When the Minnesota Vikings ended last season with an ugly 5-10-1, they knew something, or a lot of things, had to change. They certainly didn’t expect this Adrian Peterson stuff to happen but for the sake of this story we’re going back in time to a less serious situation.

Admin started at the top of the coaching ranks. It wasn’t that the owners didn’t like their previous coach, Leslie Frazier. They did. He just wasn’t the right fit. He didn’t get his team to perform on the field. Clearly, Frazier wasn’t the leader players responded to best.

 The Vikings owners then began the arduous task of finding Frazier’s replacement. With dozens of qualified coaches able to lead an NFL team, you’d think it would be easy to find a new guy. But the Vikings had to be honest with candidates about the daunting challenge ahead of them and the candidates needed to be honest with Minnesota about their coaching and leadership styles.

Without that simple, and yet for some reason oh-so-hard, attribute it’s impossible for any employer to hire the right person. Doesn’t matter if it’s for a $10/hour cashier position at Circle K or a multi-million dollar professional football coaching contract, if both sides won’t show their cards everyone will be playing 52 pickup sooner rather than later.

Back to the Vikes.

Along came a guy named Mike Zimmer. He was energetic, direct, and above all else, honest. At least that’s what the Vikings owners say impressed them the most.

As for the Vikings, they had to honestly sell their team to Zimmer. They have had a consistent losing record (except for the Favre experiment) for the past several years. They were losing their top free agent in Jared Allen. They have (now, had) an awesome running back but have a sucky quarterback. Their defense was pretty good. They needed a leader who could teach their guys to win and develop drafted talent.

In other words, they were desperate.

It remains to see if the fit turns into W’s, but there is one really crafty takeaway from this example.

Both parties know exactly what they’re getting into. There are no surprises (ok, ok, NO ONE could’ve foreseen this Peterson junk so we’re calling a mulligan). They are equally aware of each other’s personality, culture, work experience, track record, and expectations and performance goals. The team’s bottom line is protected by both Zimmer and the owner’s committing to truthfulness. The Vikings know exactly what they’re getting with Zimmer. He can be mouthy. Vulgar. In your face. Zimmer knows exactly what he’s getting with the team. A losing record from a team in shambles. Because of this honesty, neither the Vikings nor Zimmer are going to break up anytime soon. They have invested time and money into one another and neither one will want to risk the amount of money a quick turnover would cause.

Although we’re talking millions of dollars in a coach’s salary, this example works at every level of business. Honesty will protect your pocketbook. Dishonesty will end up costing you big bucks.

Turnover is expensive. Yes, there are some obvious cold, hard cash costs like re-training, but more often the costs are hidden. Here’s some examples of how dishonesty can turn into a costly turnover mistake:

  • Lowered productivity
  • Overworked remaining staff
  • Lost knowledge
  • Interviewing costs
  • Recruiting and background screening costs

This is the first post of the three-part series exploring the role of honesty in the hiring process. We’ve set the stage here… Acts Two and Three are on their way later this week. Check back to learn how to honestly share your baggage in the job interview process and the importance of honestly describing your open positions and company culture.



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