Unlock knowledge with ‘Survey’s Equal Knowledge’ as we explore an old-school approach that replaces assumptions with reality for leaders.
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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 and welcome to the Your Sports Resource Podcast. My name is Renata Porter, and I am so happy that you have joined me.
Today, we’re going to talk about an old-school approach that moves you as a leader out of assumptions and into reality.
As I’m sure you can figure out by the title, I’m going to talk about surveys today, and not only the benefit and the why but the how, which is really important to ensure that you have the right information and not just responses that support your narrative.
So, I guess while I’ve already stated that I want to talk about the concept of supporting your narrative, so speaking of supporting your narrative, let me talk about that concept for a second.
So when I recommend doing a survey to see what the staff thinks about how the team is doing.
It’s often met with, you know, Oh, I’ve got a really happy and engaged staff. I know how they feel and for those who aren’t really happy or engaged, I know who they are.
I don’t need them to tell me what’s happening right, or you know, quite frankly, they feel like surveys are a waste of time, to which I would respond.
Yes, they can be a waste of time if you asked the right questions, but that’s more about how you create your surveys and not really what the results can reap.
So, what I really want to dig into is why people feel they truly understand what their staff feels, thinks, and believes.
OK, I would consider myself a pretty good leader, you know. Hey, if I could pat myself on the back, you know I have faults like everyone else really, but I think.
If there is a job that I know that I do well that would be leading teams but even I person who feels like they do well in this arena and who depends heavily on relationships to get to that position, I would never assume to know exactly what everyone on my team is thinking and feeling.
I only know what I think and what they actually tell me, right? I, I go a lot by gut feelings and body language and all that kind of stuff. But the reality is, none of us really have the full scope and picture of how our staff feels about our organization about what we do as a leader a manager
And you know when you do these surveys, you may find that you were right. Hey, you knew everything, but it’s more likely that you’ll find that there’s elements of truth.
That they just aren’t comfortable disclosing or heck; you might even be nowhere near close to being.
Having your assumptions confirmed right, so what I would really like for you is that I want you to base your decisions and how you approach your organization in reality, you know, don’t you want to know if you’re missing the mark somewhere so you can learn and adjust?
It doesn’t even have to be about you as a leader, it could just be something that’s missing or ways to be more effective or anything to improve the workings or the dynamics of your organization.
Surveys can give you all of that information. A well-crafted survey can provide so much detail and give you great insight into blind spots that you know you may have or just areas you didn’t even think existed right.
So, whether it’s feedback on communications, Job satisfaction, process improvement, or simply just wanting to gauge their appetite for change?
You can’t go wrong with asking for feedback via surveys you might not like the feedback that you received, but that doesn’t mean that it’s not valuable, right?
So, it’s been well reported that when an organization recognizes there are gaps, whether it’s in services or leadership and they do something about it so they take that information, and they do something with it.
The level of trust between the staff and the company just escalates when employees know when they speak up about valid issues or even simple improvements and the company listens well, then it’s pretty straightforward. Isn’t it right?
You feel valued, so why then do coaches push back so hard when it comes to doing a survey to better understand their people, right?
One, as I said it said earlier people, in general, assume they know everything or two, they’re just afraid of hearing anything negative right?
The second one bothers me because it doesn’t really align with their role as a coach, right?
As a coach, every day you ask your athletes to challenge themselves to grow, to improve so what is wrong with asking the same thing of your staff and yourself?
It’s absolutely crazy to me that you live in an arena or work in an arena where you’re asking for people. to grow, but you don’t want to do that on your own, right? Again, yes, it may be hard to hear, but what you’re doing is discounting potential celebrations.
Meaning maybe you’re doing really well, and as human nature goes, we don’t always get those celebrations, do we? Especially as leaders, we’re not always told we’re doing a great job. OK, so it may be really enlightening that you actually see the area’s uric selling right.
But what’s really being missed is the opportunity to build a tremendous culture because you’re creating that feedback loop and building trust with your staff. OK, especially in this market, have you seen the coaching job boards? They’re massive.
So, do you want to develop your staff to be an awesome value to your team? Don’t you want to keep them? Don’t you want to attract high-caliber coaches and staff and then through that high-caliber athletes? Then you have to find a way to flip the mental switch and welcome continual improvement.
Surveys are the easiest and best way to get their surveys to come in many, many, many different forms so you can do one with all of your staff to glean how engaged they are, how things are working, and what improvements need to be made you can do an overall satisfaction score with your membership now.
If you do that, I wouldn’t make that my only indicator of how well a coach is doing, but it definitely adds valuable information for your membership to rate how your coaches are doing.
