08. 09. 2023

Declan Rice, Harry Kane…. how does a business replace their one big star?

This summer, West Ham United replaced Declan Rice, which many considered an impossible task. He was their best and most pivotal player, leaving a hole which goes beyond playing ability. He was the team’s captain, the morale-builder, emotional core and key person within the team. He pushed his team mates to new levels when they played alongside him.

As you may know, I’m not a huge football fan but this resonates so well within the business world. How does a team recover from the loss of one of their key players? Many established employees will not only be great at their day-to-day job but will also display leadership qualities, being the glue which keeps a team together, and helping to create higher levels of productivity. The moment a key player hands in their notice is dreaded by most managers, however, businesses can overcome the immediate loss to create new and successful team dynamics. Great teams will have the strength to bounce back from losing a star colleague and a football team is no exception. Here, we look at how you can overcome the loss of a “Rice” in your team and how you can also create a new team dynamic.

Declan Rice was a very important player for West Ham, his departure affected the team's morale partly due to his wide fan base. Like with any business, management will always worry about the impact of a key player leaving. Will this have a domino effect on the rest of the team? How will the business cope? What will the impact be on our productivity or our customers? If you have the right people in your business, there is a passion and emotion within the team, just like there is within a football team. And if it’s deep-rooted enough, it won’t disappear overnight.

So what did West Ham do to overcome Rice's departure? They hired new players. I know it sounds simple and we all know that recruitment is definitely complex right now, but, if you get the hiring process right, you will unearth future stars. West Ham signed 4 new players who, on the surface, didn’t seem as they would be as impactful as Rice. However, they have made great contributions to the team. They couldn’t look for an exact replacement, after all, each person comes with different experience and strengths, and this is the same for any business. Seek individuals who you feel could do the job with the correct training and support, who would fit into the team and company culture (probably the most important aspect in my opinion), as well as someone who is trustworthy and who is keen to develop with you long term.

Although the prospect of losing an experienced individual is daunting, your new hire will bring new ideas and energy to the team. Embracing change with a considered approach leads to success, highlighted by West Ham so far this season. What you may actually find is that other team members take a step up, junior colleagues will take the opportunity to develop more quickly and a new star will emerge; the team will work together and a new dynamic will be created.

Like West Ham, most companies will have the strength to overcome recruitment obstacles, including the departure of key employees, the “Declan Rice’s” of the business world. New hires will join and make a real contribution, it just takes time and the right outlook to get there. The success of any team, within football or business, relies on the fundamental core team values and a supportive culture to nurture the people left within the team, as well as the new joiners. Allowing them to shine in their own right, rather than just being an exact replacement to their predecessor. I’m sure West Ham have an exciting season ahead, as will any business who embraces the change to find their new key player.

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