“I think there is this perception that, with July 1 free agents, there is this hockey store, and there is this fantasy hockey league that I’m running, and we can go get superstars…Those days are over.”
—Ken Holland, General Manager of the Detroit Red Wings.
As many of you know, Joe and I spend a lot of time helping our clients manage their vendor partnerships. Sometimes there is a great fit, and we get to be part of a fruitful relationship. Other times, it’s like mediating a divorcing couple. When the accusations start flying, it starts to boil down to those on the front line. Sales personnel bare the brunt of the accusations. Ken Holland’s quote coincided with such an instance.
For hockey and business alike, there is no talent mall where general managers can instantly buy top free-agents. No matter how wealthy the ownership, there is always a budget that needs to be adhered to. This means making tough decisions when it comes to personnel moves. Not everyone can be a limitless scorer, an omnipresent defender, or an impervious goal tender. Instead, it’s about managing the magic formula of positives and negatives, youth and experience, brawn and brains
Behind every good general manager is a great coach. In Ken Holland’s case, his long time coach (Mike Babcock) has been nominated for the NHL’s coach of the year. Like the best coaches, he didn’t let adversity get him down. Despite a revolving door of players, he found a way to maximize their contribution to the team. He didn’t cry to the media or point fingers when things didn’t go right. Like the best players, he worked hard during practice, and then worked harder after. He put his faith in the management team, and fully trusted the system. He managed the players he HAD, and took his team to its 23rd straight playoff appearance.
The best employees don’t fall from the sky. They cannot be shaken from a tree, or created in a laboratory. Your best employees are right in front of you. What’s stopping you from winning?