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What Your Business Can Learn From Talent Management In Sport

With only a few games left in the football league season, thoughts of supporters begin turning to the summer transfer window, during which hundreds of millions of pounds will be spent, as players are traded, based on the talent they have and the demand for their specific skills. However, look past the eye watering sums of money and there is a lot that businesses can learn from how sports teams approach the management of talent.

When Real Madrid broke the transfer record and spent in the region of £80 million to secure the services of Gareth Bale in September 2013 they did so because they needed his skills and talent in a specific position. Yes, he is the most expensive footballer in the world, but he still must train hard every day to nurture that talent, and he is coached and managed to ensure his performance is benefiting the whole team in the right way.

Whether it is sport or business (regardless as to whether you are a service or product focused organisation, an SME or a large enterprise) if you don’t optimise your talent you will lose your competitive edge, or will never achieve your aspirations. Crucially, to succeed it isn’t about embarking on a one off project, but implementing an ongoing process that becomes part of the fabric of the business. Scouts, coaches and managers never stop thinking about the talent they have, what they need, how they can get it and how they can get the best from it, and neither should you. Gareth Bale’s talent was found and nurtured by Southampton Football Club, a team that has invested and as a result made millions of pounds from developing, benefiting from and selling talent.

Take your eye off the ball when it comes to talent (to keep with the theme!) and it may not impact your business immediately but you can be sure it will in time. Similarly, keep focused and you will reap the rich rewards.

So, with this in mind here are the key questions that I would ask you to begin thinking about today… 

  • What talent do we have?
  • Are we using our talent in the right way?  Do we have the right players in the right positions? Gareth Bale was a defender during his time at Southampton but spotting his ability to play in the midfield transformed the fortunes of Tottenham, and also that of the player.
  • Is enough being done to engage and retain our top talent? If not you can be sure your competitors will be looking at ways to poach them.
  • What talent will we need and where are the talent gaps? Do we need to look externally, can we train and develop internally and mobilise across the business?
  • What talent will we need in the future and how should we plan for it?
  • How do we connect, engage and build the best talent for our business?

If you want a loyal, dedicated and driven team then you need to create and maintain the right environment. Ensure individuals feel valued, confident and rewarded, but also challenge them to fully utilise their talents to the best of their ability. By giving them the opportunity to grow, improve and achieve and so too will your organisation. 

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