Football and Your Company’s Depth Chart

WVU+Dingle+BerryWhat lessons can companies and department managers learn from college football this season?

If your company is suffering from a talent shortage, then you may find the following post rings true in your organization.

Backstory: College Football

College football season is wrapping up and fans are either excited about their team’s successes or questioning what went wrong this year.

As a WV Mountaineers fan living in Knoxville, Tennessee, it has been a season of ups and downs for the two teams I hear the most about: WVU and UT.  Both teams had very close games, but couldn’t close the deal.

Why?  My humble opinion: each team’s depth charts.

Not enough experienced people

If a college football team has to burn a redshirt and start a true freshman, then their chances of success are slim to none.

WVU: In the Mountaineers’ case, they don’t have enough depth in their defense.  An article written in The Charleston Daily Mail last month sheds some light on this subject.  In the article, writer Mike Casazza, points out:

WVU played nose guard Darrien Howard even though he was on track to redshirt. The defensive line was without the starting defensive end and a backup nose guard against Texas Tech.

UT: The University of Tennessee has done a great job recruiting young, strong athletes.  That said, they are still lacking depth and it has hindered their overall performance.  The Tennessean was able to point that out in an October 31st  article.  In this article,  Coach Butch Jones addresses the depth issue head on by stating:

We need much, much more depth.  A lot of that will be addressed in recruiting.

Both coaches are obviously aware of their depth issue, and both of them have stated in several interviews that they are committed to fix this issue with short-term and long-term tactics.

How does this relate to business?

Regardless if you have a huge corporate organization or a small business, do you have the right people to fill in when needed?  Since I’m in the banking industry, I’ll use banking as an example for the business industry.  When I speak to most HR directors and managers in banking, two issues typically pop up in the conversation.

  1. Succession Planning
  2. Reduction in Branch Staffing

These two issues are independent from each other but do have a connection when a bank is reviewing their business depth chart.

Succession Planning: Who’s going to be in charge next?

The GodfatherMore and more Bank HR conferences and webinars focus on bank succession planning.  In fact, this issue continues to be a sticking point with bank regulators.  Regulators not only want to make sure a bank has long-term vision, but they also want to see how a bank is acting upon the long-term vision.

A 2013 article from American Banker, states a few facts about the lack of succession planning:

The absence of a thorough succession could derail a bank’s strategy, opening it up to a takeover. Since 2008, the average bank CEO age is roughly 58, while CEOs of banks that have been sold have averaged about 61, according to a study from Morgan Stanley. For the 35 bank deals announced during the first nine months of last year (2012), the average seller’s CEO was approaching 65.

Now if you work for a bank and your CEO is approaching, or has already reached, 65, don’t start panicking yet.  Just because you don’t know if there is a succession plan doesn’t mean there isn’t one.  There could be a succession plan written and approved by senior management and the Board of Directors.

But as previously stated, is the bank acting upon the plan?

Ask yourself, is there appropriate training in place?  Are the future leaders of your bank learning about possible future roles?

  • If your CFO is in place to be the CEO, are they learning about how to lead people?
  • If the CCO is next in line, does that person understand what needs to be done to raise low-cost/non-interest deposits?

If you answer no, again, don’t panic.  There is still time to fast track training and different ways to approach it.

Reduction in Branch Staffing: Do you have the people, but not the talent?

Old Bank Teller LineBanks across the country are running into the following issue.

For decades banks have staffed their branches with tellers.  Now with a decline of in-branch transactions, some banks are loaded up with a staff that doesn’t have anything to do.  Will they have to lay off teller (a current trend) or have they started training these tellers for other positions within the bank?

There are two factors to consider when training tellers (or anybody): skill set and passion.  For example, if you plan on transitioning a teller to mortgage lender, think about…

  • Skill Set: Does the teller have some of the natural qualities needed for this type of position.  Do they enjoy working with people?  Do they understand that mortgage lending requires a level of knowledge regarding regulations?
  • Passion: Most of the skill sets needed can be done through time via training, but passion is an internal mechanism that a person must have.  Without it, all the training and skill sets in the world will amount to nothing.  Make sure they have passion and find ways to keep that passion alive.

