Sport Sister Podcast - Season 1, Episode 2

Episode 2 – Positive Culture and Leadership: David Faulkner and Keith Hardy.

David Faulkner and Keith Hardy

David Faulkner MBE has previously worked as Head of Performance (Women’s Professional Game and Para) for The FA, and Performance Director of England and Great Britain Hockey.  Keith Hardy is the Chair of Wyrley Juniors FC, the largest football club in the Midlands.   David and Keith join Natalie Doyle to discuss the various elements of a positive culture and what they have learned about leadership through their many years in sport.  Listen to them share their experiences and provide many useful tips you can integrate within your own club or organisation.

I lead from the front. I don’t expect anyone to do anything that I wouldn’t be happy to do.

- Keith Hardy

Read this episode’s transcript

Natalie Doyle: 

Welcome to the Sport Sister Podcast, where we bring together professional experts and grassroots pioneers, to discuss key topics for grassroots sport. 

I’m Natalie Doyle and I’m joined by two more fantastic guests for this episode. 

David Faulkner has previously been Head of Performance for the Women’s Professional game and para at the FA and Performance Director of England and Great Britain Hockey. He was awarded an MBE for services to sport in 2021 and he also had a very successful hockey-playing career, including winning an Olympic gold medal at the 1988 Olympics. 

Keith Hardy has been chairman of Wyrley Juniors, based in South Staffordshire, since 1997. It is the largest football club in the Midlands with over 50 teams. He was awarded an MBE for services to football and the community of Staffordshire in 2018. Lots of great experience between them and today we’re going to be discussing how to build a positive culture. Let’s see what they have to say. 

Right. Well, David and Keith, thanks very much for joining me today. We want to get into this topic of culture. And I know you’ve both been involved in sport for a number of years and would’ve seen positive and negative cultures probably in the various environments that you’ve worked in. So first of all, I want to get your thoughts in terms of what does a positive culture look like for you in terms of sport? 

Keith Hardy: 

Well, shall I start then? 

Natalie Doyle: 

Go for it. 

Keith Hardy: 

Yeah, at a grassroots level, at a macro level, people talk about it as struggling and not enough money, not enough money for facilities. But that’s a given, you have to live with that and get around it. Within the club that I’m involved with, obviously we’ve grown over 20-odd years to quite a sizeable club. And within that, you’ll have 50, 60 different personalities, of which 10 are probably going to be stronger ones. And there’ll be a mix of one extreme of, “It’s never going to happen,” to, “Let’s go ahead and do it.” 

And for me, it needs strong leadership from a couple of people to drive it in the direction that you want it to go. Something that strikes home to me, and I was recalling this when you prompted us to think about what we’re talking about today, was a boss said to me, and he was a younger boss than me, at a banking meeting where I was attending. And we had input a presentation from someone within the group. It was a banking group. Where the service wasn’t too good. 

And he presented and the first question that I asked was a negative one. It was, “What about the poor service you’re giving?” And my boss said to me afterwards, “You do realize that you set the tone then for a feeding frenzy?” And that got me thinking afterwards, I always thought I need to coach a negative comment positively if I can. So that struck home with me. So it’s making sure that the message that you give all the time is a positive one despite the fact it could be negative underneath if you dig any deeper. So that’s the first thing for me, just setting the tone really. 

David Faulkner: 

Yeah. And really, that’s a really useful intro for me. One of the things I’ve learned with teams that I’ve ended up coming in to lead is they normally miss or are missing traits of confidence, trust, and courtesy. Keith is right, it does stem from leadership. I may make reference later on about high performing teams, but if you do not have the habits of an exceptional leader around, it doesn’t matter what environment you are in. 

I’ve been fortunate enough to be in performance. I’m currently president of my local hockey club. So I do understand grassroots around that. And if you don’t, as a leader, set a vision and a sense of purpose, so what Keith has just said about setting the tone, then your team, firstly, are not going to follow you. And secondly, the tone you set with no vision or sense of purpose will mean that it will be rudderless. 

