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Watching kids’ sports can be a highly entertaining pastime. Anyone who has ever spent an afternoon enjoying pee-wee league Soccer or Basketball, can certainly relate. All the kids congregate around the ball, and the competition is downright fierce!
O'Neal, Delhomme, Toms, And Delahoussaye — A Good Fit !
O'NEAL, DELHOMME, TOMS, AND DELAHOUSSAYE — A GOOD FIT ! by Mike Manes This is the second in a series of articles by Mike Manes on managing organizations and leading people. The first article created a management “Jambalaya” using various ingredients: “Leftover” ideas that apply in the world of people and work. The articles that follow will use the same ingredients and a fresh approach to create an entrée: Nutritious food for thought.   DISCLAIMER I don't often use sports analogies, but on occasion they're the best way to create a visual image that crosses language, cultural, and other barriers. I believe that this example warrants their usage. THE INGREDIENT/ENTRÉE: HOW TO ATTRACT AND RETAIN VALUABLE EMPLOYEES You're accountable for results. You need talent. You want the best people you can find — ready, willing, and able to get the job done. Shaquille O'Neal (center, LSU/L.A. Lakers), Jake Delhomme (quarterback, Carolina Panthers), David Toms (golfer, LSU), and Eddie Delahoussaye (jockey, New Iberia, LA) — in addition to being “home boys” — are all highly talented. At the top of their game, they're as good as it gets. They're winners! If you were responsible for creating a dynasty, you'd jump at the chance to draft folks like these. Obviously, the games they play are as different as their expertise, but no one can doubt that they're great athletes. In the right role, with the right team, they'll pay dividends on any investment needed to acquire them. Talent is the want and the need. The secret to success lies in proper recruiting, placement /positioning (matching the talent to the organization's needs), development, motivation, and perpetuation of talent. To apply this sports analogy to the business world, let's talk about talent and the proper fit in an organization. David Toms is a sole proprietor. He's a technician, not a team player. He doesn't compete against other players but against himself (his best score). Eddie Delahoussaye is in a partnership. He and his partner (the horse ? his ride) are “connected at the hip,” totally dependent on each other. Together they've often won; without an excellent performance by both, they're just “also rans.” Shaquille O'Neal is a critical part of a team. Some have called him the most dominant player of all time. Although he's essential to the team and might be the inspirational leader on the court, he's not the boss. He depends on his teammates for assists in order to maximize his potential to score. On defense, he's an awesome presence in the key; but to win, his teammates must cover most of the court. Jake Delhomme is the organizational man. His organization includes three distinct units — offense, defense, and special teams. On the field, he calls the shots; off the field, his presence, performance, and influence have a significant impact on how the other units perform and the outcome of the game. Before we get too enthusiastic about our talent pool, let's address one obvious assumption: Proper placement. We visualize David on a tee box, Eddie in the saddle, Shaq in the key, and Jake behind the center. How ridiculous would it be to have Eddie trying to see over the butt of the center, David elbowing his way to the hoop, Shaq forcing his feet in the stirrups or Jake “chattering” at the tee box, as the marshals whisper “quiet please.” If these great athletes were miscast in their jobs, we'd see a dead horse, no passes thrown, only donuts being dunked, and Delhomme being forced to play with a sock in his mouth. The results would be disastrous: An incredible waste of talent and opportunity. ENOUGH ABOUT SPORTS, LET'S GET BACK TO WORK Do you have the right “talent” in your organization? Is this talent in the right role? Will you need this role in the future? Can you develop the people you have in place to provide the talent that you need? How's your team aging? Is it time to develop some rookies, or do the veterans have enough years left in their (work) lives or enough life left in their (work) years? Can you motivate them? Do the people with talent fit into the culture of your team? What's the structure of your business: Sole proprietorship, partnership, team, or organization? Is this structure right for what you do? Do the members of your team “fit” this structure? DON'T STOP THINKING ABOUT TOMORROW Take a leaf from The Essential Drucker (Harper Business © 2001) and ask yourself, “What is our business, what will it be, and what should it be?” Remember, some great dynasties of the past couldn't compete with average