Think Strategically About Your Employees: The Example of Odell Beckham Jr.

The New York Giants are going to have to think carefully about Odell Beckham Jr. 

On the one hand, based on the quality of his performance, Beckham is one of the most underpaid players in football. That’s because, while his compensation is fine for a rookie, he doesn’t play like a rookie—he’s producing like a top-five receiver. He is perhaps best-known for his spectacular catch against the Dallas Cowboys, in 2014. This catch is what jumpstarted his career and gave him the national recognition he deserves. Since then, his stats have just gotten more impressive. He’s become Eli Manning’s favorite weapon.  

On the other hand, Beckham has a contract stipulation (allegedly) that kept him out of OTAs, supposedly to protect his valuable self from injury, and yet he picks fights on the field. He took off on a boat the week before a playoff game. His “me, me” celebrations are a bit hard to take for some. It really looks like he continually puts himself before the team. 

The Giants have him locked in for at least two more seasons, but then he’ll become a free agent. His talent will take him anywhere he wants to go, so the Giants will have to pay up if they want to keep him. They’ve been adding weapons on offense, defense, and special teams this offseason, so you can tell they’re working to become a great team. Keeping Beckham could be part of that process, and they have the resources to do it. 

Should they? 

We all know that person who is astonishingly good at what they do and is, at the same time, a prima donna, or chronically late, or otherwise just plain difficult. At what point do you decide this person is worth the hassle—or isn’t? 

Sometimes you can work with the person and straighten them out. Other times, you can adapt your practices and work around your genius’s limitations. Maybe you’ll decide to just ignore the attitude. On the other hand, you could opt for the player (or the sales person, or the support staff member, or whoever it is) who maybe isn’t as talented, but isn’t going to cause you the same kinds of problems, either. 

Most of the time, there’s a good argument to be made for either option—and your choice could have a big impact on both your organizational culture and your chance of success.  

Maybe you’ll think about what this difficult person can do for you. Maybe you’re on the verge of some huge success and some extra talent is the one thing you need to take you over the edge. Maybe you’re excited to tap and develop someone’s potential. But you’ll also have to think about how much you can afford to put into one person, and what it’s going to take for your other employees to have to deal with this person.

Ultimately, it’s your decision. And you will make it. Just like the New York Giants will make their decision about Odell Beckham Jr.


Image of Odell Beckham Jr. was taken by Brook Ward under the Creative Commons 2.0 License.