SPORTING Directors should place an emphasis on developing their employees

Insights from Tony Faulkner cofounder of VSI’s PhD research into the role of the Sporting Director.

High performance is commonly the result of the right people in the right place at the right time. Consistent high performance places a strong emphasis on selecting, not demotivating talent and creating the environment for talented people to develop.

A Sporting Director is a people person.

Research consistently supports the fact that employees are engaged and give their best when they have a clear purpose and are empowered to do their jobs. In order to provide the greatest chance of achieving this employees must be supported with the correct tools such as clarity around expectations, quality communication, training and development and critically removing barriers to performance such as poor standards and political behaviour.

Talent development.

Budgets to train and develop employees are often first to be cut during down times, yet their is considerable evidence to support placing a greater emphasis on training your A players during these times.

In high performing teams high levels of competence is not only seen in leadership and technical roles but across all levels and departments regardless of title and position. In high performing organisations training is given to ‘A’ players and others throughout the organisation.

The quality of work employees deliver is often a direct result of the recruitment process. Employees in the correct role (not just recruited on skills but importantly on their emotional and mental capacity) feel energised and experience what is commonly known as ‘flow’. It’s important that your ‘A’ players are surrounded by high support and critically high challenge. It’s important that the outcome for ‘A’ players is not a foregone conclusion. If the reality of success and failure are finely balanced people get a stronger sense of achievement and therefore in most cases apply themselves with the correct amount of aptitude and focus to deliver on task.

Training your people.

It may sound obvious but sports organisations need to have people who have the skills for the job. As job roles evolve due to the ever evolving demands of work requirements alter. Organisations that maintain their interest in developing their people, specifically in areas such as leadership, people management and innovation are most likely to reap the benefits of high performing employees.

The competitive advantage is your people.

Throughout my research Sporting Directors who are positioned as a strategic lead believe focussing on their people provides the competitive edge to having a positive impact in their role. Albeit the intensions to develop their people were strong the understanding of how to implement this tailored for the individual and aligned to the desired organisational goals often lacked clarity and process. Whilst not to complicate things it’s important to be mindful of the maturity of the organisation.

Interestingly there is a commonality in the language used to communicate how a Sporting Director should operate. This seems to stem from greater media attention around the role. Whilst this can be seen as being constructive there also seems to be a consistency around a lack of serious commitment to developing their people.

Tony Faulkner
Sporting Director