teams of today. Do you have a chance to win the championship this year, or should you start working on the future today? Is your organization right for tomorrow — and the day after tomorrow? Forget the past. Look to the future. If you're serious about building a dynasty, answer Drucker's question: “What should your business be?” Based on this answer, who are your customers? What do these customers want and need? How do you profitably deliver this at a price they are willing to pay? What functions must your organization perform? What infrastructure will you need to support these functions? What type of talent will it take to perform these functions most efficiently and effectively to deliver the results demanded? Do you have this talent internally? Can it be developed or must it be recruited? Do you have the development programs in place to teach/develop the skills needed? Do you have the incentives to assure an environment in which each employee is motivated to perform? If employees are unwilling or unable to perform can/will you cut them from the team? Will your employee work together as a team? Now that you've voiced your opinions and feelings, scout your own team through the cold and objective eyes of your competitors and the marketplace.   What are the strengths and weaknesses of your organization? What will they be in the future? Will today's greatest strength become tomorrow's weakness? You brag about the experience in your team. Does each employee have many years of experience or one year of experience many times? Are they “people” people unwilling to embrace technology? Are they “techies” unwilling or unable to embrace people? Can or will they change? Does the market like, respect, or tolerate you?   Do you have the right mix of rookies and veterans? Do you have the experience you need, blended with the enthusiasm and new ideas of youth? Do your team members respect their own diversity enough to become stronger or do internal issues polarize the team?   Are the team members team players or do each of them have their own agenda? As coach, are you in charge? Has the Peter Principle (“Everyone rises to their own highest level of incompetence”) taken hold in your organization?   Is your organization a team, or do you have a group of people “beholden” to one superstar? Do you have a replacement for this superstar on the bench, or do you have them insured? Does the superstar respect their teammates? Do they respect and support the superstar or will they sabotage them?   Can your team get up for the big game? Is emotion a talent within your organization, or do you operate in a sterile, technical environment in which what you do is more important than who you and your customers are?   Remember that we're emotional beings. Reason is important, but you win really tough games on emotion. If you need evidence of this, go to the sports section of the paper and look for the word “upset.”   Are you winning? Are your fans (customers) still coming to the game? Are they paying for tickets? Are you making a profit as a team? Are you reinvesting these profits — what Drucker describes as seed corn — in the future of your organization? YOUR GAME PLAN   To create a 10-point (not an all-inclusive list) Game Plan, ask yourself these questions:   Who will be your customers? What do they want and need? What will your business be (what do you sell to meet these wants and needs)? What is the price the customers/prospects are willing to pay? How do you deliver these products and services at a profit? What organizational architecture do you need to support profitable delivery? Who are the best people for each role? How do you recruit, develop, retain, reward, rehabilitate, and retire them? Can they work as a team? What's your two-minute drill?   One of Zig Ziglar's presentations stresses the importance of preparation and consistency. He asks if you've ever hit a perfect serve in tennis or a perfect tee-shot (or hole-in-one) in golf. If so, says Ziglar, this proves your ability; now you just need to do this consistently so that your organization can compete in the future — at the next level.   You're the owner/coach and probably a player in your organization. All too often in such roles we get so caught up in the “urgent” that we lose sight of the “important.”   Stop. Take a deep breath. Call time out. Wait for half time. Review the game films. But at some point take an honest look at your organization and its performance! Is this what your business should be? If yes, congratulations. If no, get back to the practice field and the drawing board and the basics — “blocking and tackling.”   Wait till next year!   Michael G. Manes can be reached at Square One Consulting, 543 Pebblebrook Dr., Baton Rouge, LA 70815, (225) 273-2243, (225) 939-5944 (Cell), e-mail [email protected], or visit
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