Risk Registry

The Canadian Sport Risk Registry contains a number of common risks and is updated following each Risk Management Workshop. The risks and solutions are presented generically and anonymously, to provide insight for sport leaders to think differently about the risks that are ‘keeping them up at night’.

Lack of capacity - qualified staff and program leaders

The Risk and its Impacts:

Not having sufficient and qualified professional staff (e.g., coaches, medical staff, meet directors, classifiers, event managers, committee leaders, administrators) to sustain performance excellence of athletes/teams, and to fulfill strategic goals and objectives.

  • Encourage and share best practices within clubs to promote professionalization of programs, events, and coaching.
  • Pay all team staff a reasonable wage/honorarium in recognition of their contribution and to retain and attract qualified individuals.
  • Organize an annual congress that offers professional development opportunities for coaches, medical staff, classifiers, event managers, administrators and other technical leaders.
  • Prepare detailed job descriptions for all staff and program leaders.
  • Require all coaches with national and provincial/territorial teams to be members of Coaches of Canada.
  • Develop and maintain a succession plan for all staff roles and volunteers in other key roles. See the risk “Staff Turnover and Lack of Succession Planning.”
  • Provide matching grants to clubs to support talent development (administrative, coaching).
  • Develop a professional coaching career path.
  • Target financial support to specified individuals in specialized roles (talent ID and nurturing).
  • Create a formalized alumni program.
  • Establish performance objectives and complete performance reviews.
  • Use part-time staff, temporary staff, or contractors when appropriate.
  • Identify what motivates staff and key volunteers (i.e., money, benefits, professional development, team culture, recognition) and use this information to retain them.
  • Identify and groom key leaders and athletes for future employment opportunities (talent ID and development).
  • Planned/scheduled recognition of staff and key volunteer leaders.
  • Use professional groups to assist with talent recruitment and hiring.
  • Cap the number of terms a Board of Directors’ member may serve to ensure fresh perspectives.
  • Implement strategies to avoid staff burnout (i.e., allow 5% of work time to be non-allocated, flexible work environment, work-from-home days).
  • Adjust deliverables (scope, timeline) to better reflect staff capacity.
  • Develop a process of reviewing and streamlining projects, programs, policies, etc., with the goal of ensuring the organization is meeting minimum requirements and remains compliant where required.
Communication Strategies:
  • Communications strategies to promote and showcase talent.
  • Communications to encourage sharing of best practices between and among professional staff.
  • Communicate possible employment options to high-performance athletes for their consideration following their retirement.

Lack of capacity to effectively implement LTD

The Risk and its Impacts:

Inability of branches and clubs to successfully implement LTD resulting in ineffective NSO input and engagement, misalignment in the sport system, and poor athlete development.

  • Create LTD working group (representative of the branches) and assign adequate resources to support its work.
  • Undertake cross-country “road show” and use virtual tools to showcase LTD.
  • Prepare and effectively distribute LTD educational materials for athletes, coaches, and parents.
  • Undertake a review of competition structure using NSO values and PTSO/club input to improve alignment with LTD principles.
  • Use NSO website, social media, and other virtual tools to better assist branches/clubs with LTD information.
  • Assign NSO staff to work with branches/clubs on LTD implementation (dedicated as a staff role).
  • Use AGMs/congress and other forums to allow branches to share best practices on LTD development.
  • Leverage organizational values to improve uptake and commitment on LTD implementation.
  • Consider revising organizational structure to align with LTD (e.g., assign staff resources to various stages, align Board portfolios).
  • Review the True Sport Long-Term Development (LTD) Framework to implement age- and stage-appropriate suggestions to help activate the seven True Sport Principles.
  • Ensure a program is in place to transition athletes from Train to Compete and Train to Win (Stages 5 and 6) to Active for Life (Stage 7), including health, career, and lifestyle transition planning.
  • Develop talent transfer agreements between Paralympic sports and Olympic counterparts.
  • Institute a procedure to follow up on talent identification leads.
  • Intentional consideration of LTD in annual budget development.
Communication Strategies:
  • Develop key messaging to support LTD implementation that is reflective of the organization’s values.
  • Communications materials should reflect NSO’s values.