So, clear, effective communication, and always expecting the best, and the passion for what you do. I know that sounds very simplistic, but for me, that’s really always been set about in the environments I’ve had to lead, whether when I was an international hockey player to when I was a performance director, they don’t really change. And then the behaviors that come off that, so you can sense from me, I’m very behavioral-driven around that. 

And of course, then what comes into question is how you lead and what level of emotion intelligence do you have around that? So your self awareness around your team to bring out the best in others, knowing what your strengths and weaknesses are. So knowing what your weaknesses are, use others around you to bring that through. So that would be my first starting statement, about the culture is all about setting the tone for leadership, but it’s not a leader developing followers, it’s a leader developing other leaders in your team. 

Natalie Doyle: 

Absolutely, yeah. That’s really important, isn’t it? And I know, Keith, obviously you’ve got a very large club at Wyrley Juniors. You’ve got more than 50 teams down there now. How do you make sure that that is ingrained throughout a club of such a large size? Because, like you said, it’s really important to have that leadership, but how do you make sure that then that’s consistently delivered throughout all of your teams? 

Keith Hardy: 

It’s difficult. And I’ve had conversations with the FA, and you might want to pick up on this to get some business out of them, we expect managers to have all the social skills and all the businesslike skills in the world. Yet really, all they are is people who’ve got a child usually who wants to play football. And without their dad or their mum stepping forward over that line to take the team forward, they wouldn’t be able to play. 

So we give them coaching skills online now, and then we leave them to it. And as a club, we could do better with supporting them. We’ve set up a mentoring scheme where last year’s new coach becomes a mentor to this year’s. So they pass the baton on all the while. So that’s what we try to do locally. But do coaches have the skills to handle criticism, to handle complaints from parents? Do they have the skills to organize? Have they got the financial wherewithal? We don’t know until they’re put in that position. 

So we try, within the club, to praise loudly and to criticize one-to-one. And, and we don’t criticize really, we just give them guidance. Because soon as you start criticizing, on top of parents criticizing, on top of, “Will little Billy be able to play this Sunday? I haven’t had a text from his mom yet.” All those pressures build. So it needs to be positive to bring every coach forward with you. 

And because there’s 50, I can’t talk to 50. I’ll put my hands up. I don’t recognize all the 50. Because every year we create 10 new teams and I’m getting older, the gray hair shows it, and my memory’s going as well. So we set a system up whereby we have three section heads and they have a task to contact each of their managers within their group once a month by telephone. Because it can’t be done face-to-face, particularly in recent times. 

And it’s on their agenda, “What can we do to help you? Have you got any issues? Do you need any more players? Do you need any more support?” And just by asking those questions, if the answer is no, no, no all a while, that’s fine. But at least we’ve shown an interest in that. We came across this because, and we’ve been going for 40 years this year, but we haven’t got all the answers. 

So we thought we were doing reasonably well, so we set up a questionnaire for coaches and parents. We didn’t know who were responding and lots of the issues that came out of there, it was about communication. So we’ve listened and we’ve put communication channels in place. It is hard when you’ve got 50 people who are just giving up at least 10 hours of their time each year to create a positive culture. But as long as you’re doing all you can to support them and showing that you’re supporting them. And sharing successes is another issue we can talk about, we’ve become a lot better at doing that in the last six months from this questionnaire that we sent out. And I think that helps to build a positive culture too. 

David Faulkner: 

I think you hand the baton nicely, Keith, for me. What I mentioned earlier about what is leadership success look like and how does it sit? For me, the greatest impact I’ve had in any of my environments is ensuring that not just coaches but those in leadership positions really work hard around their self-awareness. And how Keith has talked about, about, yes, leadership and management. But there are other critical areas about giving feedback, dealing with conflict, making decisions, communicating expectations, challenging people to think. 

Because certainly what Keith will be experiencing is parents who, in most common issues, they compare their child to another child. They look back at previous results. You have parents who play out their ambitions in their child, they’re chasing success. And for me, the leadership element is trying to manage all that environment, day-to-day. 

