Sunday, 27 March 2011

How to be a really bad manager (from the Fabio Capello school of bad management)

As a football fan, I would normally look forward to an International match, but such is my disillusionment with the English squad, and the way they are managed, that yesterday I voted with the remote control and watched the English cricket team instead, even though they were losing their world cup quarter final match in India.

In a nutshell, Fabio Capello’s management of the England football team has led to one (and many more I suspect) disgruntled customer. Not good management skills. Whether you are managing a sports team, a multinational business, a group of sales people or clinicians, the application of good leadership principles are vital to success.

Here is a summary of the very worst things you can do as a manager, all of which, in my opinion, have been demonstrated by the English football team’s boss.

Don’t speak the language of the people you are managing: pretty basic you would think, but after three years in post, Capello still sounds like a bit part player from ‘Allo ‘Allo.

Don't keep the lines of communication open with your staff: Another good reason to speak the language. And maybe Rio Ferdinand, who Capello recently replaced as team captain, would have appreciated a discussion with his boss on the subject. At last year’s world cup, not telling the team members if they were selected until the day of the match wasn’t very clever either.

Talk about your staff to their peers or customers without advising them first: Capello’s treatment of David Beckham was unforgiveable. Saying that Beckham was ‘too old’ to play for England again, without advising Becks of this judgement was at best bad manners, at worst, very bad tactics which alienated literally millions of fans.

Don’t stick to your decisions or have courage in your convictions:
Feb 2010: John Terry sacked as captain and Capello confirms that while he is manager, Terry will never be captain again.
March 2011: Capello appoints Terry as ‘permanent manager’
May 2010: Wives and girlfriends (wags) to be banned from the team hotel in South Africa for the World Cup
Jun 2010: Ban is relaxed as Capello sees that the players are unhappy.

You could argue that this is ‘adapting to circumstances’ rather than ‘changing your mind’ Of course a good manager will change their mind and give valid explanations why. But if they have any sense, they won’t suggest that their original idea is set in stone, leading to credibility gaps.

Don’t show appreciation for a job well done or appear to care about individual successes: When the England players celebrated the goal that meant they qualified for the World cup finals, the manager stood, motionless and emotionless, with his arms crossed. Very demotivating and what a strange message to send to the millions of fans who were already doubting his commitment.

Don’t understand the culture of your marketplace: he may be a respected league manager but clearly still doesn’t get the difference when you run a team for a country. In Italy, hints and innuendo may be an accepted form of communication, but in the UK, we expect management speak to be clear and unambiguous. When not in Rome….

Stay in post, even when you appear to be doing a poor job, especially from the customer’s viewpoint: What a pity the FA renewed his contract just before the World Cup. I guess at £4.8million a year, Capello won’t be planning on going anywhere else...


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