The WICB and strategic human capital
Mon, Jun 4, '12
Commentary by Kenneth Thompson
Why was there a wholesale dismantling of the West Indies (WI) team at the beginning of 2011? What were the real reasons for the WI less than acceptable performance at the last one day World Cup? Were those unacceptable performances the real reason that led to the shelving the senior players? What was the justification for discarding the most experienced players, when selecting a team for Test matches, because of their performance in limited over matches? Could a different approach by the WICB towards the players prevented the many unnecessary public stand offs between the organization and the players?
There are many sides to the arguments floating around. Apologists and sympathizers for the WICB will maintain that every Tom, Dick and Harry has a grievance against the organization oblivious of whatever good the organization has done. The media, social websites, blogs, voices of the common people have voiced their opinions on the fights between the WICB and the West Indies Players Association (WIPA) and the number of victories by WIPA. In looking outside of this, however, one cannot ignore the history of the WICB’s treatment towards players over the years, from as early as Headley to present days. Those that readily come to mind are the differences with Worrell, the standoff with players during the Packer era, the players strike in London en-route to South Africa, and currently the continuing fiasco with the senior players. For readers who may find these skirmishes intolerable and not worthy of discussion, look elsewhere at the many past players from the West Indies who after serving the team manfully for years are now destitute and living in abject poverty. Destitute because their earnings were limited, they had no employment to turn to after cricket and most importantly they have no pension or benefits from the sport they placed above all else during their playing days. Even the most ardent supporters of the WICB cannot deny that these players placed “country before cash”. Yet what do they have for it today, only memories.
No organization can thrive without quality people at all levels. Despite the array of successful business men, academics or passionate individuals who have led the organization, strategic human capital management is a pervasive challenge facing the WICB that the management of the WICB does seem to understand. In the business of sports management, under which cricket falls, human capital involves much more than skill, it encompasses individual capabilities, knowledge, skills, experience of players and managers, and continuous improvement as a source of sustainable competitive advantage. The WICB widespread lack of attention to strategic human capital management has created a fundamental weakness in the ability to fulfill its objectives economically, efficiently, and effectively. The players are the most valuable assets that are employed by the WICB, but the board’s failure to recognize this or effectively ensure that this asset is nurtured and taken care of has been less than desirable. The result has been that players have had to constantly find other ways to ensure that their family and themselves have a secure future.
One of the issues being parroted by the management of the WICB and their sympathizers are that players over the years exhibit poor discipline and attitudes and the time has come to change this. In a constantly evolving environ change is essential to achieving successful results, however, this has to be carefully managed to get the desired results. The board’s attitude has been if you and I cannot agree then get out of the way and let me find someone to replace you, e.g. the disputes with Hunte, Haynes, Hooper, Lara and Gayle to name a few. In any organization it is important how you manage, combine and leverage your human capital, this is particularly true in sports where gifted players often tend to be more loyal to their colleagues and their profession than to those in authority. In such cases the WICB need to and must find ways to create ties among these players and not just throw them to the curb. No organization expends scarce and valuable resources developing its assets and then places them in the scrap heap.
It appears as if we have been at this road numerous times particularly since the turn of this century. The question one is forced to ask and which many followers of WI cricket are probably asking is: Is the WICB the only traditional cricketing administration that spends time and resources on its cricketers and then discard them? In the just concluded Test match at Trent Bridge, Marlon Samuels’ performance forced me to wonder what if we had persisted with the players in whom we had invested so much over so many years. Chanderpaul, Sarwan and Gayle in particular are at the stage of their careers where the WICB should now be maximizing returns from them. There is no question that they have transgressed in some of their actions but are the punishments being meted out justifiable for the transgressions. No rational person would deny that attitude readjustment was needed for certain players, but the WICB cannot continue displaying malevolence towards its most experienced players.
If the WICB wants to make meaningful change and achieve positive results than it must ensure that its most important asset is accorded the importance it so desperately craves. Strategic Human Resource Management requires incorporating both short-term and long-term perspective. Peter Senge one of the leading authors in strategic management calls this “creative tension.” In applying this approach, managers must maintain both a vision for the future of the organization as well as a focus on its present operating needs. Nonetheless, all managers (The President, The CEO, The Coach, Team Manager and Captain) throughout the organization must maintain a strategic management perspective and assess how their actions impact the overall attainment of organizational objectives.
The WICB need to adopt the following steps in ensuring that the development of its human capital is handled with the importance it requires.
- Develop an appropriate system to manage its human capital:
- Hire someone to manage & constantly update the system: Taking care of the players. Looking out for the players’ best interest.
- Make sure that players get something out of it: true recognition of total contribution. Financially healthy; competitively sustainable; strategically skillful. Improve communications between players and management, building tomorrows success on today’s communication.
- Build a focus on a culture of sharing information; foster an environment where sharing information is high in priority:
- Involve top management to emphasize the system’s importance, players, and other stakeholders in developing, communicating, and implementing the strategic personnel plan;
- Determine the critical skills and competencies that will be needed to achieve current and future results;
- Develop strategies that are tailored to address gaps in number, deployment, and alignment of human capital approaches for enabling and sustaining the contributions of all critical skills and competencies;
- Build the capability needed to address administrative, and other requirements important to support personnel strategies;
- Monitor and evaluate progress toward human capital goals and the contribution that human capital results have made toward achieving goals.
- Examining future organizational, environmental, and other issues that may affect ability to attain strategic goals;
- Determining skills and competencies needed in the future personnel to meet the organization's goals and identifying gaps in skills and competencies that the organization needs to address;
- Selecting and implementing human capital strategies that are targeted toward addressing these gaps and issues; and:
- Evaluating the success of the human capital strategies.