NFL Replacements: Not Much Different Than Corporate America

What tremendous outcry this country had regarding the replacement NFL referees, what pure animalistic anger!  Google for articles about the replacement refs and there are over 3 million.  I am sure my fellow psychologists are having a field day analyzing the implications this has had on our nation.  But are my fellow Human Resource colleagues, or better yet, CEO’s, realizing that we play this same game all the time?

If we were to break it down, everyone was a bit oblivious to what was happening between the refs and the NFL, that is until game day and it was soon discovered that the “replacement refs” were not skilled enough to take on the task. They had some experience, and knew football, but could not handle the pressures and the pace of the game at the pro-level.  Once bad calls started coming in, football viewers everywhere took to tweeting, posting on facebook, picketing, and holding up signs at games indicating their dissatisfaction.  Last night, when the “real refs” came back on the field, they received a standing ovation.

This same scenario plays itself out in Corporate America every day.  Skilled, talented, knowledgeable employees able to handle the pressures of the game are replaced with less skilled, less talented, less knowledgeable employees.  The reasons typically fall around cost (it costs to have someone who knows what they are doing) or inept management who are often threatened by more skilled employees then themselves.  Balls are dropped, confused calls are made, customers are not happy.  Yet do we see the outcry that we did with the refs?  Nope, but we hear the same complaints.

How many times have you heard – “Company X has horrible customer service, they really have gone downhill”  or “I don’t know what happened to Y Company, they used to be great”.  If you look closely, I bet you see some “replacements” in the employee ranks.  With our economy as our excuse, many companies decided to “cut back” on its employees to save costs.  They often released the higher paid talent and replaced them with cheaper talent.  That is not to say they didn’t look to make sure the cheaper talent had some skills, just like the NFL made sure their replacement refs knew football.

Instead of getting mad at the “replacements” we should question the thought process of the decision makers.  There was a lot of talk before the refs went on strike but the NFL thought they could get away with just “hiring others” to take their place.  Companies also have a lot of talk before they take their steps to replace workers.  It is my hope that in the course of those conversations someone says “Hey CEO, do you remember the game between Green Bay and Seattle?”

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