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How to recruit the right Manager using Football & Flight Simulation...Curious?

Have you ever wondered how a Chairman of a football club selects its Manager? Well I guess there are many ways to go about it. Perhaps a specific Manager has been lined up for a while and the deal is more or less done before the vacancy is even official, or maybe a caretaker Manager gets the gig and so on...

However I want to share with you how one particular club went about recruiting the perfect Manager using Organisational Psychology and focusing specifically on the getting the right fit for the clubs culture from the outset. We've since used the same process in corporate organisations and had the same successful results each time. This unique hiring process is called ‘The Recruitment Simulator’ and we’ve been rolling it out with HR Directors and Head of Departments across the country in various industries and they love it. Here’s how it works.

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Having spent the last few years closely working with a Club Chairman and a former Premier League Manager to design a new recruitment process to test Football Manager’s on-the-job skills, we were called in to recruit a Manager into a club desperately needing to climb the league table. This was a club with a strong loyal and involved fan base and a long league journey to travel, getting the right fit was of utmost importance. With strong reputations, fantastic CV’s and celebrity status, it can be difficult for Chairmen to differentiate candidates for management positions and this particular club needed someone with a real sense of authority but more importantly a people person, someone who could connect with the players and get rapid results.

So what we developed was a process similar to a pilot demonstrating his flying ability in a flight simulator. Here the pilot can choose the route and destination and fly anywhere in the world and select any type of weather condition to test his skills at flying. So we started to think along the same lines. Could we design a process that could showcase the potential candidate’s ability to do the manager’s role in modern day football at this club?

The Findings

The result was amazing! During this two-hour process, we quickly found the tangible and intangible differences between the candidates. We also found out about candidate inconsistencies and contradictions between their attitude, behaviour, values and beliefs. It triggered some poor candidate reactions. It revealed how the best candidates responded to real life problems. Today, the selected candidate is highly successful and has way exceeded the Chairman, Fans and Club’s expectations by gaining the club a fantastic promotion.

The Conclusion

We established three important differences between the candidates using this process:

1 The level of candidate hunger and drive

2 The candidate’s ability to think clearly under intense pressure, especially when they had to deal with a conflict scenario.

3 Each candidate’s ability to build strong relationships.

Not surprisingly, the front-runners were those candidates who could blend an appealing combination of these three success factors. We were able to get the “person-environment fit” seamless ensuring alignment between Chairman, candidate and the Club. Interestingly, candidates that attempted to showcase their ability when there was a clear misalignment of person-environment fit deselected themselves from this process.

An additional benefit was that the development areas for the selected candidate were revealed right from the start. The Chairman was, therefore, able to see where potential problems or pitfalls may arise in their working relationship. This was seen as a valuable element as most of the breakdowns in a working relationship are as a result of not understanding the key weaknesses between the manager and organisation.

The Recruitment Simulator is born.

The “Recruitment Simulator” has now been repeated into the corporate sector where our clients are enjoying assessing candidates more thoroughly at early recruitment stage. Being able to deeply see candidate’s strengths and weaknesses, exposing immediate development areas of new hires has been widely welcomed. It has resulted in Development Plans for the new recruits being implemented during their on-boarding and probationary period.

My genuine excitement that I wanted to share with you is that the balance between the art and science of recruitment is being achieved. The organisations using this process have improved their ability to select the “right people for the right roles”, saving time and money and resources.

Using the “Recruitment Simulator” real high-flyers have been quickly and accurately identified which has in turn increased the bottom line of the organisations in a challenging climate.

For more information, you can email me directly to discuss how we can deliver this process into your organisation. Sometimes we bring along Players, Football Manager's and Chairmen into a session which brings alive the team concept and adds another level of understanding about building the right culture in high performing environments.


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