Personnel issues exist everywhere, in every industry, even in professional sports. As a lifelong Boston Red Sox fan, I’ve seen my fair share from the days of complete inaction and not making the right personnel decisions to put your team in a position to win games, to what we have seen over the past few years – the building of a championship caliber team and personnel at every level with the occasional antics.
The Red Sox are the only team to have won two championships so far in the 21st century, and they are poised to win another this year. I truly don’t believe the Tampa Rays can hang with the Sox for the second half of the season and when the Sox really want to, they seem to be able to pour it on and be unstoppable.
I say when they really want to and I think specifically of Manny Ramirez.
I like Manny as he is fun to watch and he has certainly helped the team win many games. He is also an interesting subject when it comes to HR issues. In corporate America, Manny probably would’ve been fired by now. (Here’s the first chance I get to relate this story to HR Technology) A good Talent Management system would be in place and his record would be full of reprimands, and even though his performance would be strong, well above average in most respects, needing to work on attitude, self-motivation and being a team player would rise to the top and then insubordination…well take a look at what recently happened.
At the All-Star Game in New York, Ramirez said he is hoping for a meeting with management to let him know what his future will be. The Red Sox hold one-year options on Ramirez for 2009 and 2010 at $20 million each. If they don’t pick up the option for 2009, Ramirez becomes a free agent.
“I want no more [expletive] where they tell you one thing and behind your back they do another thing,” Ramirez told the Boston Herald. “I think I’ve earned that respect, for a team to sit down with me and tell me this is what we want, this is what we want to do.”
On Wednesday, July 16, Red Sox principal owner John Henry took exception with that statement.
“I find remarks that we have been anything other than completely straightforward to be personally offensive,” Henry said in an e-mail, according to the Herald. “Manny has been a crucial part of two world championships. I do not believe we would have won either without him. He has never played a more important role than he has thus far this year.”
First of all, I see a great opportunity to go back to that Talent Management system and utilize Pay for Performance. Instead of just handing Manny $20m, and I haven’t studied the terms of his agreement, build an even bigger package for him with a smaller base but huge incentives. In other words, make him earn his money and in theory, if he meets the goals that are set, the team is winning and everybody wins!
So on to other Manny-isms for a minute. Manny was fined $10,000 recently (although it was reported as $100,000 but what’s an extra zero when you make the kind of money Manny makes?) He was fined for his behavior a few weeks back in Houston, where he shoved 64-year-old traveling secretary Jack McCormick to the floor about a request for game tickets. Again, what would have happened in corporate America?
And then he is accused of tanking an at-bat against Mariano Rivera of the Yankees last Sunday in protest to that incidence. That’s a tough thing to prove but nonetheless, he is being accused of it.
Is Manny a team player? Personally I think he is all about Manny. He’s had a number of run-ins with his teammates, including most recently with Kevin Youkilis in the dugout. I can see it in his personnel review now, “Doesn’t get along with his co-workers…”
When Manny is in left field and the ball goes over his head, he frequently just takes his own sweet time going after it. I can see that in his personnel review as, “lacks motivation…”
The management team that the Red Sox have in place, which I think is excellent by the way, has learned to co-exist with Manny, or at least look the other way when something goes wrong. Would that fly in corporate America? Heck, even the incident with pushing down the team secretary didn’t initiate any kind of condemnation from the front office. Why should they bother? The front office knows that Red Sox Nation has unconditional love for Ramirez. And even though he has the occasional run-in with his teammates, his teammates seem to like him, so there’s no need to “fire him”.
I personally think the Red Sox should let Manny talk all he wants. It makes for interesting news, keeps the Red Sox in the spotlight and at the same time, doesn’t seem to be affecting their ability to focus and win games. Manny wants his contract renewed, well I think the Red Sox should table the discussion, see what Manny does over the second half of the season and if he puts up solid numbers, pay him what he wants. It’s all about winning in professional sports.
In any event, here’s another small tie-in to HR technology to justify this blog even being here. They don’t necessarily use Talent Acquisition Systems in the big leagues to track applicants but they do have very talented scouts helping to put together winning teams. In the Red Sox case, the scouts have done a fantastic job and I guess in the end, winning is everything and HR’s role is simply to put the spin on any incidents that do take place related to people like Manny as more reasons to come out to the ballpark and cheer on their team as part of Red Sox Nation!
Solving a piece of the puzzle…
Matt Lafata, HRchitect