It was a lean summer for sports enthusiasts but at least the Champions League was able to come to an end. Even without being a big fan or supporter, I did notice a few details in the story of this match that should give HR and managers something to think about.
A young talent is a confirmed talent in the making
History will therefore remember that Bayern beat PSG on a goal from Kingsley Coman who has the particularity of having been shaped…at PSG. That’s not a new fact: there are many examples of clubs who have been unable or unwilling to keep their home-grown young talents and who one day saw them shine in a different jersey. And sometimes even against them.
It’s not new to PSG, which has a lot of trouble keeping the young players it develops. And they produce a lot of very good players who then go on to shine elsewhere without really benefiting from it either sportively or financially.
But why does a young player leave the club that shaped him, especially when he is at the top of the hierarchy? Leaving a small club to go to a more prestigious one is understandable, leaving a club that is in the European top 8 that raises questions.
Often this happens because the player thinks the horizon is blocked. Too many stars and confirmed players ahead of him. He thinks he will never get his chance and prefers to go where he thinks he will get some playing time. Sometimes wrongly, sometimes rightly.
This also happens, but the two are often linked, because the club has a “star” policy. For recognition, for marketing, you need “names”. So it doesn’t matter whether we have the youngsters on hand who in 2 or 3 years will have the level to take the place of the “old guys”, they play the recognized players card and in the end they don’t give much importance to the youngsters they have on hand. They don’t even try to hold them back.
And it doesn’t matter. You don’t lose much by letting a young person go. It cost a lot to train him but he is not paid much, so you don’t lose anything on the value of the team. On the other hand, if you don’t value a player who is bought for 50 million and who earns 1 million a month, his value will drop, and so will the value of the team. And the marketing value of the club will go down as well. So you lose less by letting a promising young player go than by benching or selling off a confirmed old player even if his real level is questionable or if he starts to decline.
Everybody finds it normal until one day one of these youngsters ruins your hopes on a beautiful summer evening.
It’s a little bit the same in a business. You have tons of trainees, but do you treat them as full-fledged employees? Are they given the same attention? Do they have the same onboarding? The same offboarding? Are they invited to company events? So many signs that at the end of their internship, even if you want to keep them, they will prefer to go elsewhere.
Besides, how much time is spent studying their case? Not much because it is more important to spend time wondering how to “make it pay” by putting a senior employee or an experienced manager in the right place because they are more expensive. In the same way that the HiPPO (Highest Paid Person Opinion) rule for decision making says that in the end the opinion of the highest paid person wins, here when a person is cheap you can afford to “waste” him.
Of course they are still “young”. But when it comes time to arbitrate between looking for a person with 2/3 years of experience and poaching him or her and betting on a young person who can reach the same level in 2 years, who we have already seen in action for a year, and who will ultimately cost less (knowing that we pay more to recruit outside than to promote internally) we can sometimes ask ourselves the question.
So of course you can’t give everyone a chance. There are limits to the number of places to be filled, you have to maintain a balance of generations, a balance between the young and the experienced.
But the fact is that many Kingsley Comans leave the companies that have had them on internships every year without much attention, without even being included in the reviews where careers and advancement are discussed. Some will even be replaced by young graduates of equivalent level from elsewhere. Simply because they have not been paid attention to. Because they were never really considered as part of the company, just a somewhat decorative backup work force.
Ironically, one day a recruiter from the company will look at their Linkedin profile, decide to try to poach them and realize that they were there 3, 5 or more years ago. In the meantime the prices will have gone up and the feeling of having been overlooked may impact their response.
Divas are not worth a team
There was one point that didn’t suffer from any discussion: the two most talented players on the field were on the PSG side. M’Bappé and Neymar not to mention them. Lewandowski at Bayern? A world class player but according to specialists he can’t make the difference alone, unlike the other two. He needs the others, ball providers, while the two Parisian stars can win a match on their own.
What happened to it? Despite his efforts and numerous chances Lewandowski didn’t score, the Parisian stars missed their match (especially one) and in the end Bayern won thanks to a player of very high level, that is, but who is far from being in the world gotha. An excellent team player but not someone who always carries a team on his shoulders.
Only very good players at Bayern, but none out of the ordinary. But they won. And as the game went on, with substitutions, the team’s playing standard remained the same. Even despite the injuries. Paris couldn’t afford to bring out its stars even though they were beside themselves in this match.