You are accountable to others, but fundamentally it comes down to leading by example. And your style, your energy, your attitude, will be noticed. Now, if you set that tone, you are setting the tone for the culture of the environment that you’re in. And I think certainly for me as a leader, I’ve always remembered five key straights of my leadership style. 

One is to manage my patience, because I’m sure Keith will find in his role aspect, “Oh God, he said that again.” So managing patience. Managing your positive outlook, some people can find that very intimidating, “He’s always positive. Doesn’t he see that we’ve got challenges here?” So there’s an element of that. One step at a time, so even though your pace might be greater, make sure you are in step with the rest of the team. Manage your energy. 

And this final element that will come back to around the environment you work in is be as self aware as possible. So how you see yourself, how you might be seen by others, and in particular how you might be seen when you’re under pressure. Because it sets the tone for the culture. 

Natalie Doyle: 

Yeah. That point about being under pressure is really interesting, isn’t it? I know, Keith, you mentioned around criticism, even at a grassroots level, from parents. And David, you must have seen that at a high performance level. Obviously, as it gets more high profile, everybody’s got an opinion on what’s happening. How have you seen that affect culture within those settings? 

David Faulkner: 

Well for me, because I’ve experienced grassroots but I’ve also experienced performance, one of the things is around setting expectations. Because whether we like it or not, the pathway narrows. A number of times, I’ve been asked to do some mentoring for leaders. And one of the initial things I do with them is ask them to go and look at their diary, go and look at their job description or go and look at their latest appraisal, and tell me what your number one priorities, or set out your top three priorities. 

And nine times at a 10, the answers you’ll get is, “I chair the management group, I look after my finance from this, I review the strategy.” That’s fine. But the number job of anybody in a leadership position is about inspiring and it’s about improving on personal team performance, goals that are not attainable, taking charge and making change work for them. And the best ones I’ve seen operate in terms of their environment is not about the ones who are early at their desk every morning because they were working harder or come up with a complex plan that everybody sometimes don’t understand. It’s actually about being prepared to work differently by listening to others. 

And so over the weekend, I wrote four bullet points down for me around leadership and setting the culture. The ability to use talent and potential. The ability to find higher performance and productivity. Always look at identifying solutions, don’t waste time on the problem. I’m sure that Keith and his role with his club, I bet you’ve [inaudible] some time, Keith. And even at, sorry, I’m going to put Keith and I in the same box, even at our ages being open to development and learning. Because if you do not have that a trait as a leader in your environment, how do you expect others to do it? 

And for me, it’s a real eye-opener when I go into teams and I do culture reviews and performance reviews you. It’s one of the first things I look at, is where does the leadership stand with that development and learning piece? I just thought I’d share that, just as a reflection of the questions you shared and also listening to what Keith really is looking at day-to-day. 

Natalie Doyle: 

Yeah, yeah. Definitely. [crosstalk]. I Imagine, sorry, Keith, in terms of just thinking, so when you took over at Wyrley, it was what, about 25 years ago as chair? 

Keith Hardy: 

Yeah, 25 years ago. 

Natalie Doyle: 

So you had six teams, no base. 

Keith Hardy: 

No. 

Natalie Doyle: 

When you go into somewhere like that, that sort of setting, and there’s obviously huge potential, you must have spotted huge potential in terms of where the club could go. How do you start in terms of integrating some sort of culture into there? Or was there already an existing culture that you felt you needed to work with or change? How do you approach that? 

Keith Hardy: 

It comes back to personal ambition as well. I didn’t want to be involved with a club that was just at six teams forever, as chairman. Because if I’m going to be the head of anything, I want it to be the best that it can be, locally. And then in turn, regionally. And it has been nationally. You can’t sit on your laurels ever. You’ve got to look, to quote a football phrase, “You’re as good as your last game.” So you just need to keep moving forward all the while. 

