Congratulations to the Denver Broncos who won Super Bowl 50 and bucked established human resources trends in doing so.
Events in the sports world often mirror the issues that Human Resource practitioners face in the business world. For example, the St. Louis Cardinals in Major League Baseball face charges of stealing trade secrets from a competitor. In the NBA, Atlanta Hawks General Manager Danny Ferry resigned after news surfaced about his racist remarks about a player. And of course, the NFL has had numerous off-field incidents that have tarnished the reputation of the league and many of the teams in it. Human Resource professionals know these sorts of issues all too well.
College athletics also have had their share of issues, including a sexual harassment scandal at the University of Minnesota Athletic Department and the firing of USC head football coach Steve Sarkisian for coming to work inebriated.
Broncos Do Things Differently
The Denver Broncos, on the other hand, seem to have found a different way to do things. How many organizations would hire a 68-year old senior management employee who was fired from his last job just two years previous and then was out of the industry completely last year? Add in the fact that they had already fired this same fellow from a higher level position (head coach) 20 years ago. That’s the story of Wade Phillips, the Broncos Defensive Coordinator and architect of the defensive effort that carried the day for the team.
What about the decision to continue relying on Peyton Manning as the face of the franchise, despite the well-documented decline in his everyday performance and the presence of an able successor on the roster?
And finally, what organization would finish as number 2 in their industry just two years ago and then decide to completely revise their product and revamp their workforce? The Broncos pulled that off after riding the top-rated offense to the Super Bowl in 2014 (and losing handily). They decided then that they needed to focus more on defense, sought out the best available players and two years later are at the pinnacle of their industry.
Of course each situation is different. Often, employees who haven’t made it back into the workforce two years after their termination are not a good risk until they have proven themselves again (elsewhere). Employees whose skills have diminished frequently don’t hold on to finish with one last magnificent blaze of glory.
Still, the Broncos’ Super Bowl win this year shows us that there are times when a veteran in the industry can offer the insight and perspective needed to move the business forward. The long-time employee whom you think has one foot out the door sometimes can still get the job done with guile and experience making up for fading skills. Most importantly, staying with a plan that makes you good may not be the best option if what you want is to be great.
Established trends often reflect great success – that’s why trends get followed. However, when someone decides to go their own way and make it work, they deserve some accolades. Congratulations to the Denver Broncos, who bucked the trends and are now galloping off with their trophy.