News, Blog, Employment, Awards, Careers | Friday 14th May 2021

What’s going on at Liverpool FC? (this is not a football post)

Don’t hate me for this if you support another team, but I’ve been a Liverpool supporter ever since I took an interest in football as a boy.

We’ve had our ups and downs over the years. Losing the title in 2019 by one point, thanks to two goal-line decisions that came down to millimetres.

Then landing the premier league title (amongst others) last season after a 30-year drought, having played magnificent football from start to finish.

And earlier this season, going through absolute agony again, as the team created another Anfield first by losing six games at home on the trot.

But as I say, this isn’t a football post. It’s a human or, if you like, business story. How can a successful team have lost its winning form so dramatically?

Not quite ‘working from home’ but nearly

The pandemic’s taking many of us out of our familiar working environments. It’s been unsettling at times and footballers haven’t been immune.

Play was suspended completely during Liverpool’s winning season and as Mohamed Salah highlighted, they spent months wondering if they’d even be allowed to win the league.

That they did must have been a huge relief, but there were no fans in the stadium to share the achievement and none this year to fire the team up.

Maybe Liverpool FC is now suffering from some ‘second album’ syndrome. That wobbling of confidence can’t be helped by the absence of fans, especially at Anfield.

Of course, many businesses are experiencing their own versions of this. Everyone will adapt differently to a changing work environment, some better than others.

It’s challenging for any professional in any job, but at least we’re not in the spotlight in quite the same way as Liverpool FC.

Abuse from the sidelines

The Liverpool team has been discovering just how quickly you can go from zero to hero, certainly in the media’s eyes.

Pundits, including former players, have been queuing up to offer withering assessments of the team’s performances and mental attitude.

One can only speculate how this criticism is impacting on the players; young men who, in quite a few cases, are many miles from home during a global pandemic.

I’m sure though that Liverpool FC is protecting its team. They’ve a great manager and no doubt some exceptional sports psychologists providing support.

It’s just a shame that prominent ex-players and pundits can’t do more to highlight the pressures that top performers are under.

That would be a useful conversation applicable to anyone in any workplace.

Our new normal

When lockdown hit, I told our people to grab what they needed from the office and we’d fill in the gaps so they could work effectively from home.

That’s involved all the practical considerations, from sorting out home offices to embracing Zoom, remote IT and self-assembly office furniture!

But it’s also been about solutions to the psychological pressures of working at home, whether dealing with stress alone or juggling work with childcare.

“What do you need?” and “how are you doing” are vital questions, we’ve found, when it comes to remote working; as is making it clear that it’s okay not to be okay.

We’ve also done our best to communicate what’s happening with the business, because in uncertain times it’s good to know where you stand, wherever and whenever possible.

Certainly, it’s sharpened our focus on mental health and well-being, including the practical steps we can take to keep each other on top of our game.

Maybe this is one of the rare silver linings of the pandemic. I do believe we’ll come out stronger and as a Liverpool FC fan I hope it’s the same for Jurgen and the boys.

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