Lack of collaboration and partnerships to enhance sport delivery system

The Risk and its Impacts:

Risk of not pursuing collaboration and partnership with educational institutions and other external groups to better enhance the sport delivery system.

  • Work closely and supportively with the country’s top four or five post-secondary programs and identify the second tier of programs for mentorship.
  • Provide grants or other financial support to athletes who choose to remain in Canada.
  • Develop a formal strategy to better align with universities (there are more than 50) and community colleges (there are more than 120).
  • Provide educational materials and resources to athletes so they are fully informed on their educational choices.
  • Have a strategy to support university-based research and excellence programs, such as academic centres of excellence aligned with high-performance centres.
  • Liaise with schools in the U.S. that draw top Canadian athletes.
  • Get provincial and territorial CEOs/EDs and Board of Directors’ Presidents to improve relationships with Canadian educational institutions.
  • Ensure an appropriate collaborative relationship with U SPORTS and CCAA.
  • Communicate the importance of a PTSO’s role in the success of implementing a NSO strategic plan, and encourage PTSOs to include activities that support the NSO in their own plans.
  • Explore partnership opportunities with PTSOs to complete or co-manage projects.

Lack of depth and balance of sport performance across the country

The Risk and its Impacts:

The sport lacks balance or depth of athletes/teams across the country. A small number of branches/clubs dominate in terms of performance, and PTSOs are highly variable in terms of capacity to develop the sport.

  • Enter into Memoranda of Understanding (MOUs) with PTSOs to identify specific roles and responsibilities in sport development. These can be customized based on capacity of the PTSO.
  • Offer club rewards such as seed money, development grants, matching grants, awards, and recognition.
  • Target specific clubs for enhanced support (financial, administrative, leadership).
  • Consider organizing NSO services and staffing by region to maximize leadership, capacity, and support for PTSOs and clubs (this may be especially beneficial in Atlantic Canada).
  • Have strong technical leadership at national office and commit to sharing information and supporting PTSO efforts in the technical area.
  • Develop a certification type program for club managers to enhance club capacity.
  • Include a club management module in NCCP curriculum.
  • Align championship events with LTD principals.
  • Rotate location of major championships to improve on accessibility and to increase visibility.
  • Use social media to create excitement around the sport or event.
  • Re-organize PTSOs into regional associations to pool resources and deliver better training to all athletes across the country.
  • Have regular scheduled meetings with PTSO Executive Directors.
  • Consider simplifying LTD with a focus on the end user.
  • Strike committees to plan and evaluate the high-performance path, drawing on previous experience.
  • Explore avenues to develop high-performance talent outside of traditional talent streams.
  • Provide coach development and mentoring opportunities.
Communication Strategies:
  • Create a communications strategy that increases awareness and enhances visibility.

Lack of internal processes

The Risk and its Impacts:

Operational procedures are not fully developed, consistent, or do not meet minimum legal requirements.

  • Schedule a regular review of all internal processes.
  • Create a task force with assistance from an external consultant.
  • Create a staff Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) manual.
  • Develop a protocol and policy to manage intellectual property.
  • Integrate Imagine Canada standards.
  • Conduct risk assessment when stepping outside standard operations or procedures.
  • Use organizational values when making decisions.
  • Create clear job descriptions and organizational chart to ensure confidence.
  • Perform cost benefit analysis between hiring and re-organizing.
  • Ensure all organizational information is secure and is regularly backed up.
  • Host regular all-staff meetings to share updates and answer questions.
  • Have access to passwords in case of emergency.
  • Have an elected staff member as a representative for compliance regulations.
Communication Strategies:
  • Communications strategy should be focused on how to manage expectations.

Lack of sound hiring and recruitment practices for national team personnel

The Risk and its Impacts:

Lack of formal procedures for selecting coaches and other team personnel, lack of clarity around screening volunteers and staff lead to unsafe environments for national team activities.

