A revolution in Irish cricket
Cricket Ireland, and in fact the game of cricket in Ireland, have been completely transformed since 2010, when we first started working with the organisation.
The defining moment was achieving full Test status in June 2017. This followed a series of high-profile milestones for the men's senior squad, including their first and highly successful World Cup in 2007 and their 3-wicket victory over England at the 2011 World Cup, including the fastest century in World Cup history.
As the governing body for the game in Ireland, North and South, Cricket Ireland is responsible for all aspects of development and performance including the national senior teams, the provincial unions and also grassroots development in schools and clubs.
So it's equally impressive that grassroots cricket has also been transformed, with participation numbers that have grown from 10,000 to 50,000 since the 2007 World Cup. This is aligned with the organisation's strategic goal of "making cricket mainstream" as a sport in Ireland.
Success brings its own challenges
Back in 2010 the organisation's resources were much more limited and there was a smaller infrastructure for those resources to support. So naturally resources were devoted to the areas that would have the greatest impact – coach development and raising the profile of the sport.
The subsequent growth of the sport and particularly the high profile of the senior squad’s achievements bring their own challenges. The sport's traditional stakeholders were the International Cricket Council, The Irish Sports Council and Sport Northern Ireland. They've now been joined by a variety of new commercial sponsors and all of these groups, together with the public, rightly place increased expectations on the organisation in terms of governance and management.
In addition, the scale of the organisation has simply changed and at the same time governance in sport generally is an issue with a much higher profile.
Supporting the development of the organisation
The nature of our work with Cricket Ireland has changed as the organisation itself has grown and evolved. We were initially referred by Sport NI to help resolve an employment issue and following that, the organisation became a client of our Teammate ® retained HR service, giving it access to ongoing advice and support.
First we ensured that the fundamental HR framework was in place including contacts, handbooks, a performance management system and a child protection manual for both Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. It was also important to train managers on the operation of all key HR policies and procedures.
As the structure of the organisation has evolved we have supported that as appropriate, for example putting in place defined contractor agreements for self employed coaches and advising on appropriate remuneration for new roles as the overall structure has grown. As the number of staff has increased we have also provided additional policies which have been required by new providers of funding.
Cricket Ireland was one of the first sporting bodies to become accredited under the UK-wide Equality in Sport Framework and in conjunction with the senior management team, we carried out all the HR activity required to meet the accreditation standard. This involved carrying out extensive training on Equality and Diversity in the workplace, and impact screening all existing policies and procedures to ascertain if they inadvertently presented any barriers to access for under represented groups. We also worked with the Chief Executive and the Board to create an equality action plan, which contained specific strategies to increase participation in Cricket of under represented groups.
And our role today
Essentially we provide a similar service to Cricket Ireland today as we did in 2010, but at a different level, reflecting its growth and development.
In the early days all our contact was directly with the Chief Executive and now that he has a senior management team to support him, there's a team of 9 managers using our service. The growth in the organisation and particularly its success in commercial expansion has created roles that didn't previously exist, in areas like media & communications, marketing, event management and participation.
So there's a much greater range of different queries and the volume has increased. But the nature of our role has also evolved; rather than dealing with everything HR-related as we used to, now we act much more as a trusted coach to the senior management team advising them on more complex HR issues only. A mark of their success in building their capabilities, and the success of Cricket Ireland in building its team.
" HR is inherently difficult and is a quagmire of byzantine structures, human emotions and complicated legislation, particularly in a dual-jurisdiction context. Headstogether's skill is to make sense out of this complexity and deliver simple, smart and flexible solutions that are appropriate to the size of the business.
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