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6 Things People Leaders Can Learn from AFL Footy Clubs

With ‘Footy Fever’ well and truly upon us it got us thinking – how do Footy Clubs recruit and manage their players and coaches for the best possible result, and what can we learn from them?

1. They use multiple channels to source the best talent and they are always recruiting. Have you ever seen an ad on Seek asking for resumes from AFL Ruckmen? AFL Clubs know that they need the right people in place ALL of the time and therefore they spend an extensive amount of time and focus on ensuring they have a strong talent pipeline for all of their roles.
They use a variety of sources to locate their people including succession planning, developing people up through the junior ranks, constant review of their direct competition and scouting other sport codes with transferable skills such as Rugby, Basketball, Gaelic Football and American League Football to name a few.

2. Induction, Training and Support programs never stop. There is support provided at every level within an AFL Footy Club. This includes apprenticeships, buddy systems, business mentoring programs, education support and retirement programs. While it is not possible for every organisation to provide this for all of their staff, AFL Clubs understand that in order to attract and retain high performers they need to equip them with the skills and capability to have a successful future beyond the footy field.
AFL Clubs also know that you need to constantly practice and hone your skills to develop them. Everyone can always improve, no matter how good they already are, and they work hard to strive for ongoing and continuous improvement.

3. They have very focused goals for the year and everyone knows the role they play to achieve the goals. It is surprising how many organisations don’t have documented Values or a Mission Statement let alone aspirational goals with linked operational plans to achieve them. Within the AFL Clubs goals are communicated, reiterated, adjusted if required, communicated and reiterated again.

Every person within a Club’s structure is aware of the role they play and what is required of them to reach not only their personal goals but, most importantly, the goals of the overall organisation. Achievement of these goals, either personal or organisational, are celebrated and success is shared.

4. They understand the value of assessing data to predict future performance. AFL Clubs don’t just rely on past performance as a predictor of future behaviour. Every aspect of a potential employees’ abilities are scrutinised to ensure they have what it takes to fit the Club’s values and goals as well as the right skills and motivation.

When hiring and reviewing employees they make assessments on physical, physiological, sociological and psychological data as well as previous performance to get a complete picture of current capability.

5. They have tough conversations and do not hesitate to ‘drop’ underperforming players. AFL Clubs provide extensive support and coaching to players and they are focused on developing a persons’ strengths and providing specialist coaches and mentors to do this. However if a player or coach is not performing to the required standard Footy Clubs don’t hesitate to have tough conversations with the underperformer and make the tough decisions if required. The players understand that there is an expectation that if their performance does not improve the probable outcome is that they will be “dropped” or demoted to a lower league until they improve. As players know the consequences of poor performance they work extremely hard to produce the results required to be successful.

6. They care about and engage the family of the employee. What happened to the regular company BBQ where partners and children attended thereby getting to know each other and creating a sense of community? With the focus on cost reduction over the past few years even most Christmas Dinners which used to include partners have become employees only. One local AFL team is even providing business mentoring for players’ partners as well as for the players themselves which in turn creates a feeling of support and belonging which goes far beyond the standard employer / employee relationship.

AFL Footy Clubs know that to truly get the hearts and minds of their employees they need the hearts and minds of their families as well.

Written By Dani Cuff and Jodi Walton – Directors at Harrison McMillan. Harrison McMillan – Disrupting the recruitment industry with no percentage fee for candidate placement….Ever!

For more information please contact Harrison McMillan www.harrisonmcmillan.com.au

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