Whilst watching the footie the other day, I realised that it’s a lot like the business world.
The FTSE 100 is the Premier League with smaller businesses battling their way to promotion from the Championship, League One, and so on. Businesses and clubs alike face stiff opposition, have to scout around and then retain the top talent, and constantly develop new ways of executing ideas. The best managers, players, and business professionals study their rivals closely to build a strategy to outplay them; and more often than not, even when you have a set tactic in mind, something or someone gets in the way and steals the ball. And when you’re playing with the big boys in the Premier League, the stakes are high and the pressure is on. With this in mind, what could us office workers learn from the best in the world of football about driving repeatable success?
Breaking it Down
Identify and empower your best assets. The best performing clubs identify and acknowledge their best assets, its manager and players, and make sure they’re motivated. Generally speaking, the motives and needs of players are guided by two basic factors, the hope of success and fear of failure. Managers play on this during team talks ahead of kick-off or in the changing rooms at half time — sales managers should be no different at the end of each quarter or the financial year.
Play them to your advantage. Top teams need a solid defence, a natural goal scorer, a playmaker, and a consistent goalkeeper — the combination of which has ensured they stay in the Premier League. If one of these links is weak — or they don’t work together — clubs start to drop down the tables. Consider where your employees’ natural talents lie. No doubt you’ll have someone who is great at closing deals, another who’s better at thinking more strategically about what your next move should be and someone whose attention to detail is second to none.
Driving it Home
Keep egos in check. You can’t let one player’s ego dominate the team, no matter how good they are. Alex Ferguson’s professional relationship with David Beckham allegedly broke down when he realised Becks was more pre-occupied with fame than working hard on the pitch. Soon after, Beckham was sold to Real Madrid, whilst Man United continued to thrive. Having said this, I don’t recommend throwing a football boot at anyone’s head, no matter how frustrating they become — HR would not approve!
Innovate and adapt. Good managers need to be able to think on their feet and show a willingness to cut and adapt — either at half-time during a game that isn’t going their way, or mid-way through the season after a series of losses. Look at Yahoo’s most recent CEO, Marissa Mayer. She joined the company last summer with the express goal of getting it back in the right direction, and has since made a raft of rapid acquisitions which have doubled the company’s stock price in just 14 months.
Surface the best opportunities for growth. Just a few months ago, Manchester United reported record revenues of £363 million. According to the breakdown, much of this was achieved by monetizing things outside of the club’s core product, match tickets. By putting a greater emphasis on alternative revenue streams such as a sponsorship deals, merchandising and product licensing, it has transformed into one of football’s global financial powerhouses.