Episode 16 – Successful Clubs – Strategy

Your Sports Resource

Embark on a 4-part series with Renata, starting with ‘Successful Clubs – Strategy,’ where she unveils the key differentiators in strategy that elevate sports clubs to new heights. In this, she talks about your direction, strategic goals, measuring objectives, and how you must stay flexible and adaptable to achieve.

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Introduction 00:00:00

This is the Your Sports Resource Podcast where each week, you’ll learn actionable strategies that you can implement so the operations of your clubs, support your coaching staff, and the direction of your organization. We are committed to excellence in youth sports leadership. Let’s get started.


Hello everyone and welcome to Your Sports Resource Podcast. My name is Renata Porter and I’m a youth sports consultant and founder of www.yoursportsresource.com  This week I’m going to kick-off a four-part series that is based on a webinar that I put on regarding what makes a successful club.


I personally believe there are four areas that each club could and should provide focus to in order to ensure that they’re doing what it is that they are in business to do which is to provide opportunity and service to its membership and the children.


New club is doing everything that I’m going to discuss or even everything correctly, but this is a good guide to understand your organization. What are you doing well and where do you have gaps? And then, trying to create a plan on how to move forward.


Now, I want to reiterate that no club has this right. But honestly, who is to say really what’s right. There’s overarching principles which is basically what I’m going to discuss but each club will have their own theme of what is right for them. But my point in saying this again is that for you to not, you know, get overwhelmed with what you feel you may not be doing.


Each week, I’ll give you, you know, what those principles are and how you should be following or looking at them. But that doesn’t mean that you should go out and try to change everything about your organization whether you need it or not, okay.


So, this is something I see a lot in the corporate world. Admittedly, things need change, right? So, you admit that no one is arguing with that but how you approach change is as important as making the changes themselves.


So, planning and being methodical in your approach first ensures that you aren’t overwhelming everyone and to that the process is, you know well thought through. When you try to do too much at once especially if you are leaning on volunteers or even partly on volunteers to get this work accomplished, it can fail real quickly not because it’s wrong but because it was too much all at once. Hopefully, that makes sense, right?


So, this four-part series is for you to try to figure out where the areas are that you need to work on. Just remember to go slow and go at a steady place so you can actually affect change.


So, the four areas that we are going to discuss in the month of May are strategy, performance, talent, and connection. Now, I will admit the content of some of these titles is exactly what you think, and others are not so much so I will adapt the information for big clubs, small clubs, ones that are led by a parent-board and those that are coach front.


Hopefully that will give you food for thought that is applicable for you no matter where you lie in that mix. None of these podcasts are lengthy so I would urge you to listen and take notes and really take a good look at how you were doing, okay?


So, let’s jump into today’s topic, which is strategy. Now, this is setting your big plan of what you want to achieve. Depending on the size of your organization really depends on how deep you go.


But no matter your structure, you must think through where you’re going? And this is an area that is, I mean honestly, it’s just such common sense. I mean, we’re in sports, so setting goals is a really common practice. If it’s not monthly or weekly, it’s definitely seasonally, right?


So, why do clubs as an operation not plan for where they’re going? I liked it to constantly looking down and staring at your feet, you know only focusing on the steps you’re taking today. If I were to use a swimming analogy, you are simply just treading water, right?


So, you may be spinning around to the right or to the left a little bit. You know, for a little bit of change. But quite honestly, you’re still in the same spot. So, setting your strategy is the ability to lift your head and actually start swimming forward.


So, under strategy there’s four areas that I want you to consider in order to get yourself to that successful club status. And those are:


One (1), a clearly defined vision, values, and behaviors. Two (2), clearly define strategic goals to reach your vision. Three (3), clearly defined and measurable objectives.  And Four (4), a club structure that adjusts depending on the goals and objectives of the club.


Now I’m going to break each of these down, so they make sense. And remember, take notes and you know, work through what you’re doing well and where you feel you should improve.


Alright, so the first area in strategy is setting your vision, values, and behaviors. If you’re a regular listener, you know this is something that I wholeheartedly believe in and really more in working in those behaviors than anything. But the whole purpose all of the vision values and behaviors that whole structure right there really fits together.


If I can ask you to please go back and listen to episode two, let’s talk culture and four vision and values.  That’s where I really break these down in a nutshell and how they all work together. But as a recap, your vision is the direction that you’re going. It’s inspirational, but achievable.


