What Pro Sports Teams & Smart Companies Do Differently
Part II - Employee Selection
When it comes to employee selection, organizations can take a page out of the sports playbook. In professional sports, coaches and general managers use a highly structured, repeatable evaluation process to set their rosters. On their quest for a championship season, they pursue the best talent on the market. Only elite athletes make the team. The same practice works in business and industry.
To realize the benefits of their recruiting efforts, employers need a rigorous selection process. Employee selection is the act of differentiating among candidates to find the ones that best match the job requirements. At a basic level, selection is the process which separates the “matches” from the “mismatches.”
The goal in an effective selection process is to collect data through one or more sources. This data reliably establishes whether a candidate has the ability, experience, and motivation to meet job requirements and be a good fit for the company.
Recruiting Talent to Analyze Performance
A sports analogy helps to make this clearer. Consider the free agent and preseason training camp period that is associated with most U.S. professional sports teams. The free agent signing period is the sports equivalent of recruitment. (Read more about recruitment at “What Smart Companies Do Differently”). During free agency, most teams go to great lengths to market themselves and sign talented free agents that match their roster and playmaking needs (e.g., job requirements).
During free agency, it’s not unusual for a team to load up on multiple players at a position. The front office wants an opportunity to see who will perform well during training camp and the preseason. Ultimately, they want players who are the best fit for their final roster.
Collecting Data to Guide Decision-Making
Training camp is the transition point between recruitment and selection. When training camp and preseason games begin, the general managers and coaches shift their focus. They use a highly structured, repeatable evaluation process to make selection (team roster) decisions. The most successful general managers and coaches use a combination of physical conditioning and agility drills (ability tests), game and practice video review (behavioral observations) and knowledge tests (playbook recall) to collect data on each player. Then they use that data at planning meetings to differentiate between the free agents. They select players who demonstrate a combination of ability and motivation required for the position. Some players are matches, while others are not.
Selecting Personnel that Fit Your Game Plan
Teams in the National Football League and Major League Baseball use rigorous recruitment and selection processes to fill their rosters. For example, the NFL’s Pittsburgh Steelers and New England Patriots and MLB’s St. Louis Cardinals built winning traditions based on highly structured selection processes. Each team consistently matches athletes to the requirements of the team’s organizational development plan. These teams show the discipline needed to steadily collect and analyze performance (practice and game) data to make their selection decisions.
Matching Candidates with Job Openings
When it comes to employee selection in business and industry, the most successful organizations invest in ongoing recruitment activities. These activities ensure that candidates view the organization as a desirable place to work. As a result, a diverse candidate rich talent pool is more likely available. However, recruitment only works at optimum when complemented by a rigorous selection process. Designing and running a robust selection process enables organizations to successfully match candidates to job openings.
Creating Your Version of a Championship Team
At the heart of rigorous employee selection is critical, decision-making data. In the sports arena, game video and agility tests help teams determine if a player is a match for an open spot. Likewise, ability tests and a structured interview process reveal a candidate’s ability and motivation for a job opening. This data is a key element in the employee selection arena. Employers fill their rosters with team members with strong job-related abilities and a winning attitude. Are the Super Bowl or World Series victories on the line? No, but every organization wants to create its own version of a championship team.