Footballers are extreme creatures. One minute they're happily kicking a ball around a field, the next they're complaining (through their agent) that they want to leave because the club forgot to wish them a happy birthday.

This is the rather confusing case of Yaya Toure, a talented man, who turned 31 last week. He is claiming that because Manchester City didn't wish him a happy birthday, he wants to leave the club. He's upset. He's upset that Roberto Carlos received a Bughatti for his birthday from the owners of Anzhi, but he didn't even get a handshake.

What a prima donna.

But what a talented prima donna.

On the one hand, football clubs are dancing around their prima donnas, trying to keep them happy at all costs – and on the other, they're ditching managers after 10 months because they failed completely to put a succession plan in place.

Thankfully, we don't all have to deal with footballers and their agents, with their ridiculous envy. But everyone's different – for every Yaya Toure, there's a Leighton Baines, doughtily respecting his contract and keeping a low profile. What do we do with these prima donnas? Do we pander to them, or do we whip them in line – or ship them out?

The value of consistency

Those who've read my other articles will know that I'm an Everton fan – a well-run club free from the expensive Yayas and their tantrums. Our recruitment policy is what sets us apart from other, richer clubs. We may not have the financial clout, but we've brought in the right types of personality.

However, we're not winning the league. City are. Therefore, buying prima donnas works – but they need handling in a manner consistent with other employees. You can't buy one a Bughatti and expect the others not to want one.

Consistency comes from the top and spreads downwards. Treating everyone equally (while not paying them equally) should be a cornerstone of the business – if that means celebrating everyone's birthday (and not just those of the high performers), then so be it.

It's never about one thing

I seriously doubt that Yaya Toure is talking about leaving Manchester City because they forgot his birthday (besides, they tweeted happy birthday to him). It is more likely that he is looking for the opportunity to leave.

If you have unhappy employees, you can probably detect them just by walking through the office. Turning up late? Doing the minimum? Dressing a little less sharply than before? Participating less in meetings? This is where your line managers should be trained to notice the signs and react.

A few honest conversations might reveal that there are other underlying problems – conflicts with the manager or teammates, concerns about job role, or even the thought that there may be more money at the competition. You'll never know if you don't talk.

And then one thing might bring it all out – one straw might break the camel's back.

Make your decision

Do you continue hiring prima donnas? Or do you tighten up your hiring procedures so that you hire more for cultural fit than for outrageous talent?

It's a fine balance. While the Yaya Toures of this world cost £300k a week and have a tendency to complain all the time, they do win you championships. If you have money to throw away, that's great – but if, like the rest of us, budgets are tight, better to avoid prima donnas in the first place and look to build a more coherent unit – and that means profiling the kind of person you want to hire, to build the kind of business you want to be.

Oh, and one thing…

Don't forget their birthdays.

Processing...
Thank you! Your subscription has been confirmed. You'll hear from us soon.
ErrorHere