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What HR teams can learn from football analytics

Guest Author


Andy Campbell, HCM Strategy Director at Oracle


When it comes to team-building, don’t just focus on high achievers


Who are your most valuable employees?  It’s easy to praise the salesperson who consistently smashes their quotas or the marketing director who leads the company’s most successful campaign, but these successes are rarely achieved by one person. It is almost always a team effort, and even if one or two people get the glory the contributions of all those involved cannot be ignored.


At a recent Oracle event, CIMA’s Peter Spence turned to the world of football analytics to illustrate how corporate team-building has evolved. Traditionally, coaches and fans would rate players based on how many goals they scored, apart from goalies of course. As a result, all the “best” players were strikers. Today, more nuanced analytics allow teams to track the contributions of each player on the pitch. A midfielder who has a touch on 70% of their team’s goals or breaks up 80% of opposing team’s attacks is clearly invaluable, even if their name rarely makes it on the scoreboard.


The same holds true in the world of business. Today’s talent analytics technologies allow companies to analyse each employee’s contribution to their team’s overall effectiveness, be it by driving collaboration, galvanising employees, or directly contributing to the company’s bottom line.  It may be tempting to exclusively target high achievers, but a business needs the perfect mix of strengths, skills and temperaments to excel. Also, just as in professional sport there are a limited number of “superstars” available on the market.


Watching Brazil or Germany’s football team, it’s easy to see why they remain the most successful international clubs in history. Yes, they have many skilled players, but these come and go. It is their ability to consistently attract people who fit in with their way of playing and excel at their role that keeps them winning. The same is true of today’s most successful businesses. Even if you offer the best products and services on the market, it takes a team of engaged employees working in unison to successfully take those to market. 


A good manager knows how to nurture their high achievers, but a great one can tap into the talents and potential of everyone on their team. This is where technologies delivering modern talent analytics add significant value, and where HR teams have a role to play in helping managers understand the extent of each person’s contribution to the business.


At a time where skilled hires are harder than ever to find, businesses need to broaden their recruitment practices to extend beyond the traditional “top tier of candidates”. That’s not to say they should turn away ambitious and motivated applicants, but it is their ability to marry these high achievers with role players, team-builders and specialists that will help employees bring the best out of each other.