Africa’s Cup of Nations is here! And with football (or soccer, if you prefer) having an estimated 3.5 billion fans around the world, there are definitely some parallels we can draw between the popular sport and our work culture. Here are three ways in which football mirrors a great workplace environment.

Just like football, trust is key

Coaches find the best roles for each player and play on their skillset, all while keeping the rest of the team motivated. Coaches, like managers, often have different approaches, but the best ones always earn a high level of respect from the team, and it shows both on the field and in the workplace.

Just like on the football field, in the workplace you should gain the trust of your team. Like the players, you cannot win without them. 

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According to Forbes, one way to increase trust on your team is to “value your employees as people more than you value them as production units. When you make human decisions instead of mechanical ones based only on profits, people notice.”

At the end of the day, even professional football is a business, if the owners of these teams didn’t treat each player as a valuable human being, you would find less willing and qualified participants.

According to world-renowned sports-psychologist Dan Abrahams, “The ultimate for any soccer coach, in my opinion, is to win the trust of the players. Without trust, it is impossible to develop individual players and to develop a team.”

One way to damage trust is to be overly critical of your player or, in an office setting, your team member. says, “overly critical coaches create tentative athletes who always look over their shoulders because they are afraid of making mistakes.“ So, give direction, but don’t be overly critical so as to ruin your team-players’ morale and motivation. 

Along with trusting your team, building teamwork through various exercises can be both fun and beneficial. Senegal’s football team has been known to dance as a team before games to let loose and bond as a team.

Welcome diversity on your team

This year’s African Cup of Nations has a total of 24 different national teams represented but even within each of these teams, you can find players from all over the world as representatives of just one nation. For instance, on Morocco’s national team, 17 out of the 23 players on Morocco’s team were born in various European countries.

Just like diversity in football, we should welcome diversity in the workplace. According to a recent study from Stanford University, people tend to think of diversity as simply demographic; having to do with just race, gender or age. However, groups can be diverse in many ways.

Diversity is based on informational differences, such as differences in a person’s education and experience or values and goals, can influence the mission of a company and its culture. According to the Washington Post, “Soccer (football) teams that are composed of equally talented players may accrue additional benefits when their players differ in the way they interpret problems and use their skills to solve them.” In other words, different problem-solving skills means more goals for the team.

France, for instance, has the popular slogan, “black, blanc, et beur” which is often used to indicate diverse, racial tolerance throughout their nation.

Herve Renard, Morocco’s head coach, takes this diversity into consideration when coaching his team. “You are never the same man for 23 players. You are 23 times a different coach to them depending on the background, the socio-cultural education of the player – their culture, their life, their footballing habits. You have to be clever and smart, and manage a player depending on his sensibilities. That’s what I am passionate about,” said Renard.

Diversity among employees can create better performance when it comes to team-based projects such as product development or cracking new markets. On top of that, “in offices where people thought the firm was accepting of diversity, they were happier and more cooperative,” said MIT Economist Sara Ellison.

A common goal brings us together

The FIFA World Cup and CAF are just two examples of tournaments that mean a great deal to the participating teams and to the countries that are represented. During international tournaments, you’ll notice the flags from various countries that represent a passion and love of the sport.

In 2006, Egypt went on to win the African Cup for the first time in 20 years. Back in this time, the team was led by the renowned Egyptian coach Hassan Shehata who managed to motivate the team to win the title at home. Despite the low odds, he went further and led the team to a historical achievement, winning the titles for three times in a row. This year, the team is working hard to secure a top spot in the 2019 CAF tournament. 

Just like football, your company should also work toward a common mission and goal. Here in WUZZUF for instance, we have a company-wide goal of helping one-million job seekers find the right job through our platform by 2020. Such impact drives us to wake up in the morning and to go above and beyond to get our objectives achieved.

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Having a common goal brings us together. And like football, having common goals and objectives at work bring your team together. When those goals are met, whether on a project by project basis, monthly or quarterly, it can create a stronger bond between the team and a sense of company pride.

Building a strongly bonded team in a healthy workplace is the foundation you need to build for prosperous team performance. However, before that, you need to get the right hires in place. WUZZUF helps you do just that.

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