Episode 36 – Optimized Structure

Your Sports Resource

This week’s podcast is about how an optimized structure is crucial for the success of your club. It can improve staff morale, efficiency, and productivity and ultimately lead to better results for the organization as a whole and the members you serve.

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00:00:03 Introduction

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. My name is Renata Porter.


And on today’s episode of Your Sports Resource Podcast, we are going to talk about having an optimized structure, what it is, and how it can increase the efficiency and productivity of your club.


Now, most clubs operate in a catch as catch Cam mode. Meaning staff are wearing multiple hats.


And really are taking on work just because they have some free time at that moment, not necessarily because they have the right skills.


Often when working tasks are handed out in a random or spur-of-the-moment way, you find that you have two or more people working in or on the same thing but maybe just doing different pieces of that puzzle.


Ultimately this becomes an inefficient way of getting work done and usually creates miscommunication and confusion regarding roles and responsibilities.


Once this starts to take place, it can be a real culture buster as engagement can start to wane, and frustration will set in.


As a textbook definition, organizational structure is the framework that defines a company’s hierarchy and the relationships and responsibilities of its different employees.


It’s the basis for ensuring staff and every resource is used efficiently and effectively in order to achieve your vision.


Now, in swimming, using the terminology of hierarchy really sets people off. They don’t want to become corporate.


But let’s look at this logically.


If we were to just look at the wet side of the House or the business, usually all of the coaches report into the head coach, and that’s fine. If the club is under, maybe 100 at a stretch, 150 swimmers.


But once you get bigger than that, there is no way a head coach can effectively lead. And I mean truly lead a staff of 15 or more coaches.


Now the membership numbers, which translates into the number of coaches you have, isn’t the only factor.


If you are spread out all over town and in five different pools. It may help you to have built-in reporting structure based on location.


This still has to suit your club specifically.


But if I go back to why you need to build in layers or hierarchy into your swim club, it comes down to actual leadership, not just that you are the leader, but truly leading your staff.


So, what do I mean by that?


I mean, how are you providing actual feedback to all of your coaches?


How are you getting feedback from your coaches?


How are you communicating in general?


How are you helping them improve, upskill, and providing professional development?


Whether old-school, coaches want to admit it or not, we are in an age where it’s not good enough for the staff to have no engagement with their boss.


They want to feel valued and provide value. And how can they do that if they never truly interact with their boss as their leader or their head coach as their leader.


After all, you are the head coach, and you have a lot on your plate.


So yes, building in a hierarchy allows those coaches to report into someone who can spend the time talking to them, giving them feedback, ensuring their tracking according to the seasonal plan, handling issues, giving celebrations.


It’s all important.


After all, if you invest in your coaches, the results happen in the pool, and you will increase or better your performance of your entire club because you’re investing in your coaches as a whole.


Now one last bit about designing your org structure, and that is you know that it’s important to sit and think logically about what the structure should be for your club.


Do you need an associate head coach?


A head age group coach?


Are you big enough that you need to break that age group section down further and have league coaches over 10 and under and, you know, 11 to 14 or 15?


When you’re doing this task, though, build it for the right structure of your organization, which means think of the roles, not the people you currently employ.


I know it’s hard, and sometimes it’s a real stumbling block with a lot of my clients because it comes too well, so and so won’t do that, or so and so can’t do that.


They have to work certain hours because they have family and whatever.


Now, this is a business, so you have to think about what is in the best interest in the best structure for the organization.


After you have your structure, then you can decide if you need to upskill someone or adjust responsibilities. But do the structure first.


OK, once you have your structure, you need to look at your roles and responsibilities. This is a twofold activity.


First, you need to build out what you feel the responsibilities should be for each role, and then second, you need to do an investigation of your people, OK?


But first, when you’re building out your responsibilities, I want you to not look at your people. I want you to build how you feel.


This new role or there’s this new built-in role that you’re gonna add, how do those, how should those responsibilities be? And then you can train later.


