5 things I learnt from the 2014 FIFA World Cup and the lessons they have for business

Football

The 2014 FIFA World Cup recently concluded and despite on and off the pitch controversies, and much public anger at the cost of the Brazilian Government’s spending on infrastructure, the tournament was one of the most successful and memorable in living memory. Here are five things I learnt from watching the tournament and the resonance they have in business:

ONE – There is no substitute for team work and attitude:

Teams such as Costa Rica and USA were a prime example of team work and attitude. They didn’t have the household names and match winning players of other teams but they proved that getting basics right, having a nothing to lose mentality and punching above their weight together with helping other team members out when they were out of position made them a force. This propelled them to the highest level of performance any team can desire at a major tournament.

Business Lesson: Go beyond your job description and keep things simple. Believing in yourself and your team members will create a positive team environment. More importantly, understand what the common goal is and be realistic in your expectations.

TWO – Don’t be afraid to take a risk:

Netherlands coach Louie Van Gall embodied this in abundance. During the Quarter Final match against Costa Rica, Van Gaal substituted his first choice goalkeeper Cillisen and replaced him with Krul when the match went to penalties. The outcome of this was that Krul saved two penalties and this put the Netherlands through to the semi finals. His greater height and reach were sighted by Van Gaal as the rationale behind the substitution.

Business Lesson: Don’t be afraid to experiment. As a Manager, next time you have a project – put an untested team member on the project. Know your teams’ individual strengths and skills to get the best out of the team.

THREE – Have a plan B:

In each of the games Netherlands played, the team adapted their style and tactics to their opponents and that proved valuable as Netherlands progressed through the tournament. Van Gaal was a thinking coach who constantly studied the oppositions every move before executing his strategy.

Business Lesson: In business, it’s important to know what you will do in a clutch situation. Something might not work as you would expect. Have something prepared that you can revert to in times of need – a toolkit etc.

FOUR – Stick with the norm and you run the risk of failure:

By the time we got the Semi Finals when Brazil played Columbia, signs were evident that Brazil was not up to the standard of other teams. When Brazil played Germany, their weaknesses were laid bare and they imploded before the eyes of their country. In the aftermath of Brazil’s disastrous exit, it was apparent that coach Scolari was heavily reliant on Neymar and Tiago Silva who were the spine of the team. Scolari kept faith with the same team as he picked in the first match to deliver but as that turned out that was blind faith. Brazil were predictable, relied on the same tactics and never had a plan B.

Business Lessons: Don’t be afraid of mixing things up and when it comes to recruiting a team; do not be averse to individuals of unconventional backgrounds whose CVs may not read great on paper. Resist having similar styles of people in the same team and instead select individuals who would complement each other and a particular function and/or department. Above all, give indivuals time and autonomy and let them flourish.

FIVE – Feeling valued elevated a player:

Suarez, Neymar, Neuer, Messi, Robben, Rodriguez were all talisman to their team. Their talent is undeniable but what was even more important was that they had the support of their team, coaching staff, and when these players performed they had a domino effect on the rest of their team.

Business Lesson: Feedback and engagement are two of the most critical elements in business. Get either wrong, and you end up with a disenfranchised and de – motived workforce. To get it right, work out what truly drives your workforce and what puts them off. Move forward then by making a commitment to driving out the practices that create unhappiness in the workplace.

 

 

 

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Tackling Workforce Planning – A Challenge to Companies in a Post Crisis World

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In a follow up to my recent post ‘Talent Management in a Changing World’, I would like to address the issue of workforce planning which will be a critical game changer for many companies operating in a post financial crisis world. The old rules companies lived by no longer apply. The global financial crisis has brought about significant change in corporate strategy for many companies across the world in the way they allocate financial and human resources in their business environments. Companies have had to adjust their business plans because the company goals have had to be redefined.

For many companies, this means achieving maximum gain with limited resources without compromising on quality. This is a challenge faced by Government’s in the Euro zone with job losses predicted for many industries. Whilst the impact will be felt significantly in the public sector, analysts believe there will be impact on the private sector which is expected to compensate for some of the job losses in the public sector. However, critics believe this is a risky strategy because the linkage between public and private sector through collaborative projects will result in job losses in the private sector too.

This is very much the case in the UK but other countries face continuous challenges such as Greece and Spain and further afield. The new economic reality is that certain industries have disappeared, countless jobs have been lost, markets have declined, and skills have had to be redefined. Companies now need to be more proactive in the deployment of their human capital if they are to meet the challenge of remaining competitive in a post crisis world.

This challenge is faced by western and eastern companies alike. However, there is a greater urgency for companies operating in emerging markets to keep pace with talent management practices of their western counterparts in order to fully capitalize on emerging markets. As companies look to exploit opportunities in BRIC and Future 7(Argentina, Egypt, Indonesia, Mexico, South Africa, Turkey, Vietnam) and indeed Frontier markets (Bangladesh, Philippines, Iran, Nigeria, Pakistan), a better understanding of business needs is required by organisations to help them develop effective talent management strategies. Madeline Laurano of Bersin & Associates highlights seven elements that may help executives to better establish their human capital needs:

  1. Support from senior management
  2. Creating “centers of excellence”
  3. Ensuring workforce planning, succession planning and internal mobility are in sync
  4. Identifying and forecasting talent gaps
  5. Ensuring HR departments are involved from the very beginning
  6. Continuous review of workforce planning
  7. Investing in the latest technology

The ultimate goal for companies now is to be lean in every way possible. Correct alignment of business needs with talent requirements will allow companies to get the right people for the right roles in the right markets.

Doing Business in Emerging Markets – What next after In Amenas?

North Africa

Last week’s terrorist attack at the BP/StatOil run gas facility in In Amenas in Algeria has prompted many observers to question the viability of foreign companies operating in unstable territories. Traditionally, North Africa has been a relatively stable place for oil and gas operators to do business in, but it appears that the fall out from the downfall of Gaddafi has opened up the floodgates  for a new existential terror threat in North Africa. Tackling extremism in North Africa is one issue but from a business perspective, the debate between high risks versus high reward will be a tough and uncomfortable one for companies. Here are some immediate issues that may need to be addressed:

  • What is the corporate business strategy: continue operating, scale back or exit?
  • Will North Africa become a no go area for expat workers?
  • Will more companies upscale their security arrangements to private defence contractors?
  • Will companies offer their staff increased ‘hardship’ allowances and significantly enhanced accidental death benefits?
  • Will companies who are operating in North African, shift their (back office) operations to ‘safe haven’ countries such as Saudi Arabia, UAE and Qatar which was a trend that was quite evident in the aftermath of the Arab Spring

Ultimately the decision by companies to operate in unstable territories will come down to weighing up pros and cons of critical risk and reward aspects. I believe there is still a future for companies to continue to operate in North Africa. Indeed, the recent events of last week have not deterred Alstom to do business in the region having just recently signed a contract in Libya.  How terrorist threats are dealt with will be a challenge facing world leaders but for CEO’s the urgent issues of employee safety and emergency planning need to be top of the agenda.

Photo credit:  tome213