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Building a Champion: Fantasy Football and On-Boarding

It’s that time of year again.  A time when we think we know more than the experts.  We solicit advice from total strangers on issues we know nothing about in order to dominate our competition.  The money is irrelevant.  The ego runs rampant.  Relationships we thought to be indestructible are tested and frayed. It is a time of weeping and gnashing of teeth unseen since biblical times…or last year…whichever your perspective.
It’s fantasy football season.
My college buddies and I have been in the same league for many years now.  Somehow, I got roped into being the league commissioner and I am about as effective of a league executive as the head of the US Badminton Society if such a thing even exists.  For us, it’s really about the live draft ( a chance for all of us to be online at the same time to insult each other…remember, it’s a bunch of guys who’ve known each other too long.) and also those weeks where we square off against our very closest of friends.  Those are the big rivalry games.
My sub-par performance as league commish is only outdone by my team management.  In all of these years, I have had exactly one decent team and only then I picked up a sleeper RB mid-season I’d followed in college who I knew would play well when the RB ahead of him on his real team went down.  Their QB was terrible, their line was ok, and I knew my guy would get a lot of touches.  Fantasy is a lot like Moneyball in a sense that it’s about finding ways to score and get the people who are going to be put in the position to score in how scoring is kept.  He pushed me over the edge through our playoffs to be horribly embarrassed in the finals.  Horribly.  But I got there!  BOOM!
I wish I could make the smooth transition here that a blog post is supposed to make by saying “fantasy football teaches us a lot about banking because…”.  I don’t know that I can deliver the goods that way.  But what I did notice is that fantasy football destroys some of the long time management principles we all read.  Don’t get me wrong…I’m a huge fan of business and management books.  Huge.  Probably too much were I to really think about it.  But like guitars, pipes, and new releases at Penzey’s spices…if I see something new and shiny, I’m going to be instantly drawn to it.
But it all falls apart in Fantasy Football.  For one, I can’t draft WR’s to save my life.  My QB will be good…my RB’s are serviceable…my DEF is pretty good.  I sometimes am able to pick K’s pretty well.  I am both proud and humiliated to admit that probably 33% of my total victories have been snatched from the jaws of defeat by a kicker. But I lose it on WR’s.
Sometimes, the plan we make does not work.  Sometimes the team we have assembled does not work.  Sometimes the money we’ve spent on advice has as much value as a Jacksonville Jaguar trophy case.  Sometimes, the books are wrong…”best laid plans of mice and men” etc.
In community banking, we don’t always have the option of choosing from among a comparable talent pool and yet we are told one of the marks of greatness is getting the right people in place and letting them work.  Do all institutions have that option?  If not, then is it fair to denigrate them due to their lack of perceived greatness?
Where the fantasy football analogy falls apart is we have the option to coach up our team.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve wished I could pull my WR’s aside and have a “coaching moment” with them.  (This is the nice way to say it.  Kelly, my wife, would call it a “loud screaming fit at the TV to other grown men who can’t hear you!”  Same difference!).  We can do that in business.  The talent pool is not an egalitarian environment in banking.  On-boarding, however, is the great equalizer.  It is where we can teach our playbook, our culture, our strategy, set up scenarios for learning and development, and create greatness.  Banking is not a fair game.   Not all banks have the same “bench” from which to draw upon to build a championship team.  Those have to be developed with the “players” we have available and we have the opportunity to train, develop, and nurture those players into a champion.
So, pay attention to your on-boarding processes.  It’s never too late to reboot that or start fresh.  Everyone from the C-suite to the teller row would not mind a refresher at times on the basics.  Start by “re on-boarding” your existing team.  That’s the low-hanging fruit there.  Ask what they need and what they want.  We’ll be talking more about on-boarding on the podcast and in the blog more, so we’ll be thinking about this a lot more.
For those of you who have been sucked into the fantasy football world, best of luck to you.  For those of you who are smarter than we are, please forgive us come Mondays and Tuesdays.  We can’t help it!


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Byron Earnheart is the Programming Director for the Barret School of Banking in Memphis, TN and the host of the “Main Street Banking” podcast…the only podcast solely devoted to community banks. He has over 15 years experience in the financial services industry; 11 of which have been in banking in various roles from teller work to branch management. He spends his time playing guitar and singing in Delta Heart (the “house band of the Mississippi Delta”), writing music, cooking, reading, and enduring the University of Tennessee Volunteers athletic seasons. He is married to his wife Kelly of 11 years and has two children, John Aubrey (11) and Mary Laura (7). If you'd like to hear Byron's music, check him out on Spotify:
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