Super Bowl lessons in recruiting wrong fit employees
When seeking an employee, we often look for those with past job experience, indication of a good performance record, and their current skill to do the job. Nothing is inherently wrong with this method of finding employees. It has been used successfully for years. But it is the exact opposite of the recruitment strategy that ultimately resulted in Tampa Bay’s Super Bowl LV win this year.
How did this happen? Each of the 5 Buccaneers that were involved in scoring the winning Super Bowl points had been let go from their former teams due to performance issues. Tampa Bay’s recruiters keenly saw the real reason they were let go and it wasn’t due to performance. It was due to a wrong fit on the team.
Quarterback Tom Brady was released from his former team as being “over the hill.” Obviously not so. Tampa Bay was the right fit for him because they had an extremely powerful offensive line for his protection. They also hired Gronkowski and Brown, two of the top receivers, to solidify the fit.
Receiver Antonio Brown exhibited undesirable behavior issues to the point that no one wanted him. The fit at Tampa Bay worked because Tom Brady, his friend and mentor, was on the team alongside him. He offered advice and comradery that helped keep him on his best behavior.
Running Back Leonard Fournette simply could not do well on his former team, one of the worst-performing in the NFL at the time. Teamed up with Tom Brady’s passing strategy and a strong offensive line resulted in Fournette’s successful and unbelievable runs.
Receiver Rob Gronkowski retired from his former team. Age and burn out he said. A proactive recruitment effort by Tampa Bay focused on the opportunity to play with his close friend Tom Brady. The magic happened because of their familiarity with each other and the strategic positioning that used his phenomenal blocking skills.
Goal Kicker Ryan Succop was considered ‘washed up’ as the result of his age and an injury. His addition to Tampa Bay fit so well because it allowed him to focus solely on kicking field goals. They had a designated kickoff specialist to do the kickoffs.
Most of us have personally experienced down-turns in our performance due to changes that affected our job fit. We either stay on the job while our performance suffers, look for a job that does fit, get education for another job, or retire altogether. Yet changing only a few factors could make all the difference in our job satisfaction and success.
Going from good to great
As for recruiters, they can go from good to great by finding and correctly placing wrong-fit employees. Ideal candidates are those that have recently experienced a downturn but at one time were top performers. By asking questions that can help identify job fit issues and then providing the right environment, the new employee can thrive. There are specific factors that define wrong-fit candidates, reasons to recruit them, and tips for identifying and evaluating them for your team. See How recruiting won the Super Bowl by targeting “wrong fit” candidates by Dr. John Sullivan for more information.
Our current reality of Blacks and job advancement
If the United States continues on its current path, Blacks won’t reach equality in the workplace for another 95 years. This is according to a report by McKinsey & Company, a change agent for enterprise organizations. The report focuses on Black workers in the US private sector. After presenting both insightful and alarming statistics it concludes with actions that companies and stakeholders can take to speed up their progress towards diversity, equity, and inclusion (DE&I).
According to the study, the lack of equity for Blacks is the result of many conditions. Geography, industry and occupations, and advancement and inclusion in the workplace are the primary culprits.
Geography. Almost 60% of Blacks live in Southern states, but the nation’s top jobs are growing in Pacific and Western states. Only 1 in 10 black workers live where job growth is up.
Industry and Occupations. Many factors account for the inequality of Blacks in the industry or specific jobs in which they work.
- Black workers are primarily found in frontline service industries such as healthcare, retail, accommodation, and foodservice.
- Three in five hold laborer, operative (non-supervisory), or office/clerical jobs.
- These industries have the highest share of workers that make less than $30,000 a year.
- Far fewer Blacks are in higher-paying industries such as technology, professional services, and financial services.
- One-third of Black workers are in jobs at the highest risk of being lost to automation.
- Overall job prospects are much lower for Blacks. The number of Black workers with some college or an associate’s degree is similar to that of white workers with only a high-school diploma.
Advancement and Workplace Inclusion. While Blacks make up 12% of the U.S. population, they represent only 7% of its managerial positions. And higher up the ladder, the data gets even worse. According to the report, common challenges that blacks face when it comes to advancement in the workplace are:
- The link between frontline jobs and managerial jobs for Black workers is broken. Blacks represent 18 percent of frontline jobs compared to 9% managerial.
- There is a missing rung in the ladder for black advancement. Entry-level jobs have high turnover. While hiring Black employees for these positions is effective, Black attrition is much higher than that of whites. This reduces the number of Black candidates available for promotion.
- A gap in trust perception exists between whites and Blacks. Compared to white workers, Blacks are:
- 23% less likely to perceive “quite a bit” of support to advance
- 41% less likely to view promotions as fair, and
- 39% less likely to believe their company’s DE&I programs are effective
- Black employees lack sponsorship and allies to support their advancement. 87% of companies claimed they had an advancement sponsorship program. Yet more than 67% of Black employees reported they did not have a sponsor.
Changing the path
The report summarizes ten key challenges that, if addressed, will create more opportunities for Black workers. Yet these are not easy to resolve. Corporate policy alone cannot fix the situation. It is going to take a broader societal effort, system-level change, and collaboration among companies and their stakeholders. All big words with a tremendous amount of effort behind them.
The report noted some positives that companies can study or model:
- Promotion rates for Black men and women have shown improvement.
- The transportation industry, a faster-growing and higher-paying sector, presents opportunities for Black workers.
- 9 out of 10 Black employees feel their work gives them a sense of purpose and accomplishment. They also feel they are helping their company succeed.
- The report uncovered pockets of progress on DE&I programs in some companies. Learning from them has high potential for adopting better practices at other companies.
The Black Lives Matter movement and its focus on racism and inequality are not going away anytime soon. There are steps companies can take to improve their DE&I programs. Not just for Blacks, but for all minorities. The research, time, and effort involved will result in a huge payoff in the workplace and personal lives of all Americans.