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Touch Football Australia

Leading Teams implemented the Performance Improvement Program with Touch Football Australia (TFA) from late 2012 to 2017. We spoke to Colm Maguire, then Chief Executive Officer of TFA, about the effects of the program.

What issues were you noticing in your team that needed addressing?

The team had operated under certain conditions for a length of time where relationships were not optimal. There were fractured relationships and the team was not being seen as ‘unified’ by the extended workforce.

Overall there had been much done about culture internally however, self-implementation was not getting the results we needed in order to take the team to the next level.

There were also external factors that had impacted the way the team were leading and we needed to take stock of the way in which we could improve the position overall to counter negativity.

Why Leading Teams?

Having researched Leading Teams and followed the constant references to the results they were achieving particularly within the AFL field, we were interested to understand the model more specifically.

Noting that much of the model was about genuine conversations, honesty in feedback and culture improvement it was clearly aligned to the areas we wanted to specifically fix. Ultimately we had aspirations of becoming a High Performing Team and we felt that this would be achieved with support and guidance externally.

Also, being a sporting body and implementing much of what we know from a similar field, we knew this could transition well into a corporate/sport structure. It was clear to us that a program designed to work with sporting teams would resonate with the workforce of a national organisation like ours.

What is the impact of working with Leading Teams?

The impact is profound. The leadership team has unified and made immeasurable steps toward living its trademark. Relationships have improved significantly and the leadership team have positioned themselves well to lead the organisation and support each other.

The program will continue to spread and this will empower the staff. We have a framework not only to measure our performance as a group but the tools and permission to assist/support each other to be the best we can be.

We have evolved on all levels and now have a trademark that will live through our Strategic Plan and the principles have been further adopted into our human resource processes.

What areas in your business use Leading Teams?

The Leadership Team initially utilised this to ensure that we were role modelling the appropriate behaviours. I always had a view that the mechanisms and program needed to spread through the workforce in order to create a true organisational culture. This included the management team at senior level and the State Network.

We are on a journey of expanding the program and believe that ultimately we see it being a part of everything that we do and everyone that is involved with our sport. It is with true alignment of culture and behaviours that the organisation can hold itself to account.

The view is that the culture can and will outlive the current personnel – a real succession plan for the organisation.

We have set our sights on unifying the sport over the next 4 years through our culture and this program will be instrumental in holding us to account.

We have an opportunity to set up the way the sport is destined to behave into the future and this will ensure success

What is different about Leading Teams?

The honesty and direct nature of conversations. The program gets to the root of any issues by challenging individuals to understand themselves and others. The continual check on progress and firm focus on accountability is something that can be lived not just utilised in a work or sport environment. It makes you realise what is important to you and hold yourself to account on the values you hold to be dear to you or your organisation and how they fit with your team members to create collective culture.

Furthermore, our connection with the leader or facilitator is also genuine. They absolutely care about what is occurring and take great pride in seeing us progress as a team.

What is the single biggest improvement you have seen in your organisation?

A tough question when reflecting on the single greatest improvement. My personal opinion is the fact that the team is ‘unified’. This single improvement has resulted in stronger role modelling to the staff and negated any divisive elements that were occurring previously.

There has been a genuine commitment to the improvement of relationships in such a process to achieve unity and a better understanding of the impact our behaviours have on the team at large.

We have also been able to make the tough decisions that will ensure this business is ready for the future it desires. Without the mechanics we put in place to support each other through this and the honesty to assess what we needed we may have marked time.

What have you found out about yourself throughout this program?

I have found that there are certainly things that others see that I cannot for one reason or another. The ability to have people present areas for improvement while challenging can be extremely rewarding.

On occasions much of what you hear, you may not specifically think is reality but that is your reality.

If the team commits to the process and is genuine in the appraisal you have the capacity to learn more about yourself. Overall I have learned how to engage with the team on a more productive level in order to gain assistance I need in critical areas.

In a word or sentence, describe your experience with Leading Teams?

Empowering and Energising.

What would have been the impact had you not addressed the issues with your team?

I believe we would have continued to operate in a less than optimal manner and blamed everyone but ourselves for inconsistency in behaviours throughout the greater workforce.

We may well have accepted that it was a difficult job to do with numerous competing factors rather than owning the fact we needed to drive harder to achieve great results.

We would not have achieved as much as we have as we would have been less open, less engaging and less inclined to challenge the team for more in a time where accountability and support to greater objectives was critical.

We now sit on the verge of our next cycle with all the tools available to achieve our desired results, a culture of team and the honesty to reflect on what is needed on a daily basis.

The support has changed us immensely and the entire workforce and sport is benefiting.