Talent vs. Management: The dumpster fire which are the Cleveland Browns
Imagine you were building a team and your choice was a group of mid-level talented employees with an outstanding manager or a subpar manager with outstanding talent, which one would you choose? A lot of people would choose the talented team with a subpar manager, but guess what, they’d be wrong. (in my humble opinion)
The perennial dumpster fire known as the Cleveland Browns entered the NFL season with high hopes built around a lot of talent. As individuals, they seemed like an outstanding group of football players. They were the talk of the off-season with some pundits even whispering the words “Super Bowl”.
But as the Browns learned the hard way, talent doesn’t trump management or in their case coaching. In a league where experience is important, they have a first-year head coach who only last year was a position coach. It’s the equivalent of taking someone in payroll and making them CEO within 6 months.
If you are putting a team together, first and foremost, find a great manager. One of the things a good manager does is ensure all the employees are working in unison towards a single goal. Often, but not always, talented people are looking out for themselves, especially if there isn’t a strong management presence above to guide them. A good manager can help cultivate talent and draw out excellence from employees. That’s also a sentiment echoed in the sports world. “He gets so much out of that team”. There is an art in positioning employees to achieve a personal excellence. Talent can also move too quickly without focusing on fundamentals. A good manager ensures a team is well-run in terms of quality of work, priorities, delegations, assignments, productivity etc.
If there’s an all-star team in your office which isn’t living up to its expectation, look into its management before making any changes. If you are putting together a new team, first hire the manager then the employees.
It’s easy to overlook subpar management, escpecially when they are surrounded by outstanding talent, but it’s not always easy to overcome.