Are You the Bill Belichick to Aaron Hernandez? A Thought on Taking Hiring Risks

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Are You the Bill Belichick to Aaron Hernandez? A Thought on Taking Hiring Risks

You can barely turn on the TV these past few weeks without getting bombarded by “breaking news” about the former New England Patriot’s player’s connection to the murder of Odin Lloyd.

It struck me when Hernandez was released (aka fired) from the Patriot’s hours after his arrest that this is not a unique situation. Sure, we don’t typically hire people who are accused of murder. And sure, perhaps when we hire them their rap sheet isn’t littered with potential gang involvement, drugs, and violence. But at some point in every hiring manager’s career you go with your gut and make a risky hire.

In the instance of Hernandez, Bill Belichick, head coach of the Patriots, believed that Hernandez’s talent was worth the risk of his questionable morals. And in fact, for some time while Hernandez was a Patriot, it appeared he was turning his life around.

Some media has suggested that Belichick has some explaining to do, but I insist it is quite the opposite. Belichick as a hiring manger knew the risk and knew what he was getting. He gave an opportunity to Hernandez to change, and that is the end of his explaining. It didn’t work out — Hernandez has been fired. End of story. The franchise will go on.

The same is true for any hiring manager who believes in taking risks (which you should). The point of a risk is that you are acknowledging that there is a sizeable chance that it will not work out. There is also the flip side that if the risk does pan out there will be great reward. No business — Belichick’s included — succeeds without risk.

Sometimes the hires we make will positively surprise and sometimes there will be extreme disappointment. You need to take risks on those you believe can rise to the challenge as Belichick did with Hernandez. If you make a bad hire and things don’t pan out, then it is a learning experience and your company will continue on.

Have you ever taken a big hiring risk that paid off or didn’t pan out? What did you learn?