5 things HR and managers can learn from the World Cup

At my current job, I have to do a lot of reading about a lot of things, mainly HR and Cost-cutting. 

Here’s the advice I came up with during the World Cup for all HR personnel, and all managers (as the title of this post so clearly states):

1. You don’t need the highest paid player in the world to win

ehhh... nao e problema
ehhh… nao e problema

When Portugal played Germany, Cristiano Ronaldo, injured star and captain, ran alongside his men for the entire 94 minutes (90 plus extra time). Of course it’s nice that he stayed with his ship even after it ran aground. The morale-booster didn’t count for much though, because he didn’t seem to be in a position to give it his all. Germany soundly trumped the Portuguese, proving that money cannot buy you everything. (Germany also broke Brazil. But we all know that.)

Lesson: Big bucks don’t mean big results. A leader is only as good as his followers.

2. Source local.


Luis Felipe Scolari, after coaching teams in other countries, returned to the motherland and coached Brazil. There’s bound to have been a level of comfort between him and his players that would have been harder to achieve had he come from any other country. No one can question where ‘Felipao’’s loyalties lay. Nor can anyone doubt that Joachim Loew wants the best for Germany. Good teams + good leaders = good results (generally)

Lesson: Sometimes the right person is right under your nose.

3. The rulebook is your friend and frenemy

may the odds be ever in your favour
may the odds be ever in your favour

Ever wonder about the thoughts that run through a referee’s head? They must be something like this “Did that tackle merit a free kick? Should a penalty have been given? Did that player deserve a yellow card? And what about the red?” Referees call it like they see it. The only problem is they sometimes see it wrong. And it is only later that they realise it’s wrong, when they’re home watching the replays. (This is where cricket has a decided advantage over football: the third umpire- instant replay, instant decision.)

Lesson: Stick too closely to the rulebook and you won’t see the words for the page. When dealing with people, both benefit of the doubt and context are important.

4. Own goals not allowed.


The first goal of the 2014 World Cup was scored by a Brazilian for Croatia. Marcelo probably didn’t mean to score that goal. What kind of player would intentionally sabotage his team and risk angering his teammates? He’s lucky Brazil recovered (from that game, at least). If they hadn’t, the host country might have had another reason to protest. And that would not have been pretty.

Lesson: You need to know which side you’re playing for, and play towards your goals as a team. Management and HR should work with rest of the employees, not against them.

5. Defend Defend Defend.


Iran and Nigeria ran the length and breadth of the field at Curitiba. Neither team scored a goal, because the opposition defended their turf and supported their goalkeeper. Rewind to Spain versus The Netherlands and you will see gaping holes in the Spanish defense, and a helpless, hapless Casillas unable to do much. And yet, he is the one whose role will draw flak.

Lesson: Support, Defend, Provide. Help people do their jobs well, especially when they are asking for assistance.

(Disclaimer: As with a Facebook post, please wear the cleat if it fits. This is not directed at anybody in particular)

Please click for sources of CR GifScolari picRef gif, Marcelo goal (original video and gif)

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