I didn’t want us to have our meetings in the White Horse pub every month, I wanted us to have our own base. No other club did locally. I wanted us to have a girl’s section, no other club did locally. And as the years gone by, I wanted us to have a disability section, because we should. Not because we wanted to, we should. That’s a different issue altogether. We should and we are, we’re doing it now. 

And then when we’ve got a disability section, I don’t want us just have an autistic team. I want to have a deaf team. And then we’re looking at Down’s syndrome. So there’s always something to improve on all the while. And some of the things that I’ve written down here and thinking about some of the discussion this morning, it’s about incremental improvements all a while, right across everybody within the club. 

From answering your question, there were massive steps to take if we wanted to improve. We had six teams so a simple one was, next season we’ll make sure we have seven. So how can we have eight? Let’s put a soccer school in place. So we did. So then we became 20. How can we have a girl’s section? Let’s put a girls’ section in, girls’ soccer school in place. So we did 20 years ago, way before Aston Villa, Wolves, Blues did locally. We were doing it. 

So how can we get a ladies team? Well, let’s get some of the moms involved. So we did. How can we get a veterans team in place for ladies? We did, we were the first in the region. So it’s thinking ahead all the while and not just thinking, “Let’s be nice to do this.” Let’s actually do it. And I think I lead from the front. I don’t expect anyone to do anything that I wouldn’t be happy to do. 

And one of the strands for me that I think I’m fairly good at is if someone within the club spends a couple of hours at a weekend repairing a goal net, which no one else put their hand up to do, I will give them some praise, shout about it on social media. So for a couple of days, their name is banded about for a little task but no one else was willing to do it. But I would probably have been alongside him handing him the bits and pieces and the spanner, and I never mention my name. 

I always shout loud about what others are doing. And I think people see that. And that’s how I bring people along. I try to anyway. The next thing is Down’s syndrome. I was at my daughter-in-law’s 31st birthday party on Saturday and one of the attendees works in a disability care home. He doesn’t know it, but he’s likely to be manager of our Down’s Syndrome team. 

Always looking for opportunities and for improvement within the club. And not sitting back and thinking, “That’s it, we’ve done it.” We raised one-and-a-quarter million over 12 years, tough job, for our first site. But that wasn’t big enough because we then grew again. So we’re now in the middle of creating our second site. It’s halfway built. The next task, someone’s bound to say, and they’ve asked already, “What about 4g?” Well, I am getting a little bit old in the tooth now. I’m going to probably pass that task to somebody else, but I’ve got plans in place. They can just do it. 

So it’s always thinking next step, all the while. From a six team club, it was easy to go the next step. It’s when you get to the size of ourselves, it’s how do we keep those X number of teams? Why are we losing older boy’s teams? What’s the reason behind that? Are other clubs having similar issues? We’ve got 17% of the coaches are female, how can we get 50%? Those are the issues that are in the back of my mind and that don’t just stay there. I try and work our way through them and make sure that we improve continuously. 

David Faulkner: 

Do you know, Natalie, it’s very motivating listening to Keith for two reasons. One, I was, as you know, a head of performance for the women’s professional game. And I was also head of performance for para. And knowing that kind of activity, inspirational leadership, is making change locally, I can see why it would make such a difference for what we were trying to do internationally. So I thank you for that, Keith. 

And I think the other thing that Keith has just described, and I’ve written down a few things here while listening to it, there’s a lot of confusion between high performance and high performing teams. And what Keith just described is a high performing team. 

Keith Hardy: 

You’ll know from my background, I’ve been involved with high school PTAs and governors of primary schools as well, and the parents. Within all that are the parents, even though they’re in their twenties and thirties, I’m still a parent and a grandparent as well. So I know that you look at the membership of the club, I know if I ask someone to do something, “Look, I’ve got task, guys. I need your help.” I know a third of them will put their hand up and say, “What do you need, Keith?” I know a third might do if there’s something in it for them. And I know a third will just sit back and just let it happen. 

