When Sport Organizations Make Controversial Decisions Regarding Their Human Capital: The Michael Vick Story

When Sport Organizations Make Controversial Decisions Regarding Their Human Capital: The Michael Vick Story

DAVE BAKER’S TAKE:

You’re the perfect talent – we don’t want you! So you’re a great professional – too bad – you can’t work here! Fortunately we’re all perfect employees, board members, team members, sorority/fraternity members as well as parents, students, and fellow employees. Some might say I’m really good at what I do, but I’m not him/her – you know what they did (hush, hush, whisper about their ills and foils behind their back) or in this ‘you can’t shame me world’ scream it out in a public forum like a school board meeting, or a borough resident’s meeting, or a stadium. Ha! I showed them. I gave them a piece of my mind! I’m so much better than them. And today, with social media you may be vilified a dozen or a hundred or a thousand times over and not know it or worse, can’t defend yourself. You see, I’m an exceptional professional. I played one sport in college. I outperformed every other athlete in the entire country in my position and led my team to national title contention. I went on to play professionally. Unfortunately I didn’t have great role models or mentors or guidance throughout my college or professional career. In my world, in my culture, you either protect yourself or you’re in trouble. Some of the kids in my neighborhood weren’t so lucky, some of them didn’t get out – I mean, they didn’t get out alive. It was tough growing up there, we didn’t have many role models other than the bully tough down the street who everyone knew not to mess with – or else! You showed you were just as tough as them and only then did they respect you. If you didn’t who knows what might happen. Unfortunately I screwed up. I got caught for what I did and had to do time for it. I didn’t know it was as severe as it turned out, I didn’t hurt anyone, no drugs, no person got physically hurt, but I screwed up and I admitted it. I went to jail, did my time and knew that if I got my act straight I could maybe regain some of what I had. I promised and kept my promise to correct what I’ve done by going above and beyond to protect and to speak out against my former acts. I corrected my ills, after all isn’t that what jail time is meant to do – correct and pay for my faults. Fortunately when I got out one of those guys gave me a chance and I proved myself again. Not fully forgiven by the fans, I still hear the jeers and snide comments from the people in the stands. I guess they’re perfect, they never made a mistake, and they never got caught. If you’re a high profile person like me, people just wait to knock you off your perch, put you back where you belong. Fortunately there are teams and coaches and owners who can look past those and see that I really am trying to make it right. It’s an uphill battle, but I promised to make it right and I’m going to do whatever I can to make it so. Perhaps my performance on the field will help soften the bite of the curse hewn down on me by the mom in the stands or the parent standing beside their kid when I walk out on the field. I hear every one of them. Their deafening. But I did wrong. I deserve it. What can I do except give my employer the best I can do to help them achieve their goal – to win. I’m Michael Vick. 80% of the Black and Gold nation support me. But to the other 20% of the selfrighteous perfect I’ve never done wrong to anyone or anything underworld, I can do no right. I commend employers who do whatever they can to take and employ individuals who have made mistakes and have corrected them. After all someone once said you learn more from your mistakes than you do from your success- right? Here’s the solution, straight from the wish list of every executive recruiter and hiring manager in the country. Here’s what we need! For every employee who sends in a resume for an open position I want two additional one page documents. One is a list of all of your accomplishments – complete with all of the factual data to support your greatness. The second is a list of all of your failures – a top 25/50 list of all of your mistakes, screw-ups, – and just for good measure – let’s include not just those from your professional career – let’s include all of those from your personal life too! Every single fault – every sin – I want to see one page of the big ones! If you’re a professional working I’m sure you can come up with at least one page of those – can’t you! The time you bagged the afternoon and went golfing because you were torqued at your boss, the time you decided I need a ‘mental health day’ due to the stress of my job and I’m calling off sick but I’m really going shopping. They won’t know I took a couple of pens, did you see the supply cabinet – my kids need school supplies, I’ll just get them from my employer. Remember that pretty/handsome co-worker I like to flirt with – I guess I’ll list that too! And my expense report, hmm, must have been a little padding there too! In fact, of the 2080 hours I’m supposed to work in a given year – how many hours did I actually do real work – truthful full accounting of every hour I worked – was it 2080??? My employer paid me for them right? How many years have I been working now? Let’s vilify Michael Vick. It’s easy, his sin was very visible for all of us, and he admitted it! But just before you do, ask yourself, under your most honest personal self-evaluation – could I cast that first stone? Oh ye without fault ……..

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Are you Ready for some…Change?

Are you Ready for some…Change?

