John Terry

John Terry leading out Chelsea FC ahead of a match in Ukraine

Business lessons to learn from Chelsea FC's loss of John Terry

Nicola Britovsek, HR director at Sodexo Benefits and Rewards Services, explains what businesses can learn from the way Chelsea FC has handled the departure of its captain...

As a Chelsea player, John Terry won four premier leagues, five FA cups, three League Cups, two Community Shields, a Europa League and a Champions League. But now, as he closes the door on his time as a player for the Blues, how has the club handled his departure and what can businesses learn about their approach?

The stats speak for themselves: John Terry is a player and a captain that brings the best out of his teammates and leads them to victory. In the business sense, he is the driver and the motivator, but that means his resignation could have an impact on the focus, determination and productivity of the team.

In the short term, efficiency and output may fall; a new leader may not be in place or have acclimatised to the new role, so the team is left to motivate themselves in pursuit of the company’s goals. Employers need to manage this situation by keeping morale high and attention focused by recognising and rewarding the right behaviours. The incentive itself, be it a gift, voucher or some other item, must be something the recipient will value - taking into account individual preferences and lifestyle. This approach will also help to retain staff who succumb to the ‘grass is greener’ syndrome once word gets out about their manager moving on.

Longer term, the business must decide how the role will be filled on a permanent basis. For Chelsea FC, the promotion of Gary Cahill is on the cards. He will be expected to embrace the team culture that Terry leaves behind and continue to strengthen it. In business, a change of management could mean a welcome change of culture, a new person’s perspective and experience, or a mission to capture the essence of a team and retain it. In any case, the solution should be aligned with the company’s corporate goals. What sort of leader will strengthen a team and increase productivity? Would hiring from a different company, or even sector, offer employees a change in perspective that could help to futureproof a firm?

Once the new leader is appointed, they must work closely with their new team and the rest of management. They will know what works best, and similarly what doesn’t, providing opportunity for reform and improvements. As time goes on and changes are implemented, it will be important for the team to ‘buy in’ to these. Incentives can also help here, with prizes for top performers or for each new method utilised.

After three months in the role, the business will be able to assess the successful integration of the new leader. Statistics don’t lie, so it is important to check business performance and check whether any initial dip in results is beginning to recover. Just as importantly, taking a sentiment test of the rest of the team will allow success to shine and issues to be addressed.

Ultimately, a good leader will empower the team and a good business will empower the leader. By offering the tools and support needed to encourage good behaviour, productivity and efficiency, improvements can be made.  In any business, motivated and focused employees tend to be the most productive, so a period of change is no time to skimp on resource, but actually a time to invest. Reminding employees what the business stands for, remembering the good times but embracing the future, will reap rewards for everyone involved.