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NFL Draft – Hiring the Right People – One Question

Posted by Douglas A Wick on Thu, May 8, 2014

What’s the first question you need to determine about the people you consider hiring?

Would you be willing to spend three to ten years getting physically beaten up for four to six months of the year?  In the NFL lineman collide in the trenches at the force of a head on car collision up to 60 times a game.  NFL Draft 1 year resized 600When NFL teams make decisions on drafting a college football player one of the first questions they need to ask is whether or not the young man is willing to put up with the rigors of the game.  Do they love the game enough to endure the punishment it dispenses?

How good is your hiring record?  If you don’t know your stats I suggest you check and quantify them.  Why?  Because you naturally believe you’re better than what you are. 

From an article entitled Overall NFL Draft Success Rate two quotes:

“I think you have to divide it into top 12 and bottom 20. If you’re in the top 12, it ought to be in the .640 range. That’s about 4.5 guys on average per year out of the seven. You measure that at the end of three years and what you are measuring is whether or not those guys become winning players, guys that contribute to wins. Bottom 20 is .571, that’s four out of seven…"- Bill Polian, former GM of the Colts

"If you look historically, teams get 2.3 (32.8% of the 7 picks) starters per draft and as a team, I think you need to strive to get 3 starters per draft (42.8% of the 7 picks), or I should say players worthy of starting."- Mike Reinfeldt, former GM of the Titans

The author of the article Sidney Mussburger suggests the actual numbers are much lower than these estimates by two former GM’s. (Is this the reason we use the word former?)

Setting a low bar for success (player starts minimum of 8 games per year in their first five years) the rate of success of all players drafted from 1991 – 2004 is 21.5%.  Players taken in the first round met the standard 73.8%, 7th round-picks only 5.9%.  The brutal facts: only 1.5 players out of 7 (1 per round of draft) actually make the grade. College football players go through the NFL combine, Pro Days, interviews from NFL Teams, the infamous Wonderlic Test, invitations to visit NFL team sites and countless hours reviewing their game tapes.  The latter is all about seeing how they perform in their actual work environment.  It’s an exhaustive approach that yields mixed to poor results. 

So what’s your hiring batting average?

Arguably few businesses explore potential candidates to the degree that NFL teams does.  Due to poor interviewing tactics it’s not difficult to understand why 82% of management hiring decisions fail. (Gallup’s Why Great Managers are so Rare) Are you anywhere close to being as copious as an NFL team about your hires, particularly your management hires?

IF the NFL fails this frequently after endless hours of research doesn’t it make sense to invest time in a hiring method that approaches this exhaustive approach to find the right people?  We discussed Gazelles and Positioning Systems recommended method for hiring several times in the blog: Topgrading.  It approaches the comprehensive path NFL teams follow.  Start there. You can register for a twelve week on line course to learn Topgrading for your business here.

We recommend that you evaluate your people both on performance as well as on their adherence to your Core Values and Purpose.  It something we call the performance matrix talent review which we ask our clients to do on a quarterly basis.  John Welsh at GE popularize this method of evaluation based on his desire to have “A” players at GE. (See picture on the right)GE Performance Matrix resized 600

Here’s the question I’d recommend you ask to discover whether or not your candidates are a good fit for your organization: Ask every candidate a question to determine if they enthusiastically agree with your Core Purpose or Mission?  Better yet ask your candidate questions to determine if they enthusiastically agree with your Core Values.  Your mission is to discover whether or not the candidate is a good fit for your culture. 

If your candidate doesn’t fit with your culture (Core Purpose/Mission or Core Values) doesn’t it make sense they will not be a good long term fit for your business?

It’s the same question every GM should be asking college athletes.  In their case does this person personality and desire fit in the physically grueling, violence filled game of football.  That should be their first question. 

Does your business have a Core Purpose or Mission? Certainly you have Core Values.

How can you know whether or not a candidate is a good fit for your business if you are unclear about what your businesses purpose is?  Is there any way to determine whether the candidate you’re interviewing will fit in with the emotional reasons you do business without understanding what that is in your business?

Having a Core Purpose helps your business in so many ways it’s difficult to describe.  A recent blog by Brian Sooy, 3 Dimensions of Purpose, notes Purpose declares intent, Purpose is strategic, Purpose provides perspective.   Read it to discover more reasons why your business needs a purpose and perhaps why if you have a purpose you may wish to revisit it to ensure it’s on target.

Just a reminder from Jim Collins, Good to Great - People are the first and most important ingredient to building a winning team. 

Yesterday morning one of our Toastmasters gave a short but excellent presentation on Brendon Burchard’s 6 Guiding Questions for High Performers.  At the base of these six questions is one word that should govern your life.  Will explore these six questions to help you chose the path to high performance next blog. 

Topics: Core Values, Core Purpose, A Players, Topgrading, hiring decisions, NFL Draft

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The Strategic Discipline Blog focuses on midsize business owners with a ravenous appetite to improve his or her leadership skills and business results.

Our 3 disciplines include:

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