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Today I’d like to look at something that frequently comes up in meetings with my clients. It’s an area which could be vital to the success of your business – and that’s ‘how to build a great team’.

For this article, I’m going to use a football analogy – or a soccer one – for our American friends. I want to talk about how sports clubs today look after their athletes and more importantly, why they decide to select, who stays and who goes periodically. Football is all about the players; it’s about the quality of the player and how they perform on the day. To stay part of their team, that player has got to be on their game; it’s a highly pressurised work environment.

We all know that a great deal of money changes hands when buying and selling a football player. But how do the clubs know for sure, if that player will be a good fit for their team? The simple answer is that they don’t. So often, a highly sought-after player is brought into a group, for the club to discover then that for whatever reason, they don’t quite fit. Just because they were fantastic at one club, doesn’t mean that they’re going to be outstanding at every club. Team dynamics can vary drastically, and ultimately, they can influence every player’s game. When this happens, the club then faces a difficult choice: do they keep the player or take a financial hit and let them go?

Should they stay, or should they go?

This often happens in business too. You’ve just employed this great new person; somebody who was a star performer in their former company. They were a candidate with a bulletproof CV, and you think to yourself, smugly: ‘I’ve just bagged the employee of my dreams.’ For some reason, however, it just doesn’t work out. Maybe they can’t perform to your standards? Perhaps they can’t integrate with your team?

So, what do you do now? You’ve got this person on board, and it isn’t working out. Do you just let them stay? After all, you employed them. Or do you bite the bullet and send them packing? The frustrating thing is that unlike in football clubs, most business owners don’t even consider their options. At the end of the football season in the UK, clubs release what they call their ‘Retain Lists’; this is a list of players, which the clubs have decided they’d like to keep through to next season. Before this list is even compiled, a club’s management team will sit down with the unenviable task of deciding who they are willing to let go. Sometimes, because team sizes in football are limited, this might even mean losing one of their big stars.

Football clubs understand, however, that if they wish to go out and find new talent, they have to create some space. What would happen to your company if you had to do this?

Who would be on your Retain Squad?

Wouldn’t that be a fantastic exercise for your business? Interestingly, there are companies out there that already follow this method; G Electric, for example, has been known to release the bottom 10% of their performers on several occasions. Who is your bottom-performing 10%? If you had to compile a retain list for your business right now, how many people would you choose to let go? Could you let them go? If not, what is it that’s stopping you?

Compiling a list like this would be a worthwhile exercise to help further the growth of your business. Keep in mind whilst you’re writing it, that if you were to choose to get rid of your company’s worst performers, you’d be freeing up funds to go out there and search for new talent. Now, your low performers may not be bad people. The players that are let go from football clubs are not all bad people – they just can’t play at the required level, which allows the football club to win trophies. Are your poor performers preventing your company from reaching great heights? If so, what is it that’s holding you back? What needs to happen for you to be able to let your poor performers go?

Ultimately, it boils down to this: if you got rid of those players that are not serving you well and employed people who could help you get to where you need to be – how much quicker would you grow? How much further forward would you already be?

Just imagine it.

If any of this resonates with you, please get in touch.

Always remember – failing to learn, is learning to fail.

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