The kick-off to the regular Sunday night football season began on Sept. 9th with the Chicago Bears playing the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field. It is the 100th season of football for the Packers and the game was played out as a tale of two halves with an epic comeback by Aaron Rodgers and team to win the game, 24-23.
So, what does football have to do with talent acquisition and in particular, this game? There are four key lessons we can learn from football and translate to talent acquisition.
Plan and execute
- Have a plan in place prior to your strategic launch. In the case of the Chicago Bears, they were ready for action and threw every sort of defensive and offensive scheme at the Packers. They were aggressive and weren’t afraid to try new things.
With every new campaign or strategy, be clever, imaginative and innovative. You have a clean slate and you know the desired end result which typically is to attract, recruit and retain top talent. Don’t be afraid to try something new!
Pay your top talent
- Welcome and immerse your top talent into your culture immediately. The Sunday night game featured the highest paid NFL player in Aaron Rodgers (Packers) and the highest paid defensive player in Khalil Mack (Bears). Cris Collinsworth from NBC reported that “it was the most expensive collision in NFL history” when Khalil Mack hit Aaron Rodgers. For Mack it was his first exposure to the Bears-Packers rivalry; for Rodgers it was stepping into history with the Packers leading the rivalry with a record of 97 wins – 94 losses and 6 ties and adding one more piece to his amazing legend. And, in spite of being the highest paid NFL player in history, Rodgers returned to the game, invoking his inner Brett Favre whom he played back-up to for three years and showed his toughness by playing through injuries, making Rodgers definitely worth the investment.
Money isn’t the only thing that matters but it sure is nice to be paid well. It’s important to pay employees what they are worth, knowing that compensation comes in many forms. This includes culture and the investment in employees’ growth through learning and development programs plus more traditional benefits as well.
Re-evaluate your plan
- If your plan isn’t working, have the ability to pivot and change directions. This is exactly what happened when the Packers were down 17-0 at half-time. They returned to the field with a new strategy that included better protection from the offensive line, better defense and coverage, including the ability to make tackles, and their all pro quarterback Aaron Rodgers, releasing the ball quickly (Rodgers was carted off in the middle of the second half with a knee injury so when he returned, Packer nation breathed a sigh of relief). If you don’t first succeed, don’t punt – instead re-evaluate.
The ability to regularly review your strategic plans and tactics, make adjustments and pivot, especially in the programmatic advertising arena where, through machine learning, your dollars can be shifted to media that is working for you can lead to a greater return on your investment. You should try it.
- Breakdown your strategy into the lowest common denominator for better results
When Aaron Rodgers returned to the game with 9 minutes and 10 seconds left in the third quarter, the score was 20-0 in favor of the Bears. He knew that not only did his team need to score three touchdowns, they also needed to produce on every single possession left in the game (Rodgers response to the question, “What did you think when the score was 20-0?” is a perfect example of this. He said “7 x 3 – three touchdowns for 21 points is what we needed.”). The Packers had a total of five possessions through the end of the game and they scored on four of them with the last possession used to run out the clock and win the game. In the huddle, Rodgers told his offense, “You do your job and I’ll do mine.”
Know your job, do it well and stay in your lane. Establish your key performance indicators, make sure they align with the company’s business goals and breakdown your hiring targets and budget numbers. Try to measure this weekly (if not more) so you can continually analyze and pivot when you need to while always assessing the situation. I’m not sure your result will be as memorable as the epic comeback by the Packers, but you will score points with your hiring managers, peers and team.
The Bears held the edge in time of possession, turnovers and rushing yards but not the final score. They’ll be out for revenge when the two teams meet again, this time at Soldier Field in Chicago on Sunday, Dec. 16th. Perhaps there will be more lessons learned from that game!
Written by a lifelong cheesehead and Green Bay Packer shareholder who lives in the Chicago area.