Episode 46 – Importance of Regular Board and Head Coach Meetings

Your Sports Resource

Matt Bos and I had a great discussion on the importance of the Board President and the Head Coach having regular meetings so they can build a strong relationship. We talk about what that looks like, how communication flows, how it helps with planning, reduces conflicts, helps with accountability, and essentially puts them both on the same page.

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00:00:04 – 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.

00:00:27 – Renata

Hello and welcome, everybody, to the Your sports resource podcast. My name is Renata and I’m really excited to have Matt Boss with us today. He is a new member of the Your Sports Resource team. He will be a consultant.


He started or he is a consultant. We started with him in May, and he’s just starting to get his feet wet in the organization. So today. Well, welcome, Matt. I didn’t mean to skip on from you but welcome.

00:00:59 – Matt

Good morning. Happy to be here.

00:01:02 – Renata

Cool. All right. So today we thought that we would talk a bit about the importance of having or building that relationship between the head coach and the board. And I guess when we say the board, we’re talking about the president and really about having those regular meetings or consistent meetings in order to build that relationship.


You know, you just wrote a post in or I guess an article for SwimSwam. And really you kind of put out there a challenge for the coaches to really kind of use the board to their advantage. Right.


So, from your perspective, why do you feel it’s really important that the coaches build this type of relationship with their board or their head coach to have those frequent relationships with them or frequent interactions with them?

00:02:06 – Matt

I think I bring a couple of different perspectives. Having been a coach at a lot of different levels and then having sat on some boards for different youth sports organizations within my own kids’ sports or within my community. You know, I kind of like to take stuff.


And look at it from the coaches perspective still, because I feel like I’m, I’m still a coach and I mean, we’re always looking for something, you know, some advantage and your board is this pool of resources that are kind of sitting right there and rather than.


And kind of look at it as a nuisance or something that you have to do or a task. It’s kind of shifting that mindset and saying how can I use these resources to my advantage to make my day-to-day better, easier to kind of keep building my program.


And then ultimately, you know kind of, project myself and, you know, extend myself by using those resources. So, I think it’s an untapped resource at times.

00:03:16 – Renata

Yeah. I mean even for. Even for those organizations where coaches feel that the board’s not all that great, right? You still have to. You still have to build that relationship. Because it is ultimately they are the best. They run the business, right?


So, the coach acts as the, you know, where’s the head of the CEO of the organization oftentimes, unless it’s a big club and there’s an executive director, but you know, they act as the CEO and they still have to report into a board.


So, whether you feel like your board has that skill set or not, it’s still important for you to build the relationship because you want them to, you know, support your goals and where you want to go.


And you know, when there’s problems, you want them to be able to, you know, be on the same page as you and not.


We’re going to get into the specifics but be on the same page with you and not, you know, always having to maybe defend the coach, but really support the coach in the eyes of the parents.


So, I’m just going to piggyback off what you were saying as far as you know, they have a skill set that actually adds to the coaches. Which they do.


But even if, as a coach you feel like they don’t, there’s still a need for you to build that relationship with them because ultimately. That’s the structure of your organization and you need to be able to work in those in those areas, right?

00:04:42 – Matt

And I mean, sometimes I think it’s just you need to kind of bridge that gap too, because who knows what’s happened prior, right?


It could been a prior board. It could have been a prior coach and it’s just being proactive and saying, OK, I’m going to. I’m going to make this a priority and sometimes when you make it the priority, you can change their mindset and hopefully change that that relationship dynamic.


But it’s not good to sit back and just kind of wait for it to happen or not want it to happen, right? Like you gotta be proactive.

00:05:14 – Renata

So, let’s start with talking about how building this relationship can help in the like, the long-term planning, or the strategy of the organization.

00:05:26 – Matt

Yeah, I think, I mean, obviously you’re going to sit in these board meetings and there’s going to be, you know, visions and goals and strategy that is constantly talked about.


The hard part I think is then what happens in between those meetings sometimes and sometimes.


There’s this huge gap right and the board president is not necessarily going to be present on your day-to-day and you’re kind of the person who’s sitting there and feeling the pulse of the team. You know whether it’s from the swimmers perspective you know.


The parents perspective and when you know, sometimes you have these initiatives say that are kind of put in into place.


And I mean, you know, example could be you know and I’m going off of some of my previous experiences where you know it’s like, hey, we wanna you know as a board we’re talking about you know combining groups or changing some of the structure of the team and.


You know, they’re not necessarily there and present all of the time. So it’s kind of easy then if you have these regular scheduled meetings where it’s like you can kind of sit down with your, your board president and say, listen, hey, from a coaches perspective, you know, here’s kind of what we’re seeing right.


