Hiring and firing football managers: (3) Talent acquisition

‘Hiring and firing football mangers’ is a mini-series of posts from a the point of view of a talent acquisition and talent management agency working in a different sector (namely. membership organisations and learning providers).

The press reports that a football manager has been sacked. The next report will be on which candidates have been invited for interview. And often the persons who interview best will be the person appointed.

For example, the club that I support — Notts County — recently fired its team manager, Ricardo Moniz. Almost immediately, speculation began about the interviews for the next post: ‘Notts County to start interviewing for new manager‘.

When the new appointment, Jamie Fullerton, was announced, this is how the club’s website reported the news:

Having been highly impressed by 41-year-old Fullarton’s first interview for the job, the interview panel of Chairman Ray Trew, Director Aileen Trew and Chief Executive Julian Winter made the decision to appoint him to the role over the weekend, after a successful second interview.

Mr Trew said of the appointment: “I don’t think I have ever been as impressed by someone at an interview as I was by Jamie. He had us all captivated throughout what turned out to be a lengthy assessment of his suitability for the role.

“I’ve got to stress that we had an incredibly high standard of applicant for the vacancy, some of whom were unable to commit to the role to the level we were looking for and some who gave us plenty to think about when it came to conducting the interviews.

The use of bold is my own. I think it’s enough to make the point.

Interviewing is, of course, a useful instrument for talent acquisition. But it’s only one method.

Think of all those things that a football manager has to do — talent management, for example. Now ask yourself, for each aspect of the job, what would be the best way of assessing that competence or ability. Did you really answer ‘interview’ for each and every one?

According to Mr Trew, ‘Jamie’s attention to detail and the lengths that he had gone to in preparing for the interview meant that he really stood out in a very strong shortlist of applicants’. Mr Fullerton certainly deserves credit for the professionalism of his preparation. As a talent acquisition agency, we definitely encourage candidates to prepare as meticulously as possible. This provides direct evidence that he’s good at interviews and might, in addition, suggest that he can prepare for other activities meticulously. This is far from irrelevant to the job.

It’s just not comprehensive. Take, for example, the topic of this mini-series of posts — talent management. is meticulous preparation enough for that?

According to Mr Trew, making the appointment isn’t a gamble: ‘I know that I may have become known for my impulsive decisions at times, but this certainly isn’t one, this was a unilaterally agreed decision by the Board’. No, Mr Trew: acquiring talent by relying heavily on one instrument is a gamble — regardless of whether the decision was unilateral.

It may well be that Mr Fullarton turns out to be an outstanding and successful appointment (as a supporter, I’m hoping so). After all, sometimes gambles pay off. But if he doesn’t, will the same old rigmarole start all over again? Or will someone — at this club or any of the others like it — stop and think?



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