Advice & Attitude – a STERLING case for Business Managers & Employees

In July 2015 Raheem Sterling was signed by Manchester City for £49 million. In June 2019 he was valued by the CIES Football Observatory at £185million. If you invested a significant sum in your people, product or process you’d expect to see a return and no doubt you’d be happy with a near quadruple return in 4 years (and I’m not referring to last season’s domestic trophy haul).

In his first season at City, he only scored six goals in 31 appearances; in the last two seasons he scored over 20 goals in each and so far this season he has scored 15 goals in 18 games and has even heard his name sung by England fans!

The pundits and journalists who express opinions on the rise of Raheem’s value seem to be split between, what’s behind it  – Pep’s advice or Raheem’s attitude. With advice and attitude there comes a responsibility for both the giver and the receiver, in a business scenario it can be the Manager (giver) and the Employee (receiver).

What can we learn from the relationship between Pep and Raheem, that can be applied in our businesses?

An employee can have the best advice, the best support, the best facilities and be surrounded by colleagues who are consummate professionals, but if they choose to ignore the advice or make token gestures, it usually ends in disappointment, frustration and in time, an end to what could have been a “beautiful” relationship.

You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink.

As a manager your advice should be constructive and supportive, as an employee you should be receptive, and embrace it. Where Raheem was once criticised for his football brain, he’s now applauded for it and is not only scoring more goals he is also creating more assists.

As a manager you should praise your employees’ attitude and encourage their application. Just as Raheem has been for his improved application, for his decision-making and for his all-round contribution to the team.

As a manager you should reach out to reassure the employee when things are not going as they should, despite their attitude and best efforts; as an employee you should receive these words in good faith and keep believing in what you are trying to achieve. Raheem often speaks of Pep’s phone call, received during the summer holidays before the two had even met and was delighted to hear the faith Pep had in him – despite his measly first season 6 goals; and of another encouraging call during a disappointing World Cup campaign with England.

As a manager you should recognise, it’s not all down to you and modestly acknowledge that you are only as good as your people. As an employee you to should recognise how you have benefited from given advice and become a giver yourself, in turn becoming a positive example and influence on others within the business.

As a manager you should always expect improvement and as an employee you should always seek improvement. After Raheem had scored a premier league hat-trick Pep said “he could do better he didn’t follow his fullback, he conceded counter-attacks, the first half wasn’t the best, we will work on that he’s under constant pressure and receive constant support from his manager to improve”.

Who wouldn’t want an employee in their business that delivers a STERLING performance – in the words of the pundits, reporters and others:

“Technically he has upped the level he has better movement, he scores more goals, he has increased awareness of those around him and the team plan, he has better focus and concentration”.

“He makes things happen, he looks for opportunities, he fights for the team and does some of the dirty work too”.

“He finds the right space, the right environment to perform, he assesses the strengths, he assesses the situation and the competition to expose their weaknesses”.

“He shows great desire to achieve and score”.

“He learns from others and repeats what works”.

“He takes on information and applies it, he works in a demanding environment where his manager brings others into the team to improve the team all the time and his response has been to raise his own performance the numbers speak for themselves”.

STOP PRESS: Yesterday Nov 12th, 2019, Raheem hit the headlines for all the wrong reasons – a confrontation with a colleague at an England training camp. His response was to apologise publicly for allowing his emotions to get the better of him, to talk it through with the other person and agree to put it behind them and move on; and that was all before his manager had heard about the incident. The 24 year old is growing up too!

Since 2013 I have been helping ambitious SMEs with their Strategic and Leadership challenges.

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Posted in Company Culture, leadership, Skill Sets, Values
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