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External recruitment, and the impact of a new leader

Penny Brooks

15th September 2017

With apologies to Crystal Palace fans - the hasty sacking of Frank de Boer as manager of Crystal Palace after only four games can give an example of various features of external recruitment, and the risks of strategic change.

First, when a board of directors seek a new manager for their business, one of the advantages of external recruitment is that they bring in experience and expertise developed in other companies. In de Boer, Palace acquired a manager with genuine breadth of experience across European football, but perhaps lacking depth of knowledge of this particular market - the English Premier League. 

This leads to the second point - how long do you allow a new manager to learn about the new market? Palace's last few managers were all 'experienced, steady hands' with a pragmatic approach to gaining enough points over the season to remain safe from relegation - surely the first objective for the majority of teams in the Premiership, apart from the top 6 or 8 who are seeking places in Europe. This had worked, but the appointment of de Boer was publicly acknowledged as a change of strategy, with the Chairman Steve Parish talking of 'evolution over time'. But when that evolution didn't immediately take place, and the team didn't immediately adjust to a different way of playing, the board got cold feet and sacked the architect of change, reverting to the experience of Roy Hodgson as a safe pair of hands again, instead of allowing time for the evolution to be developed. 

So a change of strategy might sound attractive to a board of directors, but the reality tends to be that change takes time, and involves a short-term downturn in results while the long-term adjustment takes hold throughout the organisation. Strategic change is a risk, and requires clarity of direction and a steady nerve. But in a business like Premier League football, a few months may be far too long to suffer poor results - and relegation comes at a very heavy financial cost. 

Penny Brooks

Formerly Head of Business and Economics and now Economics teacher, Business and Economics blogger and presenter for Tutor2u, and private tutor

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