You can also do services for your membership for different areas or subsets of feedback, right? Or how about your board?
The Growth and information gathering opportunities are really endless when it comes to surveys, and I firmly believe that they should be a consistent tool that you use.
OK, so before we move into the design and what to do with the information that you receive from a survey, I want to really quickly tell you about how providing survey services is something that we do that we offer through our virtual services program.
We use a really robust tool called SOGO survey no, I don’t get paid for talking about their product, but I chose their tool because it was quite robust in what it can provide and do and so what I like to do is I would like to pass that on to teams who want to do surveys, but really don’t want to pay that monthly fee or that recurring theme that startup fee and then shutting it down and back and forth and just kind of dealing with that mess, right?
So, what we can do is we can offer you kind of two approaches.
You can say, hey Renata, I know what I want to do. I got our questions can you just put these questions into your survey tool and send us the link and then give us the raw data so you can go that route, or you can do
Hey, can you help us create a survey, and then in addition to giving us the raw data, can you help us really interpret the information and build a report around that?
OK, so we can do that for you for work that starts at $15.00 and can probably go up to about $75 depending on how much detail you looking for in my book that’s pretty affordable.
OK, and it sure beats you trying to add that recurring expense to your bottom line.
So, give us a thought and if you’re interested you can go to www.yoursportsresource.com under Virtual Services and let us know.
OK, so let’s get into how you write this survey, so you receive clear and honest feedback.
So, Harvard Business Review calls it careful and informed design.
If you don’t ask the right questions and ask them in the right way, you may only get part of the picture, or even worse, you’ll only get information that supports your assumptions or narrative which you have no idea whether or not it’s accurate, right?
So let me give you a simple example.
You can ask the staff to rate the overall communications, or you can break that down. How well does the organization communicate between staff members or coaches? How well does the organization manage communications with the families, right?
So those are very different questions, but still asking about communication.
Another one might be that you ask about feedback, right?
If you want a true picture, then for me personally I would ask three questions to ensure that I’m really understanding the nature of how we conduct feedback, right?
I may ask rate how important it is that you receive feedback from your supervisor or manager. Rate the level of feedback you receive from your supervisor or manager. Two different questions, right?
Rate how important it is that you receive feedback from your peers and then rate the level of feedback that you receive from your peers.
So, you’re asking them how important it is, and then what actually happens.
Rate how important it is that you provide feedback to your peers, and then rate how well you provide feedback to your peers.
So, I kind of go in three areas but opposing questions, so I get a clear picture, right?
So, it’s a bit of a check and balance if you feel the feedback is important but you don’t provide it, why is there a trust issue there? Does it fall on deaf ears? That’s something that you can pick apart, right?
Another way to ask checks and balances questions is to ask.
Maybe something like rate how important it is your effectiveness and professional development as a coach in knowing how to educate, relate and interact with parents.
You ask them how important it is that they know how to relate and interact with their parents. Then I would back that up with how well the organization supports you in being able to relate and interact with parents, right?
And you could do that with your administrative things with long-term athlete development, like how well do you want to learn skills? How much do we support you in getting those skills?
So, you’re asking checks imbalances questions. You’re telling me how important it is to you. Am I putting time and effort and making sure that I fulfill that importance?
You know what’s really surprising to me is sometimes we put a lot of time and effort into things that people don’t value, and then we don’t put any time into the things that they do value.
So, it’s good to understand where their thought processes and you’ll only be able to do that if you ask the questions in the right way, right?
So, you know in that team being able to support parents if it ranks high and you don’t really train them well, then maybe you can turn that into a situation where the next team meeting you sit down and you go through some common scenarios, so they are comfortable with certain conversations with parents, right? So that’s a learning lesson there.
Lastly, I asked some really hard questions right. Like, do you understand how you contribute to the overall vision of your club? It’s a yes or no.
You either do or you don’t. Then I ask them to rate how well they you know, do they feel valued, or you could ask similar key questions, but they’re really just kind of like in your face.
If you’re staff feel like they’re valued and are they providing value, which is usually you’ll find that those part-time coaches are the ones that feel like they’re not really valued.
OK, and that’s where your issue lies, and it’s usually because the head coach is trying to manage 20-plus people, which is absolutely ridiculous, right? There’s no time to get to everyone.
But sometimes you have to prove to the head coach that there’s a better way. You really shouldn’t be managing 20 people.
You know anyways, so I also love to ask you know what is the one skill you possess that’s overlooked and you know sometimes that really creates some amazing results, right?
