The Lesson of Tebow: Sometimes, You Need to Get Rid of Your Favorites

By now, most of the free world knows that Peyton Manning accepted the quarterback position with the Denver Broncos, who already had a quarterback in Tim Tebow.

Ouch. To be honest, it was really the only way that the Denver Broncos were going to get out of this Tebow mess. I like the kid, but he isn’t one of the better NFL quarterbacks, and he certainly wasn’t going to take them to the Super Bowl. Now they have a Hall of Fame caliber quarterback in Manning, who, if he fails, will have at least accomplished one thing for the Broncos – he got rid of Tebow without the fans losing their minds!

Tebow is a fan favorite, which is like saying, fat kids slightly like cake. Denver Bronco fans, heck, NFL fans in general, lost their minds about Tebow run last season. Getting rid of him wasn’t an option for the organization – until something so good came along it made everyone forget how much they loved Tebow.

When you have to make the cut

You see, great talent has a way of doing that – making you forget about your favorites.

Do you have a Tim Tebow in your organization? I bet you do, and you know if you tried to get rid of them, your employees would lose their minds. Culturally it would be bad, productively it would be bad, moral-wise it would be bad. So, you don’t do it, even if the person really isn’t holding up their end of the bargain any longer.

So, what do you do?

You do what Vice President of Football Operations John Elway did with the Denver Broncos – you bring in better talent and cut bait with your employee favorite! You have to do this. You have no choice. To keep an under-performing employee, just because everyone likes that person, is HR death!

But, what do you do if the person is an average employee and well liked, but you get a chance to bring in superior talent? You do the same thing – but you you have to very careful on how you make that transition. Unfortunately, the talent that you and I bring into our organizations usually isn’t as highly publicized as a Peyton Manning! So we, as HR/Talent Pros, have to do some of our own internal PR work on the new talent.

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What does internal PR on a new hire look like? It starts with getting your leadership team all on the same page. They need to be excited and 100 percent supportive of the new person. Then focus on the new person’s direct team/department. They don’t have to be excited – remember they just lost someone they love – but they have to be supportive.

Managing the process

The best way to do this is through a structured transition meeting, where they get to learn about the new person but also voice their pain of their loss – it’s good for both parties to be on the same page. The final step is to get the news release out to the rest of the organization with all the high points about the new talent. Be careful not to do this first, because people will instantly run to the new group and ask about it.

A transition meeting has to be done, so they are ready to respond and be supportive of the new person. Too often in our organizations we rush to “tell everyone” before the person starts, or soon after. It’s more important to wait on this communication and get those closest up to speed first.

No one ever wants to let go of an organizational favorite, but in HR, it’s our job to increase the talent of our organizations. Sometimes that means making an unpopular decision. The best HR Pros find ways to move the organization forward quickly while also being supportive.

This was originally published on Tim Sackett’s blog, The Tim Sackett Project.

Tim Sackett, MS, SPHR is executive vice president of HRU Technical Resources, a contingent staffing firm in Lansing, MI. Tim has 20 years of HR and talent background split evenly between corporate HR gigs among the Fortune 500 and the HR vendor community ? so he gets it from both sides of the desk. A frequent contributor to the talent blog Fistful of Talent, Tim also speaks at many HR conferences and events. Contact him here.


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