What Can The World Cup Teach Us About Business?
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What Can The World Cup Teach Us About Business?

13th June 2014
By Jacqui Beel

So football fever has now hit the world, with Brazil taking on Croatia in the first match of the tournament last night. With the time zone difference there’s lots of negative press around how employees will be coming up with a variety of aliments and issues to keep them at home so they can watch the late night games! But what about the positives, what can the beautiful game teach us in business, other than creative ways to get out of the office.

The World Cup and many team sports in general teach us the importance of building a quality team. Every year there are new challenges (new teams you need to beat, with new star players) and the same is in business. The business landscape, no matter what industry you work in, is constantly evolving and so having the best team in place to deal with these changes is vital.

Players on the pitch have to adapt quickly and often switch up play to react to the competition; they need to deal with referees, fans and other aspects that mean that communication is vital between players. So what lessons can businesses and employees learn from the World Cup?

Roy Hodgson is tasked with getting England to the finals and in Management Today he shared his management style tips.

England and all teams around the world have been in the making for four years, with specialist coaches weighing up the strengths and weaknesses of the overall chosen squad. Chemistry is key, as well as skill. There needs to be the right balance of respect, understanding as well as a little bit of flair and risk taking. Getting the players down to just 23 is no mean feat, the same as when building a team in an organisation – picking the right candidates is key to success.

So what can Hodgson’s management style teach us?

1.    The fear factor doesn’t work

It is unquestionable that Hodgson’s management style is different to that of his predecessors. We couldn’t agree more that fear mongering doesn’t work if you want success out of a team. Filling employees with fear is only likely to drive them to make more mistakes in the long run. Management Today said: “It’s worth remembering professionals, whatever their talent, will only perform to the best of their abilities if they feel confident and comfortable enough to do so.”

2.    Build trust

Trust is a huge factor in any team, trust between peers that you can rely on them to do their parts of the job as well as management to the team – you trust the team will deliver, and also team up to management – you trust your management have your best interests at heart. If there is trust in the team, the team will succeed.

3.    Communication is key

We all know that communication is vital for success, and so often when it breaks down things go wrong – not only on the pitch, but in business. Transparency is needed from all team mates and management. Communication is highly linked through all aspects of trust and chemistry – if you have these pieces in place, communication is likely to better follow.

4.    Team talk

It’s important that teams talk. Highly linked with communication in general, a team talk allows openness in front of the whole team, and like Hodgson has reportedly been doing, praising team members in front of the group builds confidence. If business managers hold regular team talks, employees can understand business objectives and goals much more easily. Giving them an insight into the positioning and tactics you plan to use will keep them engaged, develop their understanding, and give them something to work towards. Otherwise surely they’re just a team of people running around in circles?

5.    Listen to feedback

The worst thing a manager can do is ignore feedback from the team. You can’t respond to every single piece of feedback, but listening, taking the comments on board and making changes where needed can be the breaking point between a good and a bad team.

6.    Dealing with a bad outcome

England were dealt group D in the current World Cup, meaning England certainly won’t have an easy ride, but sometimes you just have to work with what you’ve got. Bending and adapting to situations that you come across every day in business is what keeps your job interesting and that’s when team work is at its best – working with the squad to come out winning on the other side.

7.    Let’s celebrate

We’ll keep our fingers crossed for that England win, but Hodgson says it well when he says it’s important for you to reward your line-up and do something that ignites team bonding. We have several team away days during the year as a company and individual groups, bonding the team so that they work better together and instilling loyalty.

 8.    Don’t forget – dream BIG

OK so we have to be realistic about our goals and targets, but don’t forget to dream big. England may not win this World Cup, but where would be if we didn’t dream that it one day might happen. After all, Andy Murray did finally win Wimbledon for the first time last year. Who knows what this 2014 World Cup may bring.