And that we’re. You know, here’s where we feel we’re going to be best suited to serve our membership and you know, and then that way it’s that they have your kind of perspective where it’s not in this meeting setting and everybody’s trying to get their point across, right.


And you’re kind of giving them information to go back into the next meeting that maybe they wouldn’t have. And then there, you know, there’s a potential for them to be a bigger advocate for, for the coaches because they have more, more background on it.

00:07:18 – Renata

Right. You know, and actually, at the example that you use, the board shouldn’t be involved in that kind of discussion in anyhow as far as what groups should be doing, you know that’s for the coach to do.


But often that is the type of conversation they end up having, because what you know, there’s some type of noise happening, whether it’s good or bad, right? There’s some kind of noise that is happening with the parents.


That, you know, they’re fielding these kinds of conversations, whereas like you said, if there’s that constant regular communication thing then you know, they’re kind of on the same ground.


I think also too like. Often when I’ve been working with clubs, it’s very interesting in that. How often I see that a  board has a different vision than the head coach does.


And while sometimes that can work in tandem and be OK obviously it’s not the most practical or efficient way to operate, and that’s also the how you get.


You know a disconnect because a coach wants to go in a specific direction with their team and the board may have a completely different view. So when that doesn’t align, it makes it very difficult.


So, what do you think about the head coach really being a part of, or actually being the main focal part for developing the vision and the strategy for the organization?

00:08:51 – Matt

You know your hope is that the coach is there right from year to year to year, that you’re not having that turnover. And I think part of that process is when they have ownership of the program that can make all of the difference, right, the board is set up to be a short term.


You know, I mean just obviously we know. Most of these boards are parents, and yeah, one don’t have the time to kind of sit there and do this year after year, but the coach is the one that you want and that’s the, you know, the continued voice that you want to hear.


So giving well, I think in any situation when you have ownership of it, you’re gonna put in a little bit more effort. You’re gonna, you know, gonna see how that affects your membership and. So I think it’s crucial that the coach is the voice and that long-term plan.


And vision and the mission that’s all set out by the coach. But you need to kind of get the board on, you know. On the same, you know, set of tracks with you there.


So having that open communication, you know being transparent with your board like those are the important things because as you have even new board members.


Coming in new people, you’re kind of the person, the glue that needs to kind of hold that together and kind of get those people on board with what that mindset is and what that maybe mission or vision for that team is.


So again, it comes back to being proactive and you being the one that’s pushing these things because you’re the one who’s hopefully going to be there and honestly has a lot more to lose at some point, you know, this is your job, right?

00:10:34 – Renata

Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely.

00:10:37 – Matt

So, you know, it’s, I think it’s crucial that you know, the coach is the one kind of driving the ship.

00:10:43 – Renata

OK. You know you mentioned that, so they have to have those regular conversations and should be, you know, let’s talk about that clear and transparent communications. So how do you do that regularly?


Or, you know, maybe what is your insight on what they should be sharing regularly without it feeling like it’s so onerous on the coach or over overloading the president with a lot of information, you start to communicate? How do you do it right, you know?

00:11:15 – Matt

And it could be simple. I mean, it could be in a, you know, whatever setting you know could be on the, in a pool office, it could be in a coffee shop, it could be, you know, a phone call one week, you know, it could be a zoom call one week.


It’s just, it doesn’t have to be formal. It’s just that kind of check-in because again, you’re the day-to-day.


So, you’re seeing potential little issues that pop up within, you know, within your coaching staff, you know your athletes, you know what parents may be saying. So, it’s that day-to-day little communications.


That kind of start to kind of pile up, right? So, what you’re trying to avoid is having that big, kind of breaking point where something just comes to a head and everybody’s kind of thrown up their hands going.


We had no idea, you know, that these were issues or that this stuff was happening. So, you know and it kind of works both ways, right?


I mean the board’s gonna talk and there’s gonna be parent chatter that’s going on that, you know, the board or people members of the board. Your President can kind of bring to you and say hey listen. We’re hearing a little bit of this, you know, just to kind of give you a heads up this way.


You know, you can kind of get out ahead of something if it does become an issue. So and it doesn’t have to be like this big formal thing. It’s just making sure that you have those normal check-ins and by kind of.


Having them scheduled out a little bit or making them regular, it’s not something that’s gonna kind of fall by the wayside. It’s not gonna be. Oh, we got busy this week, and we just kind of let it go, if it’s busy that we, you know, send an e-mail.


Hey, here’s my quick updates. This is kind of what’s happening or you know, it’s a quick phone call when you know people are on the way to or from work.


