A lot of research indicates that organisations will get rid of their new GenZ talent – last in, first out. We all know that, when you’re looking to cut costs, it’s cheaper to let someone go who’s only been onboard for a short while compared to a longer-serving employee. Yet others are doing all they can to attract GenZ talent right now.
Sport and business are very alike in some ways as we know – everything from team strategy to own goals – and it’s here that football may have something relevant to say in this post-Covid world. Specifically, the German team Borussia Dortmund.
Now, I speak as someone who knows very little about professional football, but it’s an interesting story even to me. The key is that the German club is snapping up young talent from under the noses of some very established clubs, like Manchester United. The club’s legendary Sir Matt Busby said of players that ‘if they’re good enough, they’re old enough’. That doesn’t seem to be a mantra the English club is living by.
Because, for example, Erling Haaland and Jadon Sancho have both recently turned their backs on Manchester United, preferring to sign with Borussia Dortmund. Why would they do that?
There are of course many reasons, including the famous Yellow Wall of supporters, but two stand out. The first is that the club identifies the talent it wants, basically one of the best 16-19-year-olds in the game, and then they focus single-mindedly on that specific player. They don’t try and chase four possible players, they focus 100% on the one. That would make anyone feel pretty special.
The second point is one that relates even more closely to the business world. Many new young players will be signed on but they will be ‘benched’ for most of the time. They’ll get to see the games but, unless injury intervenes, they won’t get to actually play. Those GenZ players joining Borussia Dortmund know they will get guaranteed game time.
Other clubs might offer them the reality of playing perhaps a dozen matches in a season but the German club will offer them 40 league games. Few other clubs can compete with that. And there’s the key. The club has investigated the player thoroughly. It has pursued the player diligently. And, critically, they trust their judgement and that of the player. So he plays.
Organisations might ponder this approach. If you’ve taken on this new talent, trust them and let them do their job. Support them but let them take chances, let them fly. Don’t keep them in the background too long while ‘they learn the ropes’, give them responsibility.
After all, it works for Borussia Dortmund. Erling Haaland, the 20-year-old Norwegian mentioned earlier (born in Leeds), started playing with his new club in January this year. At the time of writing he has made 18 appearances.
And scored 16 goals.
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Ellenor McIntosh, co-founder of Twipes, is an award-winning Forbes ‘30 Under 30’