Jose Mourinho’s seasonus horribilis management style to be avoided

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It may make for riveting viewing but when it comes to managing poor staff performance employers should steer clear of the soap opera style of leadership employed by Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho.

The fiery Portuguese’s most recent public lambasting of Chelsea’s under performing playing staff ticks all the wrong boxes when it comes to good performance management.

I’m not for one minute suggesting that the ‘Special One’ isn’t a great football manager – his silverware haul over the last decade has certainly cemented his place among the world’s best.

I’m also aware that this is not the first occasion that the Chelsea boss has featured in this blog space during what is fast becoming a seasonus horribilis for him. We are not on a witch-hunt or by any stretch of the imagination anti-Chelsea – we simply believe his public outbursts about employees can serve as good examples of what not to do when managing staff. Also he obviously loves the publicity, so what the hell.

Publicly berating his playing staff and others at Chelsea FC has secured headline after headline this season but it is a tactic which employers and managers should avoid at all costs.

Following defeat to Leicester City on Monday night Mourinho went so far as to state that his “work was betrayed” by his players. I’d say there was a collective jaw-drop in the Chelsea dressing room when he added: “One possibility is that I did an amazing job last season and brought the players to a level that is not their level and now they can’t maintain it.”


Forget about following that style of people management because it will end in tears. ‘Praise in public, criticise in private’ is a good motto for employers and managers to live by in order to drive and sustain good performance in the workplace.

In fact when problems of under performance arise it is prudent of managers to look at how they can operate differently to address the situation. It’s up to the manager to find a solution to the problem, not to point the finger of blame particularly not in full view of everyone and especially not on live television in the manner of the so-called Special One.

A manager who adopts the ‘I’m great, you’re not’ attitude will suffer in the long run. When the pressure is on in the workplace, performance can often take a dip and it’s then that is when real leadership is required.

Providing feedback to staff is central to good performance management.
Assuming that the prerequisites for good staff performance – Basic Standards, Expectations and Targets – have been well established it is then important to provide updates on performance by giving feedback to staff.

However, delivering feedback can be a tricky leadership skill to master and certainly not something to be snarled out during a TV interview.
Below are a few tips for employers to remember.


1 State your purpose during discussions with staff. Be clear and concise and avoid ‘small talk’.

2 Describe the problem. Describe the performance or behaviour without being judgmental and always provide details on incidents of poor performance.

3 Listen actively. Use open questions such as asking for reasons which may be affecting performance.

4 Agree on the problem. This is important for reaching a solution and may require modifying your own view.

5 Ask the employee how he/she could resolve the matter and agree on an action plan

6 Have the employee sum up the conversation – this ensures common understanding.

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