OK, the reason for doing the roles and responsibilities exercise is, I mean, it’s massive. Let me just give you 4 examples, ok.


So first, you’ll have increased efficiency when everyone knows their role and responsibilities, things are clear, they know who to communicate to and with, they know who makes decisions, and it removes ambiguity that is rife in our swim club operations.


Two, better accountability. With clear roles and responsibilities, it’s easier for people to own their work and live up to those expectations.


It’s also easier to celebrate those successes or hold them accountable if they aren’t living up to those responsibilities.


Three, improved staff morale when people know what is expected of them and how their work fits into the overall picture well, they take ownership, and they are motivated and engaged.


And lastly, four, enhanced productivity through streamlining the roles, you tend to streamline the communications and the decision process, which means that you as a staff and club will be more productive with the ability to achieve more with the people and resources that you have.


Once you have written the roles as you feel they should stand next, you must interview your staff and ensure that you understand and take note of everything they do.


Because work is handed out in a hodgepodge way.


Often when I’m interviewing staff, the head coaches’ descriptions of what people do and the staff members’ description of what they do, do not match up.


Same goes for the dry side, not just the coaches.


Often, it’s a “Oh yeah, and I also do this. Oh my gosh, and I forgot I also do this.”


When you interview everyone, then you can start to see where the efficiencies can be made.


For example, do you have three people working on social media? Is that efficient?


If not, then adjust those responsibilities and leave that with one or possibly two people.


When I work with clubs and they start to see the inefficiency in black and white.


They get, you know, kind of embarrassed and apologetic, which is understandable how you got there.


But moving forward, it’s time to align those responsibilities, and sometimes that might mean moving them around to free up time for the right person.


Now that you have gathered the information, it’s time to streamline it and put it into a documented role description.


Again, streamlining means making it efficient and ensuring that you have people with the right skills for the work.


Remember, you’re building the organizational plan for your club to reach its vision, so if people don’t match.


The questions need to be can you upskill them or train them or go send them off for professional development?


If not, it might come down to your needing new people, and please don’t be afraid of that.


Even in today’s market, you are working towards the best outcome for the club, not the best outcome for Patty, because she will quit or raise a stink if I ask her to do social media.


OK, once you’ve completed your roles and responsibilities, meaning they are documented, deliver them to staff, be prepared to answer questions and address concerns.


Head coaches usually get really nervous about this part, but more often than not, the staff are completely on board.


They are happy to finally have a job description and want to dispense with the miscommunication and know that they will finally get some guidance and attention.


So they can feel valued and provide value. You notice that I’m repeating that over and over again.


Alright, just a quick break to talk about some services that we offer. Optimizing your organizational design can be a really overwhelming task.


I understand that, especially as you’re busy coaches, this is one of our packages that we offer at your sports resource.


Let us help you create the right structure for your club. Go to the website and schedule a free call, or you can write us at info@yoursportsresource.com.


Alright, so to wrap this up, the last bit about optimizing your structure is to review your processes, and this is a piece of work that can take some time, which is perfectly fine as long as you are working on it.


This is a. This is huge in the aspect of continuous improvement.


As I’ve stated, you will find inefficiencies or efficiencies through the structure and the roles and responsibilities piece, but don’t stop there.


Keep reviewing your processes and striving for optimal efficiency.


When we pay attention, we usually find there are better or more simple ways of doing things instead of just doing them the way we’ve always done them.


Heck, there’s so much automation and AI out there right now that you could really take advantage of.


So, these processes need to be in the form of a document checklist, a video.


And then stored, so the process is easy to follow for the next time you conduct the task or if someone has to step in in your absence.


I know this can be a big undertaking, and again, if you need our help, just reach out, but an optimized structure is crucial for the success of your club.


It can improve staff morale, efficiency, productivity and ultimately lead to better results for the organization as a whole and the members you serve.


Alright, thank you for listening, and please subscribe, rate, and review this podcast so we can reach more people such as yourself. You can find more resources on yoursportsresource.com. Thank you for spending time with me.