British Cycling appoints People Director to make culture shifts

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For the first time British Cycling has created the role of people director as it seeks to transform the organisation by putting the welfare of athletes and staff at its core.

The appointment, filled by Michael Chivers, forms part of the governing body’s efforts to refresh and strengthen its leadership. A new executive leadership team structure has been created, bringing together the roles of CEO, COO, Performance Director, Commercial Director, People Director and Director of Cycling to provide strategic direction and accountability across the whole of British Cycling.

The appointment follows a turbulent period for the organisation, which still remains under investigation by the UK anti-doping over allegations of wrongdoing. Funding from UK Sport is also at risk of “serious concerns” about allegations of sexism and poor athlete management.

At the beginning of March, the new chair of British Cycling, Jonathan Browning, announced a 39-point action plan based on the draft findings of the independent review into the culture of British Cycling’s World Class Performance Programme. At least half of the action points focus on the culture, values and behaviours of leaders and staff as well as the ‘whole life’ development, management and wellbeing of athletes with a deadline for implementation by the end of 2017.

Announcing Michael Chivers as British Cycling’s new People Director, Jonathan Browning said:

“Michael Chivers’ experience and expertise in change and people management will be invaluable in pushing ahead British Cycling’s plans to ensure the organisation is effective and accountable in its management of athletes and staff so that it fosters a transparent and inclusive culture, following past failings in this area.”

Chivers has over 30 years of experience in people and change management, having worked for the AA, Hampshire County Council, Sony, Sony Ericsson and Maersk Line. During the past decade Chivers was on the executive team that drove the turnaround at Maersk Line and prior to that his achievements at Sony Ericsson included the appointment and development of a diverse global leadership team and transformation leadership in a fast moving industry being rapidly disrupted.

Since taking up his position, Chivers’ key actions have been:

  • Conducting British Cycling’s first culture survey of the organisation to assess staff and athlete views;
  • Working on a process to propose values, leadership principles and behaviours ahead of the new CEO’s arrival;
  • Steering the recruitment process for new senior appointments;
  • Leading the process to establish the new Operational Management Team (OMT);
  • Reviewing athlete induction, engagement and representation processes; and
  • Reviewing the British Cycling code of conduct to ensure it is in line with its new values.

Commenting on his appointment, Chivers said: “There is no doubt that British Cycling’s major success story in terms of both elite glory and participation has been down to the exceptional work of its people. But for too long we’ve been a purely results driven organisation and it is clear that this has sometimes been at the expense of ensuring that our athletes and staff are looked after, with due care and proper processes followed.

“As part of the wide-scale professionalisation of our policies and procedures, we need to ensure that we have an engaged and motivated workforce and that our athletes are given the best experience from the moment they step on to one of our pathways right through to the time when they leave us. There are only six roles on the executive leadership team at British Cycling and the fact that one of them is solely dedicated to athlete and staff welfare and performance is a sign of how seriously the organisation is taking this. I feel privileged to be able to dedicate myself to making sure that we absolutely get this right.”

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