Monday, 14 May 2012

They think it's all over!

What can we LEARN from this year’s Premier League table?

I’m a big football fan and during each season I find myself making comparisons between what’s going in the League, and employment situations in the real world! 

As if often the case, much of what took up my interest were the employee relations type issues - from race allegations, interpersonal relationships to unauthorised absences.  This year there were also discussions around religion (eg Match winners champagne), handling serious employee illness (Darren Fletcher) and keeping a team motivated through it (Bolton and the Fabrice Muamba situation). And that's on top of the lessons about motivation, management styles, getting results and teamwork.

The press, of course, focus on all the drama but when it’s all over what can we actually learn (good and bad) from the top, middle and bottom of the League this season. 

In part one, let’s start by focussing on the top of the table, especially as in the real world many managers (and parents for that matter!) find themselves focussing their time and energy on the ‘poor performers’.

Winners: Lessons from Manchester City
  1. If you want to succeed, you have to invest.
  2. However, you can have talented individuals but they have to work together. Team players can even in help in 'managing' challenging individuals (in City's case that meant calming down a sometimes volatile Mario Balotelli on the pitch where the club manager couldn't be!)
  3. If the results are all important and your values can stand it - you may have to choose to put talent, winning and performance above conduct and attendance!*
* Note - this one doesn't sit comfortably with me, but they did win the League so it had to be said :(

Runners Up: Lessons from Manchester United
  1. History is just that... you cannot become complacent or switch off – ever!
  2. Earn respect and have a good relationship your team, past and present... you need them – Paul Scholes came out of retirement and nearly helped United to a 20th title.
  3. Keep going – At one point, it looked as if Manchester United had already lost the league and suffered an unexpected and embarrassing defeat to their nearest rivals. Despite this, unsettled team members, and lots of illnesses they just kept going. Already, the club (well the manager, at least) having grudgingly congratulated the opposition are already licking their wounds and planning for next season.
“Failing is not in the falling down, it's in the not getting back up” - Chinese proverb.

Final guaranteed Champions League spot: Lessons from Arsenal
  1. A slow start, big losses and intense criticism can be overcome. 
  2. One star can carry a team - it shouldn't be that way, but sometimes it just is, but... 
  3. Be careful not to overburden your star, or you might not keep them. The question is: how do you keep your star performer happy when it is so often said that if you want something done, give it to the busy person?
 Top Manager: Lessons from Alan Pardew 

Well done to Newcastle’s  Alan Pardew who was voted Premier League Manager of the Year, and deservedly so. Some of the reasons I agree with the choice include:
  • He quietly went about his business getting in quality players who he was prepared to develop and let shine.
  • He didn’t moan about his challenges (eg moving up North where he wasn’t wanted)
  • He showed bags of passion and wasn’t afraid to apologise/take responsibility when things got heated or went against the gameplan.
  • He motivated his team by making them believe they could win a big prize, and still celebrated them even though they didn't
  • In terms of results, he improved his team’s overall position.

It might be 'just a game' but we can LEARN so much from it.
Enjoyed part one? Next: What we can learn from the bottom teams.

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