In this second episode of a four-part series, Renata discusses 6 different areas clubs can work on to improve the overall performance of their organization. From staff to volunteers there are several ways to ensure everyone is efficient, effective, and working on all cylinders.
This is the Your Sports Resource Podcast, where each week you’ll learn actionable strategies that you can implement, so the operations of your club, support your 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 the Your Sports Resource podcast. My name is Renata Porter and today is Part 2 of a four-part series on the areas that makes a successful Sports Club.
Last week we talked about where to start, which is to fully investigate. Why you’re here? What your business is about and where you’re going.
Sounds like common sense, but many businesses enter into business with a loose understanding of their purpose. They have an idea and then they just kind of charge ahead.
So, episode one really discusses getting a strong understanding of your foundational principles and how you will make decisions moving forward.
Today’s episode discusses performance, but I would imagine that this is not in the way that you would expect, so we’re going to talk about what things you need to do as an organization to ensure that you perform to the best of your ability, okay. So, not from the athlete’s perspective, more from the organization’s perspective.
So, for this four-part series, I’m working from a worksheet that is on www.yoursportsresource.com If you go to the site and go under Key Roles, then scroll down to Tools, you will find one that says Characteristics of a Successful Club.
Basically, it’s a list in each area and it gives you a way to rate yourself to see how you’re doing. Are you doing well? What needs work and what are you missing? What do you need to do?
So, no club, and quite honestly, no business really is doing all of these things to a high degree. But it’s a great guideline for you to really understand what the works are that need to be accomplished.
So, underperformance there’s seven areas to look at to better understand if you’re putting your organization in a position to do the right things to be effective, efficient, and operating at a high degree of success.
So, let’s just jump in. So, the very first item is, all positions are clearly defined and used to manage and recruit. So, you would be amazed at how many clubs I speak to that don’t even have job descriptions other than like maybe the head coach, right?
Yet all these clubs have areas where you know, things are not being done like balls being dropped, absolute major gaps in work, and then they have areas where you’ve got two or even more people working on the same thing, right?
So inefficient. Some areas being dropped, and some areas being worked on more people than is required or necessary, right?
Additionally, they’re struggling with apathy and people taking responsibility for their work. Well, the place to start is to make sure there are clear-cut responsibilities.
And I don’t mean that you just need to ram this through. Like really think about it. If I were to go from the coaching perspective, yes, that part that technical side of the job could be, you know very easily done, and very straightforward, but also think about all the different administrative and maybe operational pieces of work that need to be done.
So, I would take the time. Yes, you’ve got your main job description that all that talks about, okay, I’m a head age group coach and I’m responsible for 10 and under athletes.
And you know these are the practice sessions and I’m expected to work. I don’t know five days a week, whatever that is, okay, but from an administrative and operational point of view, it would be wonderful if you could take the time to really think about that and put those pieces of work under specific roles where it makes sense.
That way there is someone attached to all these different administrative bits and pieces. So, the work will actually be delivered. You won’t to have multiple people trying to do the same thing, and you won’t have other pieces of work sitting over there. You know out in the minefield that nobody wants to touch, right?
Keep in mind when you do this work, it really removes any ambiguity and confusion among your staff. There’s a clear-cut picture of who should be doing what work? And what you expect for them day to day. These can be used to correct against, but more importantly to celebrate your team for works well done, right?
So, the first item is to ensure that all roles are clearly defined. By the way, this is also for your administrative positions, your board positions, your volunteer positions, any position in your organization, volunteer or paid.
Okay, item two, is to ensure that your policies and procedures are documented and reviewed yearly. I know this is really boring work, but it’s so important and especially from two perspectives.
Okay, one, again, how you can expect people to abide by these rules, so to speak, if you. If you don’t have a way for people to know about them right, and you also want to make sure that they’re like not wishy-washy or different from person to person, right?
So, from a policy perspective, you may have some serious legal ramifications if you don’t have very clear policies like Safe Sports. So, how you handle bullying and abuse. Or how you handle financial reimbursements or conflicts of interest, right?
So those are pretty important things that you absolutely need to have some policies around, there’s many more, but you know, those are things that you need policies around to keep yourself out of legal ramifications, okay, problems.
Secondly, when you don’t have major or important procedures written out, you either get things done in different ways depending on who’s doing the task, which is inefficient, right? For one person, it might be done one way and for another person, it might be done differently and that’s really not only is it inefficient, but it sends a different message, especially if you’re working with stakeholders, or what about your members like it’s done differently for one parent than another parent, so that’s not a great look.
And you also put yourself in a situation to where if someone needs to leave, gets ill, or you know, just says I’ve had enough. Someone can step in and still do whatever payroll or fulfill whatever obligations and tasks that are important.
And even further to that, if you have a board where there is turnover, having things like procedures documented in even things like important points of contact, you know really provides a road map for the new person coming in on the.
