Hiring Lessons from the NFL

3 Minute Read

In the world of football, they are the kings. The superstar players whose names are as familiar as the teams they represent. They are treated like royalty. Just ask Charles Johnson’s paycheck. In 2011, the defensive end for the Carolina Panthers signed a record-breaking, six-year, $76-million contract, making him the highest paid professional pigskin player of all time.

But Johnson is not alone. There are 30 NFL players on Forbes magazine’s list of the world’s top 100 highest paid athletes this year. Quarterback Peyton Manning will earn $32.4 million with the Broncos. Rams’ quarterback Sam Bradford will earn $26.8 million. And the list goes on and on.


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The theory behind these big dollars is that the players are so exceptionally talented, they’ll help carry their team to the Super Bowl or at least the playoffs. But that’s not always the case. In 2011, Johnson made just 40 tackles, and his team had a dismal record of 6-10. Manning spent the season on Indianapolis’ bench nursing his injuries. And Bradford? His team had one of the worst records of the season.

What’s the business lesson to be learned from these guys? You don’t have to pay NFL-like salaries to attract the best players to your team. As Dave teaches at EntreLeadership Master Series, there are several ways to find a solution.

Start With the Culture

If you build a place where people love to work, they will come. In fact, they’ll be knocking down your door. And the best way to begin is to follow the most golden of all rules. "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." If you would expect praise, don’t just give it, but do it in front of their peers, family—heck, anyone who will listen. If they need a helping hand, lend it. When you would expect grace, give it. Before you know it, word of mouth will spread, and your team will turn into your best recruiters as they let everyone know that they work at the Super Bowl of companies.

Have a Generous Spirit

What’s one of the best ways to create an awesome vibe for your company? Be generous with your products, services and profits for your team, customers and community. Volunteer, give back, and let your team do the same. When possible, begin allocating funds each month for these types of projects, and simply show you have a big heart. As Dave says, “The dividends in terms of smiles and personal satisfaction far outweigh the few dollars committed.”

Champions Beget Champions

It’s a fact. Winners like to hang out with winners. So when you have a building full of them, others will naturally follow. Take time in your hiring process to find the perfect person for every position, no matter how strong the need. At Dave’s company, there is a 12-step hiring process that takes several months to complete. The result is a building full of people who are as passionate about winning and their team as any Manning ever dreamed of.

By creating a culture where people love to work, you’ll attract more talent than you’ll ever need, as well as create a Super-Bowl–worthy team. With this type of business, every season will be a winning one.

To learn more about business, team building and leadership, download our EntreLeadership podcasts, which include lessons from Dave plus interviews with key business leaders from across the nation.

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