Two players who outperform can regularly save your bet but you have no guarantee on the day they are worse. You can’t win if they miss the match, but a good match from them doesn’t guarantee victory, sometimes they need others. A team of good players gives you more guarantees in terms of sustainable performance.
In companies, it is sometimes considered that certain employees are indispensable. Sometimes because of their performance, sometimes because of scarce skills, sometimes because of their rare knowledge of how the company operates that enables them to solve operational or political problems with ease. But they are indispensable for the wrong reasons. At some point they become bottlenecks and too much depends on them. Whether they go away, are on vacation, are sick, have low morale, or show bad will, the whole organization goes down.
These people may be valuable to the company but they are also its main problem. If they have a good mentality, it is the hazards of life that can put them out of action and weaken the collective. If they have a bad mentality they hold the company at their mercy and become toxic.
When by their skills, performance or knowledge people monopolize the leading roles (whether voluntarily or involuntarily) by leaving no room for others, others will not be able to compensate for the day they will fail. For some people, locking their “zone” by not sharing their knowledge and making themselves indispensable is also a way of securing their job without performing well.
When the functioning of a team relies on two people and this has prevented or rendered useless the construction of a true collective, this collective will not be there to replace them when needed.
I remember this anecdote, if I remember correctly, from “The Knowing Doing Gap” by Jeffrey Pfeffer. In a store you can have a “super salesman” who sells much better and more than his colleagues. In the end he “catches” all the customers who come in and, worse, the others stand back and let him do it. He sells much more than his colleagues. Is he an asset? No, he is a problem because he does not put himself at the service of others to help them progress. In the end the company would earn more if he sold much less but helped each of his colleagues to sell a little more by taking time to put himself at their service and “coach” them. There will always be stars everywhere. It remains to be seen whether they fit into a collective or live on the fringe.
No man is stronger than the institution
And while everyone was watching the players of this final, we must have a thought for those who did not take part in it, especially Lionel Messi, eliminated with FC Barcelona.
What can we blame him for? Nothing. For years he has been pulling his club up, winning many titles. A fortiori for a few years: while his club is gradually declining and gets less good results, he holds on, engages and invests more and more to allow it to come back to the top. Besides, I used to find the “little Lionel” a little discreet and shy off the court, which made him very nice. Contrary to others, his field of expression was the lawn and only the lawn.But from that moment on, he showed a leadership off the field that I never imagined him to have: he did everything he could to put the club back in the right direction, he is more and more involved in its life, its strategy, its recruitment. This has led to inevitable friction with his management, his coaches and even his teammates. But it is inevitable when someone takes responsibility and control.
But by believing himself to be indispensable, by wanting to build everything for him, around him and according to what would make him shine the most (was it sincerely at the service of the club) did he not become part of the problem for which he saw himself as the only solution? He provoked crises, sometimes sowed discord, decided that he wanted to play with so-and-so and not with so-and-so, made a whim to bring back his friend Neymar, ostracized Griezmann.
In short it became the club. Even more. Paradoxical in a club whose slogan “Més que un club” has vocation to transcend the local contingencies to represent a superior collective, that of a city, a region, a country. Well, instead of putting the collective back, Messi put himself above the collective.
Today there is a Messi crisis in Barcelona. The one who is certainly still the best player in the world has taken the club to the top, but by his behaviour, believing himself to be the solution to all problems, has ended up making him a problem. If Barça has won, it’s thanks to Messi, if he has declined, it’s maybe a little bit because of him.
The company also has its divas and its prodigal children, who by force of good results, demand more and more power and privileges and end up getting them. Sometimes officially, sometimes simply because one closes one’s eyes to their “bordeline” side…and it lasts until they fail, usually heavily.Because when the signals turn orange and there is still time to correct the shot, like Messi, they retreat behind their certainties and their savior profile and go even further. Often the outcome is fatal and they drag their company, its shareholders, their colleagues who pay a form of megalomania of the diva at the highest price, into their downfall.
By the way, look at the Bayern Munich jersey from the back, there’s one detail that always struck me. Where all the clubs write the player’s name roughly above his number, at Bayern it’s the name of the club you see above the number. The player’s name appears smaller, below the number.