Learning from the Pandemic: People

In the first few months of the coronavirus pandemic, Sportsology hosted a number of interactive roundtable discussions with senior leaders from major sports teams and leagues. Featuring 125 participants from 59 organizations, the sessions were an invaluable opportunity to discuss the challenges and opportunities presented by the pandemic.

During the sessions, we learned a huge amount from leaders navigating the crisis in real time. Broadly speaking, those insights fell into five categories:

  • Finance
  • Business
  • People
  • Communication
  • The Future

Over the next few weeks we’ll be presenting selected insights from the roundtables in article form so that others can learn from the experiences shared by those who participated in the sessions.

In this article, we’re looking at the ‘people’ learnings that emerged from the discussions.

Collective Decisions

It’s vital to listen to your players and staff to clearly understand their needs during a difficult time. Empowering others in the decision making process can also boost engagement and keep morale high. 

Encourage a strong collective, but don’t forget the importance of individual conversations, particularly at a time when people are struggling to cope with uncertainty.

Focus on Culture

The key is to align behaviors and actions with the goal of constantly reaffirming your team’s ethos. Instilling a sense of discipline is crucial, as is clearly communicating what is expected of players and staff both now and in the future.

Transparency & Trust

Trust enables camaraderie and reveals potential problems. Those who are suffering mentally and emotionally with the situation are more likely to open up and be honest in a trusting atmosphere.

Cultivate Leadership

Uncertainty is emotionally exhausting, so ensure that people are cognitively engaged with new tasks. One way to do this is to give people leadership roles – no matter how small the task may be. This helps to maintain engagement and provide a sense of achievement and a culture of resilience.

Mental Health Support

Think of creative ways to encourage engagement and pay particular attention to young players, new team members, and foreign players with family abroad.

Chris Mann is Head of Content at Sportsology

Image: Javier Allegue/Unsplash

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