"No Worse Than The Rest"

by Matthew Stollak on Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Growing up in East Lansing, MI and the Michigan State campus, one of the more polarizing figures was one Mark Grebner.

Thirty years before the advent of sites such as "Rate My Professors," he was self publishing "Rating the Profs," a short paperback that was available for purchase at the MSU Student Book Store to assist students in avoiding the "harder" professors (several were rated as "A Real Bastard!").

He has also ran successfully for  County Commissioner for many years under the slogan, "No Worse Than The Rest."  Which made me think...

Is this a winning slogan for HR as well?

Our HR strategy?...no worse than the rest
Our time to fill?...no worse than the rest
Our candidate pool? ....no worse than the rest
How do we train and develop our employees? ...no worse than the rest
How do we keep our employees safe? ....no worse than the rest
Our recognition program? ...no worse than the rest
Our compensation system?...no worse than the rest
Where do you rate the employees? ....no worse than the rest

Does it work?


by Matthew Stollak on Thursday, October 20, 2011

Facing personnel problems (in this case, the star RB of the Detroit Lions, Jahvid Best, was suffering from a concussion), the Lions and Philadelphia Eagles engaged in a common practice - the trading of employees.  However, the trade had an uncommon result.  According to ESPN,

Detroit's trade with Philadelphia that exchanged seldom-used veteran running backs Ronnie Brown and Jerome Harrison has been voided.

Two league sources told ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter that the trade was voided because Harrison has previously undisclosed health issues.

Brown arrived in Detroit but never got to practice.

Lions spokesman Bill Keenist said the team would have no further comment.

The Eagles announced Tuesday they dealt Brown to Detroit for Harrison and an undisclosed pick in the 2013 draft. Detroit wouldn't confirm the move because the franchise doesn't until deals are done.

The Lions were looking forward to adding Brown to a backfield that might be without starting running back Jahvid Best for a while. He had his third concussion Sunday in a loss to San Francisco.
Certainly, it was unlikely Detroit was trying to pull a fast one on the Eagles, particularly since most trades of this nature are contingent on the results of a physical.

However, it got me wondering why we don't see trades among employees more often outside of the sporting arena?  Could Ford make a play for a senior accountant at Chrysler?  Could Amazon be angling for an up and coming software engineer at Google?

Certainly, a number of things limit the possibility of such trades in the business world, such as:
1) Size of organizations - the sporting arena have limits on the number of employees to possibly cover.  There are only 30 Major League Baseball teams, with roster limits during the season of 26 players.  There are only 32 NFL teams, with roster limits of 53 players.  Organizations with 1,000+ employees were make such scouting very difficult

2) Transparency of performance - Pro athletes performance are on display on a regular basis.   Turn on the television on Sunday afternoons in the Fall (particularly on DirecTV) and you can see how an employee with another organization is performing.   It is tough to see how Bill in accounting is doing at another organization.

However, what would the business world look like if such trading became commonplace?  Would workers be more anxious knowing they could possibly be moving to another organization at a moment's notice?  Would that increase or decrease performance levels?  Would it create a whole new cadre of performance scouts evaluating talent at other employers?  Could it address potential staffing imbalances, as one organization may be flush with sales professionals while another could have extra HR managers?  Who would create the Trade Value Chart  that would assess comparable value of different charts?

And, would we see trades like we've seen in Major League baseball where players have been traded for a set of bats or a turkey?

I'm not sure I want to wake up tomorrow knowing that I've been traded to Lawrence University for a fax machine and a set of Bic pens.