It’s something that you will change every few years, it is not your mission. Your mission is why you’re in existence. Your vision is what you want to achieve, where you’re going, OK? Your values are the fundamental beliefs that drive you forward and help you reach your vision. So, your values are things like integrity, connection, respect, performance, those types of things.


Your values are also measures that you’ll use to balance decisions against. So, if you have a major decision, assuming it’s not like a compliance issue that you’re required to do by some governing body and you look at it logically, if it doesn’t hold up to your values, well then you know it’s a really easy decision, isn’t it?


The last part of this is your behaviors and I push clubs to think through their behaviors that they want to model, celebrate and correct against. And let me tell you why, so it’s really easy to write your vision and values down. Put it on a piece of paper, put it on a poster, put it on a newsletter and say, “Yey, we did it” and push it to the side never to think about it again, okay?


But if you think through what behaviors make up the values, so let’s just use integrity, right? So, if you think through the behaviors that make up the value integrity well, then you’re much more likely to live those values. And when you live those values, you’re building a culture.


So let me give you an example. Let’s do integrity. So, here are some behavior statements that can be modeled, celebrated and corrected against. Honor your commitments, own your actions, respect people, time and facilities. Great behavior statements, okay. So, do you see how you by doing these push your living your values not just some words on a sheet of paper.


Okay, so this is the first task that should be done no matter the size your organization. I don’t care what your makeup is, you must know what you’re going, where you’re going, sorry. What you stand for and how you’re actually going to walk that walk day today. So that’s your vision, your values, and your behaviors. Having that foundation really just establishes your culture and your culture is what is going to attract your families and your coaches.


Now the second area under strategy that I want you to think about is clearly define strategic goals to reach your vision. It’s great to have your vision, right? But how you get there? The strategic goals are typically their long-term goals so not something that you can achieve in a couple months.


These are bigger initiatives that help you achieve something like I don’t know, profitability, growth in membership, employee retention or coach retention, right or coach growth. I’ve heard the example of strategy versus tactics and tactics is what you use to get to your strategy.


So, the example might be, Uhm, coach retention. And under that, there may be several tactics like offering benefits, doing market compensation research for appropriate pay, providing opportunities of growth, so those are tactics. And they may take additional planning, right? So, if you find you need to provide benefits and raise your salaries to be competitive well then, you might take another tactic to find money or budget to support that ever, right?


So, all of these are tactics and their smaller objectives over time that allow you to deliver on the strategic goal so you can reach that vision, okay. So let me try to give you an example. Let’s say, your vision statement includes words like promotes personal excellence and swimming and life for coaches’ athletes and parents. Okay, so that’s not a whole vision statement, by the way, it’s just a piece of a vision statement.


But if you feel in order to do this, one of your strategic goals is to attract and keep quality coaches. Then your subgoals or those tactics or objectives are going to be to look at the benefits. Hopefully, that makes sense if that just kind of shows you that layer.


The third area in strategy for successful clubs is clearly defined and measurable objectives. Now, these can be your tactics right to reach your strategic goals or they can just be something that you’re trying to immediately fix. I’ve added the word measurable because I want you to think through how taking on this objective will add value to your organization.


In an area where people have limited time, ability, mental headspace, you really need to learn to prioritize your work based on the amount of people that you have to ask to accomplish that work. And sometimes, that means you need to sit back and go does this really provide immediate value? Yes, that goes to the front of the line, okay.


Now again, outside of your compliance thing, so whatever the government or the Sports Authority is requiring you to do, if you take them this task, how will this objective improve your organization. Let me give you a simple example. Your leadership team should have their, what you call consistent or everyday tasks recorded as a process.


Now that can be a video, it can be a document, it can be a checklist doesn’t really matter. The measurement is continuity, okay. So, if someone has, let’s say they have to leave unexpectedly. They end up in the hospital. Then by having that checklist or that process document, someone else can step in and keep the payroll running as an example.


If it’s a volunteer, then when there’s a hand over to the new volunteer of who’s taking over whether it’s a board president or the concessions person, they know exactly what is expected instead of trying to figure it out, okay.


So, in those areas that’s continuity is the measurement. I hope that makes sense. Objectives are set so you understand why you’re doing what you’re doing right? They can go with role descriptions; they can go with processes just like I explained and activities that move the organization. So maybe how you off-board or onboard new members needs an objective behind it, right? We need to improve that process.