And I could tear my hair out and I could scream at meetings if I wanted to, which just it’s stupid energy. I tell people within the club, who say, “Why aren’t we getting more help at tournaments?” And I’ll say, “It’s the way it is. Just accept it.” If you get one extra person a year that’s success, you’ll never get 100% of the club going in the same direction. Because you don’t know if they’ve got busy lives, if they’ve got an aged set of parents they’re looking after, if they’ve got issues at home. Just accept the situation. 

If you can pull another one or two along with the you each year. Fantastic. But in the meantime, just do what you can to the best of your ability. And I try and share that message. It’s hard at times because I feel what they’re going through as well. But in the position I’m in, I can’t share out loud, only to a couple of confidants within the team and within the committee maybe, how I really feel. It’s about putting on a brave face at all times and really pushing some people along. 

There are others within the club, I know I couldn’t get. The phrase that always Springs to mind as well is, “If you want something done, give it to a busy person.” Which is why my in tray is this be. But I know within the club who I can trust and if I ask them, there’s a coach looks up to two girls teams, we’re trying to set up a session where we have 12 to 14-year-old girls, new starters to the game. So having to have the five or six years developments through soccer schools, all the way through playing for teams, which the FA are pushing, we’ve applied for that. 

So who do I ask? I ask him and he says, “Yeah, I’ll get involved with that.” Because I know he’ll do what he can. So it’s about identifying the right people as well to push that culture forward. And within any organization, there’ll be others that are easy to push along with you, lots who you can pull along with you. And if there’s others who won’t go, don’t waste your energy on them. Just accept the fact and just concentrate on the 30% that you know will drive it along with you. 

Natalie Doyle: 

Yeah. It’s about surrounding yourself with the right people, isn’t it? And when you talk about personal ambition, it’s about being aware of what other people’s personal ambitions are as well and what impact that can have on what you’re trying to achieve. 

Keith Hardy: 

Yeah, yeah. What motivates people is different. 

Natalie Doyle: 

Exactly. 

David Faulkner: 

And I think, Natalie, there’s another side of this which people forget, it’s what is the behaviors that are going on? And they may sound so simple, but they do have quite an impact on what Keith is outlining within his environment in grassroots, which is the whole piece of what we’re trying to reflect here. It’s punctuality, are the team involved in decisions and giving choices and share responsibility? That’s what I’ve just heard from Keith, cooperative as well as collaborative. 

They set the culture, those behaviors really set the culture of what you’re working in, day-to-day. 

And you’ve got to be an exceptional leader, especially with volunteers. People say, “Well, of course, it’s easy with you.” Because in the roles I’ve been, you employ people. Well, yeah, you do employ people, but the structure’s still the same. But actually if you can lead volunteers, you can lead professionals. I think it’s far tougher leading a team of volunteers than it ever is with a team of professionals. And I think that’s totally overlooked at times. 

Yeah, definitely. And I suppose there’s different challenges with that as well, isn’t there, David, when you come to working with international squads? Obviously Keith is working with his managers, his section heads, his volunteers week in, week out. How do you embed a culture when you are only seeing the players and the bringing the team together every few months, depending on what the calendar looks like for that year? How does that affect how you embed culture? 

Well, the first thing is to ensure that you have a clear vision and objectives that can manage expectations. There are strengths of being together all the time and there are weaknesses, and vice versa. But if there is no vision, an objective set for that program, how do you expect when they turn up to know what they’re doing? 

There’s a great example that when you’re in an environment, sometimes the best way to test it is walk down the corridor, let’s say get to the photocopier or go into the kitchen and ask the individuals in that environment, “What is the vision for this organization?” So setting the vision is a real important element to it. 

I think the other one is that total sharing of knowledge and experiences. So you have an open and honest working environment. Players go away, they have different experiences, but actually their focus still with the international team is a clear vision with structure of how you’re going to operate. I always found actually that when the teams came together, it became very pressurized because there was less time. 

And the best performing teams I saw operate is those other individuals compensating for each other, especially in the staff when they’re trying to run a program. So what’s the analogy? The Swan above the water, graceful, but the legs going hard underneath, doing that underneath to compensate and help with high workload at the time so it doesn’t impact any behavioral things with the players. 

