Derek Jeter
Creative Commons License photo credit: Wigstruck

Derek Jeter, the shortstop of the New York Yankees, recently capped off an incredibly successful year when he was named as the 2009 Sports Illustrated Sportsman of the Year. Tom Verducci, a writer for the magazine, wrote an impressive profile of Jeter and there was one portion that jumped out at me because of how it applied as a general principle of life, including what one should look for when selecting a moderator for their online community.

The section describes Jeter’s five dislikes, which are mostly things that can easily be related back to teammates he may have and what he wants out of them. Let’s break them down.

1. Individuals who don’t care about winning.

If a member is your staff is showing up just to show up because it’s habit or routine, wants to be on staff because it is a status symbol or something like that, they just don’t have the passion you need. The reason you’re here is to do well. If you take pride in your work, you care about what you’re doing and you want to win. People who care about your community, want it to do well and want it to be the best it can be are people you want on your team.

2. Self-promoters. “I never liked people who talked about themselves all the time, gloat,” he says. “If you’re accomplished and have done things, people will talk about it for you. I don’t think you have to point it out. I’m not judging anybody. That’s just the way I am.”

Humility is an important trait. If you’re doing good things, people will notice them. You don’t need to say that you’re a great member, that you should be on staff, that you’re better than other people. I remember this person who I had banned from one of my sites who posted on his site that one of the members of my staff was not knowledgeable in the subject matter that our community was about because the staff member had asked questions in our forums. As if asking questions was a weakness, rather than a strength. This person never had any chance to be a member of my team.

You should let your contributions speak for themselves. Anyone who doesn’t, isn’t the team player you want on your staff.

3. Measuring success by individual statistics. “In this day and age, not just in baseball but in sports in general, all people care about is stats, stats, stats,” he says. “You’ve got fantasy this, fantasy that, where you pay attention to stats. But there are ways to win games that you don’t get a stat for.”

Numbers aren’t important. Yes, you want someone who has been on your community for a while. But, things like post count are not an indicator of how well the person is suited to be on your staff. Their attitude and personality, how they interact with members and other personal aspects of them are the key things to watch.

4. Injury talk. “You either play or you don’t play. If you’re playing, nobody wants to know what’s bothering you. Sometimes it’s a built-in excuse for failing.”

No one wants to hear excuses. You want people who own up to their mistakes. When you remove a post you shouldn’t, I don’t necessarily want to hear that you were having a bad day. I’m sympathetic, but that doesn’t mean it should be allowed to pass. If it’s a volunteer position, as most staff are, you can take a day away from the site. No one’s perfect and that’s fine – but, making excuses usually isn’t helpful.

5. Negativity. Jeter wants nothing to do with negative questions from reporters or negative talk from teammates. He once went 0 for 32 and refused to admit he was in a slump. “We weren’t allowed to use the word can‘t—’I can’t do this, can’t do that,'” Jeter says of his childhood. “My mom would say, ‘What? No.’ She’s always positive. I don’t like people always talking about the negative, negative, negative, because once you get caught in that mind-set, it’s hard to get out of it.”

Derek Jeter Gatorade ad
Creative Commons License photo credit: Bari D

Negativity can be a disease. I am friends with my staff members and we get along great. But, once in a while, you have someone who doesn’t like something and they can’t let it go. They post little snide comments and it eats at people and soon enough, you have a problem. You have to tackle that sort of thing head on.

Of course, you don’t want to confuse negativity with viable suggestions or criticism. Helpful ideas are always welcome. Sarcastic comments and insults are not.

There are certainly other things to keep in mind when selecting a new member of your team or considering existing members. But, with these five principles in mind, you’ll definitely be on your way to selecting a capable individual.