International Chess Federation
Tuesday, 16 Feb 2021 16:51
Arkady Dvorkovich: FIDE promotes chess solidarity

Mr. Dvorkovich, what is the mission and vision of FIDE?

The mission of FIDE is the diffusion and development of chess among all nations of the world, as well as the raising of the level of chess culture and knowledge on a sporting, scientific, creative, educational and cultural basis.

The vision of FIDE is to support close international cooperation of chess devotees in all fields of chess activities, thereby also aiming to improve harmony and promote peace among all peoples of the world.

FIDE especially encourages and supports:

- the education of youth through chess sport and culture;

- the promotion of women in all chess activities and events;

- the promotion of ethics and any effort aimed to ensure that, in chess, the spirit of fair play prevails;

- any effort aimed to improve the inclusion of disabled or differently-abled persons in chess events;

- any effort aimed to improve the inclusion of refugees and migrants in chess events;

- any efforts of private organisations and public authorities aimed to provide for the social and professional future of chess players;

- any effort aimed to improve good governance in all chess organisations.

FIDE promotes chess solidarity to carry out development programs and bridge socio-economic divides among individuals and countries regarding access to chess activities.

Next question, what is the organisational culture of FIDE?

FIDE’s organisational culture is consistent with its original motto, “Gens Una Sumus”, which means “We Are One Family”.

Globally it is based on the efforts of hundreds of chess lovers contributing to the activities of national, zonal and continental federations as well as FIDE commissions. On a central level, there is a group of full-time professionals providing for strategic and operational governance, marketing and event management. There is a small headquarter in Lausanne surrounded by other international sports federations and neighbouring the International Olympic Committee. The other management team members are spread all around the world working on distance, so the COVID-19 pandemic did not create any catastrophic complications for day-to-day management itself, while making it impossible to run traditional over-the-board chess activities.

Daily management is structured normally in a horizontal way, where project teams are being formed for each particular project and have a high degree of autonomy, whereas the FIDE President is permanently overseeing their activities and takes strategic decisions. 

How about the recruitment practices of FIDE?

The highest FIDE body – FIDE Council – consists of elected members (including FIDE President, Treasurer and Vice-Presidents) serving a 4-year period. Day-to-day operations are run by the Management Board appointed by the FIDE President upon the approval of the FIDE Council. The appointments are based on a personal judgement of FIDE President and depend on a combination of professional and personal skills required to manage global chess activities. 

Regular 360-degree assessments are instrumental in verifying the efficiency of FIDE human capacity. 

As of today, most of FIDE higher management are chess players of various levels having additional skills in the related management fields (public governance, marketing, PR, finance, IT, event management). There is a selection of former parliament/government members, marketing professionals from other sport federations, journalists, members of the organising team of the FIFA 2018 World Cup in Russia. 

There were a couple of instances when staff members had been hired following a public announcement and a formalised selection procedure (example - Marco Verdoia, FIDE Marketing Director), but in most cases, hiring is done on ad hoc basis. 

Gender equality and other important non-discrimination factors are playing more and more significant role in FIDE’s recruitment practices.

What is the training and development of FIDE like?

A strategic training session has been organised once for Management Board members (lecturer - Pekka Viljakainen, Skolkovo Ventures). It helped in setting common goals and team building. An agreement was reached with FIFA to organise a series of training sessions based on FIFA’s best practices in marketing, finance and regional development, but the COVID-19 pandemic led to shifting those to 2022. So, most of FIDE’s staff professional development is done in learning-by-doing manner. 

A contract to provide an online training course for FIDE staff has been signed in June 2021 to be delivered before the end of the year.

How about rewarding employees of FIDE?

Intrinsic rewards for FIDE employees are normally in the form of people being aware both themselves and by recognition from the higher management that they achieved something special whether by organising a high-quality international chess event, or by successful fundraising in the interest of FIDE, or by improving an internal organisation of FIDE.

Extrinsic rewards are based on the assessment of annual performance and done in monetary form (annual bonuses).

What do you think of employees’ satisfaction and engagement with FIDE?

Most people working for FIDE are real chess lovers, and their satisfaction – to a high degree – is based on continuing success stories in international chess. Also, regular attention from FIDE President and other FIDE Council members is highly appreciated.

Individual initiative is always welcome in the implementation of various projects and rewarded accordingly.

What can you say about performance management and its contribution to FIDE’s competitive advantage?

Each FIDE employee has a clearly identified role and functional description in the overall management framework of FIDE. It is FIDE President’s role to make sure that Management Board members fully understand their medium-term, annual and shorter-term priorities. Key FIDE management team members have clearly established KPI’s related to their functional roles.  Principle examples include FIDE marketing team members who are entitled to bonuses upon reaching fundraising targets with minimum bonuses for budgeted targets and higher bonuses for exceeding budgeted targets)

Also, it is critical to ensure permanent feedback from FIDE constituencies, chess players and the broader chess community. That helps to adjust the day-to-day priorities and implementation practices. 

Such an approach has proved to be effective in improving both the institutional capacity of FIDE, its transparency, visibility and actual performance vis-à-vis other international sports federations, especially during the year of COVID-19 pandemic.

Last question, Mr. Dvorkovich. What do you think about internal ethics contributing to the higher human performance of FIDE?

On the one hand, a clear setting of tasks and priorities, as well as friendly attention from the part of higher management towards lower-level employees, are critical to ensure high performing workforce on a sustainable basis. On the other hand, it is equally important for higher-level managers to be demanding towards other employees, to avoid favouritism and to care about the development of professional and personal skills of their colleagues – both by setting a personal example and by making sure people are fairly rewarded for their achievements.