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Text reading "Cricket Australia" on a pink background
Lisa Beebe

Lisa Beebe

Writer, Culture Amp

Nick Hockley, CEO of Cricket Australia, joined the company in June 2020, three months into the pandemic. Borders were closed, all major sporting events were on hold, and 80% of the company was stood down on 20% pay.

On his second day, Nick had to let 12% of the workforce go. Looking back, he describes it as a “really difficult and traumatizing time,” but the hard work was just beginning.

As Cricket Australia emerged from the pandemic, leadership faced a new challenge – rebuilding employee trust. Nick worked with Allison Robison, Cricket Australia’s EGM People & Culture, to create a five-year strategic plan. In a fascinating session at Culture First Global, Nick and Allison shared how that plan is progressing and discussed their current approach to driving culture.

I firmly believe that a strong culture is business critical to getting to high performance and to getting things done.

— Nick HockleyCEO, Cricket Australia

Role-modeling trust and credibility

During the pandemic, Cricket Australia found itself exhibiting a company culture very different from the one it has today. Nick explains, “It was necessarily kind of command and control. There were lots of people across the organization that were really just the recipients of decisions, and we were having to be reactive, as opposed to proactive.”

How can a company shift its culture in a positive direction? To answer this question, Nick recommends, “The first thing is setting a super clear plan and making sure everyone's really clear on that plan. And then aligning and role-modeling the culture that you want to live in and aspire to.”

The five-year plan has three phases: Secure, getting the company back on its feet, and Enhance and Thrive. They’re now 18 months into execution and progressing faster than expected.

We really aspire to a high-performing, high-culture, and a high-engagement organization – and it takes all of us as leaders to build that and show the way forward.

— Allison RobisonEGM People & Culture, Cricket Australia

Listening to and learning from employees

When Allison joined the organization, she saw how the pandemic layoffs had created trust issues for employees. She took it as an opportunity to sit down with them and listen to what they had to say.

She says, “A huge part of what we've been doing in rebuilding culture is taking the time to really listen, playback to people what we've heard are their concerns, and then tell them what we're going to do about them.”

Once her team understands the issues, they determine exactly what strategies to put in place to create a shift. As they take action on employee feedback, whether from surveys or conversations, they provide transparent updates to the company on their progress.

Allison recalls a line from an early conversation with Nick that continues to guide her team’s work. They ask themselves, “What do we need to do to enable people to do the best work of their lives?” – and that's what they prioritize.

Resetting the organizational values

As part of the company’s strategic plan, Nick and Allison worked with employees to rethink the organizational values. Allison says, “We did a lot of work around completely reshaping our values based on who Cricket Australia is. How do we look to the world when we’re absolutely at our best?”

They’ve since built their new values into every aspect of the business. She says, “We regularly have conversations in department team meetings about the values, our values are very visible throughout our building – every floor, every meeting room has information on our values, and we also ask about our values in our engagement survey.”

The center pillar of the company’s values, respect, is drawn from the game of cricket itself. Nick explains that respect is fundamental to cricket, whether it’s respect for the umpires, the opposition team, or the laws of the game. As an organizational value, it’s about respecting others’ opinions and cultures, and fostering greater social cohesion.

He says, “We want to have the best players and teams, winning lots of trophies, but doing so in a really respectful way, filling stadiums, basically maximizing the commercial opportunities to reinvest in growing the game at a grassroots level, and having great positive social impact and community impact.”

Using survey data to track progress

Prioritizing company culture is paying off for Cricket Australia. Nick says, “I think where Allison and her team have done a brilliant job is turning some of the pressure points, or the areas where we've got some room for improvement, into actual tangible actions to create positive change.”

Recent survey results show:

  • Engagement score increased 7 points
  • Confidence in Cricket Australia went up 14 points in 3 years
  • Confidence in leadership went up 14 points across 3 years

The changes reflected in those numbers are also visible in the workplace. Allison says, “There’s, today, what I see as a real sense of pride in working for the organization, passion for what we do, and passion for the impact that we have on people at so many different levels, whether that be through our social impact partnerships, or whether that be through being able to come and watch games, and to have your kids play the sport.”

Continuing to deliver on their strategy

Cricket Australia leadership is proud of how far they’ve come since the pandemic, and they’re excited for the future as they continue to implement their five-year strategic plan. Today, the company has over 2,800 employees and an executive team empowering them to do the best work of their lives.

Nick sums it up nicely: “What's that old adage? Through adversity comes strength.”

Illustration of four different hands, all making a different hand gesture.

Delve further into Cricket Australia’s journey

Watch the Culture First Global session on demand to learn more about the company’s efforts to rebuild its culture.

Watch now

What’s next

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