Want to Ramble in the Meeting? Steve Balmer is Going to Cut You Off...
Stuff The Capitalist (aka KD) Likes -- The NBA...

Like the Cavs, You Better Add Stuff To The Employment Brand to Keep Your Lebrons....

The_lebrons_family Soooo...  It's a down economy and you're thinking to yourself, "you know, these people should just be happy to have a job".  Add benefits and perks?  They're lucky I'm not taking them away"....

Of course, the dirty little secret is that while that line of thinking works for the rank and file employees, the stars are always at risk.  Maybe not now, but do you really believe the economy isn't going to heat up again?  Think dot.com era, and then think about the run up to the latest recession. 

The economy's going to heat up again - when it does, it's free agent nation time for the superstars in your company.

Take the Cleveland Cavaliers of the NBA, the current home of superstar Lebron James.  Lebron's coming up on his final contract year, after which he'll be a free agent in the summer of 2010.  Cleveland isn't exactly the garden spot of the NBA, so they have to think differently in terms of retaining Lebron James.

The latest retention ploy is global in nature.  More from Newsday:

"Cleveland has LeBron James now, and his buzzer-beating three-pointer with one second left in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference finals was one for the all-time playoff highlight video of great shots.

But that might not even be the biggest one made by the Cavaliers this season.  No, the one Dan Gilbert took in the days before that game might turn out to be the one that saved the franchise and, possibly, The Franchise.

The Cavaliers owner entered an agreement with a group of Chinese investors, who reportedly include a man named JianHua "Kenny" Huang, a major player in several sponsorship deals between U.S. entities (including the Yankees) and China. The group plans to acquire as much as 15 percent of the team and Quicken Loans Arena.

And everyone in the NBA snickered. It's your move, Knicks.

The NBA has recognized the insatiable market for basketball in the world's largest nation, where the Chinese Basketball Association says an estimated 300 million people play the game and 89 percent of people in China ages 15 to 54 are aware of the NBA.   NBA games and programming can be seen on 51 television stations in Greater China, with a cumulative audience of almost 1 billion viewers this season, according to the NBA.

"If the NBA ends up making basketball a truly international sport - and they are - then the endorsements go up," said Tom George, senior vice president of athlete and property marketing for Octagon, the world's largest sports agency. "So if a company like Gillette can use Chris Paul and they can use him in China effectively, then they can pay him more. And that's a better thing for everybody involved."

So what the Cavaliers would have in this direct-link partnership with Chinese investors is quite obvious: 1. Gilbert gets a much-needed infusion of cash to help with the franchise's bottom line and maintain a hefty payroll that otherwise eventually would cripple the resource-limited middle-market team; and 2. the ownership's immediate connection to China would help James realize his global vision without needing the New York market."

An enhanced 401k match is so yesterday when it comes to retention strategies, at least for superstars.  For the elite, the question might be "what can you give me access to that I can't find elsewhere"?

Can you answer that question?



Derek Irvine, Globoforce

Kris, agreed on top performers will always have options. I blogged a few months ago on research findings from AchieveGlobal showing 23% of US workers expect to leave their current positions – a shockingly high number considering many short-sighted managers think their employees will just sit tight out of recession fears.

Links to this and other similar research are available here: http://globoforce.blogspot.com/2009/03/link-between-retention-employee.html


I wonder if the answer doesn't lie in monetary factors. LeBron can get that money from endorsements, but will the Knicks embrace him as a hometown superstar the way Cleveland has or just another superstar?

I think the answer lies in a more emotional context. If LeBron stays in Cleveland he gets the satisfaction of remaining the king of a more appreciative kingdom, which money could never buy.

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