Episode 21 – Adjust Your Focus

Your Sports Resource

Does your club have a group of problem parents? Do you feel like you are jumping through hoops to respond to them? Is everything a fire drill? In this episode, Renata discusses how to shift your focus on the majority of the membership that are supportive and engaged positively. She provides example statements and how to handle these situations.

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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 club 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 thank you for joining me today on another episode of Your Sports Resource Podcast.


I am Renata and I want to kick off today’s episode with a basically a saying that I have said for many, many years and that is don’t waste time on timewasters.


I know you are amazed and completely captivated by the beauty and depth of my words, no one would ever accuse me as being eloquent, but I do get to the point right.


This really came about in my 20s from my personal life. See, I just really could never tolerate the BS.


I’ve always served people. I think I’ve always served people from a very young age, but when it came to people being part of my inner circle like letting people in to be my friends. If you were all in on the chaos and creating problems, you were a big note for me.


So fast forward several years when my kids were younger. You know, don’t waste time on time wasters was a very common mantra of mine when we would have those you know, really emotional conversation about their friends or people who they thought were their friends and that mantra has really been a part of my professional life.


I do not waste energy on those, you know, ulterior motives or who take and take or who try their best to create dissension and chaos. I have no time for those people, and I sure as heck am not going to spend any energy on them and fuel their behavior.


So why am I telling you this?


Through my consulting work, I either get post a question or it becomes part of a conversation where the focus goes to problem parents. Problem parents usually come in two forms, right?


They’re usually either, you know you receive it as we must bend over backwards and make sure everybody happy, right?


So just because it’s the word of the few we got to do it anyways or it’s all of the focus is on the problem parents, meaning you know if we do this, what will they think right?


So last week we discussed changing your mindset from being a Parent Volunteer to a Business Leader or to just or from just a Coach to a Business Leader, right?


So, these behaviors are important, and I would recommend that you go back to episode 20 and listen to that.


But when you start to view yourself truly as a Business Leader, then it really becomes easier to come to the conclusion to make decisions that are in the best interest of the organization and not just bending to the will of those who really have their own personal gain in mind or their own personal motives in mine.


Now, I’m not telling you to ignore parent feedback, that’s not what this episode is about, and you’ll never hear me say that. We should all be open to taking on feedback ideas that’s how we grow as individuals and or as a group.


But you know exactly who I am talking about. I’m talking about that parent group or just that parent who would complain really no matter what. No matter what you did? How well the team did, they don’t care.


It’s just that parent who feels they have the best ideas and really gets irritated that you don’t listen to their ideas, or they feel that things that should be done the right way.


You know, or it could be that clique of parents who are always I don’t know causing issues, backstabbing, gossiping really is what it really is and just creating problems because that’s how they feel relevant OK?


So, I want you when you have every club has this group of parents or at that parent and I would really love for you to stop focusing on them and fueling their energy.


First of all chances are, they are less than 1% of your membership right. They just happen to be the loudest and the most obnoxious.


So, shift your focus to those who, you know, behave well and support your team. Celebrate them, laugh with them, give them high fives, I don’t care what you do. Give them the time of day. Because in the end they are human.


They are uplifting your club. They are respecting the boundaries. They are the ones who are following the rules OK. Engaging with the families who are the large percentage of your membership that are doing the right things.


We’ll show everyone that you value them and their behaviors that you value their being part of a positive culture and being positive role models to all of the children on the team.


And I do want to stop for a second and mention that no matter how a parent behaves, it is that parent’s behavior, not the child’s. I know sometimes it’s really hard and while people can make the distinction, there are coaches or board members that will avoid certain kids because they really just don’t want to deal with the parents, and I think that’s kind of unfair.


I get it. But keep in mind that you have the opportunity to be a big part of that kid’s life and be a positive role model where they’re not getting that at home.


OK, so I want to dive deeper in the two scenarios I presented earlier, but first, I’d like to ask, are you struggling to get that newsletter written and designed? Do you need a new Logo but don’t want to pay a fortune for it.


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OK, so let’s talk about the two scenarios I opened with. The first one was we must bend over backwards to make everyone happy. Listening, taking on feedback, and understanding that feedback. Yes, absolutely.


Evaluating that information and making a sound and well considered decision that is in the best interest of the organization.


Just doing what someone wants, that’s a big no.


Often when the same people are putting information forward and not feeling hurt. It’s because, well, really, it’s because of your communication, it’s off or lacking.


