July 14, 2009
Managing to a Successful Season
Stakeholders and Buy-in: Managing to a Successful Season
As a youth coach, having an enriching and successful season takes more than just being an effective teacher. You must be able to create an environment where learning can take place and be reinforced. Part of creating this environment entails understanding your key stakeholders and managing their expectations. Your success in managing stakeholders’ expectations (especially those of the Parents) can make the difference between having a triumphantly rewarding season and a season where you keep asking, “Is it over yet?”
Stakeholders and Expectations
A stakeholder is anyone or anything that has a vested interest in your coaching, your team, or your season. Common stakeholders include your club (Are you developing players in the manner prescribed by the club? Are your activities structured to retain players?), your league (Are you conducting yourself appropriately? Are you completing your paperwork in a timely manner? Are you going to the coaches meetings?), and your family (Every hour that you spend on the field is an hour that you spend outside of the home. Are you coming home frustrated and kicking the couch? Note: Couch-kicking should be done with the instep. Only novice couch-kickers kick with the toe). Two of the most influential stakeholders are the Players and the Parents.
All stakeholders have expectations. Influential stakeholders have expectations that can shape the actions and perceptions of others. An expectation is a vision of a future state or an action to come. Expectations drive your stakeholders’ actions and decisions. They also tend to influence whether or not a stakeholder views you as effective and successful. The tricky part is that most expectations are unspoken. Therefore, if you want to be successful, stakeholders’ expectations need to be actively addressed. As business consultant David Alev writes, “Manage expectations or prepare to be managed.”
Most coaches, at some level, understand the importance of managing players’ expectations. If you have ever taken a CYSA Coaching License course, you’ve been exposed to a great tool for managing players’ expectations. Have you ever heard of the “9 step practice routine”? With the 9 step practice routine, players know what to expect when they come to practice. Practice isn’t just an hour and a half of drills ending with the coach asking, “Can anyone guess what we worked on today?” Players know that practice has a rhythm, flow, and destination. This in turn allows them to focus on the task at hand. In short, coaches know that managing players’ expectations is essential to creating a successful season. We are trained to ensure that players know what to expect and consistently work hard to make sure that there are no surprises. While coaches tend to proactively manage players’ expectations, we tend to forget about the other key stakeholder group: The Parents.
Check back next week for the continuation of this article…