So, you could actually find someone who has a skill that you didn’t even know about that could fill a huge gap that you’re facing.
It’s a great question to ask so the point of creating a well-considered survey is that you want really to receive the same type of information from various different directions so you have that clear picture.
I once had a team where every staff member said that they personally communicate. They rated themselves all selves high on the communication scale, right?
But when I ask where the biggest issue sit with the rest of the staff, it was communication.
So obviously there’s a disconnect there, right? Not everyone can say that they’re the boss at communication, and it’s also the biggest issue. There’s a disconnect, right?
So, make sure you’re asking true and honest questions and not simple I’m wasting your time questions that support what you want the picture to look alike.
Right. Remember you want improvement in growth, so it’s really important to ask questions from different directions and make sure you go a little bit deeper and ask pertinent questions.
I really haven’t said it, but I guess I should that these surveys need to be anonymous. You want a real picture, so it has to be anonymous.
Now with big teams, I may ask the clarifying question of whether or not they’re full or part-time. It’s really important to see if there’s trends based in those areas because chances are with coaches you probably meet with your full-time coaches more than you do with your part-time coaches.
So, you’re wanting to understand where the disconnect is with the information as far as that’s concerned, but if you’re a small club, I wouldn’t even ask that question because you want to be sure that everyone is comfortable enough to answer honestly, and if there’s only two-part time staff members, well, you can pick apart who they may be. So don’t go that route if you’re a small organization.
All right, so the last bit is what do you do with that information?
First of all, no matter the outcome, it should be celebrated and never used to target people or wielded against them if the results are not what you want.
Seeing negative stuff is hard. I get it. I totally get it. But you need to put it in perspective. Are they giving you the truth because they want to?
They really love where they work, and they just want to see improvements and the best outcomes for everybody. Or are they really just being a pain in the **** right?
Chances are they want things to improve, they’re not just trying to be a pain.
So, they’re looking at the organization as a whole, so you really need to get over the disappointment in the results if that’s what happens, flip the switch so you move from, you know, being disappointed to embracing the opportunity for positive change.
Now one of the questions I usually ask is list three things we do well, and I ask that so if there’s a process in there that we can repeat that we’re doing really well, and we can apply it to another area.
I mean, let’s do it right. There’s no reason to reinvent the wheel. Just carry over that process as another area.
Yeah, right, so if you’re awesome at new member onboarding then how about you apply that to the staff and the board, right?
So, it’s a win-win. But there’s also times when you need to be Cognizant and aware of glaring gaps.
You might want to, you know, take that the information and prepare with how you can feel like you can close that gap or fix the problem right, but only prepare because what I would highly suggest is that use it with everyone and go through the results and have them watch you display those results with your big boy pants on.
Sorry, I know it can be a smart but at times, but by you’re showing that you’re embracing the feedback and you’re strong enough to share it with everyone, that will give you a tremendous amount of clout in the trust and Culture department.
OK, when you’re going through the results, and you can thank them for their positive and open and honest feedback. It’s massive.
Talk to them about how you didn’t realize X was a problem and that you feel like you would want to resolve it in this way. So that’s why I was saying just prepare suggestions. I wouldn’t go in with a definite, so this is how I’m going to fix it, because chances are they have an idea.
So, I would ask them like what do you think? Do you think this will work? If not, who has suggestions you know and be patient and wait for answers, I would also thank them for telling us you know what we do.
Well, you know, I think we can carry that over into this area and make more improvements or you know, maybe you want to sit and talk about the big gaps like I was talking about with communications, right?
Hey, I see that everybody says that we communicate really well or everybody rated themselves really high in the communication department, but they rated everybody else really low in the communication department so.
Whereas a disconnect I want to sit down and talk about it. OK, I think presenting the results and showing that you’re open and that you’re willing to receive them and you want to create change is going to be massive.
Right, so what you’re doing with the results is taking action for improvement. Some of that improvement might fall on you, right? And it admitted if it does thank them for their feedback on things that you personally need to improve upon, right?
And if you do that, you just banked even more trusting culture points, right? So, using the results for improvement and changes only creates growth and solidifies the engagement with your staff.
They will want to be in a place that values them and their thoughts. They will be engaged with a head coach that could look at themselves honestly and realize.
They too have some growing, you know, to, to, process all of this benefits the organization and you’re paying customers.
Your members and your athletes, right? Any continual change in improvement improves the outcome on the other end.
So, it’s a simple yet amazing tool surveys are, you should really incorporate them into your processes for growth, whether it’s once a year, once a quarter, whatever doesn’t matter, you can only benefit from knowing the truth about how your people feel about you and the organization.
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