OK, you don’t inform them of what the club is working on or working towards.


Do you need to explain everything to the inth degree. No, not really. OK, and I don’t want you to go that route, but maybe quarterly send out an e-mail that lets your membership know. You know, what the board of the leadership team is working on operationally. I think everybody does a great job keeping up from the technical side of the sports side competition side.


But operationally, what are you doing as a club, OK? And I think when you don’t do that, you get certain people that feel like you’re doing nothing to move the club forward.


OK, and that’s probably nowhere near the truth, but that’s the perception that’s out there.


OK, but what I’d like for you to do is to learn to respond to these parents that are constantly asking for things.


OK, so your statement should always come in the formula of acknowledgement, expectation setting, and followed by next steps. OK, you should never provide an answer a full answer unless you have already gone through. It’ll be clear in a second, unless you’ve already gone through some consideration or commit to their request.


OK, unless you know that that decision has already been made.


So let me give you some suggestions. I would say things like, thank you for that information. I’ll take it back to the board for further consideration. Keep in mind as leaders, we are tasked to make decisions that are in the best interest of the club as a whole. But we’ll come back to you.


OK. Simple, you’ve done the formula of acknowledgement. You’ve set expectations that you won’t do anything that’s not in the benefit of the whole organization, OK?


And then you’ve told them next steps that you come back. Here’s another one, I hear what you’re saying. That’s a decision or conversation for the head coach. I’ll pass that message along, so chances are if they’ve come to you, they’ve actually gone to their coach or the head coach and they don’t like the coaches answer.


So, what that means is that you’re going to support the head coach. Another one is that’s a good suggestion. I’ll take it back to X and we will consider it. Right could be your board could be that person.


Keep in mind that this probably feels like a budget ask, so there’s quite a bit more to consider as it has to be balanced against other initiatives that we have already planned for. But we’ll come back to you.


OK, so again, that was a little bit lengthy, but the point is, these all follow the acknowledgement expectation setting and next steps without commitment or giving them an answer.


So, the expectation setting shows them that you are a business leader. OK, and you make decisions that are in the best interest of the club so they can start thinking that for themselves whether or not they will or not.


But once you do it several times, they go OK. I’m not going to sway them for my personal gain. They actually consider things for the organization as a whole, right?


So, what it’ll do is it’ll allow them to say, you know, do we have the money? They can do the bit of the critical thinking themselves, or do I feel like it’s already been allocated? Maybe I should ask cause I still don’t know, but you know, I understand that it’ll go through these considerations, right?


And again, they can only really make these considerations if you’re communicating on your part as well to let them know what you, as the leadership of the organization is working on.


Now the second example is second thing that I asked you to consider is where you know it’s really where my mantra comes into play of not wasting time on time-wasters right.


Those who actually stir the pot and there are not a lot of clubs, but there are quite a few clubs that have these little cliques. These little groups that you know they just do things that really just want to get create chaos and that’s just how they feel good about themselves.


It’s sad, but it is what it is. OK?


So, if they come out and ask specific questions, I would handle those just like I explained earlier, but typically these people do things behind the scenes right?


They’re usually causing more problems for other families or members, not necessarily directly to your face.


OK, so you’ll tend to hear things second-hand from other families where it’s like, hey, I just want to let you know or did you hear what so and so is saying so other families will come to you and say, hey, this person is stirring the pot behind the scenes.


OK, approaching this situation is very different. It’s much different than that you know, that response that I gave earlier where you acknowledge set expectation.


You’re still going to acknowledge a statement, but what I want you to do is deflect back to the person you’re speaking to.


OK, so if the parent comes to you and says hey so and so showed up on deck and really stirred up the pot with these other set of parents. I just wanted you to know right? You could say things like yes, I’ve heard, and I really appreciate you saying something to me.


The border leadership team is looking into it, but I want to talk about you, you know, or you could say or their son or daughter or their athlete, right. How are you guys doing, OK?


So again, it’s acknowledging but then shifting the focus to the people who are doing the right things OK? Or it could be something like no, I didn’t know. I really appreciate you filling me in.


Try not to spend so much time worrying about that. We’ll take it on OK. And then do a personal statement or a redirect. You know, sometimes it could be something positive about the club.


Like hey, did you hear about so and so making whatever cut or did you hear about the great things that’s happening with the coach? So again, acknowledging but shifting it back to something positive. Just change the subject.


