Saturday, 22 September 2007

Jose Mourinho: HR Business Partner

At the end of the CIPD conference, Geoff Armstrong described how, when thinking about HR business partners, he tends to picture a macho chief Executive riding on a Harley with his HR business partner holding on with arms wrapped around the CEO in order to ‘service him’!

When I think about HCM, I often picture a football (soccer) manager (coach). The role of a football manager is to select and organise the team and to plan the role of individual players both before and during the game. They manage the performance of players using match reports and videos to provide feedback. They conduct wage negotiations. And they invest in health and wellness to ensure players keep their form, and where necessary substitute players when one has an injury.

The manager’s activities ensure that the team are ready to make the best use of their 90 minutes of competitive activity on the pitch, but during this time management is delegated to the captain or skipper who becomes the on-pitch leader of the team.

The captain generally provides a rallying point for the team: if morale is low, it is the captain who will be looked to gee up the side. The captain can also take on certain responsibilities within the playing staff, such as organising morale-boosting events and looking after younger players.

The other key role is the owner or chief executive who takes care of the club finances and other business functions including management of the stadium, marketing the team and pricing tickets etc.

I make the following analogies between football and business management:
  • Manager – HCM
  • Captain – Line manager
  • Owner – CEO

Of course, it’s not just HR that undertakes the HCM role; this involves the CEO, other business leaders and line managers too. But HR can lead this activity (so I am thinking about the British rather than Israeli model of football management increasingly in evidence at Chelsea and which Mourinho has so objected to).

A challenge I often get when explaining this analogy is that the football manager's role is running the football team, ie managing the organisation not just a support function, like HR. Well actually, this is my point. Now people are 'our most important asset', HR shouldn't just see itself as a support function. The HR function leads HCM, and HCM is about assembling the right people with the right competencies in the right place at the right time, and who can then deliver business performance. This truly is the management of the organisation.

As David Bolchover explains in the 90 Minute Manager;

"Football is the setting for one of the purest forms of management - and the most transparent. In an age when club football is more of a business than ever before, suddenly it seems business is getting more and more like football- when talent is at a premium, the ability to attract and retain the very best people - and get the most out of them individually and collectively - is of paramount importance. What better time to learn the lessons from the very best - and worst - of the ultimate man management game."

What images come to your mind when you think about HCM? Email me a picture or description to info ‘at’ strategic ‘dash’ hcm ‘dot’ com, and if I can use it and attribute it to you, you will win a free copy of my book.