I will start this off by saying that I am no expert on hiring. I have never worked as a HR director and I have made some bad hires. I feel that I have also made some pretty good hires and when I have, I have followed a pretty simple process. No crazy tests or hiring matrixes.
As Peak Sports starts to grow we will be looking for some quality individuals that can fill big shoes and get the job done. We will find these people by following this basic process:
It all starts with your organization’s Core Values. I am HUGE on this. This is an extension of your “Why” (as I discussed last week) and these are your driving principles that you follow on a daily basis. These are not items that you just place on your website, in a HR binder or hang on the wall. These are day by day items that EVERY decision should be held against. Plain and simple, if I am talking to someone about working with us they must not only believe in these, they must also LIVE them. Matter of fact, as my wife, Cara and I started talking about her involvement in Peak Sports we had plenty of discussions on this topic. She is a team member of Peak Sports and she doesn’t get an exemption. If she or any other team member (including myself) can’t live be our Core Values the entire organization will begin to fail.
Core Values at Peak Sports:
• Do What is Right
• Practice What We Promise by Delivering Results
• Live a Well Balanced Life
• Be Passionate and Curious About Everything We Do
• Be Progressive and Open to Change
• Put Extra Icing on the Cake – Go the Extra Mile
• Build Open and Honest Relationships With Communication
• Have Fun
When I talk to potential team members I will press them on these. We will walk through each of these to make sure they can truly live them. If someone tells me that they can live a well balance life but then the next minute they tell me they love working 80 hours a week then we will have a problem. Talk about your Core Values and live by your Core Values.
I think that it is super important to find people that are very passionate about college athletics. I want people that ooze it. I want people that are so darn curious about athletics that they have more questions after leaving a game (to scope things out) then when they showed up to it. I can help people with sales techniques, organization, professionalism, etc. but I can’t teach passion. Nobody can. The people that I have hired that I consider to be bad hires lacked one thing and one thing only and that was passion. These people had great experience, pretty good work ethic but the lack of passion held them back from being successful because at the end of the day they didn’t care. Passion fuels success. My Dad used to tell me that he didn’t mind what I did once I grew up as long as I was passionate about it. Everybody is passionate about something and I want the people that are passionate about college athletics.
Let Others Do The Dirty Work: Basic Training
I met with a sponsor a few months ago that is in the aerospace industry and they use helicopters to fly people from different cities in the Gulf region out to drilling platforms in the Gulf of Mexico. Around 95% of their pilots are former military pilots. They chose to go this route for a variety of reasons but primarily because they understand that it is too expensive to train new pilots. They look to the military to train them and the other 5% of their pilots come from industry competitors.
I am not flying helicopters and I don’t completely believe in letting someone else fully train your team members but I do believe that just in the time and effort category (let alone money) you will be spending a ton of resources to train your new team members. The industry and culture of college athletics can’t be underestimated. I will not and refuse to hire someone from “the outside” as training them to understand college athletics is too much effort. It is not fair to Peak Sports, our property and the new team member. I will only look at those people that come from college athletics and have spent some time grinding it out. I want them to receive their “basic training” from someone else not only because of the expense but because spending time elsewhere will also make them a better-rounded person.
There will be times that I may look to the outside of college athletics but those times will be rare and the person must be off the charts. I think it is too much of a risk to take on someone that has never worked in an athletic department because a lot of these people think that the signage shows up, the video board operates itself and the popcorn pops itself on gamedays. Just remember when you pulled in a slew of interns at the beginning of a semester and of those 10 interns only two made it through the year because most of them thought they got to show up at game time and watch the game from the field or club level. No sir that is not my style. I’ll hire those two interns that made it and understand what college athletics is all about.
Yes, Peak Sports is a “sales organization” but I would rather hire someone in college athletics with little sales experience than someone with a ton of paper copier sales experience and no college experience. The culture and language of college athletics is deep and that is the only culture we live and the only language that we speak at Peak Sports.
Take Time and Build A Stable
The other reason that I have made a few bad hires is because I didn’t take time or wasn’t allotted proper time to fill a position. This killed me because I rushed through the process and had to hire someone that wasn’t the best fit. I found out through this process that regardless of the time frame the “hiring process” starts way before a position comes available or is even created. This can be a little tricky because you can’t advertise jobs that are not available and you want to handle HR issues with departing (or soon to be departing) team members with grace.
First things first… if you can’t hire the right person then just wait till you find the right person. Trust me as I have gone both routes. Regardless of route, you will be doing that job but if you hire the wrong person you are not only doing their job but you are also stuck with them. Don’t freak out, wait and hire the right person later!
The best way to handle hiring is to always be talking to people in the industry. Keep tabs on them and people they work with and really get to know them. Talk to them about your Core Values and what your organization is all about. As you start to talk to more people and get a good handle for their passion, work ethic, knowledge, etc. you will begin to build a stable with some really good people. Once a position opens up you can then approach these folks and recruit them over. If you have built and fostered a good relationship they will trust you and what your organization is doing. Don’t get this confused with just your plain network… these are people that you are really tracking on.
Peak Sports plans on doing some recruiting events throughout the year to find the type of people that we want. These events won’t be labeled as “recruiting events”, they will be fun events that will help us identify people that we want to work with and will show a non-stuffy interview side of them. If we like them and feel they would be a good fit then we will start to track on them. If they excel in their job they will become part of our stable. When positions open we will have a nice group of people to talk to about filling them.
Hiring never ends and at times it is hard to tell when it begins. I may come across somebody at the FCS Championship game in Frisco this January that I like and try to hire him or her next year. They might love their job and I might not be able to get them this time around but I will continue to track on them and talk to them when I don’t have anything open. Maybe the following year or in five years I can get them. Don’t start to the hiring process once someone leaves because you will already be behind. Get it going now! Also, don’t sell you self short. Start this process now even if you are an intern. I went from the smallest man on the totem pole at Texas State to Senior Staff at Northwestern State overnight overseeing Marketing and Tickets. I made my first hire a month later. You may be hiring people before you know it!
As we start to grow, I can assure any AD or President that I sit across from that we will only hire someone that follows our Core Values, oozes passion, understands the culture of college athletics, speaks the language and we will take our time to find the perfect fit. This sounds very basic and it is, the problem is that the process is rarely followed. Remember, an organization is only as good as its team members and you NEED good ones!
Thanks for the read and remember to Keep Climbing!
Let’s Talk!: @PeakSportsMGMT @RyanMHolloway
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