The ability to pre-brief and debrief each other formally and informally. Everybody taught, “Oh, we must have a meeting, must have a meeting.” I bet you, Keith’s been his most effective on the side of the pitch or the back of the shed in the ground or a chat by the car, because people forget the informal piece is just as important as the formal- 

Keith Hardy: 

Yeah, that’s true. 

David Faulkner: 

…element to it. And I suppose the last two things are, for me, around setting that culture, especially coming in short-term is, there will be conflict so you get in, you need to deal with in an open manner and effectively confront each other. And that comes down to that whole self-awareness piece. But at the end of the day, around the leadership, the program, that’s got to have that total faith trust and belief. Those three words are so key to how you operate. 

So that’s where I’ve seen it managed so effectively is understanding the environment you’re coming into. You are not going to create something overnight that’s going to be top winning. You have to build that over a period of time. And the challenge for international football is they only come together six times a year. So 75 to 80% of the time the players are in their clubs. So it’s about the leadership trusting the clubs as well. So there’s a [inaudible] piece here about supporting the players and trusting the clubs. 

Keith Hardy: 

Those little meetings, as David said, in the tractor shed or at the side of the pitch, fixing a net or whatever, or just saying hello in the coffee queue outside the kitchen shutters that’s vitally important I think, just to show that you are approachable and to share the message in not a subtle way maybe, “How are things, Keith?” “They’re fine.” “How are things with you?” “They’re fine.” “What you up to now these days?” And then you share the message, “Well, we’re trying to develop another site. You’re aware of it, yes? We’re still looking for funding. If there’s any way you can help me, I’ll be really appreciative.” 

And they know what I’m saying, they can read quickly behind the lines. Because people cross the road when they see me coming. But yeah, that’s ingrained within you. You hope that everyone else buys into it, you identify quickly who hasn’t, and you either try and influence them to move with you. And if they can’t accept it and get on, don’t waste your energy. 

Natalie Doyle: 

Yeah, definitely. It’s that importance again, of those informal conversations. Obviously really key, aren’t they, in terms of ingraining that culture throughout the club? 

David Faulkner: 

What you’ve just heard from Keith there is a bit of reflection, self-awareness around the environment he works in. And in your leadership role, you’ve got to look at the fact, someone might have the skill sets, but does that person have the behaviors and values to deliver the role you’re asking? 

Because what you find is he could be the most skillful, I don’t know, you bring in a financial expert, you might bring in a landscaper, you might bring in a quantity surveyor. All that could add value to the club because of different aspects of it. But if they don’t have the appropriate behaviors and values that then play out in their style of leadership and management that fits with what Keith’s got. Well, it’s never going to work. 

Keith Hardy: 

No. 

David Faulkner: 

And it comes back to this piece. If I was describing Keith’s role day-to-day in grassroots, which certainly needs to happen in performance, he’s in the job inspiring everybody day-to-day. And if he has a cog in that team that isn’t playing out the behaviors and values he set, then actually you are not going to get the processes right that you need to make sure it’s performing. And I think, in preparing for this, in terms of this conversation today, the most important thing is to provide a positive experience for all, all of the time. 

Because what you find then is, whatever outcome you’re looking for, it looks after itself. So someone in performance, you’ll never hear me talk about winning, believe it or not. I’ve been to Olympics, Commonwealth Games. I was at the World Cup with the Lionesses, but you’ll never hear me talk about winning. Because if you don’t get the processes right and the people right, and you don’t get the experience right, the outcome will show. So that’s why the focus around the people dimension I call it, is so important for every environment. 

Keith Hardy: 

It’s interesting, at your level, the athletes that you’ve been involved with, if it’s an 11 man team, if you’ve got every one of those 11 performing at their highest ability, you’ve got a chance of winning as a team, haven’t you? 

David Faulkner: 

I think, those listening to myself and Keith today, there are so many parallels between grassroots and performance. Don’t think you have to change personality to be in performance. Leadership doesn’t change. People don’t change. What does need is your level of self awareness to lead those people. 

