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All Onside: What the Melbourne Storm’s response to COVID-19 teaches us about the importance of teamwork

October 22, 2020

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All Onside: What the Melbourne Storm’s response to COVID-19 teaches us about the importance of teamwork

October 22, 2020

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2020 has been a year like no other. On the eve of another NRL Grand Final appearance, it’s an appropriate time to reflect upon the journey so far and the importance that teamwork, communication and a commitment to your people has had on the Melbourne Storm’s 2020 season.

Businesses have had to work harder and make changes to stick together through the COVID-19 pandemic. That includes sports teams of all sizes, from small community clubs to the mighty Melbourne Storm.

As a proud Major Partner of the Storm, we spoke with CEO Dave Donaghy about why his players, coaches, colleagues and members always come first – and why connection has become a key value of the club.

“This situation is bigger than us, it’s bigger than NRL,” Donaghy told the media during a press conference he and Coach Craig Bellamy held back in March, after it was announced that the 2020 NRL season was being put on hold.

“There’s a little bit of uncertainty, a fair bit of unknown… we’ve just got to stick together.”

The number one priority for the management was the health and wellbeing of all the people that make the Storm such a formidable club and powerful organisation and staying connected despite enforced distancing.

Melbourne Storm CEO Dave Donaghy on the importance of sticking together at the onset of COVID-19

The playing group were first locked down in Melbourne, and then made a short-lived move to Albury before once again making the move from AAMI Park to the Sunshine Coast – where they’re now living, training and playing their home matches. Meanwhile, many other members of the club’s staff are working from home.

“We’re really focused on care and compassion and connection. And we had to challenge ourselves on how to do that,” Donaghy reflects.

Everyone had a role to play – Donaghy, his board of directors, the management team, their line managers and the leadership team in the football program – in maintaining connection between colleagues and teammates.

“It could be as simple as a text message checking in on someone, or a whole club Zoom call or email – regular, frequent connection and updates,” he says.

Donaghy believes such a constant level of connection is key even when businesses aren’t facing something like the COVID-19 pandemic.

It’s not just about updating staff and team members when things aren’t going well, or when major events occur – it’s about maintaining connections with whoever you work with and checking in regularly to make sure they’re doing okay.

In keeping lines of communication open, Donaghy believes staff members and colleagues will be reassured that those making the decisions have a plan and that there’s a path marked out for the business.

And this makes sense for businesses of all sizes – sure, planning is important when things are just getting started, but it’s key to keep that plan updated and communicate any changes with your staff. After all, just like in rugby league, business teams are always better when everyone’s moving in the right direction.

During what’s been a challenging time for the club, Donaghy and his leadership team are focusing on every member of both the on and off-field teams, and “making sure we can look them in the eye, and say we’ve honestly done everything we could to look after our people.”



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