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What World Cup teams can teach Hong Kong’s HR leaders about talent management

Updated: 24 Jun 2014


Ask any World Cup fan what elite football teams can teach the business world and they’ll likely mention teamwork, the need for a winning mentality or the importance of a game plan. They’re unlike to mention talent management, but that’s precisely what employers and HR managers should take away from world-class sporting teams, says recruiting experts Hays in Hong Kong.


“Recruitment is about getting the right people in the right positions,” says Christine Wright, Operations Director of Hays in Asia. “It’s also precisely what the top football teams do so well. Talent management is at the heart of competitive organisations that are focused on high performance – whether that’s on the football pitch or in the business world.   


“The winning sporting teams excel at talent management. They work with recruiters to employ the right people, then develop them and put a retention plan in place. The principles of great HR are more deeply embedded than you may expect,” she said.


So what can World Cup teams teach us about recruitment and retention? According to Hays, they build a winning team on and off the pitch by implementing:


  • A structure for success: They often have a holistic approach. Every department is clear on their area of responsibility but can also work collaboratively to strengthen decision-making and retain the nimbleness required in a fast-paced sporting (or business) world.


  • A succession plan: As well as recruiting the right people for today, the top sporting teams also recruit entry-level professionals. They’ll train and develop these players to ensure they have a well-stocked talent pipeline and a consistent culture across the workforce – both in terms of current players as well as future stars. It’s a classic example of succession planning that will be familiar to any HR director.


  • A retention strategy: As in any organisation, a sporting team’s players need stability and continuity to remain engaged and happy at work. Whether it’s the top talent on the football field, or the top talent in the boardroom, people who excel in their role will be courted by other employers offering attractive rewards. That’s why top sporting teams attempt to provide a compelling reason for talent to stay. Competitive salaries, support for learning and development and clear career paths are all significant factors in ensuring loyalty - on the field and off.


  • Great recruiters: As in the business world, when it comes time to recruit their next star player top sporting teams rely on great recruiters who are highly skilled, well connected, motivated and well briefed. These recruiters research potential players and review and analyse all aspects of their suitability – as your recruiter will do when recruiting for your business.

Hays is located in Hong Kong at Unit 5803-7, The Centre, 99 Queen's Road Central, Hong Kong.


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