  • NSO has both formal and informal procedures for screening coaches and other personnel.
  • Develop a Travel Risk Policy Suite to identify safety procedures and standards for travel, accommodation, and supervision for teams.
  • Personal coaches are restricted to very narrow responsibilities, which are clearly outlined.
  • Institute more formal selection procedures to select coaches for teams, involving application, portfolio, and interview components.
  • Implement ten safe steps of screening with all national teams, including police checks, using a phased approach. See Volunteer Canada: www.volunteer.ca.
  • Create and adhere to formal volunteer selection criteria. Provide volunteer job descriptions and expectations.
  • Conduct team personnel evaluations annually and at the conclusion of major trips.
  • Interview team athletes to identify their satisfaction with team personnel and any issues.
  • Conduct an environmental scan of branches, clubs, or other sports to ensure any potential personnel are not red flagged in other areas.

Lack of sport participation

The Risk and its Impacts:

Risk of sport not being included in major games due to lack of influence/knowledge on selection criteria, capacity to develop the sport and increase participation.

  • Educate membership on selection criteria for major games.
  • Make changes to strategic plans which align with provincial selection criteria.
  • Look for diversified funding and partnership or collaborative opportunities.
  • Work collaboratively with membership to build tools and activities for development.
  • Strike committees to plan and evaluate high-performance path, drawing on previous experience.
  • Aim to develop high-performance talent outside of traditional talent pool areas.
  • Provide coach development and mentoring opportunities.
Communication Strategies
  • Leverage as a sport that can meet sport for development objectives within the Canadian Sport Policy.

Lack of volunteers

The Risk and its Impacts:

Declining quality and quantity of volunteers due to changing environmental factors (i.e., demographic, social, economic, workplace stress). As a result, organizational leadership, program delivery, and the athlete experience suffers.

  • See the risk “Shortage of Qualified Coaches and Officials” and the related risk solutions to increase volunteerism.
  • Enhance opportunities for high-profile international appointments (to attract highly qualified volunteers).
  • Enhance quality of professional development opportunities for volunteers.
  • Establish a more formal nomination process to solicit committee and board members. See also the risk “Lack of Qualified Board Directors.”
  • Develop strategy to retain alumni by offering a menu of options to continue their involvement in the sport.
  • Develop a mentoring program to match people with experience and knowledge with newcomers to the organization.
  • Utilize the True Sport #NoRefNoGame campaign to profile the importance of officials.
  • Undertake research into volunteerism trends and their impact on sport.
  • Undertake youth leadership outreach. Target and identify youth to participate annually to groom future leaders for the sport.
  • Target recruitment of qualified women and equity deserving groups.
  • Determine how to make use of increasing number of youth volunteers, such as those who need volunteer hours for school.
  • Create a plan for keeping volunteers beyond the youth stage.
  • Establish a national volunteer database in collaboration with PTSOs and branches/clubs.
  • Identify and develop incentives that attract young, qualified volunteers.
  • Engage with volunteer agencies (i.e., Volunteer Canada) to promote and attract new volunteers.

Managing stakeholder demands and expectations

The Risk and its Impacts:

Risk that services and membership benefits delivered to stakeholders will not be up to an expected standard and therefore lead to stakeholder dissatisfaction and reputational damage.

  • Adjust the size of deliverables to reflect current capacity to deliver.
  • Be sure to match the budget to the deliverables.
  • Clarify stakeholder expectations by communicating clear standards of delivery.
  • Hold a stakeholder consultation or outreach through survey or interview to build understanding and shared outcomes.
  • Clearly communicate the benefits of NSO membership, the purpose of the NSO, and its strategic goals.
  • Use more diverse communication methods (videos, social media, forums and meetings) to actively engage with stakeholders.
Communication Strategies:
  • Ensure communication is ongoing and strategically positioned based on different groups.

