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When Raises Shouldn't Be A Given...(Non-Economic/NFL Edition)

Capitalist Note - Working to put the finishing touches on some Comp Training as part of the Leadership Series we're doing at Kinetix.  Thought about the Patriots and how they love to cut people they think are getting ready to be overvalued.  Latest example this year was Offensive Lineman Logan Mankins (6-time Pro-Bowler), who they traded for a pick and three bags of beef jerky).

They've done it before - the post below features the same deal with Randy Moss.  The point?  Most of us are scared to not give a raise to someone with slipping skills, much less cut them lose...

From 2010....

If you follow the NFL, you may have seen earlier this week that the New England Patriots traded Randy Moss, widely regarded as a hall of fame receiver and still very productive, to the Minnesota Vikings for an undisclosed draft pick.  What the news could have said was that they traded a premier player for the equivalent of some loose change the Vikings found in the couch.

Harsh.  Classic Bill Belichick, however. Belichick-hoodie

What's up you ask?  The Moss contract was up at the end of the year, and it's pretty clear that the Patriots had no desire commit multi-year $$$ contractually to a player whose skills will do nothing but decline from this point forward.

Simply put - the Patriots have a long history of not upping, overvaluing and overextending compensation to players who won't continue to improve or whose skills may decline quickly.  It's an organizational philosophy, and they live it each year - I could go do a list of 6 other situations the Patriots have dealt with in the past that shows they're very, very consistent in this area.

They won't overpay.  Won't do it.  Would rather be brutal.

You can't trade Sally in Finance - oh, how you wish you could.  But you've got other means at your disposal to deal with the same issues.  When should you walk away from providing raises, allow talent to walk out the door when a competitor comes knocking, or otherwise live a philosophy of being prudent with compensation dollars?

Here's my list.  I say you force yourself to have the tough conversations related to an individual's contribution and where their compensation is going when:

1. Skills and contribution are in apparent decline, and don't look to be coming back...

2. You've arrived at a place where they're over-valued for the contributions they make...

3. Giving them additional comp (especially if they're comparing themselves to the marketplace) doesn't fit the comp model you have in place.  Best example I can give you of this?  You're a consulting firm and you built your model around providing opportunity for young associates out of college.  You can only promote so many, and the remaining associates are still talented.  You have to say no to increases for solid talent in that situation, because it doesn't fit your model.

That's my starter list.  In writing it, it's obvious that many reading that list will say, "So what Kris? We know that"...

Technically you know that.  So do I.  The real question is whether you believe it enough to live it.  To have some brutal conversations with good people.  

Do you have those conversations, or do you pass on the drama, providing a 3-4% increase and opting to play on?  

If so, you're no Bill Belichick.  I'm not sure whether that's good or bad.  I do know it's interesting.



Reading this gave me a stomach ache just thinking about it. It takes guts to be honest. Ultimately, though, I think it is the best policy, provided you can deliver the news with tact.

Chuck Csizmar

What a breath of fresh air to hear about economic business vs. emotional decisions being made by a company. And congrats to you for shining a spotlight on a managerial failing all too common these days.

Too often you hear idealistic naivete on the blogs, mainly from folks with limited real life experience, lamenting a supposed "fairness" vs. valuing an objective assessment of pay for contribution. People aren't "owed" either a job or a particular rate of pay - and they have options if they don't like the way the game is played.

Thanks for reminding folks.

Scott Asai

I respect the Patriots for sticking to their values. Do I agree with it? Not fully, but it's not my decision to make. I do see seniority killing companies though. It's like some veterans feel they are untouchable and act like it. Work is about growth. Once you stop growing, you should become dispensable. This would cause more urgency to constantly learn and hold everyone accountable for results.

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