From John: The NFL, the War for Talent and COVID-19

NFL app on a smartphone
John Pembroke Photo
Late President/CEO

3 minutes

Three suggestions based on the 2020 virtual draft to feed your own thinking about hiring and staff development.

Hearing the bad economic news of our nation’s high unemployment rate, credit unions might be tempted to think that no one is hiring or developing talent during the current pandemic.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

The war for top talent continues even now. And companies are becoming increasingly creative in finding candidates, selecting, interviewing, onboarding, developing and engaging talented people.

We can gain insights into talent acquisition and development by reflecting on the National Football League’s 2020 draft. For those don’t follow football as I do, the draft is how NFL teams acquire the best college players. An April event, the draft took place virtually this year.

Hopefully, as the economy reopens, credit unions won’t need to rely on virtual talent acquisition in such a big way as the NFL did this year. However, you may still find you want to blend virtual talent management tools with traditional techniques at times. Here are some observations from the 2020 virtual NFL draft that may apply to your 2020 talent efforts:

  1. Continue to hire top talent, even when this must be done virtually. The shortcomings of virtual hiring in the credit union industry are not dissimilar to what the NFL experienced. Technology can fail. Remote interactions can feel impersonal. And building a robust candidate pool virtually can be more challenging. Credit unions need to find a way to overcome these issues. No one wants to miss the opportunity to hire the next Walter Payton, especially if something as simple as a videoconference would have made that possible.
  2. Hire stars who will work together well. After all, if your quarterback throws a great pass but no one can catch it, you can’t win the game. Some companies look to hire groups of people who have previously worked together successfully.
  3. Hire great leaders, too. In addition to individual stars, the NFL relies on great coaches and general managers to bring everyone together. Similarly, credit unions need really good people in their C-suites, in addition to top lenders and marketers.
  4. Be creative in your onboarding. The more interconnected a new hire or promoted staffer needs to become with various work groups at your credit union, the longer it will take to integrate that person into the new role. As the economy tentatively reopens, remember that you can use virtual meeting and learning tools to help build your team.

The players who were drafted by NFL teams in April will participate in the league’s virtual off-season to get ready to (hopefully) play in person this fall. Likewise, virtual—and, hopefully soon, in-person—learning opportunities will help you prepare talent for top performance. You also have a special opportunity right now for a 45-day free trial of all of the educational and networking benefits of CUES membership. In all, staying keenly focused on talent management will help your credit union win the war on talent and better serve members now and into the future.

Since joining CUES in March 2013, John Pembroke has played a leadership role in developing and launching a new direction in CUES’ strategy, branding and culture. Under his guidance, CUES has revamped its membership structure, launched new institutes and introduced Elite Access™ Virtual Classroom, an innovative blending learning offering. Additionally, CUES has expanded its market further into Canada and the Caribbean. Pembroke’s experience includes 25 years in financial services, marketing and e-commerce. He also has served as chief marketing officer at PSCU Financial Services, St. Petersburg, Fla. Pembroke holds a B.S. in Economics from the Wharton School of Business of the University of Pennsylvania and an MBA in Marketing and Policy Studies from the Booth School of Business of the University of Chicago. 

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