So it doesn’t have to be you know, something that you’re just stressing about. It has to be more of something that you’re just like, hey, I’m gonna pass this information on.


I’m gonna receive some information. And you know, we can all make better decisions now moving forward, so yeah.

00:13:12 – Renata

Right. And they’re just sharing updates, right? So it’s not necessarily that you’re expecting to provide the board president a rundown of every little thing that you did and every little thing that staff, you know the staff did, it’s really just an overall update and awareness so they are on the same page and they understand what’s going on.


I mean, you used a problem as an example and I completely agree. You know, a big part of the issues, like when an issue arises or some type of conflict arises.


It’s very hard for boards, so one of the complaints I hear a lot is that the head coaches don’t feel like the boards support them in a, with the parents when there’s a problem.


But what I have found, and this is not always the case, but what I have found a lot of times, it’s because the board is caught on the back foot. Right.


There hasn’t been enough communication so the board can go, you know, can behave as if they’re on the same page. They’re caught off guard. They don’t know what to say, right? And usually, their thought process is they want to solve the problem so.


If you’re communicating with your board president quite often, and then there’s starting to get these phone calls of some kind of blowup that’s happening, the board president and the rest of the board via him or her, should already know about this and be able to be prepared to speak to the problem in order to support the head coach.


They could say things like hey, no, we understand that this happened this week and we understand the process that the coach is following and we fully support them, you know and that’s the type of conversation you want, right?


But that can only happen that type of solving that conflict, instead of creating a bigger divide can only happen if they’re informed or armed with the information, right? So if they’re consistently left out?

00:15:15 – Matt

And it’s the same thing with your athlete.

00:15:18 – Renata

Yeah, yeah, absolutely, absolutely.

00:15:18 – Matt

Same thing. You know, the more information they relay to you, the better decisions that you potentially make. You know, I do that, you know, with my own kids with, you know with school, say where, Hey what’s going on in the classroom?


What are the grades? You know, hey, I struggled on this. And if you’re having that communication and then all of a sudden, you get a notice that, hey, they’re struggling in this class.


You kind of know that instead of going, Oh my child’s failing. Well, now they’re, you know, we know what the struggle would be and we know how to adapt it.


And coaches do that with athletes, with, you know, all the time. And I agree. I think the board if a problem comes to them. They’re going to be reactive because they’re probably assuming it’s a big problem and the coaches may be sitting there going.


It’s not a big problem. It’s not a big problem, you know, we kind of know what’s going on, right?

00:16:06 – Renata

It’s all in hand. We got it. Same thing with big decisions. Like if the coach decides to switch up the groups or the requirements to move from group to group, right? That could be a big shock to the parents, right?


And those kinds of things cause a lot of, like, phone calls to the board. Why is he doing instead of talking to the coach directly as they should they’ll call the board well if the coach is going to make a big decision like that, he knows he’s going to make it.


Then he should be speaking to the board and saying these are the changes and these are why I’m making the changes, because there may be, you know, so much common sense and strategy behind it. That it’s great. But on the surface, all anybody sees is disruption and change.


So, if the head coach can talk to the board and let them know what their plans are, then again, the board can be there to support, you know, support them and help be their advocate and talk about, you know why that change is being made so.

00:17:08 – Matt

And it kind of works both ways, right? You know, you’re giving that information, so they have their understanding. And I look at it the other way, whereas a coach. If I’m going into a meeting, I, you know, I want to know right, I want to know how can I best prepare to go in there and be persuasive and kind of have people understanding my point.


Maybe have an understanding of where you know, their questions may lie or where you know where their concerns are.


So that way I can kind of be prepared and when I go into that meeting, I can be prepared to answer the questions because I kind of know what they’re where they’re going be, and then obviously that gives me a little bit better chance to kind of get what I feel like I need for my program and for my athletes.


So again, it’s not, it’s not a one-way street, right, you can kind of use this to your advantage to kind of arm yourself with information and at least know what’s going on because. You know, as we all know there’s the talk that’s gonna happen around the pool deck.


Well, as a board member, I mean, I’ve been in these situations too. We go into these meetings and you know, as we’re leaving, you know, we’re on a phone call on the way home from the meeting with certain people trying to kind of.


OK, here’s what happened. Now what are we gonna do? How are we gonna, you know, address this situation or how are we going to, you know, put this out to our membership?


So, all of these little conversations are continuing to happen even after the meetings, and again, use this to your advantage then to say, OK, now I kind of know what maybe some of those are and have some of those insights where I can now.


You know, just be. You know better prepared myself. So, there’s, you know, it’s definitely a two-way street for sure.