In order to successfully make this transition, branch managers, human resources and senior management all have to be on the same page.  All three must work together to identify what areas need more depth and then find the person who can fill in the depth gap.  This opportunity itself is another blog post for another day.

Wrapping Up

Whether it is football or business, being the best means always improving and looking for opportunities.  In order to do that, you have to make sure your team is loaded with not only play makers, but with rising stars.  Make sure to prepare your rising stars so that they can move into the play makers position as seamlessly as possible.



Fighting a Mountain

Hatfied McCoy 2014Back in June, I ran my first half marathon of the year.  The Hatfield and McCoy Half Marathon was held June 14th and runs through both West Virginia and Kentucky.  This was a great event for several reasons:

  • Family – Jennifer, Max and I got to spend time with several family members.
  • Nostalgia – I grew up in the great state of West Virginia and (for a short time) the Commonwealth of Kentucky, so it was fun to run in places I haven’t seen since I was a child.
  • Conquering a mountain…this will take more than one sentence.

Part of the half marathon runs up Blackberry Mountain (elevation shown below) making the difference between the minimum and maximum elevation 635 feet.  In other words,  this half marathon was the most difficult run I have ever tried.

Hatfield Mileage


Training for this event required more than just running my regular routine.


I had been increasing my running mileage each week, but I realized that wasn’t enough.  In addition to increasing mileage, I also increased the number of hills I would run.  Though running Cherokee Boulevard would be a fun treat, I kicked it up a notch by adding Noelton Drive and Mellen Avenue.  To mix up my weekly runs, I would run the hills in my neighborhood or go to Dowell Springs.  By running different inclines at different levels and points, it conditioned my body to withstand conquering the Mountain.

Core Training

Working on my core, specifically my lower back and hips, really helped with my running.  Having a stronger lower back and abs section allowed me to run further due to having a more solid foundation.  Building my hips enabled me to increase my speed and keep my body more balanced.

New Running Stance

In a previous post, I mention working with the team at Provision Physical Therapy.  They watched me run on a treadmill and showed me a better running form and stance.  They taught me to lean forward and to have a midfoot strike.  This helped me increase my speed, and in the long run, will help prevent certain injuries.


Mountain vs Red ViperLeading up to the race, I decided to visualize the Mountain as an actual person/character.  Being a fan of Game of Thrones, I pictured the Mountain as…the Mountain.  As I would run, I picture myself going to battle against The Mountain.  By doing this, I made sure not have the same fate as his victims; more importantly, it allowed me to think of the race in a different, comical position.

Notice how all four of these steps align with one another perfectly. Without the first two points: Conditioning and Core Training, I would not have had the strength to have a new running stance.  Without visualizing the Mountain, I could have lost interest in conditioning every week.

Though these points are tied to running, the same school of thought can be tied to other plans and objectives in life.  Think of your business, does your strategic plan have connected steps that align with your main business objective(s)?  Do you just put something together and hope it works, or do you create a plan that is measurable?

If I would have just went out running three times a week with no plan, I probably could have finished the half marathon, but I wouldn’t have finished with these results:

Hatfield Results 2014

What kind of mountains have you conquered?  Please feel free to share your story in the comments section.


Sales Training = Knowledge + Courage

Courage and KnowledgeAround this time of year, I ask my peers, co-workers and bank executives (both inside and outside the organization) what they believe will make an impact in the new year.  This is a great way to get insight and to make sure I am not missing anything for the coming year.  When the section of either sales or educational development comes up, one item is always mentioned:

Sales Training

I can ask twenty people what sales training is and will likely receive twenty different answers.  Here are just a few items:

  • How to close a sale as fast as possible
  • Ways to improve the sales pipeline
  • Getting a customer to say yes
  • Best Cold Calling Tactics

These are good points and could possible be great training sessions, but all these points tend to leave out the two most important factors in sales: Knowledge and Courage.

When you think about it, sales is about how people communicate with one another.  You can have the best product or service in the world, but if you don’t know what it is, or are unsure of yourself, then how can you sale it?  In other words, sales training shouldn’t be about how to sale a widget, it is about giving your staff product knowledge and providing coaching to your staff in order to build courage.