DAVE BAKER’S TAKE:

Breaking down barriers – or through ceilings – where no one dared to go before. So who are Sarah Thomas and Jen Welter? My guess is that you don’t know, although those of you who understand the challenges of breaking down barriers might. (Millennials have already googled them on their smart phones btw). They are pioneers, willing to take a step into unchartered territory and working for employers, specifically enlightened HR leaders, who thought about the skill it takes to do a job and not gender. There was certainly some trepidation on both of their parts before they took on their new roles, especially in light of the fact that they are the first two females in history to do what they are doing. Similar to Jackie Robinson who broke down the race barrier in major league baseball, these two have entered waters no one else had gone before them. Who are they? They are the first female referee (Sarah) and coach (Jen) in the National Football League. You know, we can learn a lot from sports. Because, unlike industry, sports is about the individual’s ability to perform a certain function not about their gender. True, the sport is heavily dominated by males, specifically because many of the coaches, leadership and governance is led by former players. But in today’s world those walls are crumbling fast, and not because of a legal action that forced it – but because of the enlightened people leadership (what we call human capital) in their respective organizations. We have a few clients who are labor unions, you know, the ones that train the skilled workforce of tomorrow how to build things to code and do it with an exceptional level of quality and dedication that is second to none. They all have apprenticeship programs that teach their new employees how to understand building, wiring, plumbing, assembling, and constructing everything around us. It’s a heavily male dominated world. But most of these organizations have been innovative enough to introduced females into their ranks. I’m sure it wasn’t easy, and certainly not as high profile as Sarah and Jen. But those organizations and their forward thinking leadership are also trying to break down walls that have stood for generations. Introducing females into heavily dominated male roles isn’t easy and those organizations who have done it have had to tackle more than just a few unforeseen challenges, but they faced those head on and are now taking advantage of a workforce that hasn’t been used in certain capacities in more than 70 years (reference Pittsburgh’s own Rosie the Riveter). Without Rosie it would have been impossible for the U.S. to win the last World War and was an absolute necessity in light of the available talent in the workforce. You see in the face of adversity some innovate and thus entrepreneurs have changed the world. Let’s applaud the innovators who look at adversity as just another opportunity for capitalizing on new resources. Human Capital – the power of people realized. Bonus question – can you name the two women who will graduate from Army Ranger School this week?

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Pittsburgh Police Face HR Nightmare

Pittsburgh Police Face HR Nightmare

DAVE BAKER’S TAKE:

Pittsburgh Police Incredibly understaffed and we are at risk Of all things you hope to get when you pay your taxes is safety. Most urbanites and suburbanites take it for granted and generally do not put ourselves into unsafe situations. Safety on the streets, in our neighborhoods and throughout the course of our normal social lives in and around the city. So how is it that recent articles regarding the challenges of the lack of enough trained officers is ever a problem. To the human capital expert it is obvious that the challenge isn’t political, it’s founded in poor human capital strategic planning and the missing link to develop and implement a succession planning program to build the corps due to the significant number of boomers (aka baby boomers) who are part of the workforce and will be leaving continuously over the next 10+ years. Well managed companies and organizations (like city’s, and schools and hospitals) take care to develop and manage their most valuable asset. And that’s not just part of their annual report and empty platitudes. The best run companies and organizations have consistently developed and implemented human capital strategic initiatives that assure that they will run exceptionally well today and tomorrow and well into the future. Programs that guarantee exceptional hires to your workforce, onboarding and training programs that insure new hires know their responsibilities and how to perform them, accountability programs that are driven by objective performance based measures, leadership development to continuously improve the skills of those who manage your workforce, and succession planning – especially today – with the full knowledge that more than 25% of the current workforce is going to leave their places of employment within the next decade or so. Good people make great things happen every day. We see it everyday. And yet cities and companies and organizations continuously run themselves with the overriding philosophy that the lack of a people strategic plan will somehow carry the day. The challenge isn’t political, the challenge is people. It’s no wonder why start up companies are changing the way we do things every day. Google, Apple, Oracle and Amazon were all startups driven by people with passion and commitment – not only to their mission – but to the people who were part of the solution. This isn’t a political failure, this is a leadership failure. GE was about to tank before Jack Welch was hired as the CEO. With one human capital practice he changed the culture and turned them into one of the best run companies I the world which they still maintain today. It took huge courage to do it, but it wasn’t financial and it wasn’t product driven, it was driven by one essential human capital program that changed them forever. You want to reduce your risk and safety in our neighborhoods? Implement a people based strategic plan and stick to it. Will this happen? Unlikely. Someone’s political future will take precedent over what truly needs to be done.

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