Now that the dust has settled from the 2018 NFL Draft – and the media is already publishing mock drafts for 2019 – we always find the annual draft strategy debate very fascinating – should your team draft by specific position of need (Skill) or take the best player available (Talent). Without getting into the various pros and cons of each strategy, we often find ourselves having the same debate when we are hiring. How much value should we put into a candidate’s specific experience and background (Skill) versus their potential to contribute to making us an overall better team (Talent)?
Through lots of trial and error, here’s how we approach our hiring practices to help us avoid the dreaded draft busts:
This is always our first instinct and choice. Of course, you don’t draft quarterbacks and make them kickers but you can turn a talented defensive end into a pro bowl linebacker. As such, we believe in the ability to coach the skills necessary for talented, passionate individuals to become highly successful contributors to our team.
The caveat to the above rule, however, is culture and character. For us, as a boutique sized firm, team always comes first and if we have the opportunity to bring on an incredible talent who does not fit into our culture, we will always pass on that individual. Our experience is that you can’t teach character and you can’t force culture.
Maybe a better parallel to draw is not with the NFL draft but with youth sports. When evaluating boys and girls for youth sports, coaches always look for the most athletic kids (talent) with whom they will build their team. Regardless of a kid’s athletic ability, however, only one thing earns the dreaded “DND” designation (Do Not Draft); the character of the kid and his/her parents and their ability to fit into the culture that coach will look to create.
Resist the urge to be enamored purely with talent and/or skills – just ask the Cleveland Browns.
Submitted by: Paul Duffy, EVP/Client Services & Agency Operations