+Scott Watson

Friday, 15 May 2009

Showing Two Fingers To Bad Behaviour - Football's Shameful Leaders

Many companies have a clause in their employment contracts which states something along the lines of 'the employee agrees to behave themselves, not be stupid, silly or get into trouble with the police - basically...BEHAVE YOURSELF'. Is it fair for a company to impose such a stipulation on its employees when they are outside of the workplace and outside their working hours? There is after all this growing awareness of human rights - we should be free to do as we please when away from work. Well, such a general statement could cause chaos in a world where social ills such as violence, illegal drug use and booze culture are growing fast.

But what about when a professional sportsperson/footballer (or two of them in this case) choose to break the rules set by their national team manager by allegedly going on a heavy drinking session when they should have been tucked up in bed in preparation for representing their county 24 hours later? Some people may challenge 'Well, as long as they perform on the pitch, why is it a problem?' while others may claim 'They get paid enough to behave themselves, how stupid can they be?'.

But while national team manager George Burley and Walter Smith, Rangers' Manager thought they had effectively resolved the matter of 'drinking on duty', what made matters worse, much worse in fact was the two players' two finger hand gestures to the television cameras during the Scotland v Iceland match when they were both on the bench and not selected to play due to their manager suspending them.

Whichever way we look at the situation that Barry Ferguson and Allan MacGregor currently find themselves in, the facts of the matter are:

  1. The Scottish Football Association has decided that both players cannot represent their country again.
  2. Both players have been suspended by their club for 2 weeks and have been fined 2 weeks' wages. Perhaps this isn't a big deal in itself as Ferguson reportedly earns £25,000 per week and MacGregor £15,000.
  3. Barry Ferguson has been stripped of his club captaincy role and both players transfer listed by Rangers. They are unlikely to play for their club again, even though the Scottish league championship is rather tight this year and Rangers would benefit from having their best players available.

So what does this mean in a corporate sense?

How do you tackle those team members who choose to flout the rules and standards that your organisation set and you are paid to implement? Do you turn a blind eye if the rules are being broken by a high performing team member because you can't afford to upset them in case their performance drops?

How about, if as in Rangers case, you have a good chance of 'winning the championship' and you feel you can't afford to take your best player/s out of the team? Either way, whether they remain in the team or are suspended/fired, what messages do you send to other team members who behave impeccably well on a consistent basis?

If a member of your team behaves in such a manner that s/he is ultimately removed from your organisation, would you still provide a job reference saying they were a model employee/committed/dedicated, not mentioning the reason they left your organisation - even if the prospective employer asked you?

How many times do you give a team member 'another chance' to behave within the boundaries set by your organisation? When is enough, really enough?

What situations have you faced, or are facing where someone's behaviour is being tolerated even though it is destructive?

When have you procrastinated on taking action on a poor performer and it has got worse?

Have you had a time when you procrastinated on taking action on a performance/behaviour issue and the matter seemed to resolve itself?

Why do some people choose to let their ego get in the way of doing what they are paid (and hopefully, trusted) to do?

There is a big difference between 'making an example' of someone and leading by example. In my view, Walter Smith has set a standard which as well has having potential serious repercussions for both players future career prospects, sends a clear message to his current and future players - behave, or else. Perhaps Mr Smith is leading by example as football is supposed to be a family game and he may not want to promote the possibility of young, impressionable children accepting the behaviour of their role model/s as the norm.



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