How can you sale something if you don’t know anything about it?

Product knowledge isn’t a one time training session.  It isn’t an annual meeting.  Product knowledge is an ongoing process that every person at your bank needs.  Here are just a few reasons:

  • Consistency: Conducting a training session is one way to make sure you have educated your entire staff and that everyone is on the same page.  Everyone understands what the product or service is and can be ready to handle any questions customers or prospects may have.
  • Regulations: New federal regulations are constantly being pushed out and inspected.  It is always best to check with the compliance department before conducting any product training.  This way you can educate your bankers about any regulations that are tied to the product you are reviewing.
  • Enhancements: While reviewing a certain product in a group training session, you may find that the product may need to be updated or completely overhauled.  This will not only help improve the sales process, but overall customer service.


You’ve given your sales team the knowledge, now it’s up to them to go out and sale.  Sounds easy, right?

Consider this:

  • Have you ever purchased anything from somebody who came across extremely timid?
  • Have you ever enjoyed working with a pushy salesman?

Most likely these two salespeople suffer from a lack of confidence (aka courage).

For some people, sales can be like walking across a tight rope. If you are afraid to close the sale, people will walk away from you. Be too focused on closing the sale, and people run away from you.

That’s why successful sales training happens “outside the classroom” in the form of coaching.  Coaching is a great way to build confidence because it reinforces positive behavior while improving communication between a leader and their team.  Of course, there is a right way and a wrong way of coaching.

  • The Wrong Way: Looking for every fault and only pointing out what is wrong.  In other words, Wrong=Wrong
  • The Right Way: In short, examining the whole situation.  Praising what was done right while focusing on a mutual understand of how it will be handled better in the future.

Remember, while coaching, you are building courage and confidence in someone, not attacking every little problem they have.

If your sales training is centered around these two concepts, everything else will fall into place.  Customers and prospects will know they are dealing with a person who knows what they are talking about and can make it happen.  This creates an environment where the sales person and buyer are on the same team.  It’s a mindset that allows everyone to come out a winner!

Scab Referees: Training verses Perception

After a preseason of worrying and a handful of bad calls in the first three weeks of the regular season, the referee strike appears to be in the rear view mirror.  ESPN reports the refs will be back on the field starting tonight!

It was odd that during the beginning of the NFL season people talking more about replacement referees then they were their favorite player or team.

The scab refs created enough attention to cause the public to wonder if this season will earn the notorious asterisk (*) in the record books.  Even Republican and Democratic politicians agreed that enough was enough.  Well people can stop worrying about the asterisk and politicians can go back to bickering with one another.

Businesses can learn a few lessons from this P.R. debacle; with the first lesson being solve any employee strikes ASAP.  Other lessons revolve around training and perception.

  • Training: The bad calls these replacement referees were making can be traced back to education and training.  When you hear a ref call a false start on the defense instead of calling the penalty an encroachment, it boils down to training.  Businesses can avoid simple, yet embarrassing miscues like this by incorporating a strong 90-day on-boarding process for new hires.  In this type of situation, a more intense on-boarding process may have alleviated any unneeded stress on the replacement refs and the NFL.
  • Perception: Was this all an issue of public opinion?  After all, people have been complaining about referees since the creation of professional sports.  If the NFL would have gotten ahead of this story by humanizing these replacement refs and highlighting their experience/background, there may have been less emphasis on the “silly” calls (i.e. 11 yard penalty).  Building a strong Public Relations campaign focused on the new refs could have helped the NFL in the short-term and eased the tension fans already had about the scab refs.  With a P.R. Budget already in place, all the NFL would have had to do was shift some of the funds for another P.R. campaign to a “Ref P.R.” campaign and not overspent their budget.

Regardless if it was an issue of training or perception, one thing is for sure, the old refs are back!  Fans can now go back to rooting on their favorite teams knowing that the questionable penalties being called are now from the same old regular referees and not some unknown replacement referee.

Oh yeah…Go Titans!

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