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Lessons In Management From Southgate

16th Jul 2018
Business, Employee Engagement, Human Resources, Leadership, Training

One of our clients recently invited us to a celebration for an employee who’d been with them 20 years.

Perhaps not a long time, when compared with the 35-plus years for which some staff used to pick up watches and clocks and tie-pins in generations gone by, but today, without a shadow of a doubt, two decades is a long time to stay on the same ‘team’.

It doesn’t take the expert eye of an HR professional to tell you what you already know about the fact that today’s employee is generally more ‘promiscuous’, in that they’re more likely to scour the job market for new vacancies and keep an eye on alternative opportunities.

But what my colleagues and I know only too well, is that you can still recruit and retain exceptional candidates – for the long term – if your leadership style and united spirit is consistently getting attention.

Disappointed as you will be to have me remind you of ‘that’ football game again, it does warrant some close inspection if we want to look at that subject of leading and celebrating the concept of ‘team’.

We can all, I’m sure, agree that Gareth Southgate did a fabulous job of creating a very united squad, all poised for the challenge, and able to keep focused at various stages of the tournament.

Three particular features spring to mind for us at MAD-HR.

Each one of these are pointers which I would urge any business owner or HR-responsible practitioner to consider within their organisation:


Developing a team and achieving collective success is not something which just ‘happens’. Countless hours will have gone into Southgate’s planning around who has what strengths, how player X relates better to player Y, or how player C has an exceptional strength which needs a different management style.

That preparation and forward-thinking is critical when sending any business team out into the field too.

It gives your staff more chance of success, and ultimately leads to better results for your business and a better sense of reward and validation for the individual.


I read a lot over the World Cup period about people saying how surprised they were to see Southgate become a manager at this level.

Many cited the fact that they felt he was ‘too nice’, and that perhaps he wasn’t enough of a killer instinct to manage such a high-level team.

How wrong that judgment was.

In business, as well as in sport, there’s no need to assume that a manager must be a bully and that they must sacrifice friendship and the ability to ‘see the lighter side’.

Yes, it’s a fine line, but most people gain respect from their manager when the person is fair and able to be ‘human’, more so than a mere dictator.


Whether it’s allowing players to enjoy time playing in a swimming pool, or having periods where they can kick-back and applaud one another, Southgate has clearly managed to find ways to allow his team to be celebrated and rewarded.

As ironic as it might sound, very often, businesses lose sight of the need to celebrate even the small successes along the way.

Whether it’s toasting the long-service of an employee, or having a moment to congratulate one another on a new contract win for the firm, it’s critical to ‘come together’ for celebrations and successes.

If you have concerns about retention and performance management within your business, and want to talk to us confidentially about how HR consultancy might help, please get in touch by emailing  or calling us direct on 01473 360160.

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