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The Raheem Sterling Syndrome in Facilities Management

​Whether you follow football or not, you are most probably aware of the extortionate fees that are being paid by football clubs to sign their next top player. The ludicrous amounts of money paid for someone to kick a ball around is far from a new phenomenon. However, if you were to try and attribute any sort of justifiable logic to the world of football transfers, you could at least argue that clubs pay such comical amounts of money in exchange for players who have at least hit the top level of performance within their respective areas. You could, perhaps, also argue that businesses could justify a similar approach? After all, you supposedly get what you pay for….

Earlier in the summer, Liverpool FC sold a 20 year old attacking player named Raheem Sterling to Manchester City for £49m. A hefty price tag you would assume is buying some pretty impressive credentials. So, what bang have Manchester City bought for their buck? Has the player won lots of trophies? No. Has he come close to reaching the top level of performance in his specialist area? No. Has he built up plenty of experience? No. Has he, at least, scored lots of goals? You guessed it…No.

It would seem that football clubs no longer just part with their cash in exchange for achievement and experience, but merely on the assumption (and blind hope) that the former will come to pass at some stage.

Another similar transfer which was confirmed this week at Manchester United was excellently surmised by one Guardian journalist: “Manchester United are still likely to see the signing as an investment opportunity. The tendency now at the top end of the transfer market is players are being bought a little like equities, where anticipated future performance is factored into the price”.

It appears this tactic is now also becoming prevalent in my specialist market of Facilities Management Service Providers where up and coming young talent is unfortunately becoming increasingly rare. As more FM organisations become increasingly willing to pay high salaries, more of the elusive young individuals in question are starting to realise that the Sterling Syndrome is no longer exclusive to professional football.

Whilst my clients are not quite paying £49m for their future MD’s yet but, I have recently met several individuals with between 3-6 years of industry work experience who are looking for their next pay packet to start in the mid 80’s. The candidates in question are university educated, eloquent, credible, dynamic and ambitious, but does this put them on a financial par with their experienced, proven, time and tested industry counterparts? Well, it would appear it would.

We have recently secured a retained assignment to source a highly experienced and successful individual who has a demonstrable record of growing businesses and leading them into brand new markets. The salary on offer here? £95k, a fair and attractive salary for such an individual. In other news, one of the aforementioned individuals with 5 years’ experience post university has just secured a new role with far less responsibilities at a very well-known FM Service Provider, at £90k.

Much like the football transfer market, there is simply no logic that can be applied to the latter example, it’s simply down to the FM business in question being willing to pay for the idea and hope that this individual will bring eventual successes to their business within an incredibly competitive market place.

I am sure that paying over the odds for individuals with little to no track record of achievement is nothing new in other industries, but it most certainly is in the world of FM. If you are not part of the exclusive ‘future prospects’ club, perhaps have a look at that young, polished, colleague currently sitting 2 rows away from you in the office - as they may well be earning what it’s taken you and the majority of your industry colleagues a much longer time to justify.

Oliver is part of Investigo’s Property and FM division, specialising in placing Outsource Service Providers, Facility Managers, Facilities Consultants, Facilities Project Managers, Operations Mangers/Directors, Business Development Managers/Directors, Account Leaders Directors and Area Managers. If you are seeking a role of this nature or recruiting for these professionals, please contact Oliver on 07711 373 282 or