Lessons from the G.O.A.T: Losing Talent Has Its Price

By Josh Wilder - March 08, 2021

While recently scrolling through my LinkedIn feed, I came across a meme that really got to me. It could have been because the subject matter involved my all-time favorite football players or maybe my heightened awareness of all things HR since joining JDXpert. Regardless, the image of Rob Gronkowski arm in arm with the legendary, Tom Brady, and the phrase “#1 HR lesson from the Super Bowl – Losing Top Talent has a price,” plastered across the image hurt the heart of this lifelong Patriots fan (go ahead and sneer here).

Still a teenager when Brady joined the Patriots 20 years ago, I can remember feeling like he was untouchable and that I was watching someone who announcers would reference for years to come. I was right, because at age 43, an age that transcends the average career span of other QBs, he won his seventh Super Bowl with the Patriots…. the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Tom Brady worked for the same employer (Patriots) for over 20 years. Over that lengthy tenure, he served as the team’s top performer, bringing record-breaking success (9 Super Bowl appearances, 6 wins) and notoriety for being one of the best teams of all time. Unfortunately, after years of feeling disillusioned with head coach, Bill Belichick, for their taking his skills for granted and not recruiting a capable supporting cast, he began to question if this was the end to his relationship with the Pats.

He officially signed with Tampa Bay in March 2020, ending his reign as leader of the New England Patriots. As a Patriots fan this was disappointing but not shocking; his new employer showed that they appreciated his talents while Bill Belichick did not. It was a smart move for the Bucs because less than one year after signing him, he led the team to their first Super Bowl appearance and win in 18 years.

As HR professionals, I’m sure you can tell your own stories of employees who moved on from a company who underappreciated or under compensated. This tale is not a new one; however, it should be a tale we heed now that employers are struggling to recruit and retain top talent.

So, what can we learn from this story? What can we do to retain top talent? Appreciation, validation, and compensation go a long way. But how do you know if an employer is exceeding their assigned responsibilities or are being paid fair market value? The job description of course! The job description is the foundation that lets you compare an employee’s performance with the expectations of the job. It’s also the footing for which your compensation decisions are built. They provide you with a comprehensive look at the job, well beyond the summary and list of responsibilities and requirements. They can include ANY piece of information that relates to the job including competencies, corresponding job postings and interview guide, compensation and market data, and more.

A call by leadership to focus on retaining talent often occurs after a pattern of losing talent is identified. But it doesn’t have to be this way. Lay a foundation that supports your recruitment and retention efforts by optimizing your job descriptions and the management of them. When you establish a clear representation of the job, you can better-evaluate employee performance and make more informed compensation decisions. So, if there are any take-aways from Brady’s story, know that the loss of top talent has its price, and that Tom Brady is the G.O.A.T. (greatest of all time).


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