Don't you have some staff you just wish you could trade? Someone who is a totally nice person but just doesn't fit your needs? How cool would it be to just send them directly to your competitor, who is incredibly happy to have them (even asked for them by name). And instead of having to wait weeks for your new employee, while they give notice and relocate, you could have your new employee on the job the very next day.
If you’re a hiring manager, it sounds pretty great, doesn’t it? Well, if you managed a the sports team, this would be the normal order of business. Yesterday afternoon, the basketball community was on tenterhooks waiting to find out which NBA players would be traded before the season trade deadline at 3:00 p.m. Eastern Time. As of that moment, no more trades can be made for the rest of the basketball season.
As I listened to learn who would be changing teams that day, I got to wondering if such a thing might work in IT. Surely all IT personnel would like to be on a team that wanted them and needed them. And surely anyone would prefer to have that handed to them instead of grinding through job applications. And wouldn't it be nice to go through that entire process out in the open, with your company's approval?
In theory it doesn't sound so bad, but in practice, sports trades can be stressful, messy, and often painful. Players rarely have any say over whether or not they're going to be traded, and where it is they're going to be traded to. Sometimes they don't even know they've been put on the market until they hear the rumors in the media. Then they have to keep performing at their best, trying to ignore all those rumors fluttering around them. Sometimes players don't know that they were put on the market until the deal goes through. Some players hear about it on the news before they get the call from their management.
Yesterday, one player was in the middle of warming up before a game when he was told to change, hop on a plane, go to a new city, and get a new uniform, and tonight he'll be playing for an entirely different team, hoping his family will be able to relocate to his new home soon.
These aren't rare situations. They're quite common, and it's really rather horrid. However, if we could make the trade system more humane, and make the people being traded more a part of the process, could we make something like this work in IT? There would be a few challenges.
First, sports business people have half the competitive season to watch and assess the entire league's talent on TV. IT people aren't always on display in this way, so first we'd need a way to properly advertise our team's best work. Developers would have a rather easy time showing their labors in their portfolio, but other IT jobs -- database administrators, help desk associates, network architects -- would find it a bit harder to show off.
The sports world is also very keen on statistics. So we'd need plenty of standardized metrics. Perhaps in lieu of the Wins-Losses column, we'd use Money Made-Lost. Instead of points scored we'd count sales made (with online shops and new PoS solutions). Instead of assists we'd measure help desk tickets cleared. Instead of rating defense, we'd rate compliance. We could measure things like time to deployment, or user satisfaction rating, or energy efficiency, and the like.
It would certainly make the task of creating meaningful metrics more fun. Heck, maybe people would start a Fantasy IT League.
Maybe I'm crazy. I often am. But I still think that there is merit in the idea of putting together the very best team you can by collaborating with other companies. What do you think? What kind of things would you want to know about your competitors' talent before you accepted a trade? Would you ever allow yourself to be traded? Let us know in the comments below.