Talent Management: In Business as in Football

Even if you don’t watch football you’ll probably be aware that January is a transfer window i.e. a month for football clubs to buy or loan players to fill in gaps and booster their squads. It’s also a time when they transfer out or loan out players that they believe are redundant to the requirements. The aim is that by the end of the transfer window they will have been able to enhance or sharpen their team to sustain their position or enable them to improve their game and move up to a higher level.

Managers talk about bringing in talent i.e. players such as strikers or defenders with skills currently missing from within their squad. Even though I love the game, I’m not an expert on football, however, as an HR Talent Management Specialist with years of experience I do understand the importance of having people with the right talent or put in much simpler terms – the right skills and capabilities on a team. It’s not just as simply as having people with the right skills though. If it were, football clubs wouldn’t need to be managed; it would be a simple matter of buying the most talented players and putting a group of them on a football field to play. The real results come when the players are effectively motivated, managed and used appropriately.

This involves recognising a player’s skills and playing them in the position that they are used to or having the capability to understand where a player can effectively, developing and utilising his skills even if it’s nor his regular position.

Having a formation, which enables the players to play effectively as a team. A formation should not just reflect what a manager is used to or what he likes, but there is a need for a manager to be flexible in determining the formation for his team, taking account of the team that he has available to him, who he is playing against and how best to utilise his resources.

As a consequence when football teams loose a football match and the manager comes out after a match and explains that it is due to a missing key player or injuries within the squad, I don’t totally buy the argument. I believe they haven’t made the most of what they have.

I believe or I could actually say that I know this because, this is fundamentally what Talent Management within organisations is all about:

    • having the right people in teams or the organisation as a whole i.e. talent;
    • putting them in the right position to match their skills and competencies – playing them in position;
    • having the right organisation structure to meet business objectives and needs – formation;
    • managing and communicating with them effectively in order to keep them motivated, confident and engaged – no translation required.

Susan Popoola runs Conning Towers Ltd, an HR organisation focused on Talent Management and HR Transformation and Engaged For Success a Social Enterprise. She is also the published author of Touching The Heart of Milton Keynes: A Social Perspective and Consequences: Diverse to Mosaic Britain. She is also Winner Women4Africa Author of the Year 2013.