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HR Forum: HR lessons from the beautiful game


Chris Brady, BPP Business School, was an inspirational speaker at HRL11 at Savoy place . Posted below is an article by Cath Everett, Editor of HRZone.co.uk, who attended The Human Resources Forum on Tuesday 1st November.

The Beautiful Game has important lessons to offer team-based, talent-dependent industries, believes Professor Chris Brady, former dean of the
BPP Business School, who is now helping his son to run Southend United.

“People say that business is more complex than football. But rather than saying that ‘business is complex and football is simple’, it’s useful to turn it on its head and say ‘we’re really complex so what can we do to simplify things?’”, he said in his keynote speech at the Human Resources Forum in London this week.

Moreover, in future terms, football could provide an indication of what new ways of working might look like. For example, players are able to pick where they want to go and can move into more or less any position on the pitch. 

But the same will also be true of the worker of the future – as people become increasingly flexible in their working arrangements, they will likewise progressively pick and choose which employers to work for based on which appear the most attractive.

To ensure that players understand the commercial realities facing themselves, their manager and the club they play for, meanwhile, Brady indicated that the focus should be on communicating 10 key points:

1. Brand: What is the essence of our business and what does it mean to be part of our organisation? What won’t we compromise on and what is the company story - so how did we get here, what do we believe in and what do we consider to be acceptable or not?

2. Organisational goals: What are we trying to achieve and why? Chief executives should also ask themselves what is their job? Is it, for example, about boosting shareholder value or creating and protecting the brand?

3. Strategy: How should we pursue and implement it? While defining strategy should take about 10 minutes, implementing it will take much longer - between 18 months and two years, in fact, believes Brady.

He offered an anecdote to make the point: “Seven or eight years ago, the head of BAE Systems asked his directors ‘how do we grow? The US spends the most in the world on defence so how do we grow? We go there – do we all agree? Right, now do it”.

4. Don’t just do things because they have always been done that way: Turn established ideas on their head and think of things in alternative ways. For example, rather than ask ‘why would I want to create an open plan office?’, think about ‘why wouldn’t I want it to be open plan?’

5. Individual roles within a team: Everyone should have a clear idea of their role and where they fit into the organisation.

6. Generalist skills: Colleagues should have some idea of other people’s roles so that, if someone is off sick or requires support, everyone know what to do and can help at least at a basic level even if they are not expert.

7. Team goals: What constitutes good team performance? Ensuring the team continues to perform may mean disadvantaging one member for the greater good, for example, in a football context, substituting one player for another.

8. Individual performance: What constitutes good individual performance and are people held accountable for it? Considerations here include praising and rewarding good performance and challenging poor performance. It also involves looking at whether the people in your organisation are promoted on merit and seeing whether staff would agree with your conclusions.

9. Resources: Personnel have to be provided with the resources necessary to enable them to do the job demanded of them.

“Footballers will give any excuse for not doing a good job such as the pitch was terrible. So the back office has to be no-excuse environment,” Brady said. “It’s the job of the back office to take all the excuses away so you can say ‘you’re a crap salesman and we know you’re no good because all of the necessary tools were in place.”

10. Clarity and equity: Be absolutely clear and fair. People will put up with any kind of decisions, feedback or appraisal as long as they are fair and it is understood why certain decisions were taken.




Women On Top: Getting Women On Board(s)


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Nicola Bunting, Owner, La Vita Nova Executive and life coaching will be attending The Human Resource Forum at Savoy Place on the 1st November. She has conducted a study which looks into why such a low percentage of woman hold senior management roles:
 
Almost half of the UK workforce are women, but only 12% of FTSE 100 directorships are currently held by women, and women hold just 22% of senior management positions.

These are extraordinary statistics, especially considering how little this imbalance has been even spoken about until recently. And there are strong commercial reasons for redressing the balance. Mckinsey's study, "Women Matters" found that companies with most women in senior management roles outperform their sector on many levels...return on equity, operating results and stock price growth. On a more human level, including women in senior roles clearly adds to the rich multidimensional range of contribution, perspective, and growth.
 
What is holding women back from leadership positions? Here are a number of factors:
  • maternity and childcare-related issues
  • women choosing to step off the career ladder
  • the male breadwinner career model
  • the need to create a work pattern of career advancement that is more family-friendly, with less focus on time worked, and more attention to work/life balance and flexible working
  • women having less clarity about their career direction than men
  • women being less ambitious than men
  • women having less self-confidence than men and being more cautious about developing their career and taking on new opportunities and more challenges
How do men and women's different communication styles factor in? A new book by American academic John Lock, "Duels and Duets: Why Men and Women Talk So Differently," argues that men often have a more forceful, win/lose, confrontational communication style which can be perceived as more authoritative, serious, and business-like, whereas women tend more toward the collaborative and connective, which can make them appear less leader-like.
 
Perhaps we need to expand our images of leaders and extend our archetypes to make more space for alternative models?
 
Carol Gilligan's classic, "In a Different Voice," also looks at men and women's relational styles as essentially different. So when we look at patterns and dynamics in work interactions , for example, we need to see who speaks up, who is comfortable asking for a raise or promotion, who is openly celebrating their achievements, who gets important clients...all of these areas may have gender implications.
 
Another fascinating new book, "Honey Money: The Power of Erotic Capital" by Catherine Hakim, contributes a different perspective by arguing that women should actively use their social skills, beauty and sex appeal to their advantage to get ahead at work, rather than trying to disguise their femininity in order to be taken seriously. Personally speaking, I can see a distinction between embracing who you are as a woman and being comfortable expressing your femininity authentically as part of who you are and your leadership style, versus actively using the impact of your sexuality to manipulate. But this is probably a different article!
 
For now, though, I celebrate the newly formed 30 Percent Club, a UK movement set up by Sir Roger Carr and others, designed to make boards thirty Percent female, and I suggest we all look carefully at how we can empower women and empower ourselves as woman to reach the full range of our leadership potential and make a difference at work and in the world. Clearly, work / life balance culture, flexible working, and recruitment policies all need to be addressed.
 
Leadership development also has a crucial and powerful role to play. I suggest that coaching, mentoring, and training programmes to help women actualise their leadership potential and step up into higher levels of confidence and aspiration could well be the most targeted and effective route to creating more balanced and successful companies where senior management positions are held equally by men and women, and where the board edges steadily up to at least 30% female representation.
 
Companies invest hugely in talented women, and need to retain them and help them reach their full potential from a business standpoint. Women are often not prepared to sacrifice their personal lives for their work lives, even if they are ambitious, and for their careers to be kept on track, companies do need to think about helping them manage their careers, rewarding business performance rather than simply hours in the office. And of course men can benefit equally from more enlightened workplaces which allow and encourage employees to have careers and personal lives that inspire each other, rather than being in constant mutually draining competition.
 
It's not just about "diversity" for the sake of it...or quotas as a reflection of the need for diversity. It's about giving capable, bright, and ambitious women every opportunity to step up and shine as senior leaders within an organisation, for everyone's benefit.
 
Nicola Bunting will be joining us a supplier at The Human Resources Forum at Savoy Place on the 1st November.

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