4 Key Traits Sports Officials Have that Professional Recruiters Should Emulate

4 Key Traits Sports Officials Have that Professional Recruiters Should Emulate

Sports Officials & Professional Recruiters – Kindred Spirits?

Professional recruiters have a tough job. Recruiters are often tasked with trying to get several moving parts to work together to achieve the goal of connecting the ‘right talent with the right opportunity at the right time.’ It’s a lot like herding cats I suspect.

Sports officials also have a very difficult job. They are tasked with judging sporting events play by play and the scrutiny of their work is on display every day, every week, heck by the hour for the entire public to see and often criticize. Given all of the emotions that go along with sporting events (at all levels from Pee Wee to the Professional ranks) often reactions to officiating isn’t terribly rational. Often fans, coaches, parents, and players aren’t well versed in the rules and so aren’t particularly adept at knowing or applying them. Not to mention the nuances of rules and interpretations of those rules. The rule-book isn’t black and white–a lot of grey in there. And, yes sometimes officating feels a lot like herding cats.

Also, what’s often lost is how much preparation it takes to be a good official and the dedication and passion these folks have to be at the top of their games. The constant pressure sports officials are under is intense and can take a toll. Recruiters–ever feel intense pressure in your job?

I’ve been a football and basketball official for 14 years as an avocation – aka a ‘side hustle’. As I’ve moved up the ranks and met some amazing officials I’ve noticed several key traits that make them great. What’s more, it’s clear to me that some of these traits translate very easily to the world of professional recruiting. Could sports officials and professional recruiters be kindred spirits? Perhaps.

So, here are four traits that make sports officials great and will also make recruiters and talent managers be at their best.

People Skills

Play the Game

The best referees/officials have amazing people skills. Officiating requires that folks have the ability to get along with all types of people and personalities. Sporting events have all kinds of small constituencies that all need to be dealt with in a professional way–including coaches, players, athletic directors, game-day personnel, and fans. If you aren’t into people you won’t go far in officiating.

Talent Managers must also have great people skills and be able to communicate effectively with a diverse group of folks. Recruiters too are often balancing diverse groups (i.e., your customers/employers, candidates, and recruiting managers). Must know your audience and what type of communication strategies will work with different people.

Calm in the Storm

Sporting events are often highly emotional for all involved–except the referees. Officials have to be that ‘calm in the storm’ and be absolutely relaxed, cool, and collected. This isn’t always easy of course, but officials have a job to do that requires intense focus and concentration–it’s critical to put the distractions aside and focus on each play. The best of the best do this very well.

Further, when that really tough play/situation arises in a game and the coaches and players are going crazy the officials job is to quiet the situation and rule to the best of their abilities. When the storm hits effective communication with your partners, in order to be sure everyone’s angle/perspective is respected and heard, is also critical.

Recruiters are often dealing with emotional situations as well as folks deal with the stress of obtaining a job. The whole process of getting a job and trying to fill a job with a good candidate is potentially stressful. The best recruiters are the ones that can be the calm in the storm and effectively lead everyone to the goal: to connect talented people with the right opportunities at the right time. Recruiters ‘grease the skids’ between talent and opportunity and make sense of chaotic situations.

Overly Prepared

NFL Referee Craig Wrolstad
NFL Referee Craig Wrolstad

Really great sports officials are incredibly prepared for each game and work many long hours in preparation for game-day ensuring that it will go as smooth as possible. As Seahawk QB Russell Wilson says, “Separation comes from preparation.” Prior to game day officials will often spend several hours watching film, going through a thorough pre-game, and studying rules and rule interpretations. This is done in the off-season as well as during the season. All of this preparation often leads to games that are officiating effectively and smoothly. Further, the more practice and preparation that officials do the more ‘natural’ the mechanics become–leading to getting a higher percentage of calls correct.

For professional recruiters there are a plethora of areas where preparation will help people be the best they can be. A few key questions could include:

  • How well do you know the customer/employer and what are they looking for?
  • How intimately do you know the job description and the nuances of what the hiring manager is looking for?
  • How hard have you worked to learn as much as possible about the candidates you are trying to connect with opportunities?
  • Are you confident your candidates will be a good cultural fit?
  • Are you listening to all sides and acting accordingly?

Preparation is a key factor in recruiting.

Empathy

And finally, effective referees have the ability to show empathy to all the people that they come into contact with during a sporting event. The ability to ‘put themselves in the shoes of others‘ is critical for officiating. Sports are incredibly impassioned and everyone involved has so much invested in them that to effectively manage these events requires the ability to look at the game/contest from the perspective of others. The best officials listen very well and are aware of their ‘tone’. Sometimes, the best way to ‘communicate’ with a coach that is upset is to be a good listener and acknowledge that you understand why he is upset. People need to be heard and believe their concerns are important. Further, empathy is about being self-aware and understanding how your behavior impacts others. Also, self-awareness is knowing what you can do to manage difficult situations. Clearly there are things that can escalate conflict and other strategies that help to put out the fire.

