Sep 18, 2012
It’s football season! A beloved time of year where fans get behind their teams. Whether Pee Wee, High School, College or Pro, football fever has struck in the states.
According to sources, somewhere between 30 and 45 million people take their football passion to the next level and join a Fantasy Football league.
For the novices, Fantasy Football is a game where you draft a roster of individual players and you put your team against others teams and try to score the most points based on the players statistics and the leagues scoring rules. This happens week in and week out during the NFL season with a fantasy football championship played by the top two teams in week 16 or 17.
This highly addictive game makes even the most meaningless NFL football games fun to watch.
However in everything we do there are learning opportunities; Even in fantasy football. If you are an HR Professional you can certainly relate to the process of choosing the best talent and competing against others. Well there are many lessons that HR leaders can learn from fantasy football. Below I share 14 of them.
Playing the Waiver Wire: In fantasy football you look each week for players that weren’t selected to a team but are quickly on the rise. In the organization, strong leaders are always looking for rising talent that may have been over looked. If you spot the right player on the waiver wire you may win a championship. The right one at work and you may see an instant spike in profits and/or productivity.
Perennial Bust: With some players they come in every year looking like they will have a big season only to be a complete bust. (Ryan Leaf, Cade McNown to name a few) They come out of college as the best players in the nation only to leave the pros a year or two later a distant memory. In the work world these are the ultimate examples of the Peter Principle. They get promoted to a level where they just can’t perform no matter how much their resume appears to qualify them.
One Week Wonders: Every so often a player pops up for a week and accomplishes the unexpected. These one week wonders stir up conversation and cause a flurry of fantasy players to go out to the waiver wire to pick them up. Sometimes this week is an anomaly and nothing more. This happens at work too. A great one time performance by an employee doesn’t mean a big future. Sometimes it just is one good effort. Appreciated, but hardly monumental.
Caution, When Players Get Paid: In most pro sports their is a connection between players getting paid and a dip in performance. Rather than motivating them, it almost does the opposite. In the work force their is a balance between substantial compensation and continued output. As managers we have to be sure to pay well enough that they work hard, but not so well they get lazy. Although we hope this is never an issue, if we answer honestly we know it is.
Why Depth Matters, The Handcuff: Are you training your replacements for key roles? In Fantasy Football players get hurt and you need to back them up. Some of the best players have back ups waiting in the wing (The Handcuff). In the office you never know when a key employee will leave, get sick, or become unavailable for other reasons. If your bench is only one deep you may be hurting to fill the gaps. Not a good strategy in HR or Fantasy Football.
Always Start Your Studs: There is few things that all of the Fantasy Football experts will agree on. One thing they will all agree on is to always start your studs. Defined as those that have both the track record and the potential, the stud in football is the high performer in the organization. It is wise to get them involved in as much as they can handle as it is the high performers that will drive the day in day out results for your organization.
Know When To Fold: Sometimes when a player hasn’t performed after several weeks it is time to hit the old “Drop” button. HR leaders know this is necessary in the workplace as well. When you realize that the talent isn’t amounting to results you sometimes have to cut bait to make room for a new player. If you wait to long you may miss out on that “Waiver Wire Gem.”
The Crème Always Rises: Even the best performers have off days. In the land of Fantasy Football you have to realize the difference between a stud having a bad week and when they are tracking toward “bust” status. Over the course of a season or a series of seasons the great players will perform. Same in the work place, the creme will ultimately rise to the top.
Careful with Fragility: Fragile bodies, fragile minds and fragile egos. All big problems. In Fantasy Football you have to be careful not to draft the players that get hurt all the time. While some injuries in a violent sport like football are completely unavoidable, some players are more prone to injuries than others. In the workplace injuries may not be a regular issue, but a fragile mind or ego can be. As leaders we must be sensitive to the needs of employees but we also must be able provide honest feedback even if it isn’t all positive with the hopes to drive improvement. If the smallest criticism puts the employee in a rut it can leave holes in the operation.
Great Resumes Don’t ALWAYS Matter: While the perennial bust reflects the college to pro resume failure. There is a second point in the career of a pro that makes them a risky fantasy football play. That is the point when they have had their last great season. (Think Shaun Alexander, Priest Holmes, and Ladanian Tomlinson). This is sort of the equivalent to the great career coming to an end. While the workplace doesn’t move at the speed of football, sometimes an employees best days are behind them no matter how good their resume looks.
Stats Are Important: In order to draft a winning team for fantasy football the stats are the benchmark. In business the results of past performance are one of the best indicators of future performance. And while you may have the employee who’s best days are behind them, even that can be spotted as a trend if performance is being tracked.
Healthy Competition Among Friends: In “The League,” fantasy football drives some great banter among friends. That is because people have fun when they compete at something that they like. In the workplace that same behavior can be applied to drive work and creativity. Colleagues are always competing and a little healthy competition brings out the best in everyone. (And perhaps a bit of poking fun)
There IS a Strategy: In HR I often hear that you just never know what you are going to end up with. While this is hardly universal, just about every HR pro has had a run in with a great candidate going bad. There is so much information available these days that making a bad HR decision is less acceptable than ever. In Fantasy Football if you want to win you have to do your homework, know your strategy, and deviate as necessary.
The Big Reach: Sometimes in Fantasy Football you reach a bit to get the player you want. Often times it is because they play for your home team (Homer pick as we call them). Occasionally the reach leads to a good team, but usually it is a sacrifice of a better player that could have been had at that pick. The same thing happens at work when HR hires a friend or a known entity rather than doing the work to find the best candidate. Sometimes the best candidate is their and they don’t see it because they have their “Home Favorite” waiting in the wings.
Fantasy Football can be a great time for all, but if we are going to spend our Sundays glued to the screen watching football we may as well use the time to get better at what we do.
Where else can you relate Fantasy Football to the workplace?