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  • Writer's pictureSETH MCCOLLEY

Talent Management - Does "Dance With the One That Brung You" Still Work?

I'm going to do something a little bit different today and talk about two things that I'm very passionate about - HR (specifically talent management) and football (specifically the University of Texas). There are so many parallels between HR/management/leadership and sports, there's no shortage of blog fodder out there today. At some point, I'll do a whole series of posts with a sports theme. But I digress...

We've got a saying down here in Texas - "dance with the one that brung you". It's a reference to staying loyal, faithful, and committed to the one who invited you to the dance and resisting the urge, and requests, to dance with others. In football, it refers to selecting plays and starting players that result in wins. In business, it refers to utilizing process, practices and people that have delivered results. On the surface, this makes sense. But does it still work? Case in point (no pun intended), the current quarterback situation at the University of Texas. Last season, the coaches failed to commit to a starting quarterback, for most of the season. The result was a mixed bag of wins, losses, frustration and confusion for the team, specifically the two quarterbacks, David Ash and Case McCoy. At the beginning of this season, Ash was named the starting quarterback. The decision was made and it was nice to start the season with clarity and conviction. He wasn't my choice, but hey...the coaches never asked for my opinion. Here we are now, more than halfway through the season, and needless to say, Ash has lost some of his shine. He had aterrible outing last week against Kansas, so the coaches benched him (good call) and replaced him with McCoy. McCoy played lights out and engineered two incredible drives, including the game-winning drive.  Longhorns win. Everyone's happy. Right? As the coach/leader...what do you do now? Here's the connection to talent management and something we can all relate to in some way, shape or form. Do you "dance with the one that brung you" or do you opt for the one that gives you best chance of delivering results in the next game, or proposal, or project, or deal (insert the term that fits your business model here)? Do you stick with the sales guy who's been a rock star performer for years, but had a few rough months over the last few quarters? Or do you give the nod to the up-and-coming Hi Po (high potential employee) that's been producing solid (if not better) results, landing deals that were once considered long shots? What's the difference you say? In my opinion, the difference is about the past and the future. The difference is aboutreviewing past performance and predicting future performance. The difference is about 'what you have done for me'and 'what can you do for me'. Some might argue that the best way to predict future performance is to review past performance. Maybe so, but circumstances change. Competitors change. Environments change. People and players change. Personally, I've always been a fan of the 'dance with one that brung ya' mentality. It's reasonable to believe that how someone's performed in the past will be a good indication of how they'll perform in the future. BUT, when you insert new data points (interceptions, stellar play from a back-up QB, missed deadlines, fresh skill sets and perspectives, external talent, market conditions, customer nuances, etc.) I think it's time to reevaluate your strategy. Coaches and leaders who remain stubborn on this point, failing to flex and make the necessary adjustments, can be detrimental to their teams and organizations. I'm sure that there are a number of good reasons why Mack Brown is the Head Coach of the football team and I'm not. That being said, he named Ash as the starting quarterback this weekend against Texas Tech, leaving most Texas fansfrustrated and scratching their head. Didn't McCoy just come in and save the day...again? Only time will tell if he made the right call or not. It's ironic that Darrel Royal, the legendary University of Texas football coach, is one person whom this saying is attributed to. This leads me to the one remaining question... What Would Coach Royal Do?

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