The new premier league season has started and the final frenzied days of the summer transfer window are now over. Teams have spent the last few weeks throwing money around in desperate last-ditch attempts to secure as much talent as possible before the transfer window closed. Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers, who signed several players this off-season, gave an interesting response to media questions regarding the signing of volatile striker Mario Balotelli. Rodgers claimed the strong, high-performance organisational culture he has instilled in Liverpool during his two-year tenure will create the right environment to control Balotelli’s erratic and troublesome temperament. At £16 million it is an expensive gamble.
This raises a good question about recruitment in general; is it worth the risk to hire someone on talent alone if they pose a disruptive threat to the team? The public nature of professional sports presents an excellent microcosm to study this question. Rodgers argued that “Sometimes you have to take a risk with people and a lot of the time if you take that risk you can get a reward for it.” However he also feels that the right structure can suppress potential problems; “what we have here now is an organisational culture of performance, of people working very hard, an infrastructure that’s set up to flourish and if you come into that and you’re not that way or that character it would be really difficult for you….Every player that we assess, character is very important, so no player would come in here if I felt it couldn’t work.”
In organisations, hiring managers have to decide if it is worthwhile hiring superstars if it will upset the team dynamic. Will a cohesive and motivated team always outperform one founded on a few high potential people that disregard the team ethos? My view is that it is better to rely on the strength of the team than on one or two individuals, particularly if they have questions surrounding their dedication or character. Liverpool has taken a serious gamble in signing Balotelli, there is a real possibility that he will negatively impact the harmony within the team. However, sports, like a business, is all about results. Ultimately if Liverpool’s gamble is successful, and Balotelli and the team surpass expectations, Brendan Rodger’s approach will be vindicated and his approach will be hailed as a success. Only time will tell!