Notice that I never really disparaged the people who are doing the wrong things. OK, you do want to acknowledge that you’re going, you’ve heard and that you’re doing something about it, or that something is in the works, but you don’t want to give credence to it and you don’t want to spend too much time there you know, and you definitely don’t want to say negative things.


OK, so keep in mind your audience. If you start talking crap about the other family, well, how are you any better than that other family, right?


So, what you’re trying to do is acknowledge and then focus on the good behaviors when the other families realize that you aren’t going to cow tow and get into gossip, neither will they. When you focus on positives, so will they.


I know this sounds like common sense again, but I see this often and it’s time to celebrate the positive and not give fuel to those who just cause issues.


If you don’t give them the oxygen and the families around them no longer buy into BS, it’ll just stop. It’ll just extinguish, so to speak. OK.


So, what happens when you need to make a decision based on the information provided by those who are causing issues? Let’s talk about that.


Again, remember no one suggestions should automatically be dismissed. All feedback is good if it’s something that needs a discussion, then my suggestion to you is to approach is to approach it logically right approach it like a business leader, not a scared parent.


Worrying that they’re going to upset another parent, OK, you’re a business leader.


So, what does logically mean? Does a request help you on the path to your vision? Does this request match your values?


Your, when I say your, I mean the club vision, the club values. Does it benefit the organization as a whole, or does it only benefit the few or single? Does it fill a real need or avoid? Does it go against in a compliance requirement, does it require money?


If it is something that you feel like you can’t move forward with, then think through your response. You cannot ignore it.


OK, if you’re wanting to shut these behaviors down, you cannot ignore it. You need to show them that you did your due diligence. You thought about it, and it was silly, or you thought about it, and you couldn’t do it and this is why.


OK, so you got to get back to them with a solid why and the reason why you give them a why is because they need to know that you think and operate like a business or something like this.


We spoke about your idea, and it was really a good one. However, it takes some budget. So, we need to work through how to slot it in or raids the funds. It will take some time.


OK, we spoke about your idea, and it was a good one. However, we’re already working on something like this that will satisfy this need, as well as other requirements we have that will serve our entire membership.


Good to know we’re thinking on the same page so a lot of times when people bring you ideas, it is something that you’re already working on or trying to solve, you know, so they just need to know that.


One more, we spoke about your suggestion while we understand your thought process, this does not really serve our membership as a whole or it does not bring us closer to our vision or meet our values or it goes against state requirements.


Whatever you want to say, OK, I know this is probably the most often conversation that goes avoided. I think I said that as a double negative, but what I’m saying is when people when you need to say no, people avoid that conversation.


Saying No is ok. As long as you explain. It doesn’t bring us closer to our vision. It doesn’t meet our values. It goes against state requirements whatever. OK, but don’t avoid that conversation.


Give them solid reasons for saying no. They may not like them. They may argue and that’s OK. Listen, acknowledge and hear them, but the answer is the answer, OK?


And that what you were showing them is that you’re running your club like a business and that you as a collective, have thought through the responses OK. And you can even use the statement when another family maybe comes up and says, hey, did you know this problem parent is complaining behind the scenes?


You could say, Oh, thank you for letting me know. The board did consider it and we feel it’s not in the best interest of the organization as a whole. So, what’s happening with you? So again, remember shifting back to that positive statement.


The same should go if it’s something that didn’t need a big conversation with the board that it was something that could just be handed off to one person, you know, maybe it should have gone back to the coach because the parent asked the coach and didn’t like that answer, right?


So, those responses are still the same, you just change the we to I and It’s yeah, we thought about it. This is why not moving on. OK, if it’s an I statement.


So, if it’s coming from the coach or let’s just say one particular staff member or board member. I would highly recommend that you let the full board and staff know and the reason for that is not for approval. It’s so they can openly support you and follow your lead when it comes up in conversation because it will come up again.


All right, I hope today’s episode was helpful.


You, as a leader of your club, really should adjust your focus on the many wonderful families you have and adjust your approach to the handful of parents who may seem like they’re only there to cause problems.


OK, give the oxygen to the right group. Be forthright and methodical on how you approach these situations, and the problem parents should either go away or be less of a headache because the rest of your membership get it and they’re also not going to buy into it.  Alright?


Thank you for listening today and please subscribe, rate, and review this podcast so more can hear about how they can improve the Leadership of their Sports Club.


As always, you can find more on www.yoursportsresource.com and you can write me at info at www.yoursportsresource.com.


Thanks, guys. Have a great day.