Lost in translation

Ian Mills on the business lessons to be learned from Fabio Capello’s communication failures

If you don’t communicate, guess where your ship is going…

Precisely, right on to the rocks! Just like Fabio Capello’s much-trumpeted England squad at the recent World Cup. Could communication possibly have been any worse?

The Premiership is the most watched league in the World. But, how do you transfer the energy, effort and commitment that crackles so convincingly in the Premiership to the heart of the National squad, while also getting results?

You talk. You work. You communicate. You send your team out with a clear game plan, sure of its ground and confident of reaching the right result. Apparently Capello doesn’t communicate well – demonstrated by the players’ confusion on and off the pitch and ultimately England’s defeat.

Many face similar problems in business. We dare not fail, but what can you do? You have to get more from what you’ve got because the transfer market is largely out of the question.

Few of us can go out and buy top-priced talent. But we can turn our team into winners by adopting a winning mentality, backed by a slick business strategy. And we can do that by talking to our people in ways that show we really do mean business.

England’s players were confused – and it showed. There were too many conflicting ambitions on the field when a unity of purpose was clearly required.

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But here’s a plan to help turn things around in your business.

1. Be clear about your company’s goals and make sure your people know what you are trying to do.

2. Deal with egos. Business is a team game and everyone needs to understand their roles. Don’t carry passengers and don’t tolerate disrupters. A happy workplace is a successful workplace.

3. Master the art of motivation. Skilled motivators can create world-beaters. Work with your players. Get to know them better. How does each of them respond to praise, reward and encouragement? Make them proud of what they’re working on.

4. Build good relationships. Witch-hunts destroy belief and morale. You need to create a culture of respect, support and success. Ensure you move as a team. Share your strengths and work on weaknesses with positivity.

5. Talk to them! What is your ‘message of the week’? Do you have cartoons illustrations or video links that use humour to get serious messages across? Is everyone allowed and encouraged to talk and contribute?

In short, is your company a place where people would want to work?

Are your people proud to wear ‘The Badge’? Past players say that they would willingly have walked to Wembley barefoot for the honour of playing for England. Would today’s players speak with such pride and passion?

In these challenging times we must learn to work with what we’ve got. But that should never mean settling for second best. Not even England should do that.

To succeed we need focus and purpose. We need team players who are ready and prepared to rise to the challenge.

Above all, we need to talk to, motivate and manage our people. We need to communicate and instil them with the confidence to do a quality job and give back the best performance they can give for reasons that are clearly understood, eagerly embraced and accepted.

When we can persuade our people to perform beyond themselves and strive for something better then we create a team that is ready to compete with the World’s best.

And if you like what you have read please forward this item to Fabio Capello at FA Headquarters. We’ve got just a year and a half left to deliver a very different message and extricate ourselves from yet another scorching embarrassment!


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