (signings). Carolina (Fox) had a very good coach with nine years of tenure, but simply had no talent to work with. And San Francisco (Singletary) had decent talent, and good motivational skills, but lacked the strategy to execute.

But, there is no consistency in this practice. How is it that Seattle’s Pete Carroll is praised for leading them to a 7-9 record, while Miami’s Tony Sparano (7-9) and Oakland’s Tom Cable (8-8) are on the hot seat to potentially lose their jobs? Just because Seattle made the playoffs? The Giants and Bucs won 10 games and lost 6, but did not make the playoffs. Which team was more successful?

The point here is that job security is rare, and is often ambiguous, even within the same industry. Success may be interpreted in different ways, and may simply be based on pre-set expectations.

For now, many of the 20 NFL coaches whose teams did not reach the playoffs are  breathing a sigh of relief – and you can bet many of them are evaluating their (talent/workforce) management strategies so they can avoid being one of the chopping block victims we’ll all be talking about on Black Monday 2012.