At a recent HR event we got talking with Sir Cary Cooper about work, about millennials, and about football. He’s a passionate Manchester City fan, and had just seen his team progress in the Champions League, but he was also keen to talk to us about Leicester City’s remarkable season (which has kept on being remarkable).
The comparison in question was between Leicester City’s wunderkind, Riyad Mahrez and Manchester City’s junior superstar Raheem Sterling. Whilst Stirling had reportedly cost Manchester City £49 million, Mahrez had gone to Leicester for a little under half a million. You could buy 120 Riyad Mahrez’s (if such a commodity existed) for the price of one Raheem Sterling, yet at that point in the season, it was Mahrez that was tearing through defences, showing off some silky footwork and delivering as many assists as goals, whilst Sterling didn’t always make it into the Manchester City team and struggled to make an impact when he did.
What was so different, not just in the two players, but in the management styles and team cultures that seemed to stifle Sterling whilst Mahrez thrived?
One clear difference seemed to be expectation.
Both teams had different levels of expectation at the start of the season, Leicester to survive in the Premier League, Manchester to win it, and maybe the Champions League too. Both players featured differently in those expectations, Sterling was seen as key to those wins, Mahrez as a nice to have, who had had a good little run at the end of the previous year.
As one of the most expensive players ever, fans, commentators and owners expected a lot from Sterling, perhaps far too much from someone so young. Liverpool fans had been outraged when Sterling left, and shared that anger with him. When Mahrez left Le Havre in France, fans shrugged. Whilst they’d loved seeing the Algerian’s silky skills, mesmerising stepovers, nutmegs and Rabonas, they had grown frustrated with his showboating, failure to track back and inability to take throw-ins legally.
Raheem Sterling was expected to perform at a super human level, an expectation he could never live up to, whereas the pressure on Mahrez was low.
Mahrez could try things out and make mistakes, the manager ensured other players were deployed to cover the gaps he left. Sterling had the expectation of his signing fee and wages weighing him down.
So what can that tell us about managing young talent? In this example, as with many more mundane workplaces, young talent can transform a team, but only when the weight of expectation isn’t so high. Reduce the pressure and talent can flourish. It’s tempting to offer brilliant young people huge salaries and signing bonuses, but the stress of living up to that can be overwhelming, agreeing a path to success that manages expectations on both sides with a clear route to financial success can be more effective.
Oh, and don’t forget to let your talent have fun and express themselves at work, no matter what age they are.
- Try not to be directive
- Avoid asking, “How do you feel it went?” Instead ask, “What do you feel went well?”
- Use open questions to encourage the individual to think through their actions and draw out their own solutions
- Listen to understand
- Use a mix of questioning techniques e.g. open, closed, probing, hypothetical, clarifying, reflective etc.
- Confront and challenge when appropriate, using specific, recorded examples
- Suspend your judgement and use objection handling skills as appropriate
- Create additional coaching opportunities by demonstrating the skill and giving the individual the opportunity to practice
- Use summaries
- Seek agreement to key development areas
- Elicit/highlight the benefit of change
- Elicit/suggest options to bring about change
- Set agenda for next steps to include follow-up/review
Here are some example feedback clouds from Structured Training’s recent management courses …
The relationship between the coach and the coachee is extremely important and can affect learning in a constructive or destructive way. There needs to be rapport, trust and agreement as the foundation to the relationship.
As you identify the individual learning needs, it is also an important time to get to know them. Notice how quickly they speak and whether they describe things in much detail. This will give you important information. For example, if you are working with someone who speaks very quickly and hates detail, they are unlikely to appreciate lengthy, slow, detailed explanations of how things work. Building a relationship with this person may mean matching, or moving closer in your style towards their natural style.
In developing people they are likely to be trying out new things and won’t always get it right first time. You will need to encourage them without patronising them and direct them without doing it for them. This is the challenge of coaching.
Before you start coaching, ensure that the following have been agreed:
- You both have clear and agreed objectives
- To be in a coaching relationship with each other
- You are competent to coach in this area and they have confidence in you.
If any of these criteria are not possible to meet, see if there is another way of approaching the situation or indeed a more appropriate coach available in the team.
Sometimes you just need to be brave, and do that thing that needs to be done. Whether it’s a salesperson knuckling down to call new prospect, or to let a customer know their delivery won’t happen as promised, or a manger mustering courage to have a tough conversation with an employee about their performance the workplace needs us to be brave.
If you need to ask for a raise, talk to a colleague about their time keeping, pitch a new idea or hand in your notice to embark on a new career, draw on the brave spirit of this little person…
We’ve come a long way baby …
Life was also pretty scary back then.
Question : Why Did You Fail To Win The Business?
Low Ownership Answers
High Ownership Answers
|They preferred the other product/service.||I did not gain effective entry into the sales process, nor meet enough of the key players.|
|We appear to have lost it on price – we’re too
|I did not really sell the solution and the real savings/benefits open to the client.|
|They are postponing the decision for a while.||I failed to identify and understand their REAL needs and wants.|
|We could not meet their specification and/or delivery requirements.||My demonstration was badly prepared and poorly executed.|
|They did not really know what it was they wanted.||My proposal and offer was not really convincing enough and lacked a real cost benefit analysis.|
|They wanted more discount than I could give them.||My follow-up was not dynamic enough lacking confidence – perhaps through lack of knowledge.|
|They feel a change in supplier to be too great a risk.||I simply failed to make them want it enough.|
One of our nerdier clients sent us this handy flowchart to help us understand whether we should get into VR:
We think the chart originated with this guy.
One of the easiest ways to spot that someone is lying, or covering something up, is that they cover their mouths when they talk, or don’t talk.
Send a small child on a shopping trip to buy something nice for Mother’s Day and then, when they come back, get the Mother in question to ask what they bought. Amidst lots of giggling you’ll likely see hands in front of their mouth as they try to stop the words spilling out.
As people grow older they get wise to this easy give away, but it’s a hard habit to unlearn. The more aware adult quickly moves their hand from their mouth to a more subtle nose touch. It’s no accident that Pinocchio had a growing nose when he lied, noses are connected to lying.
Take a look at the image illustrating this article, do you think the picture editor is trying to tell you something?
Here’s Helen Mirren’s SuperBowl Budweiser advert. It seems that American’s enjoy listening to English people be rude. Let’s hope it works.