HR lessons from the World Cup

Well, it’s all over for another four years and the World Cup lived up to Gary Lineker’s famous quote: “Football is a simple game; 22 men chase a ball for 90 minutes and at the end, the Germans always win.”

Okay, it might not have been over in 90 minutes but you get the point.

So if the ultimate truth of the game has remained the same, has there been anything the world of HR can take from the greatest show on earth?

1: Don’t be too reliant on one star player

If yesterday’s final proved one thing it’s that a well-organised team will perform better than a group that relies on one high-performer.

Lionel Messi might have been the most celebrated player on the pitch last night but even his brilliance couldn’t get the better of the smoothly oiled German machine – where every player knew his role and that of his team mates.

2: Adapt technology to fit a specific function

England fans have had little to cheer them up these last few weeks. But the new piece of kit on the referees’ utility belt hasn't failed to bring a few smiles to people's faces. Who’d have thought giving the man in black (or whatever) a can of shaving foam would have been so useful? Using the foam to force the defensive wall to stay ten yard back from the free kick-taker has been a master stroke and a great adaptation of existing technology. And everyone loves seeing a prima donna get upset when it gets on his boots.

3: Trying hard will only get you so far

Heroic failures from teams such as USA, Costa Rica and Iran proved that although everyone loves an underdog the only thing trying your best will win you is friends if you don’t have the talent on board to get results.

4: Embrace new technology

Frank Lampard might still be having nightmares about the-goal-that-never-was against Germany four years ago but no one else will have to suffer sleepless nights – thanks to goal line technology finally being introduced.

Football’s governing body, FIFA, might have dragged their heels when it came to bringing in the gizmo but now we definitively know whether that ball has crossed the line or not. And the sight of the Honduras manager trying to look furious about one of France’s goals but knowing the game was up was brilliant.

With technology making rapid advances in all areas of HR from L&D to resourcing perhaps this is a sign that HR should not shy away from new innovations.

5: Succession planning pays off

It’s well known that Germany felt greatly disappointed with their performance in the 2002 World Cup – they only finished second (a result that would probably lead to a Bank Holiday if England achieved it).

To stop them so tragically underperforming in the future the German Football Association invested heavily in the future with new academies and a manager with a long-term plan.

So there you have it. As legendary Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson said after winning the Champions League in 1999: “Football, eh? Bloody hell.”

Image courtesy of Flickr user ThePastTendsToDisappear

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