They don’t waste their first few months being, you know, on the back foot trying to figure things out, not knowing what they’re supposed to do.
So, I know this is a boring piece of work, but it’s so important for the continuity. And most of all, for the efficiency and effectiveness of your organization, if you want certain things done in a certain way, you need to document it, so you make sure that everybody gets it done in that way, if you have really policies that are, you know stringent that everybody needs to follow, well, they need to be documented.
Again, common sense. But things that aren’t necessarily done from club to club, okay. So, my recommendation is that you have people start documenting the important processes and aspects of their role as they go through them. Just have them write them out.
Or procedures do not absolutely have to be a document. They can be videos, right? So, in the end, the policies and the procedures just keep your organization safe and ensure that your people are efficient and effective.
All right item three is to ensure that your bylaws are reviewed yearly and updated as necessary. When I work with clubs, the first thing I ask for is a copy of their bylaws. It is absolutely one of the first piece of artifacts that I ask for because I want to understand the foundation of that organization.
I want to understand why they were formulated. I want to understand how they operate. Just because you know the bulk of sports clubs or youth sports clubs are nonprofits. That does not mean that they’re all set up in the same way, so that’s the first piece of information that I ask for, okay?
I want to understand how they operate based on their own requirements, not what I think they should be operating. Anyhow, the bylaws are legally binding, and if you’re not working in line with your bylaws, that’s really not a good place to be, okay.
So now I will say this is usually because the bylaws were written 15 years ago, and they’re you know no longer relevant, but if you don’t correct them and adjust them, then you’re operating outside of your legal fashion, right?
So, it’s important that it’s reviewed yearly. Bylaws are not meant to be overly restrictive like you really don’t want to debate every minor point. So, for example, if you want a parent representative, subcommittee, right?
You might state in your bylaws what that committee is, who they are, and how they’re made up. But you may not want to get into specific bullet-pointed items of what they’re responsible for. You might do an overarching general sentence.
That way it leaves you room to have a secondary document that writes out their structure and what they’re responsible for, and if three years down the line you find that you actually want the parent representative group to take on something else, you can change that secondary document and not have to go change your bylaws. I mean, that’s just a simple example that I’m giving you, okay.
So, it’s important that this is reviewed yearly, and I would recommend that you do that maybe a couple months out from your annual general meeting, just in case you have something that you do want to change.
It gives you time to consider those changes. Write them how you feel like they should be written so you can present it to your membership if that is what you need to do.
Now I can’t say this enough. You must be compliant to all laws, right? Both, what is expected of you by the government? And maybe even your Sports Authority. You know, like USA Soccer USA Swimming but also by your own bylaws. So, you absolutely want to make sure that you review them.
Okay, item four out of the seven is to ensure that you have a strong financial management and reporting structure.
So, this one really gives me a tremendous amount of worry. It’s always in the back of my mind when I’m working with clubs, and I don’t think that clubs by and large purposely ignore their financial management.
I think people just feel that it’s, I don’t know, they don’t feel like it’s their responsibility or they just feel like it’s like really, I’m not good with money and I don’t really want to pay attention to it, right?
So, whether you’re a nonprofit or a profit, your leadership team needs to fully understand the organization’s financial state, okay. The good, the bad, and the ugly.
Too often, I find that leadership will just leave it up to the Treasurer or the combination of the Treasurer and the President or even the Treasurer and the Accountant, okay.
And here’s the thing, if you were a uh in nonprofit status, anyone who makes voted on decisions so your board on how you’re going to utilize and do things always usually takes money, right?
So, you’re voting to bring in or to do an activity that you have to assign funds to or raise funds for, okay. If that’s the case. I don’t care if you understand it or not. You are on the hook for appropriate use of funds. Whether you understand them or not.
Okay, and here’s the thing at the most basic of explanation. Okay, how can you, as a leader of your organization make well-informed decisions if you don’t understand your financials, okay?
So, in some way and I’m just going to use general terms. There’s actual, you know, financial statements that are more traditional, but there must be monthly reporting that shows the budget, how you’re tracking to that budget, and how you’re forecasting a few months ahead so you can plan appropriately, okay.
So, for example, if you know you’re in the month of June, but in the month of October, that you really have this big event coming and you guys are tracking a little low financially.
Well, in the month of September, you’re not going to vote in to do something else that will take more money away from whatever you’ve got going on in October, right?
So that’s just like ah, that’s the basic common sense of things, but I see clubs doing it all the time, and it’s merely because they truly don’t understand a month by month, future picture for their organization, okay.
Now, this just puts you in a really good position to have a clear picture and so you can truly vote for activities. And know that you do, or you do not have the funding to support it.
That way if you ever get caught up and someone challenges the board on decisions that were made, you can go through and say yes, absolutely the board voted on this because X because Y because Z, right?
