Drafting the Right Person

NFL_DraftThe 2014 NFL draft is now in the rear view mirror.  Did your team(s) select the right players?  As a Titan’s fan, I’m always left guessing but overall, I’m happy to see they picked a strong running back, and time will tell if Zach Mettenberger is a good pick.

When hiring for your organization, do you treat it like the NFL draft?

Though not as glamorous as the draft, there are some pointers from the draft that you can apply to your job searching process.

Do your research

Scouting_FootballNFL teams spend countless hours and a small fortune on scouting.  They research players, view their performances and decide if the player would be the right fit for their team.

Should you treat your job search any different?

When interviewing for a position, a candidate will submit a resume and fill out an application.  Since they have done their part, you need to do your part and conduct research.

  • Call former employers:  If you call the HR department, most likely you will receive a boilerplate statement, “Candidate worked from point a to point b.”  But if the candidate has the supervisors name listed, why not call them too?  If they left on good terms, then the direct supervisor may give a more accurate picture.
  • Call references: People often chuckle when I mention this one due to the fact that references are hand picked from the candidate.  I don’t disagree with their logic, but I challenge them to be creative when reviewing the references by seeking the answers to the following questions.
      1. How long have they known the person?
      2. How they know the person?
      3. Can they give an example of the person’s work?
      4. Can they explain the person’s character?

If you get those answers from different personal references, you can get a better understanding of who the person is.

  • View LinkedIn: Hiring based upon social media sites has recently been scrutinized; however checking a LinkedIn site can help you get a a better idea of who someone is.  Also be sure to review written recommendations; though I would be cautious of endorsements due to how easy it is to endorse someone on LinkedIn.

Draft Someone Who Fits In

Quarterbacks_DraftDuring the first night of the draft, Jon Gruden kept questioning why teams had not drafted Johnny Manziel.  Gruden’s question was finally answered by the Cleveland Browns when they picked Manziel in the 22nd spot.

But why didn’t the other teams pick Manziel first?

The Jacksonville Jaguars had the opportunity, but chose quarterback Blake Bortles instead.  But why Bortles over Johnny Football?

It is simple, Manziel wasn’t what they were looking for in their draft pick.  The Jags needed a quarterback who they could develop into their system and could prevail when faced with certain adversity issues.  Take a look at some of the performance examples of Blake Bortles.

  • No injuries: While at UCF, Blake was sacked over 50 times!  Despite this issue, he was never injured.  This may seem like a laughable point, but considering that Jacksonville has offensive line issues, this statistic bows well for Blake.
  • Performance under pressure: In addition to the 50+ sacks, Blake was able to complete over 50% of his passes while under pressure from the defense.  This puts him in the top five amongst Automatic Qualifying (AQ) conferences.
  • Comeback Kid: Continuing with the under pressure theme, Blake had six second-half come from behind wins last season.  This ties the record with the most in college football for the 2013 season.

Add these examples to the fact Blake played college football within a two hour drive to Jacksonville and you can see why the Jags chose Blake Bortles.

Similar to hiring, you have to find the person who fits your company’s culture; not just a person who can fill an open position.  Many times companies will hire a rising star in their industry and then be dissatisfied with their results.  Don’t be fooled by a rising star and instead look for someone who has the natural fit for your company culture.

Does your company handle hiring like this?  When hiring, what strategies have you used that proved to be successful?

Coaching Leadership

As a person who lives in Knoxville, you can’t help to hear about U.T. football coaching…especially these past few weeks.  For the past three years, The University of Tennessee’s football program has been steadily declining and piling on loosing games.  From someone on the outside looking in, it the team appeared to have a lack of leadership from when it came to performance on the field.  This led the University to fire their head coach and search for another coach who can inspire their team and coach them back up to the status U.T. once had in the SEC.

While the University was searching for a new coach, everyone kept jumping on and off different bandwagons.

Jon Gruden

  • Before he denied the rumors of taking the job: Everyone praised Jon Gruden and declared him a “Tennessee Boy” coming home.
  • After he shot down the rumors of being U.T.s next coach: People were very quick to point out the fact he has NEVER been a head coach of any college.

Mike Gundy

  • Before he decided to stay at Oklahoma State: U.T. fans praised Coach Gundy for coaching his team to the Big 12 Title last year.
  • After he decided to stay at Oklahoma State: U.T. fans remembered the following clip.

Charlie Strong

  • Before he decided to stay at Louisville: People where quick to point out how he got his start in the SEC.
  • After he turned down Tennessee: People where quick to point out how he wasn’t a top tier coach.

Before U.T. was desperate enough to reach out to Bobby Petrino, the University approached Butch Jones and he graciously accepted the head coaching position at U.T.  During his press conference on Friday, Coach Jones focused on leadership and team building both on and off the field.

Tennessee fans are worried, but here’s an example of what Jim Mora was able to do this year with UCLA.  For those who aren’t familiar with Coach Mora, just keep in mind Coach Jim Mora didn’t have a great winning record coming into his coaching job at UCLA.

  • Last season, the UCLA Bruins were 6-8
  • This season, under Coach Mora, this team is 9-3 and the Bruins are competing in bowl game later this year.

What’s the difference between this year’s team and last year’s team?  Did he recruit a whole new class of football players?  No, in fact most of the starters this season where on the team last season.

Coach Mora and his staff of coaches actually coached up the team to a winning record.  Mora is even a finalist for the Liberty Mutual Coach of the Year Award.

It’s amazing what good coaching can do for a team, even when it comes to business.  While learning about Coach Mora’s success at UCLA, I thought about companies that were at a low point but turned things around by receiving new leadership.  When Steve Jobs returned to Apple in 1996, he was able to turn Apple into a household name.  As Domino’s CEO, J. Patrick Doyle has led the company to high profits while repositioning the restaurant chain as the top pizza makers in the U.S.

Even on at my place of employment, I have seen a department at our Bank improve this year largely due to new leadership from an individual who is an excellent coach.  This particular leader is able to work well with our CEO and is able to grow her staff by providing open communication and giving them opportunities to learn.  Instead of finding fault, she is able find the potential in her team; which has improved profitability throughout her department.

Do you have a leader in your life that helps you excel by coaching you through the good times and the tough times?  Maybe it was a high school coach, a teacher in you had in school or maybe its your boss at work.

For all the Vol fans out there, I hope Coach Jones is able to lead your team to success this year.  That is unless they play the Mountaineers of West Virginia.

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