+Scott Watson

Tuesday, 14 December 2010

The Premier League Chairman Approach to Performance Management

Yesterday, the new owners of Blackburn Rovers Football Club decided that Sam Allardyce, the manager who last season saved the club from certain relegation, and this season has steadied what some commentators would term 'a sinking ship' was no longer the manager for them.

Stories of disagreements between Allardyce and the owners regarding the availability of cash to fund transfer purchases were initially reported, however, the club's chairperson stated that the somewhat unexpected sacking was due to Allardyce not being the right person to take the club where the new owners want it to be. and, the place they want to be is in one of the top 4 spots in the Premier League - spots virtually guaranteed to the likes of Chelsea, Arsenal, Manchester United and erm...well, not Liverpool - for this season at least!

It's not always about the money

Manchester City's billionaire owners pumped several hundred million pounds into a transfer fund to maximise the possibility for them to be a top 6 club in the Premier League. Perhaps the eager investors and owners are quick to forget that former manager Sven Goren Erickson reached the dizzy heights of seventh in the Premier League before being sacked....because City wanted to be a 'top six' club! And Erickson spent very little on buying new players.
What are the lessons here for managers in your organisation?

  1. Just because you saved a team from failure in the past, doesn't automatically qualify you to lead a team to sustained success in the future.
  2. You (the manager) may not be the problem. Sometimes, it's the team (or several members of it) that need to play/work in a different role or, at worst, be moved on. Carrying dead weight doesn't help your team or organisation perform perform optimally.
  3. Manage 'poor' or 'inadequate' more effectively. OK, in the football arena, the owners can sack you on the spot, but you're likely to be paid off quite handsomely and not need to find alternative employment for a while. In business, it's very different. There's a process to be followed which is aimed at either improving performance or, getting rid of the manager whilst remaining within legal constraints so as to guard against an unfair dismissal hearing.
  4. When you inherit a team, find out specifics about performance history from the previous manager or, at the very least, performance appraisal records (but be careful, they can be very fluffy and inaccurate in detailing facts). Team building is key!
  5. Seek feedback from your boss. What are their most important goals? What are their top priorities in terms of results required? What reporting do they require from you? What are minimum performance standards? When you obtain this data, you have boundaries to work within and goals to work towards. There's no guessing.
Don't you find it a little strange that just last week, England football manager, Fabio Capello was tipping Allardyce as his potential successor in the most challenging job in English football...and just a few days later, Allardyce is looking for a new job?

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