00:18:54 – Renata

Absolutely, alright, let’s switch over to how building that relationship can help with just the basic need of certain resources. You know whether it’s equipment or finding another pool, the pool, you know, maybe the team is growing like how can this relationship help in the resources area.

00:19:18 – Matt

Well, I mean, it’s probably going to be, you know, at times one of the biggest challenges that a team is going to come across.


I mean, you know, if it’s adding a new pool and I mean, obviously we’re looking at potentially something that’s you know, very huge impact on the budget, very huge on maybe the structure of the team and then it could be as simple like you said as equipment.


I mean, and as coaches, we’re always like, alright, what else can I get right? What other tools can I add to, you know to my program to my, you know, to give to my athletes and I’ve been in that situation right where I’m like, hey, there’s some new technology coming out.


I think this would be super beneficial, right? You go into that board meeting and it’s all you know that’s expensive, right? And a lot of times maybe it’s OK well. It benefits some kids. It doesn’t benefit, you know, all of the kids.


Uh, but you know, as a coach, you’re like, you’re seeing that, hey, I think this could be super helpful. I think it could be super important and maybe it doesn’t benefit, you know, all the kids immediately, but you know, down the road, this is something that’s going to be super helpful for everybody as they kind of develop through my program.


And again big ticket items especially you know it’s scary for a board to go in or anybody to say OK, we have to make these decisions. So and I’m like so being in this situation where it’s like, OK, I’m gonna have some more meetings.


I’m gonna pull some more resources. I’m gonna do some more research on this and you know, being able to kind of share that with someone like your board president, you know on the side again can kind of kind of sway them hopefully to understand because if you can get them to understand how it impacts your kids day-to-day,


then it’s easier for them to go into the, say that next meeting and be an advocate for you and say, OK, listen. Hey, I’ve talked to the coach. They’ve done this research. I see how this could impact our kids. This is something that we, you know, we heavily need to consider.


So, I think that you know, resources are going to be, are going to be huge in a program, and probably sometimes your biggest challenge is for sure, you know as an organization.

00:21:28 – Renata

And I feel like in the absence of regular communications, when you have like let’s say a big-ticket item and like technology that you want to bring on board. It’s always going to go easier and get buy-in when you’ve developed that relationship, right?


So, then they are more willing to understand instead of them not really seeing you engaged in board meetings or interacting with them in board meetings. And then you know six months down the road, you’re like, you know, yeah, no, I didn’t budget for it, but this is what I need and this is what I want.


Well, that’s a much harder conversation to have in a scenario where you haven’t developed the relationship to where they can see things from your perspective. So, I think that’s really important because you know there’s a lot of times when.


You know you don’t know what you don’t know at the time that you set your budget up at the beginning of the year, right? So, things are going to come down the line that you want to shift and you want to be able to change.


Well, if you don’t haven’t built the, taking the time to build the relationship, to be able to advocate for a specific need. Now you may not get it in the time frame that you want to get it, but you may get it much quicker than you know than with a group of people that are just looking at the financial numbers.


And because they haven’t developed a relationship with you aren’t really looking at the benefits that it will provide the club. All they see is that big-dollar ticket, right, so.

00:22:56 – Matt

And that’s, that’s where the transparency comes in, right? It’s if. Hey, if I’m going to go in there and be active in those meetings and let those people understand, here’s what my thought process is, here’s how I’m working on things.


Here’s, you know how I see this could benefit and you just kind of have that regular communication and regular you know, shared knowledge of for them because again, these are people who are bringing in potentially a lot of skills in, in other areas, you know that are differing from you.


So, part of this process is kind of going in there and educating, you know, your board members on, hey, here’s what we’re doing. Here’s why we’re doing this, right, here’s how certain things can help us.


So, the more people understand and the more people feel like you’re a part of it and you’re sharing what you’re doing. For sure, the more open they’re going to be, understanding what your needs are and we all know that, right?


We all know that you know like you said. You know, especially again speaking from the coaches, you know, perspective. Ohh this is out, I need this, right? I need this right now, right?


So, let’s you know, let’s get this done. And that’s just kind of how we work as coaches.

00:24:19 – Renata

All right, the last area I think I want to kind of touch on is the accountability and I feel like the important, you know when you have those regular meetings with your board president and you’ve developed your relationship with your board.


It really kind of keeps each other on track, right? So, I mean, how many times do you go to a board meeting and it’s like.


You’ve got an action item for somebody, and then you show up at the next board meeting and nothing’s transpired, right? So it gets pushed off to the following board meeting.


So I think by having these regular conversations, it’s really good for the head coach to have confidence that the board is tracking along on the activities that they said that they were going to do because you know their activities directly relate to how the coach can function on deck and how the swimmers can function in the water.