So why does this process need to be improved? Why does it need to be efficient and effective, right? So, the measurement is well, so you have members who know what the heck is going on and what’s expected of them when they sign their child up or you know, so billing takes place on a regular basis they’re not having hunt down money, okay?


All right, so I want to stop for a second and talk to you about our Managed Virtual Services. This is a new offering that we have. As I work or have worked with more and more clubs, I kept getting asked, hey, do you know someone who could just, you know, make a logo or clean up my newsletter? Uhm, I really want to run a survey, but I don’t want to purchase, you know, a survey plan. Can you help me? So, we’ve launched our managed virtual services.


For those of you who just need that one-off help or that extra help where you don’t want to go out hire someone or find a volunteer to take on that task.  So, you can sign up for any of number things and the rates start as low as. $15.00 an hour. We work on a variety of plans that work for you, so you can do one-off projects, you can do weekly, monthly or even long-term pieces the work.


I set this up to be flexible and allow you to complete tasks in efficient and affordable way. You can find out more on www.yoursportsresource.com/virtualservices  there’s an online form that you can fill out and get going immediately.


Alright, so let’s get back to it. The last area in strategy that I want you to consider or take a look at to see if this might be able to improve your organization is if your club structure adjusts depending on the goals and objectives that you establish. Now this one is huge.


It is a giant pitfall that I see clubs toss themselves into time after time. So, they get the rah, rah. They’re really excited, they got this new initiative, new goal, new activity, whatever it is, it’s shining object that they know is just going to add benefit to their organization.


And then, they look around the room and they go, okay. So, uhm who’s going to do this work? And then it goes nowhere, right? Great idea, no execution. So, you’re treading water and not swimming forward. So, if a specific item really does sit squarely with someone else that’s already part of the organization whether they’re on the board, leadership team, paid staff member doesn’t really matter.


Then that’s one thing, that’s fine then it does go to them. But randomly assigning tasks is just not effective. So, in order to be successful, that means you need to adjust, and adjustments don’t have to be permanent, right? So, you just need to adjust in order to carry out that objective. So, go seek out someone who has the skill set and capacity you need to deliver on whatever it is that you want to deliver.


If it’s a bigger piece of work, establish a subcommittee. I’ve been in so many board meetings where a great idea is proposed, and the board feels like someone there has to actually take on that task. So, you end up with a room full of people really claiming not it, because they don’t have any more time to give or you know, you just have someone who doesn’t want to sign up to do anymore work, right?


So, take a step back and think about how to adjust in order to accomplish what you need to accomplish. Do you bring someone in? Do you bring a team in? Do you reprioritize someone else’s work and don’t let the fear of finding more volunteers or hiring temporary staff put you of.


First, volunteers are more likely to come forward if they know what is expected of them especially if it’s short term in and out. They can do that. Even if you have some work where you need a subcommittee and you feel like it’s going to take a year, there’s still definition and certainty and a time frame behind it and more people are willing to sign up for that.


And it’s not going to get done is definitely not going to get done by piling onto either the already overworked staff that you have or volunteers that you have or the people you have today that you know, can’t even deliver on the basics of what they signed up to do. Now I know that last statement was a little negative but the other side of this is I see boards saying ahh, so and so isn’t doesn’t ever do anything, let him do it well, OK.


You’re still not going to get it done by assigning it to them if you know that they don’t accomplish things, right? So, I mean that’s a different story and you really should be taking care of that individual. By the way, I think it’s episode 12, nonproductive volunteers to learn more about how to handle that situation, okay. But the point is being able to adjust to bring in people that can actually deliver is a great way to go and is something that successful clubs do.


So, to wrap up the first area for successful clubs is all about strategy, okay. And in order to set that up, you must clearly define your vision, values, and behaviors. You have clearly defined strategic goals to reach your vision. You have clearly defined a measurable objective and lastly, the club structure adjusts depending on the goals and objectives of the club.


Now on the website www.yoursportsresource.com  there is a tool that goes along with this episode. If you go under Sports Leadership and under that’s under Key Roles and then scroll down to the Tools, you’ll find one that says Characteristics of a Successful Club. You can download that for free and use it as a checklist just to see how you’re going.


Alright, thank you everyone for listening and please subscribe rate and review this podcast so more can hear about how they can improve the leadership of your Sports Club. In Part 2 of this series, we’re going to discuss performance. Make sure you check out www.yoursportsresource.com  as well, there’s all kinds of information on there.


Thank you for spending time with me today.