Could Strengths-based recruitment be used in Football?

Here at Capp, we focus on People’s strengths to maximise happiness and satisfaction for both candidate and employer. Our award-winning recruitment programmes focus on measuring the strengths of a candidate against the key strengths required for the specific job role, but could football teams benefit from utilising a Strengths-based recruitment approach?
In less than a month, between August 31st and September 25th this year, there were seven managerial sackings in England alone – not even a quarter of the way through the season. Most notably, Frank De Boer, who lost his job at Crystal Palace after just four games.
De Boer is a great example of how Strengths-based recruitment could help to avoid potential managerial banana skins in football. It’s easy to say in hindsight, but the Dutchman was never the right man for the job when you consider factors outside of football.
His performance off the pitch was nearly as bad as his team’s performance on it, referring to his ‘long-term plan,’ without providing any real evidence or reassurance that his long-term plan will be any different. He lacked the ability to inspire – both his players and the fans – and he lacked the persistence to make his new style of football work, often changing and confusing his own tactics during a game.
But, most crucially, he lacked any strength as a resolver. He failed to identify the flaws in his side quickly enough, and when he finally did identify them, it was too late. These factors, are factors that could’ve been identified using Strengths-based recruitment.
It would be easy to suggest that football, and management in particular, has too many nuances for Strengths-based recruitment, but the same could have been said for all the other industries that we now deliver award-winning programmes in.
Two years ago, it may’ve been laughable to suggest that an economics graduate could use his degree to help a side’s success. Surely the beautiful game has far too much depth and is much too complex for an effective algorithm to be developed?
Yet, after 23-year-old Charlie Reeves’ success at Forest Green Rovers, helping the minnows gain promotion to the football league using a “Moneyball” approach, landed him a job at Premier League club Everton, the philosophy doesn’t seem quite so unrealistic.
Strengths-based recruitment in football could be the next step in an increasingly progressive environment and it could be the key to finding a plethora of talented young managers that don’t currently get an opportunity because of a lack of experience.
Take the Bournemouth manager Eddie Howe as an example, and the possibly lesser known but equally successful Julian Nagelsmann who currently manages Hoffenheim, and at the age of just 30 seems to be heir apparent to the Bayern Munich throne.
Before each manager had taken over their respective clubs, they wouldn’t have even got near the door at Crystal Palace due to their lack of managerial experience. Yet Nagelsmann took a Hoffenheim side who looked certain to be relegated, kept them up, then proceeded to qualify for the Champions League for the first time in the club’s history the following season.
Whilst Eddie Howe took over a League Two Bournemouth side, and lead them to the Premier League – a feat that if it were provided as a Hollywood script, would probably be deemed too unrealistic. Something tells me Palace fans wouldn’t mind seeing either man at their club now.
Both managers seem to be destined for greatness – but what if they’d never gotten their chance? Would Bournemouth still be in the 4th division? Hoffenheim scrapping for promotion to the Bundesliga rather than fighting for the most prestigious trophy in Europe?
What if there are more managers out there, with even greater potential and the perfect strengths to succeed, who don’t get a chance because they weren’t experienced enough? Strengths-based recruitment could change that.
As a long-suffering Coventry City fan, I know better than most that a manager needs more than just a good CV to succeed. High profile managers such as Chris Coleman and Tony Mowbray have only helped our demise to the 4th division of English football.
Mowbray on paper was Premier League material, coming to a League One club, whilst Coleman has soared to success with the Wales national side. So why is it that both managers failed at Coventry? They didn’t have the strengths to work with our owners.
There’s no doubting both men’s credentials, but a tailored Strengths-based recruitment programme could have identified the flaws in each manager in relation to the role – even with their impressive footballing record previously and since.
In the 2015-16 season, 56 managers were sacked, with a further 14 resigning, that’s well over one sacking per week. No-one knows whether or not Strengths-based recruitment would change this, and until it’s tried no-one will. But there may never be a better time to try it.