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Blog - World Rugby - why new rules need a shared understanding

World Rugby - why new rules need a shared understanding

Posted by Tracy Powley 02/10/19

Upholding standards of behaviour is not always an easy thing to do.


Witness, World Rugby’s admission that the touch judges, referees and match officials had not delivered on the standards they had promised at the beginning of the tournament to manage “reckless” tackling. 


Making judgment calls in high stake, pressurised situations is, of course, challenging, but they have met criticism head-on, acknowledged they need to do better and promised more rigour in officiating the upcoming matches. They have very visibly taken responsibility to improve things;  which on the surface is commendable leadership.


But there is a bigger issue at play here.


Behind the scenes, there appears to be a muddle of understanding about the new rules, with the referees’ decisions at odds with coaches’ perspectives and the ultimate decisions of disciplinary panels.


You could argue it was ever thus, but the extent of the clashes and the mixed messages that seem to be causing them, point to a fundamental lack of shared understanding amongst those with decision-making responsibility and the players.


It is not easy in any environment to make the right call – in all organisations managers and leaders are often dealing with situations where there are differing points of view, competing priorities and emotions running high. And without ensuring that standards of behaviour have been made clear in the first place – and that this is a shared understanding across all teams (managers, staff and advisory teams, such as HR) – it becomes doubly difficult.


We are currently working with a large local authority to help create a culture of respect and positive working relationships… particularly by helping to bring clarity to when behaviour might cross the line. One of the key things that has made the project so successful so far is that we bought the senior management team together with the HR business partners and L and D team  right at the start – and we gave them to space to discuss and agree what their role would be in supporting the programme and agreeing behavioural guidelines. 


Creating that shared understanding for those in decision-making roles has been critical in ensuring there is a consistent message disseminated to all teams and that those messages have actually been discussed, not just circulated in an email… heading off any Reece Hodge type claims that people were simply not aware of what was expected of them.


World Rugby’s new guidelines are about keeping players safer.  And protecting the image of the sport.


Clear guidelines around behaviour at work do the same thing – they keep people safe… from being made to feel uncomfortable, undermined and often humiliated. They keep team members safe from complaints and related sanctions and they keep organisations safe from the reputational damage of unwanted headlines.


Guidelines are good.


But only if that shared understanding of what they really mean in practice is created.


For more information on how we can help your managers to create a shared understanding of what’s Ok and what’s not and offer some practical down to earth guidance on appropriate workplace behaviour call us on 01903 732 782 or email or take a look at how we have helped other organisations case studies

Tracy Powley
Tracy Powley

The way we behave towards each other in the workplace has a direct impact on individual wellbeing, team performance and organisational results. This belief has underpinned our work at Focal Point for over 20 years and has never been more relevant. We are privileged to work with a huge variety of organisations wanting to get workplace behaviour and culture right - and to tackle the inappropriate behaviour that may get in the way of this. Supported by our fantastic team of facilitators and coaches, we are able to make a real difference to peoples’ lives as well as organisational performance. Having worked in both large businesses at management level and in 2 start ups at director level, I am able to combine hands on experience of growing and managing teams - and the associated challenges in creating the right culture - with over 20 years in learning and development. I hold the Certificate in Training Practice and am a member of CIPD. When I am not supporting clients or developing the Focal Point business, you will find me in a calming yoga class...

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