Like a lot of us here at FOT, I’m a big time basketball fan. Living in Boston the last few years with the new Big Three has been a basketball revival of sorts and brought the Celtics their NBA leading 17th championship. So last week kind of sucked for me, seeing the Miami Heat knock off the Celtics and, in the process, closing the window of championship contention for the Big Three once and for all. You see, the Big Three are past their prime, best years behind them, and not getting any younger. Father time always wins the battle with athletes (unless you’re Barry Bonds) and now we can look forward to a couple of years with middle of the pack success before they move on or retire. This, my loyal FOT readers, is what you call a talent management challenge of the first degree – not unlike what we often see in our own organizations when a once high performing team starts to see their performance decline. The way I see it, you have X choices:
Blow It Up: You’re going to see flashes of brilliance from your team, but the days of sustaining that brilliance have past. You can be all nostalgic and loyal to your team and ride them into the sunset, knowing full well you’ll pay the price somewhere down the line. So pay the price now, dismantle the team and bring in new talent and start over. Look, I’m all for being loyal to those who have made
significant contributions and when I say blow it up, I mean find them a new role, not let them go. The point is the glory days are over and the sooner you move forward the better off your organization will be.
Re-Prioritize Efforts: This is a classic team in decline move. Since high performance isn’t sustainable, your team chooses certain spots where they go for it, give it their all and deliver something like they did in the past. Beware of this move, as it’s a trap for a talent management pro who often starts to believe the team can turn it on and off whenever they want to, but as time goes on, it’s more off than on.
The Transition Plan: This move will help you compete now while building for the future. You keep most of your successful veterans on the team, but you supplement their efforts with new talent hungry to make their mark. If done well, you can transfer key knowledge while slowly and deliberately integrating your new talent onto the team and position the new team for future success.
Look, there’s no easy answer here and every organization has different priorities, but the key message is that the worst possible thing to do would be nothing! And, let me know if you have any suggeted NBA teams whose bandwagon I can jump on…