It’s September, the kids are back in school and football is in full swing.  We were getting ready for the opening weekend of football and watched the recently released movie Draft Day starring Kevin Costner and Jennifer Garner.  I enjoy watching movies and relating them to business situations.

Draft Day takes place in a span of approximately 12 hours and chronicles the happenings of the Cleveland Browns on the NFL draft day.  In the movie, the Browns have the first pick in the draft and they have the chance to pick up the Heisman winning quarterback. The hours leading up to the draft are absolutely chaotic; teams are trading draft picks, trading players for draft picks and researching who the best players will be.  As the day progresses and it gets closer to the draft, the Browns have narrowed their choices down to two players. One is the Heisman winning quarterback and another is a defensive player.

This process of choosing a draft pick in the football world is akin to the process of hiring an employee in the business world.  What are the three characteristics of identifying a good team member?

  • Character

Character attributes are the foundational attributes that an individual uses to make decisions.  Many of these attributes can be found in an organization’s core values.  One of the most important attributes is integrity.  Integrity is about doing the right thing in public and private settings.  Another attribute is excellence.  Excellence is performing a task well, diligently and thoroughly.  Excellence is related to work ethic but it goes farther in the sense of working and thinking at the same time.  This is the short list of character attributes and there are many more to consider.

  • Chemistry

Chemistry refers to the “people person” skills.  Chemistry is not a trait that an employee or candidate has, but rather is a manner of interacting with your team or company that is positive in nature for all parties.  The people person can bring harmony inside the workplace, they can properly strike a chord and are typically loved by most.  They are the easiest people to deal with and to ask for favors or work revisions.  They know how to give and handle criticism and how to make people in the workplace dance and have fun, even at the most critical moment of a project. The best thing about a people person is they bring the team together, someone who will think with the team.

  • Competence

Competence are the trade skills necessary to do the job.  These could be technical skills, computer abilities and maybe communication attributes.  These are the skills that can typically be tested for prior to hiring and also taught if the employee or candidate does not have all of the skills upon arrival.  You can see from the Venn diagram below that each of the three C’s is important; however, character and chemistry form the base of the pyramid and competence sits on top.  This demonstrates that competence is important but it is not the base and can be added on (taught) later.  If a person is competent but lacks character or chemistry, it is an uphill battle and can be very costly to an organization.

The three C’s of Hiring


Back to the movie…

As the day progresses, research is being gathered by all of the teams who are seeking the Heisman winning quarterback, and Kevin Costner’s character, Sonny, who is drafting for the Browns, wants to know everything about the kid that he can find out.  They review tape, talk to coaches, and talk to others who have known the quarterback. This kid is spotless.  At one point Sonny says, “There is something about every player that gets discovered later, and we need to find that out now, before we draft him.”

Sonny is still very intrigued by the defensive player who is definitely not a first round pick and will probably go eight or nine rounds into the draft.  In reviewing game tape, Sonny discovers the defensive player was penalized in one of his college games for showboating after in interception, He ran over to the sidelines and handed the ball to a young lady that was in the front row.  The tape shows him pleading with the referee that he was not showboating.  Sonny and the Browns’ draft team discover he gave the ball to his sister, who was terminally ill with cancer and passed away a few days after the game, leaving two young boys. He was not showboating, but caring for his family.

Sonny and the Browns’ draft team kept digging on the Heisman winning quarterback.  They discovered that on the kids’ 21st birthday, a big party was held at a restaurant in his college town.  On the night of the party, the restaurant was severely damaged and the police were called.  The young quarterback was the only player on his team to be arrested.  Sonny asked his college coach why nobody else from the team was at the party and he said that all of the other team mates left the scene before the police arrived so they would not be caught and that the quarterback took the fall for the rest of the guys.  Sonny found that story hard to believe and felt there was more to it than that.

Coming down to the wire, Sonny is at the NFL draft party and has a chance to sit down and talk with the quarterback.  He asks him, “why weren’t any of the other players from your team at the restaurant with you the night of your 21st birthday?”  The quarterback responds with a false look on his face and says, “I don’t remember anything from the night of my birthday.”  Sonny says, “I don’t remember my 21st birthday either,” gets up and then goes to draft the defensive player.

That night Sonny and the Browns were drafting for character and probably chemistry, not competence.  What do you hire for?