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Why Hiring Managers Are Like Football Managers

Why Hiring Managers Are Like Football Managers

Why Hiring Managers Are Like Football Managers

The sharp end of an English football (soccer) season, always sees a raft of managerial sackings and of course new managers brought into to save the presumably sinking ship.

Actually given the way the modern business/game of football has gone, it’s constantly the sharp end of the season and there are constant sackings and replacements.

The Australian professional sports world is not yet so riddled with sackings but it seems to be catching up, as the stakes are proclaimed to be that much higher these days – financially at least.  

As soon as a new manager is appointed you can stake your life on 2 or 3 (at a minimum) of his former players from his most recent club, pitching up at the new club within a few weeks. Pick any “much travelled” (to use the media vernacular) manager and you can predict with certainty, which players will soon be coming as part of what could be cynically labelled a bundled deal.

Where ever Sam Allardyce, Jose Mourinho, Wayne Bennett, Mick Malthouse or Ewen McKenzie go next, seemingly the same group of players will surely follow them to the new club.

Why does it happen ? The charitable take on the situation would be that the manager does it because they know the quality of people they have worked with before; that they can rely on them; that the employees brought over can be allies/advocates in the dressing room/office. Nothing overly dreadful in any of that but it’s not exactly “best practice” or “world class hiring strategies” or any of the other slightly over-egged phrases, that are bandied around by far too many of us involved in the world of hiring staff.

The alternative explanation – which is harsher but almost certainly fairer – probably boils down to some combination of the following:

  • The manager wants ‘yes’ men to bolster their own ego;
  • That it saves him/her having to look further afield and ‘take a risk’ on someone they have not yet worked with;
  • That it is a quicker fix than taking the time to genuinely assess all available options
  • And last but almost certainly not least, that it provides a comfort blanket for the new manager…………..”good old Dave over there, he’ll always rate me.”

Recruitment – whether for a sports team or for a work team – should be about hiring the best people in the market, not simply grabbing a few faithful old retainers, who know their place and will probably show due gratitude and deference.

The other downside of hiring who you know – and this is hardly ever commented on – is that by default, those you inherit and who are therefore NOT within your chosen entourage, quickly find themselves sidelined and perhaps replaced, by those that come in. Their only fault being that they have not already established a working relationship with the new manager.  The result is usually an instant morale slump, which will almost certainly lead to staff turnover issues and ultimately even more hiring.

Companies often talk about their “need for constant rejuvenation”, or “injections of fresh blood”, “new ways of thinking” etc etc but simply hiring the same old people, from the same old companies, merely (at best) perpetuates whatever performance you collectively achieved before.

Now if you and your last team genuinely turned water into wine, then bringing them all across en masse might be a really smart move but personal blinkers aside, how often has that drink transformation really happened ? Often as not, the water may have metamorphosed into Perrier, perhaps even Sprite but it probably didn’t make it to a standard that would end a NSW Premier’s political career. And yet the practice seems to continue ad infinitum.

They say fortune favours the brave but are too many managers – in all sectors of life – happier to settle for what they already know, to the detriment of team performance ?

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