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Four-Point Play: NBA CHRO Lays Out the New EVP

Embodying the spirit of the organization he helps lead, Eric Hutcherson kicked off week two of WorldatWork’s “Total Resilience Virtual Conference & Exhibition” with a passionate and inspirational keynote on Wednesday.


Hutcherson, the executive vice president and chief human resources officer of the National Basketball Association (NBA), focused on the criticality of a company’s employee value proposition (EVP) and how it is evolving in a COVID-19 world.

“The employee report card is no longer about the financial components of the organization,” Hutcherson said. “The report card now is ‘does the company believe what I believe in and am I proud to work for this organization?’”

This concept is part of what led the NBA to shift its mission in recent years. The league’s old mission statement was to be “the world’s greatest sports league,” which Hutcherson felt was too small of a goal. Its current mission is, “Compete with intensity, lead with integrity and inspire play.” 

 “Those nine words are really simple,” Hutcherson said, “but they mean everything to the NBA.”

Eric Hutcherson, EVP and CHRO of the NBA

Hutcherson emphasized the importance of understanding what drives you as an employee or an organization to do what you do. In the NBA, he said, their higher order is to make the world smaller through sports.

“Everyone has greatness inside of them — I truly believe that,” Hutcherson said. “The way to capture the greatness that’s inside you is to understand what you stand for and what you believe in.”

Hutcherson then laid out the four questions every person needs to ask themselves to determine whether the organization they work at is the right fit:

  • Am I proud of the company I work for?
  • Am I proud of the people I work with?
  • Am I proud of the work I get to do?
  • Am I offering value and receiving value in return?

“If you’re in a place where those things are not true,” he said, “that organization probably does not deserve your greatness.”

In fielding questions from attendees after his presentation, Hutcherson emphasized the importance of integrity and well-being and the value of constant communication amid ongoing remote work during COVID-19.

“As a leader, you need to check in on a regular basis and as an organization try to ramp up your mental health resources for your employees,” Hutcherson said. “I talk to my global team more than I ever did before. Diversity has improved because of it and hierarchies have flattened because of it. We have to remember that human beings need human touch, so there’s no better way than continuing the communication.”

While employee burnout, well-being and mental health are all priorities for total rewards and human resources leaders, sometimes that feels like it can come at the expense of their own well-being, given the overall stress of the pandemic. Hutcherson implored attendees to learn how to “turn it off” and not to compromise their own well-being in the process of helping others.

One key way to accomplish this as a leader is by delegating and relying on your team members. Fittingly, Hutcherson drew an NBA comparison to illustrate this point. He referred to “The Last Dance” documentary on the 1990s Chicago Bulls dynasty, which showed the evolution of Michael Jordan as a basketball player. Jordan was a one-man show in the early stages of his career and came up empty in the playoffs. But once he began to trust his teammates, it triggered a run of six championships in eight years for the Bulls.

“Superstars in our league, who are the best at what they do, don’t win until they start to trust their teammates,” Hutcherson said.

About the Author

Brett Christie Bio Image

Brett Christie is the managing editor of Workspan Daily.

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