Like many others, I was glad to welcome last month as the return of the season and of Match of the Day, to fill my Saturday night routine. However, the events that I have witnessed over the last month, concerning the management of certain teams, got me looking at things from a perspective that is usually reserved for my day job. Surely, effective people management is important no matter what industry you operate. So what can we learn from the managers in the ‘top flight’?
Mourinho’s team were down to ten men, drawing level with a side they would be expected to comfortably beat. With only a few minutes before the final whistle, one of his ‘star players’ went down injured. The Chelsea medical staff tended to him which meant that the team was temporarily down to nine men and were, I guess in Mourinho’s mind, less equipped to clinch a spectacular last minute win!
In the end, the final result was a draw and no one can say for certain whether or not the medic’s actions impeded the overall performance of the team. Regardless of this Mourinho had clearly made his judgement and publicly expressed his anger with the his medical staff.
Subsequently, there has been a lot of debate about what happened but for me, the actions of the manager are more interesting than those of the medics. Reacting like this in any management situation will almost always make an awkward situation far worse and more difficult to manage. In this case, although we are talking about a very unique industry with its own rules and standards, the people management techniques that apply are the same.
If any manger has concerns with the performance/conduct of their staff then it is unlikely to ever be appropriate for them to raise them in any other setting than a private conversation, where they can consider the individual’s response and listen to their version of events, before making a judgment. Much in the way that the public consider footballer’s and their managers to be ‘role models’, managers in any organisation, like it or not, have a responsibility to model behavior for the rest of their staff. Included in these behaviours should be such things as respect, confidentiality, fairness and reasonableness. Anything less can lead to assumptions being made that can cause unnecessary grumblings in the organisation, damage to employee engagement and long term performance and in some cases the public reputation of the organisation. In the case of the Chelsea Medic, with the public reaction and support through social media, it comes as no surprise that the team doctor has sought legal advice and any manager who acted in what appears to have been such an unreasonable way might expect the same outcome.
Regardless of the nature of our work, when there is a lot riding on the success of a team’s performance managing issues is no easy task. But it is always worth reflecting on how best to tackle a situation before acting. Humiliating someone in front of others is unlikely to ever result in the best outcome and in doing so you are much more likely to simply become part of the problem. Much better that, before the ‘big game’, you have your expectations clearly defined and take a firm but fair approach to issues to maintain the respect, confidence and future success of the team.