St. Louis Rams – Doing Football Like You Do Employee Engagement

football helmets2

Looks like I’m going to try and channel my inner Steve Boese or my inner Kris Dunn and try to draw some connection between what’s going on in sports and what’s going on in the business world.

First some backstory (not that you need it…)

One of the things I’ve been working on for 2016 (all five days of it) is to try to have a more structured schedule, and that means taking time for breakfast and not spending that time in front of the computer. So I’m making a very specific effort to sit at the kitchen table and make a wholesome breakfast of oatmeal and fruit or maybe yogurt some bagels or, who knows I may go crazy and have a high-fiber cereal. But during that time at the kitchen table and I’m having my breakfast, I am allowing myself one electronic bonus and that is my Kindle Fire where I read the USA Today update each morning. Today was no different.

One of the stories in USA Today was about the St. Louis Rams. The headline read, “Rams bash St. Louis in Los Angeles relocation bid. The gist of the article is that the St. Louis Rams want to move back to Los Angeles because they want a first-rate stadium and access to a larger market. Their argument is they’ve been in St. Louis for a while and they’ve not been able to generate the revenue they wanted and the market and St. Louis really can’t support three professional sports teams. None that has anything to do with what I wanted to talk about today. What I want to talk about is what management at the St. Louis Cardinals football team is using as part of their rationale. I’ll let the story speak for itself in the following quote:

The Rams have not had a winning season since 2003 after finishing this past season with a 7-9 record. Even so, the Rams’ application boasts about ownership’s investment in the on-the-field product and implies that ownership is not getting a good return on this investment from the St. Louis fan base.

“The current Rams ownership’s investment in the on-the-field Rams team has been significant,” the Rams’ application states.

“The Rams have consistently spent to the salary cap in each year under Stan Kroenke and have significantly increased the coaching and scouting budgets…Despite these investments and engagements, Rams attendance since 2010 has been well below the league’s average. The combination of low attendance and the lack of pricing power… has consistently placed the Rams in the low fourth quartile in gross ticketing receipts generally between 60% and 70% of the NFL average per game for the regular season.”

Sometimes it’s Not All About the Benjamin’s

So here’s where I draw the connection between the St. Louis Rams approach to creating a viable product in the St. Louis market and how many companies go about trying to drive employee engagement in their own companies.

How MUCH you spend is not a measure of effectiveness.

I can promise you that with zero training and with my current qualifications I can go into the St. Louis Rams organization and spend the same amount of money. I can’t say it will be spent any better – but boy I know I can spend it. Just check my personal finances sometimes. Spending is not a weakness listed on my performance evaluation.

Like engagement – the team’s success is not about spending money. It’s about spending money on things that actually work. Using the fact that they used the budget allocated isn’t a reason for why they need to move the team. It is more a reason to get rid of the people deciding how to spend the money. Don’t get me wrong – St. Louis may not be the place for the Rams – I don’t know. I do know that simply spending the money you budget and getting zero impact is just bad business. And doing it for 13 years – that’s insanity.

If you’re spending money on employee engagement and not seeing the results don’t assume you need to spend more. Assume you’re not spending it right.

How do you see your company spending their treasure on employee engagement? Is it on surveys and quant jocks to “interpret” the data? Is it on more perks for the employees with little quid pro quo? Is it on flex time and other benefits?

One thing is for sure – regardless of where you’re spending it… I’m sure your spending it all. And that just may make you qualified to run the St. Louis Rams!


photo credit: SNC12870.JPG via photopin (license)

3 responses to “St. Louis Rams – Doing Football Like You Do Employee Engagement”

  1. […] the whole post over at What Is Paul Thinking? (an FOT contributor […]


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