On the heels of a significant turnover of players and off the back of a global pandemic, UNB Reds Women’s Soccer Coach Jon Crossland wanted to continue to take an intentional approach to create a team culture environment that is welcoming and inclusive but also high-performing. With the support of innerlogic, Crossland feels like they are well into that process.
Coach and team insights
Coach Crossland explained that “the space of culture isn’t one that that has traditionally been data-driven, so when it came down to it, and the novelty of the information that [innerlogic] provides, it was an easy decision to add this to our program.”
Careful consideration was required from staff regarding the student-athletes’ engagement as the cognitive loads placed on the athletes are considered as the sport landscape is becoming increasingly demanding. “Anytime you say survey, there is a slight hesitation, but when it came to our team culture and the importance we put on creating an environment for our people, this is unique and has been a huge bang for the buck,” connected Crossland.
The Sport Culture Index (SCI) gives teams and organizations a clearer picture of how all levels of their team perceive their environment. In the case of UNB, the differences in the perceptions among the coaches and athletes gave them a place to start. Of course, collecting the data is only the first step, albeit an important one, to get an accurate picture of the current state of a group. Once the clear picture starts to form, then the exciting part begins.
Insights to action
Coach Crossland continues: “what we did afterwards was the important part. We didn’t just do it and leave it. We picked three areas from the survey that we wanted to focus on during the off-season. We built them into our team meetings and workshopped them throughout the summer, which led to how we built our [pre-season] training camp. The key was to link everything we were doing back to these cultural elements that we decided, as a team, were important to us. Things like vision, cohesion, and impact.”
The data gives them anchor points to create an intentional approach to building the team, determining the direction, and understanding where their gaps lie to build a high-performing environment. The process included creating “half-live” scenarios that are commonplace when building a team and creating connections. With concrete data, the Reds could relate everything back to these critical cultural elements to improve a team’s performance.
What became evident throughout this process was how the team started with solid connections that became even stronger over the summer and training camp. “There was a concerted focus on the people inside the program. We have a lot of new and young student-athletes. Getting them connected was priority number one for us,” commented Crossland.
Since the team succeeded in establishing an inclusive environment, the focus is shifting toward the performance side of the puzzle, where things like adaptability and accountability start to play a more important role as the season begins. “We are now thinking about the next part of the season and building more on the performance aspects of our team and many of those components include cultural elements.”
Continued insight measurement
The team aims to complete a second round of the survey mid-way through the season, five months after their first one. The process is designed to capture data at a low frequency based on the nature of team culture change. Typically, groups complete 2-4 iterations per year to give time and space to target areas, create plans and implement strategies to increase performance in those areas. Team culture change is a process, not a one-time event. These are big rocks being moved. They take time to change.
Our goal is to help teams and organizations become more culturally intelligent. We have been able to give the Reds soccer program a perspective into areas of team culture as perceived by everyone in their environment, eliminating the mystery and creating clarity around these areas.