Keith Hardy: 

Yeah. 

Natalie Doyle: 

Definitely. Thank you both so much. There’s been so many fantastic points that you’ve raised while we’ve been talking today. I’m going to ask you one more question before we wrap things up. So if you wanted to give one key piece of advice to any grassroots or high performance club or team that wanted to improve their culture, what would be your top tip for that? And I’ll go to you first, David. 

David Faulkner: 

Well, I had a critical friend, Keith, who sadly passed away. He collapsed on a squash court in front of me and sadly died of my [inaudible] about two, three years later. But he mentored me with my business and a little bit with my sport. And I always remember him saying one thing when my head was in my books, my computer, when my business was struggling slightly. And he came in one evening and he sat down with a cup of coffee and pulled me away. And he said, “David, define learning.” 

And it was the time when the internet was just coming in and whatever. I said, “Well, it’s more reading. It’s go on the internet. It’s speaking to others.” He said, “No, David. Try and remember this, it is always changing one’s or the team’s behavior.” And that has always stayed with me in running my businesses and being in sport. And I said to you earlier, as soon as you stop being open to learning and development, you shouldn’t be part of that team. That’s my one reflection. 

Natalie Doyle: 

Brilliant. Keith, what’s yours? 

Keith Hardy: 

Similar. The one thing that’s has been extremely valuable to us over the last probably five or six years, but we only carried it out six months ago, was finding out what people think about the club and about the committee. And we’ve changed lots of things as a result of that feedback. We could have thrown our Teddy out and said, “Do you realize how many hours we put in unpaid?” We didn’t. We realized that things needed to change. 

So on the agenda tonight will be some of the feedback around what we’ve done since last month, as a result of the questionnaires they sent in. So it’s things like putting in place recognition systems. Simple thing is we ordered some pin badges, three years, five years, 10 years service. Cost us £700, about 70p a pin badge. But we’ll be giving those out to players, coaches, managers who’ve been with the club, as a little bit of recognition. 

The feedback we were getting was we weren’t recognizing what teams and players were doing. We were recognizing what the club was doing, but not what individuals beneath us was doing. And that came out from the questionnaire. Things like communication, “We don’t feel we were part of the club. We felt there were little cliques in place.” So now we’ve put in a communication process where everyone’s spoken to once a month. 

“We felt we had a bit of support for two weeks, and then I was just left to get on with it as a new manager.” We’ve put mentoring systems in place now. So it’s finding out from others what the club looks like, not what you think it looks like. And then making sure, because it’s okay asking the question, it’s even worse if you ask the question and don’t do anything about it. But we’ve certainly taken probably eight or nine steps as a result of the feedback. 

And it’s on the agenda tonight so we’re reminding people constantly that we are listening and we’re still doing stuff around it. So that would be my tip, would be seek feedback, honest feedback. So make sure there’s no names attached to it and you will get honest feedback. And there are survey systems in place, you’ll be aware of those. And then make sure you action them, which we as a club are doing and we feel we’re getting strong results of that. 

Natalie Doyle: 

That’s fantastic advice. Thank you both so much for giving up your time today. It’s been a really interesting discussion and thank you very much. 

Keith Hardy: 

Thank you both. Good to see you. 

David Faulkner: 

Thank you both. 

Natalie Doyle: 

A really interesting discussion there. And I think, although it was great to discuss with them the importance of positive culture. And I think there were some really great tips from both of them there that you can implement in your own club or organization. It was also great to see that desire from both of them to constantly want to improve, either as themselves as individuals or within their own clubs and organization. And I think that is such a good character trait to have in terms of driving yourself forward and driving your club forward. 

Some really great tips in there as well from both David and Keith around leadership and how you look at your own leadership and how you be an effective leader within your own organization. So hopefully that’s been helpful for all of you as well. 

That’s it for this week. It’s been another great conversation. Thank you very much for listening. We’ll be back next week with another grassroots pioneer and another professional expert, discussed another key topic. We’ll see you then. 

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