Consider Your Values When Hiring

December 5th, 2017 | by Matthew Monte
Consider Your Values When Hiring


We are smack dab in the middle of what the media has dubbed “silly season,” where big-name football coaches and athletic directors are hired, fired, and paraded out for judgment by the mob. Social media has already had a notable impact this season on the hiring decision of at least one athletic department, but in reality, this sort of outside influence and overreaction to a new hire is nothing new. The only real change is the speed at which the fire spreads.

Hiring at any level is a tightrope walk. Make the logical but unpopular decision and lose support from your stakeholders. Make the popular choice and you risk poisoning your program from the inside out.

Luckily there is a simple method to weigh your options. This method, based on multiple management systems but most notably used in the Entrepreneurial Operating System (EOS®), utilizes quadrants to help you map out how well a prospective employee would fit into your organization.

The names are a little silly, but the principle behind them is sound. Let’s break down how a potential coach or administrative hire in the college world would fit into each category.

RATS – Low Performing, Low Values

This group is pretty straightforward. These are the individuals that you might have just had to let go. They don’t mesh well with your program’s core values. Maybe they cut some corners in recruiting or ignored clear signs of stress in their athletes. And they don’t perform to the level expected of them. People in this group obviously should be disqualified from any prospect list, and short of some toxic relationships, you shouldn’t have an issue cutting them out.

STARS – High Values, High Performance

This is your goal, and in the intercollegiate space, these individuals are hard to come by. That isn’t necessarily because there are so few Stars, but because they tend to be spoken for. Stars in college sports are often long-time coaches or administrators who spent so long in a particular culture that they have come to almost embody its values. We’re all on the hunt for Stars, and you often don’t know for sure if you have one until they’ve been with you for a while. Frequently a decision has to be made between our next two options, and with limited information, people often take the wrong route.

ENEMIES – High Performance, Low Values

This is the sexy but dangerous hire. Not every successful coach or AD has a dark side, but we often see programs compromise their values to hire a “winner.” In the long run, these rarely work out. Whether it is trouble with the NCAA or internal conflict tearing at the support structure for a department, someone who doesn’t share your program’s values but holds a position of power will always end badly. Sure, you might get a championship or two out of it, but at the end of the day, you have to decide whether a trophy is worth lasting damage to your program.

PUPPIES – High Values, Low Performance

When a clear Star isn’t available, this is where you should look. Very few coaches and administrators have been able to maintain performance through the cycles and trends of college athletics, but the ones who represent their program’s values tend to last the longest. In the end, people can learn to adapt their skill-set and build a solid team around them to make up for any flaws in their own performance, but only if their values are strong and they can inspire buy-in from everyone involved. Puppies can become Stars, but it is extremely difficult for Enemies to do the same.

There are plenty of other variables that go into a search for a new AD or coach, but I’ve found over the years that this simple chart is a good indicator of future success. It won’t tell you whether or not a program will start winning titles on a regular basis, but it will almost certainly tell you which ones will be going through the hiring process all over again in a few years.

About Matthew Monte
Matthew Monte is Managing Editor of College AD and formerly Co-Managing Editor of Underdog Dynasty. He is a graduate of The B.I. Moody III College of Business Administration at UL Lafayette, mostly because it didn't require a foreign language. Matt is also a recovering stand up comedian who occasionally relapses.

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