It’s July, 2014. Newly appointed head coach of the Golden State Warriors, Steve Kerr, picks up his phone and begins to dial. Only a few months into his tenure, and he already has to discuss pending trade rumors with two of his key contributors, Klay Thompson and David Lee. This is a hard conversation for any coach in professional sports, let alone one so new to the role.
For the past few weeks, the notion of Thompson and Lee being traded to Minnesota had filled locker rooms, sports news broadcasts, and social media feeds. In a world where everyone is so intricately connected, the notion of subtlety in professional sports is long gone. Thompson and Lee hear the noise on a daily basis. It is—for all intents and purposes—unavoidable. The ringing phone comes to an abrupt stop as Thompson, Kerr’s first of two equally difficult calls, answers.
In an interview a few days later, Kerr shares the results of both conversation with the media. He seems upbeat, yet genuine. “They both get it,” Kerr says. “I told them, ‘I know you get it. It doesn’t make it any easier.”He paused. “But this is why you really get paid. I mean, you get paid all this money, is it really for coming into a gym for two hours a day and shooting jump shots? We’ve been doing that for free our whole life, you know? You get paid because you can get traded, and you have to uproot your family. You can get hurt, you can get booed, and people on the message board are crushing you. That’s where you actually earn your money in this league, where it actually feels like work.”
Fast forward. It’s July, 2015. Steve Kerr is the winningest rookie coach in NBA history, with one championship under his belt already. Thompson and Lee are on top of the world. They were never traded.
In a sales setting where sports clichés are used almost constantly to motivate sales professionals, I will do my best to avoid being just another blogger trying to turn a Hoosiers speech into a great day of cold calling. However, when I heard what Kerr had said, I couldn’t help but feel like his words had the ability to echo across the sales landscape.
To someone on the outside looking in, staffing (and sales in general) seem relatively straightforward. We take a product or service, we find someone willing to invest in that product or service, we make the transaction, collect a commission, and retire on a yacht named after the dog you had when you were seven. Commission is based on deals closed, and really good sales people close a lot of deals.
While most of this is true, what I have learned in my experience working in a few different markets is that sales comes with more wrinkles and layers then I could have ever prepared myself for. This is especially true in staffing, where our product (candidates looking for new jobs) has a mind of their own. I think we can all agree that selling copiers would be a bit trickier if the copier’s spouse had an influence over their next place of business.
What I have come to learn about my recruiters and I is that we are not paid to place candidates. After all, most sales people have the gift of gab, and building great relationships is something that we have taken pride in doing since we were kids on the school yard. Harnessing new relationships, connecting with people, getting to chat with 25-50 new personalities a day; we’d all do that for free. I’ve lost track of how many meetings I’ve been on when—just for a moment—I forgot I was technically at work.
Our compensation, rather, is earned during the hundreds of calls that it takes to find a few great candidates, the frustration of having a candidate or client cancel an interview, the ever-changing job descriptions that we must adjust to on the fly, and the pain of having a job close right when we found someone we feel would be a great fit. The result of this hard work is realized when we finally help a company grow with a great person and receive compensation for our work, but there is much more going on under the surface than I can explain in one (or 37) articles for us to get to that point.
I think what Kerr said has a lot to do with how an employee perceives their day to day. How many times have you heard a coworker–doing a task they don’t want to do–mumble under their breath, “I don’t get paid to do this”? Yes, yes you do. Actually, that task (and any other task over the course of your day that you dislike) is the only reason you get paid. Perception is reality.
What I would invite you to do in your career is pick the hardest part(s) of your job, the aspects of your employment that take you to the brink, and view them as the sole reason you are being compensated. While this may not change the task itself, changing how you view the task may reduce the sting, and will shed light on how much you really like your job to better help navigate career moves. After all, if we are in a career we truly love (as I hope you all are) then everything else should be as simple as of shooting hoops in the yard.