When COVID-19 pandemic hit North America in March of 2020, Home Team Sports were not only impacted – their business model literally disappeared overnight! With no televised sports leagues in action, revenues from advertisers dried up and what had a been a hugely successful company, experiencing year-on-year growth, suddenly faced challenges like it had never seen before. In spite of the commercial uncertainty and emerging risks to the health of employees and their families, Craig Sloan EVP of HTS knew he had to bring his people together to steady the ship.
Thankfully Craig and his team had something to fall back on. They had been working on a high performing team journey with Perpetual that had helped them to shape an inspirational vision for the company and put in place the plans for a multi-year journey to achieve it. This strategy had been launched the year prior and had established a challenging ambition for the enterprise that would demand new ways of thinking and innovations that had yet to be discovered. One of the first learnings for Craig and his leadership team as they started to challenge themselves about the true potential for their company was that they did not have to have all of the answers right now and that some things would only come to light as they undertook their journey toward their vision for the company – and that this is OK.
With the plan in place, Craig brought his team together at regular intervals to update on progress toward their ambition, often bringing in external stakeholders to share ideas and collaborate on a series of mutually beneficial projects that built stronger relationships and delivered positive outcomes for all parties. Facilitated by Perpetual, there was also a focus on the high performing team behaviors that would be required to deliver difficult cross-functional initiatives, something that would play to HTS’s advantage when the pandemic hit.
So what happened during the devastating period in early Spring, 2020. Well, Craig asked Perpetual to facilitate a series of meetings with his team online (which was a new experience for everyone) focusing on the following concepts: First, was to remind everyone of the strategy and to reiterate the belief that this journey was still valid – It might just look a little different than imagined when it was put together. This agreed, the team then focused on their high performing team behaviors that would enable them to lead their teams through this difficult time, establishing a Mission for the year ‘to thrive in spite of the content, marketplace and economic challenges’ and finding inspiration in the leadership tenets of Resilience and Adaptability that would ultimately be shared with the remainder of the company.
Finally, it was agreed that when sports leagues resumed that HTS would be ready to exploit the opportunity and support their brand partners in quickly kick-starting their advertising campaigns – thereby fulfilling the HTS purpose of ‘Igniting brands through the love of fans.’ War gaming was used to model various scenarios and the implications that each would have for the various functional departments that make up the HTS empire. Contingency plans were established that were ultimately used to great effect once the sports leagues where able to resume their schedules and business has continued to accelerate since that moment – with revenues and client satisfaction racing back toward the pre-COVID trajectory. But perhaps the most important outcome from this period is the legacy that was created by Craig and his leadership team in successfully navigating the crisis, using the tools of their high performing team journey and their partnership with Perpetual to manage risk and find opportunity.