What can the Lionesses teach Employers?

HR, Management & Growth, News,

The recent historic win by the Lionesses in the final of the Euros recently made them the first English Football team to win a major trophy since 1966. It was a dramatic match with the win coming in extra time (and against Germany!), but there are valuable lessons to be drawn from the victory too.

Sarina Wiegman has only been in place as the teams’ manager for ten months, yet she’s transformed not only their performances, but also the future of women’s football in the UK. Her track record of winning the European Championships in 2017 and the 2019 World Cup Final with the Netherlands is impressive, so let’s look at how she’s made such a difference in such a short period of time.

Clarity of Purpose

Sarina was evidently very clear with every member of the team before the competition started. She told them what their role was going to be. This clarity meant that there was no doubt in the players’ minds. They all knew the part they needed to play in good time to prepare themselves, with no last minute shocks or adjustments.

Transparent management made the team feel valued, resulting in more engagement, motivation and focus on the shared goal.

Staged Progress

Wiegman forbade the playing of the ‘Three Lions’ football anthem, amongst other things. She created a controlled environment that focussed on the task in hand, encouraging a step by step approach to the competition by looking at each match before the next, rather than looking too far ahead. Thinking about the final and the reaction that may follow was always likely to be too much for the team to handle.

Clearly identified and communicated targets each month or period can replicate this. All team members should know what those goals are, so they can focus on each in turn, without becoming overwhelmed by the end goal. For example, a monthly increase in sales, that can be broken down to ‘an extra two appointments a week’ is far less daunting than an annual target of an extra £50,000 in sales by the end of the year.

Focus Forward

Sarina’s style is to learn from mistakes, make changes to ensure they are minimised in the future and to encourage her team to move beyond them. Taking this into a business can be transformative as a team can work together to back each other up and increase quality, whether in their service or communication. Identifying training needs, process improvements, quality control methods or internal checks and balances can all help reduce mistakes, and if your team are involved they have real ownership of those improvements.

Believe in your Team

Several members of the team have commented in the media about how valued they were made to feel. Employers can create increased commitment, loyalty and engagement in their teams if they can install that same feeling. The key is to make that a consistent and inclusive culture, both formally and informally, where ideas and opinions are encouraged and given appropriate consideration.

Keep calm and carry on…

Keeping emotions in check, whether they are positive or negative, can instil a similar calm in your team, and Sarina seems to have that ability. Staying focussed on the next step to drive processes and performances forward is key.

It’s great to celebrate the successes along the way of course, and learn from any issues that may arise, but ultimately a calm hand to steer the business can be a great way to encourage focussed progress.

Mind the gap…

We often focus our training efforts on technical skills gaps that we notice in our teams, but training everyone in softer skills such as communication can make a difference throughout a business.

Everyone will benefit from improved communication skills, especially if they are involved in providing feedback or process improvement, and these are the things that should run throughout any team. Working collaboratively can promote loyalty, improve retention and enhance the feelings of value that we mentioned above.

If these lessons sound like some that could benefit your business, but make you wonder where to start, speak to your HR advisor. A good one will be able to help you improve the culture in your business, and the associated cost will be saved in recruitment fees, and the time it takes to train and induct new people. A happier team can be priceless!

If you need an introduction to a pragmatic and supportive HR advisor, do let us know!

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