Here at Laudale HQ, we have a couple of Everton fans. We won’t reveal their identities given our Manchester roots, however, the recent managerial woes at the Merseyside club did get us thinking about the risks associated with making senior appointments, and how these risks play out across any industry.
There are two clear lessons from Everton: making a) the wrong appointment and b) a hash of a recruitment process can cause significant reputational damage.
In the case of the blues, that wrong appointment came in the form of Ronald Koeman. We won’t talk about the actual football here but lack of vision and direction, poor or unclear communications, failure to organise and motivate a team, and a fuzzy leadership structure, particularly around the big decisions, are all quoted as reasons for the Dutchman’s downfall.
More worrying was the apparent lack of ‘buy-in’ to the culture of the club, a senior appointment who does not share the values of the organisation is a huge problem but it’s one which can be avoided at recruitment stage.
We think about candidate selection criteria under 3 pillars: competence, character and chemistry.
From a ‘competence’ perspective – experience, skills, and qualifications – Koeman looked like an excellent appointment, but he would no doubt have ticked less boxes for ‘character’ (including motivation) and ‘chemistry’ (including values). He was always clear about what the job meant to him, a stepping stone, he played it straight and stated it wasn’t his dream role from the outset.
Whilst a highly competent candidate will often get short-term results (season Koeman’s first season at Everton), these are rarely enduring if motivation and values are misaligned. A senior appointment with an eye on the door is unlikely to work out in any business, and especially one like Everton, who stated at the outset that the new appointment would be ‘a guardian’ of their strong culture.
The subsequent recruitment process to replace Koeman could have been managed much better, to put it lightly. Whilst your business and your senior appointments are unlikely to be under the media spotlight to the extent of a Premier League football club, make no mistake, the point still holds: a poor recruitment process will have a reputational impact.
Sam Allardyce (who eventually got the job) went public part way through the search stating that he’s lost interest in the role due to Everton’s indecisiveness. Candidates talk about their experience and it’s a small world. Whilst you may be immersed in your business and believe in its values and vision, that’s not always the view from outside.
Football clubs and businesses learn the hard way, through failed or unsuccessful appointments, that the cost of a poor senior hire is detrimental on many levels. If a senior appointment is critical to your business, then it’s worth engaging specialist advice before you embark on your recruitment journey.
Laudale offers consultancy services specialist expertise in appointing technology & transformation leaders across a range of sectors.