Because if you throw your hands up and go, I don’t know. That’s just what the treasurer told me that that’s not going to be good enough. You’re on the hook and you’re in the front-page paper, okay? So, you must know and understand your finances.
Now it’s not only that, there’s also like having things set up like a second set of eyes or signatures on bank accounts, right? Credit cards, how are you spending that money over a certain dollar amount? What’s the checks and balances to make sure that people aren’t just out there running up money, okay?
Just because you aren’t good with money, it is not an excuse, right? You have a responsibility to use your membership funds and your donations and grants and any other fundraising efforts responsibly.
All right, I want to take a second to talk to you about how you can improve the direction of your organization and how the board and the head coaches can work together.
Some clubs need an objective individual to work with them to pull relationships together to get things out on the open, right. So, my consulting services do just that.
My approach to working with these sports clubs is to work in a way where you have a game plan to implement right away and so, everybody understands each other, and you can just get in there and start working right?
I stay away from theory. Fluff drives me nuts. If there’s work to be done, I want to make sure that it’s documented, and I’ll put myself in a position to help you get there so you can move forward.
I want to get you out of old mindsets and sameness and moving into running the club like the business that it is.
Together we can move this club from surviving to thriving with options, so send me an email and we can schedule a no-obligation call where we can discuss your areas of concern and we can just talk about whether or not I can help, or how I can help. That email is email@example.com one more time firstname.lastname@example.org
Okay, item five on the checklist underperformance is that all governance and other required reporting is completed accurately and timely. Again, another common sense, well, duh!
So, this is to ensure that you’re staying compliant, but also that you’re putting yourself in a position to where you don’t accrue fines or fees or have to give grant money back, right?
So, this runs the gamut to filing your taxes on time to ensuring that you meet the reporting requirements for any grants or fundraising efforts that you’ve been rewarded, right? Again, seems like common sense, but again, I’ve seen clubs not file various forms of paperwork on time.
I have a club right now that is actually not a current business according to the state because they’ve not filed timely, right? They’re working, they just don’t have an active license. Seems silly, but it happens all the time. That’s just one simple example, right?
It’s a waste of time and effort and could very well put you in a negative light in doing operations without a business license, okay, and that’s again just one example.
I have another club that’s received a grant and they didn’t do the follow-on reporting and really got themselves in a position to where they were flipping out because they were going to face having to give that grant money back, right?
So, taking just a little bit of time and doing some planning and put some dates on calendars and you know, assigning them to people to make sure that things are done on time really can go a long way.
Item six, to ensure that you’re putting your club in the right position to perform well is to ensure that you’re using the appropriate tools and applications for efficiencies.
So, I have to say that more often than not, most clubs are doing this right. Everybody got that shiny object syndrome. Everybody likes the latest app everybody likes to do the latest thing and the newest thing right?
So, if you are in a position to where you’ve got some really manual processes right, like let’s just say you’ve got a good portion of your coaches or part-time staff and you’re still having sheets of paper turned in and someone has to manually read documents and let somebody else know that they approved this time, well, that’s really. It’s a lot of waste of time and it’s inefficient, right?
There’s so many apps out there that you could use for time shooting, so just make sure that you’re using applications and tools that help you streamline and simplify some of your processes.
In addition to that, make sure you have really strong filing system and a folder structure to where documents can be put or and those are any types of documents, right? So just make sure you have an easy-to-use and efficient storage structure as far as your documents, instructions, and all those types of things.
Okay, so the last item on the list is to ensure that there’s the collection maintenance and handover of key information to ensure continuity. We kind of touched on this earlier but it’s one thing to update your policies and procedures.
It’s a whole other thing for, let’s say the President, to have a well-curated list of contacts and relationships, right?
But if they aren’t nurtured through storage and hand over to the new people coming through, well, what really quite honestly, what good are they? What purpose do they serve, right?
So those relationships and this is how I approach it. You know, a lot of times, people will say, but that’s their list. Well, is it really? They curated that list. They’re a volunteer. They curated that list on behalf of the organization. That list is actually belonged to the organization
So, why wouldn’t you want to set the club up for success to make sure that whoever is coming in to take over, even if it’s not even a rollover end role, what if it’s just the president got sick, right?
So, you want to know who the point of contacts are, so if you’re in the middle of a major activity, somebody can pick up the pieces and keep going and not have the ball drop, okay.
All right so those are the seven items to ensure that you put your organization in the best place to perform on all levels.
Don’t feel like you have to attack each and every single area. Start with one and then move methodically through to the next if you plan and are methodical about tackling these areas, then the chances of you getting these things done is great.
Again, you can find this list on the website. It’s a tool called Characteristics of a Successful Club. Thank you for listening and please subscribe rate and review this podcast.
I truly appreciate your support and really hope that the work that we do at Your Sports Resource helps your club and others reach success in any shape that you classify success.
Thank you for spending time with me!