Loving your Staff
Since America decided to jump off a cliff, I’ve been thinking about Love. I think Philip Larkin was right: “What will survive of us is Love”.
I’ve written, and often speak, about how a sense of ‘liking’ your staff makes the management and leadership conversation easier. Sometimes I hear objections to that: I’m here to be their manager not their friend, say some; you can’t like everyone the same, and you can’t pretend liking when you don’t feel it.
But today, I’ll go even further. As former Arsenal and England defender Martin Keown said recently, commenting on Jose Mourinho’s public criticisms of his Manchester Utd staff – you have to love your players. Saying “I love what you bring to us and our team” is nothing to do with whether you like someone or not. The second is largely irrelevant; the first is pivotal.
Last Saturday, a footballer at fourth-tier Luton Town, Jordan Cook, was sent off after a rash tackle. I listened to a radio interview with Nathan Jones, his manager. Jones didn’t lash out at Cook or even criticise him. His first words were: “I love Jordan, I love what he does for us. He has a huge future here.” Then he went on to observe correctly that Cook’s choices that day had been poor, and they’d both be at work on Monday morning to think about things together. Brilliant management. I think Cook’s motivation to improve and succeed would have gone through the roof on hearing that.
Start by loving your staff. That will create the platform on which they will be able to hear your requests for improvement.