A trust test of a great head coach is not only their ability to put together a great coaching staff, but to manage one that can work together effectively. Whether you are a head coach or an assistant coach, you will be dealing with staff issues.
As you preach to your players the value of teamwork and expecting them to have an unselfish mentality, a lot of coaches forget these expectations in the staff meeting room. Understandably – coaching is an ultra-competitive business with the potential for huge pay days, and most coaches are striving for their next promotion. Coaches are naturally looking to crush the competition and that attitude is sometimes hard to turn off within the walls of your own staff meeting room.
It’s unrealistic to expect the entire staff to be best friends – but it is realistic for coaches to carry themselves professionally within their own facility walls. How do you expect your team to get better when the coordinators are always taking shots at each other, if position coaches are questioning each other in front of the team or if particular coaches claim all of the responsibility for successes in certain areas?
WHAT SEPARATES GREAT STAFFS FROM AVERAGE STAFFS:
– TRUST: Head coaches should hire great assistants, preferably ones they’ve had a history or relationship with, and trust them to do their job, with results being evaluated annually. There are several layers within each program that need daily attention, so delegation must be trusted! Successful organizations empower their members to make decisions, based off of a standard set of values or rules, increasing productivity and efficiency. Realistically, there will be disagreements, egos, competition, politics and tense times. A lot is on the line: families, careers, houses, promotions, media pressure. How you handle disagreements, and how your staff handles disagreements will impact the success of your team.
– UNSELFISHNESS: As you preach to your players: “There is enough shine out there for everyone.” You don’t need one superstar player, you need a whole roster full of great players who can contribute value. Same with coaching staffs – there are PLENTY of responsibilities that you can prove your value with, and ways to boost your resume. Find a niche within the program where you can make your mark!
– WINNING: Your job will be judged on the success of your position group and your ability to recruit. As a staff, you’ll likely be judged solely on winning. The greatest staffs focus on winning, what it takes to win, finding an edge to help them win, ways to win in recruiting, helping their players develop into winners. Everything else is irrelevant if your staff can’t win as a whole. Everyone will be out of a job.
– MONEY ISSUES: Issues with your paycheck are between you and the head coach and Athletic Director or Assistant AD overseeing your sport. If another assistant is making more, remember that’s the salary you agreed to. Keep money talks strictly between you and your direct supervisor. Money talks are extremely destructive among staffs. Renegotiate your contract or find another job. If you are a head coach, are you able to provide financial incentives for exceeding goals or able to assign new responsibilities to your top assistants looking for promotions or more responsibility? You need to plan ahead in order to keep great assistants growing and improving within your program, and that includes some financial incentive.
– LEADERSHIP: Stick to the head coach’s mission statement and team goals – communicate these standard goals enthusiastically and often. Keep everyone focused on the tasks at hand, not focused on the dynamics of personalities between the staff. Keep your energy positive, walk away from the negativity. Diffuse petty situations.
– CONTRIBUTION: Take an active role in meetings! Contribute ideas, don’t be afraid to speak up. Don’t be too sensitive if your ideas are shot down or not implemented, there are often outside reasons. Continue to generate ideas.
– SET EXAMPLE: You cannot carry yourself with a, “Do as I say, not as I do,” attitude and expect your players to be accountable. You must lead with the same behaviors that you expect of them.
– RESPECT: Never talk negativity about other coaches or staff in front of players. They will mirror you. In front of players or other staffers, always refer to coaches as “Coach ______” or call them by their first name. Never call other coaches by a nickname or by their last name in front of players, set the expectation of respect.
– NO GOSSIP: Zero tolerance on gossip among staff and spouses, it’s counterproductive to your team’s mission. If it’s an issue, limit what you share with your spouse. You don’t want to create tension between coach’s spouses or families. Come to work to do your job. Focus your time on handling your responsibilities and making your areas of the program successful and strengths of the team. You should have more than enough to do!
READ MORE: Tips for assistant coaches, grad assistants