Why Changing Soccer Managers Never Works Out as Expected.

Why Changing Soccer Managers Never Works Out as Expected.

Why Changing Soccer Managers Never Works Out as Expected.
Why Changing Soccer Managers Never Works Out as Expected.

When a new chimp is introduced to a new chimpanzee troupe in the jungle, there is conflict because before the introduction, all the chimps knew their position on the troupe hierarchy. With the new arrival, there is momentary chaos until the new chimp finds its place on the totem pole.

It’s the same in sports or corporate teams. In Corporate the phenomenon is known better as “Forming, Storming, Norming, Performing”:

  • Forming – The project team gets put together
  • Storming – There is suspicion, jealousies, prejudices as the team attempts to work together. Like monkeys, there are clashes as team members try to discover their place in the team 
  • Norming – The project team starts to find a balance as (subconsciously or otherwise) strengths are discovered, alliances brokered, and truces agreed
  • Performing – The ultimate goal – The team coalesces as a unit and becomes more powerful than the sum of its parts
When a team in the English Premiership is performing poorly, there are 2 choices:

1-Find another manager from outside the organization 
2-Fire the manager, and promote the Assistant Manager to be the new manager

Both strategies are unlikely to give any meaningful results in the short term, which is the time horizon the manager is expected to deliver. Here are the reasons why:

Finding a new Manager – Usually the Board will look for a manager that was already successful with another team, so assume they will be equally successful with the new team team. But the manager was successful within an organization that he built, and was suitable for his temperament. Unless the new team has the same team dynamic, then he would have to build his own team, and that will take time, perhaps 2+ years. But the Board are not going to wait for two years, so will replace him before he gets a chance to be successful with his own organization.

Promoting the Assistant to be the Manager – Usually the Manager and Assistant are in lock-step with the strategy for the team, so if the Assistant is put in charge, not much would change – If he had bright ideas on how to transform the team, he would already have partnered with the Manager to try those ideas.

But we continue to see Owners and Boards replace a Manager when he is (unsurprisingly) unsuccessful in turning around the fortunes of an underperforming team in 3-4 months.

So what might be done? Either give the new manager time to build an organization and culture that will give dividends over the long term (unlikely), or get lucky with the new manager – the chances here are very low, but is the current strategy of Premiership clubs. Out of the 20 Premiership clubs, 8 are 2017 appointments; in the English Championship, 10 are 2017 appointments. In the Scottish Premiership, out of 12 clubs, 6 managers are new in 2017.

How about before replacing a manager, give him some assistance from a “Soccer Whisperer” – new ideas, new strategies, or just help implement the ideas that are already percolating, but haven’t been introduced. This could even be a person who isn’t a soccer manager, but understands how to structure a transformation and facilitate success. I hope this becomes a reality, because people like me who specialize in Transformation would like a crack at it; it must be as worth trying as the current approach – but I won’t hold my breath.

The Author : Stuart Hamilton

About :

To structure the delivery of complex, large-scale transformational projects while managing and coaching multidisciplinary and matrixed teams. Day 1 assistance to develop strategy, roadmap, and execution plan, then execute and manage the implementation.

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