Shortage of qualified coaches and officials

The Risk and its Impacts:

The inability to meet demands and expectations for the sport due to a shortage of qualified coaches and/or officials, resulting in a weakened sport experience.

  • Implement #NoRefNoGame social media campaign to help clubs improve their capacity to attract and retain coaches.
  • Extend coverage of national employment benefits program to salaried club coaches.
  • Collaborate closely with provinces in coach development and official development.
  • Consider an entry-level coach training module to attract young coaches, and to implement in school-based programs.
  • Develop an alumni strategy to improve retention of athletes and their recruitment into coaching and officiating roles after retirement.
  • Prepare formal coach mentorship program to match new coaches with experienced coaches in the system.
  • Ensure appropriate honoraria/per diems for officials.
  • Create True Sport awards and recognition programs for coaches and officials.
  • Provide competitive salaries for national-level coaches.
  • Hire a technical director who can be directly responsible for the effective delivery of coaching and officiating training.
  • Provide greater leadership and support to PTSOs to assist them in their efforts to develop coaches and officials.
  • Make a strong and very public commitment to support coach professional development and coaching excellence.
  • Use AGM/congress to achieve professional development delivery for coaches and officials.
  • Provide coach and officials development and training using innovative new technologies (social media).
  • Establish an officials committee to develop a strategy for recruitment, retention, and mentorship of young officials.
  • Encourage best practices within clubs to promote professionalization of coaching.
  • Develop a professional coaching career path.
  • Develop a strategy that will lead to all national team coaches being full-time, salaried professionals.
Communication strategies:
  • Communicate and promote the benefits of coaching.

Staff turnover and lack of succession planning

The Risk and its Impacts:

Turnover of key staff and leaders, including the loss of current generation of strong leaders and coaches. The organization may experience loss of key corporate knowledge, interruption of business continuity, duplication of effort and other inefficiencies, loss of strategic focus, and potential relationship damage.

  • Develop a succession plan and/or business interruption plan in the event of the loss or incapacity of key staff and leadership positions
  • Target athletes close to retirement and communicate opportunities to remain involved in the sport in a leadership role (groom future talent).
  • Do a regular review of compensation packages to remain competitive as an employer.
  • Have clear and current written job descriptions for all positions, that are reviewed annually.
  • Offer flexible working environment and flexible office hours.
  • Provide professional development opportunities to enhance growth and job satisfaction of staff and board.
  • Undertake careful staff recruitment to ensure good fit with organizational culture.
  • Promote diversity in hiring practices.
  • Provide detailed orientation program for new staff and board directors.
  • Undertake an independent human resources analysis to ensure optimal structure and functioning of staff.
  • Incorporate organizational values into staff recruitment and evaluation strategies.
  • Build a positive working environment.
  • Conduct structured and well-planned exit interviews to identify unresolved issues and to improve staff positions.
  • Find a way to celebrate your key leaders through planned/scheduled recognition.
  • Establish a transfer of knowledge (TOK) team at the board and staff levels and develop a TOK process to preserve corporate history.
  • Communicate opportunities to remain involved in the sport in a leadership role to alumni.
  • Consider modern work scenarios such as job sharing, flexible office hours, and remote offices.
  • Identify individuals with similar skill sets and job descriptions who can provide short-term help in case of staff turnover or provide mentoring to new staff.
  • Identify what motivates staff (i.e., money, benefits, professional development, projects, team culture, recognition) and use this information to retain them.
  • Develop a board skills matrix to identify desired skills sets.

Weak organizational structure

The Risk its Impacts:

Organization is not structured to optimize resource use and stakeholder services.

  • Review and update policies and procedures with regularity.
  • Strike staff or board committee, or sub-committee, to provide guidance and research current structure recommendations.
  • Publish current policies to ensure stakeholders can access them.
  • Procure expertise (e.g., legal) to ensure updated policies are aligned.
  • Establish a set of corporate values and guidance principles.
  • Examine the actions of the international federation for successes and challenges.
  • Ensure athlete opinions and concerns are considered in decision making and strategic planning.