And vice versa, you know, it allows the board to have a level of comfort and trust that the coach is actually working on something, right?


Because he said he or she said that she was going to do XY and Z tasks before the following month or within three months, and they can consistently you know, do that check-in where it’s just a little piece.


How’s that progressing? How’s that going? And it just gives each side that confidence that they are you know, being accountable for moving the club forward, which is ultimately the whole reason why everybody is there, right?


So you’re there to serve your membership, you’re there to produce great young athletes. I’m not saying that they have to be, you know, all top elite athletes.


But for each athlete, you’re giving them an opportunity to compete at their level and improve and become you know great young adults, which is what everybody wants.


Well, you can’t do that if you’re not consistently moving the club forward and I think accountability is just a huge area that you will benefit from if you’re having these regular meetings.

00:26:25 – Matt

And accountability is interesting, too, in the way that I think people look at it as I got the task done. I did this. And you do that with athletes as well. Hey, I want you to do this.


Part of it though, is when you don’t get something done, and I think you kind of touched on it, it’s owning up to it and saying, hey, listen, I didn’t get that done. Apologies, it’s not gonna happen again.


I will make sure I’m on this and then you follow up and actually do it the next time, right. The problem is a lot of times.


When you’re not accountable, meaning that means that you said you were gonna do it again and then it continues not to happen.


So, it’s, you know, we do, we look at that with athletes as well, where it’s we’re gonna hold you to this, you know, it’s not always gonna happen. But what you want them to do is own up to it and say alright.


I didn’t do it. I didn’t get it done the way you know, we needed to get it done. But I’m gonna do better next time. And then you see that improvement.


So, to me that that’s accountability, right, people are going to mess up. We’re not always going to get our stuff done. But when you don’t do it, just don’t up to it, you know, and then and then move on and get it done the next time.

00:27:37 – Renata

Yeah, because it doesn’t need to become a finger-wagging scenario. It’s just about moving the club forward, right? So and each side having confidence that you’re doing your part to move the club forward, so.


Right, so what do you, what would you recommend to the coaches or even the board presidents who are listening to this podcast if you’re struggling to get regular and consistent meetings, what should they do?

00:28:06 – Matt

Again, you gotta be proactive and it’s somebody has to kind of take the reins on this, right, somebody, whether it is the board president, whether you’re a head coach listening and it’s not happening.


Just understand that this is your responsibility and I’m looking at both parties, right? It’s your responsibility because, ultimately like you said.


That this is about the overall health of your organization, but how are you serving the young people within that organization and making their, you know, an impact in their lives?


So, when you kind of look at that and say here’s what we’re here for, right. And here’s what we’re about then part of your job is to kind of step out and maybe it’s stepping out of your comfort zone a little bit right and say I’m like, OK, yeah, I need to make this happen.


Because these relationships that we can form are only going to strengthen our team and we’re going to only make our memberships, you know our membership better and have a direct impact with our athletes.


So, it’s just stepping out of your comfort zone, being proactive and it’s not on one person or the other. It’s on both parties. But if it’s you’re struggling with it, don’t give up. Just find different ways. Then it may be that.


You know, you said we have all these different forms of technology now, it may be just maybe a phone call, send an e-mail. You know, someone’s like, hey, I can’t meet send them an e-mail once a week, you know, for a while and see how that maybe changes that dynamic.


Because if they know that you’re open, you’re trying to be transparent, then more than likely they’re going to kind of reciprocate with that and kind of come back and do the same.

00:29:43 – Renata

And even if they don’t, you’re still doing the right thing by consistently sending information through right and eventually you’ll get a buy-in and if you don’t get a buy-in with this particular, you know board member, then you know like you said.


Boards turnover and you’ll get it with the next one. The bottom line is, no matter what side you’re on, you both need to invest in the overall health of the organization.


And that means that you guys have to have that amazing you know, you don’t have to like each other, but you have to have a great working relationship in order to lead the club effectively and efficiently. Right.


Any last thoughts or comments for anybody?

00:30:25 – Matt

Yeah, I think just like you said, keep on, keep on trying, right? Just remember what you’re there for, right? Remember what you’re there for. So, I think it’s important.

00:30:35 – Renata

Well, we hope everybody enjoyed this and learn something from the conversation and we hope we inspired you to at least put yourself out there and to consistently try to push for these meetings so you can build the relationship for the organization and for your members.


Please like and follow this podcast so we can reach more people such as yourselves. And don’t forget to go to yoursportsresource.com. There’s a lot of articles, free tools, all kinds of information on the website about our organization. Alright, thanks everyone. Thanks for spending time with us.