Are You Ready For Some Football? Your Players Won’t Take You to the Playoffs Without Development…

Sean Conrad Leadership, Sean Conrad, Succession Planning

What do Tom Brady, Rich Gannon and Steve Young all have in common?  Let me give you a hint. It’s not just their NFL all-star status.  It’s their similar early-career history.  Each of them had a lackluster start to their careers.  They were not necessarily high performers with their first teams (or in college, in Brady’s case) and little was done by their respective teams to develop them.  Without nurturing their raw talent, they did little to move their teams forward and had to move on.

After Tom Brady’s uninspiring performance in college at Michigan, he didn’t get drafted until the 7th round. New England picked him up, nurtured him, and developed him into one of the best QBs of all time, driving success for the Patriots throughout his career.

After Steve Young’s miserable, unimpressive two year stint with Tampa Bay, Bill Walsh, coach of the San Francisco 49ers, saw something in Young that could grow into greatness.  With the 49ers, Young played behind Montana for his first several years, but shined as a backup.  Talk about a succession plan.  When Montana missed an entire season because of injury, Young took over and led the team. He went on to be named Most Valuable Player of the NFL in 1992 and 1994, the MVP of Superbowl XXIX and was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2005.

I’m sure you can find many more examples like these across most sports. This same reality plays out in many organizations without proper development and coaching. Potential “A” players leave because they aren’t getting what they need, and no one is there to work on harnessing their talent and growing their skills.

While some companies might do a fair job of assessing performance, often there’s a gap between actual performance evaluations and the development required to take talent and skills to greater heights.  Everyone reading this post has heard the well-worn seat at the table goal for HR.  Let’s assume you already have the seat ok?  I’m going to tell you that as an HR pro and strategist, if you don’t continue to focus on development, you can kiss that seat goodbye.  Taking the lead on development for your company is absolutely critical because it drives home those other important metrics like engagement, retention, better corporate performance, and increased competitiveness. There’s a lot more value to be shown the C-suite from development activities and how they tie to the bottomline, than from the number of performance reviews completed, or how quickly you rolled out a new payroll system.

Creating strategies and automating processes is only part of the big picture.  A pro sports coach like Walsh has the strategies and processes there to enable his team to develop each player’s talents and skills, and lead the team to victory.  Games are taped so they can go over plays frame by frame and learn from what was done well and what wasn’t, and they take time to break down performance play by play, game by game.  Players get extra help and time and turn potential into greatness.  The best coaches don’t wait until the end of the season when they’ve been knocked out of the playoffs to figure out how to work with the skills and talents of their team.  It’s a day-to-day work in progress.

In the same vein, can you expect to get results from your employees with an annual review and nothing much in between?  But you’re an HR pro. You know that managing performance isn’t a once a year deal, it’s about coaching and development, and teaching managers to break down plays, give positive and negative feedback, to assign training and development activities that will close the performance gaps and nurture successors within the organization.

For any organization to actually benefit from performance and talent mangement there must be ongoing development in place to back it up.  Without development, you aren’t helping your players (aka employees) and you may be hurting the team (aka the company).

Editor’s NoteDon’t Feed the Vendors is a new series at FOT.  The goal of the DFTV series?  We get hammered by third parties who want to write at FOT, so we give them a challenge.  Write something cool and significant we can learn from/talk about in the FOT style, and you can roll with the FOT crew.  Try to sell our readership your product and/or provide a whitepaper, and we’ll openly mock your company in public for not understanding the DNA of our readership.  Many inquire, few follow through once they learn they can’t post a workup of their latest “research”.  For those who make the cut, we’ll offer up associate FOT membership as part of the Don’t Feed the Vendors stable.

Sean Conrad of Halogen Software is one of the ones who made the cut.  Show him some love in the comments for being up to the challenge and not writing something that should be read on PBS.