In recruiting it’s important to display empathy to all parties involved. The best recruiters have the ability to empathize with their customers and candidates and evaluate their tone to ensure they are handling situations effectively.

I think it’s safe to say sports officials and professional recruiters are kindred spirits indeed.

Many thanks to Football Zebras and the Miami Dolphins for these great pictures.


Source: 4 Key Traits Sports Officials Have that Professional Recruiters Should Emulate – Crelate

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The Five Elements of Great Organizational Cultures

The Five Elements of Great Organizational Cultures on The HR Tech Weekly®

I believe we are living through one of the best times in the history of work. Thanks to the advancement in technology and instant access to information, our generation has a greater sense of empathy, ethics, and values. In the past, job seekers would be looking for a place that would pay them well and give them good benefits. Now, job seekers are looking for organizations that have great cultures. Companies need to offer individuals a sense of belonging and a mission to accomplish something remarkable. With no culture, an organization, is not sustainable in the 21st century. I have come up with five elements that are essential to building and sustaining great organizational cultures. Those elements are: purpose, ownership, community, effective communication, and good leadership.

Purpose: Going back to the premise that we have a greater sense of ethics and empathy. We are less selfish, and we want to be a part of solving a problem greater than ourselves. We need to understand the why of what we do. Companies now need to have a strong mission statement where they can share the why with their team members. A great example that comes to mind is SpaceX, a company that builds rockets for space exploration. This is their mission statement: “SpaceX was founded in 2002 to revolutionize space technology, with the ultimate goal of enabling people to live on other planets.” Now… that’s a mission statement! That’s something bigger than anybody.

Ownership: The second element in building a great organizational culture is ownership. Ownership is about giving people the opportunity to be accountable for their results without being micromanaged. Giving people the autonomy over their time to accomplish their goals. Basecamp is a company that builds software for project management. They are a great example of a company that promotes ownership. They have an office in Chicago, but everyone has the chance to work from wherever they want. The CEO doesn’t know how many hours his employees work. They just set expectations and give people the opportunity to build their own schedules around their projects. But how do you keep people engaged with a sense of purpose? Well, you do that through the third element, community.

Community: Community is that sense of belonging to a group of people that shares the same or similar principles, goals, and values. Community is a place where there is camaraderie. Focus Lab is a branding and design agency that understands community. They have company standards instead of values. Their argument is that you can’t change a person’s values when they walk into your company, but you can uphold everyone to specific standards. Some of their standards are: work to live, ask more questions, and never stop learning. The culture of their company breaths these standards through their work. Building community is something as simple as having lunch and learns, hangout times on Fridays, and company trips. It varies from company to company. Community, is unique to each organization.

Effective Communication: The fourth element in building a great organizational culture is effective communication. Effective communication sounds like common sense, but through my work I have realized it is not common practice. It means consistency in processes and investing time learning the personalities and communication dynamics of team members. Google created a research project called Project Aristotle, where they found that the most collaborative teams are the ones where everyone speaks equally. In many of their engineering teams they have a list with checkmarks to make sure everyone is speaking the same number of times during their meetings.

Good Leadership: I would say this is the backbone of the cultural dynamics of any organization. The leader has to be constantly be pushing the mission, standards, community, and processes of the company. Without effective leadership the other four elements cannot thrive. People want leadership with integrity and compassion. People want authenticity. People want a leader who is clear on expectations. People want to know they have a leader who cares about them.

The elements I just mentioned are not new to people. People have always liked purpose, ownership, community, effective communication, and good leadership. It’s in our own human nature. But now we found words to describe those things to build high performing cultures. I would like to encourage each of you to be intentional about applying these elements, and building great cultures in your organizations.

About the Author:

Andy Cabistan, Co-Founder at Watson WorksAndy Cabistan is one of the Co-Founders of Watson Works, a culture development company helping teams communicate and collaborate better. Andy is passionate about helping companies with diverse groups of people build high performing teams. Andy is a Business Economics graduate from Armstrong State University in Savannah, Georgia, and a master’s student in the Professional Communication and Leadership program at Armstrong. In his spare time, Andy travels around the country developing leadership programs with children of military families in partnership with the Department of Defense. Andy is also active in Savannah building the entrepreneurial ecosystem. He believes that entrepreneurship, technology, and a sense of community are key factors to make economies thrive.

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