In this episode, we discuss the questions Head Coaches should be asking of boards before they agree to become the club’s new Coach. While some of these questions may be difficult to ask, it’s important that you do in order to safeguard yourself and your family. Potentially moving states and bringing your family with you only to find out that your values don’t align with the board or finding out the board is less than prepared to truly lead the organization is disruptive to your life and the swimmers. Better to know up front!!
We have a summary document of the questions in the tools section of the website: https://bit.ly/3G3bIVc
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.
00:00:25 – Renata
Hello and welcome everyone to the Your Sports Resource podcast. Today I am joined with Matt Bos, an advisor here at Your Sports Resource. And today we wanted to talk to you about what head coaches should be asking of the boards when they are considering going to work for this organization.
So, when you go through the interview process, what are some of the questions that you should be asking the board, so you have a really good understanding of really what you’re stepping into. As you’d imagine, we advise boards quite a bit on what to ask coaches, but we’ve never advised coaches on what to ask.
Yet we do talk a lot to coaches who wish they’d had looked a little bit deeper into organizations before they said yes or signed on the dotted line. Now, I know there’s a lot of coach-owned clubs out there and I believe it’s still incredibly important for coaches to be prepared and asking questions of the interviewer.
So those coaches, obviously you’re not going to be the head coach going in, but you’ll be another coach that might be going in. And I do think it’s important that you still formulate some type of question bank to ask them how they run their business and how they navigate certain things.
Today, though, we’re going to focus on those head coaches who would be interviewing for a board-run club. So, what we’ve done is kind of put out some questions or formulated some questions that we think you should ask, and we’re just going to go through them and discuss why they’re important and what we’re hoping that you will get from those questions.
Now, before we get started with those, I think it’s really important to talk about your preparing for the interview. More often than not, you’ve seen the ad on SwimSwam or ASCA’s website or some other source, and then you probably do a bit of scattershot preparation, so you probably satisfy your cursory look.
But what we’d like to ask you to do is go a little bit deeper in your background research once you apply for the role itself. Right? So more of doing that due diligence so you’re ready once you get that call back for the interview. Okay. So, some areas that we think you should do in order to prepare is go to the website.
When you go to the site what should you be looking for? Look at their other coaches that are on staff. Do you know any of them? Maybe their vision or strategy statements, their board information? What do their facilities look like?
How does it look like they’ve got their groups formulated or pulled together? Take a look at the parent information. And really, quite honestly, you can read a lot by just reviewing the site overall. Is it organized, is it up to date? Is it complete? If the site itself is less than par or missing information, quite honestly, that’s a clue. And you may go, hey, that’s no big deal.
I can take care of that when I get started. But you really should keep that tucked away to watch out for because I believe that’s a reflection on the overall management and promotion of the organization. Okay, next steps you could do is to do an internet search. You should just plug in the club’s name, see what pops up.
Do a search on SwimSwam. Ask your fellow coaches and your peers, the people that you trust about the club, and what they know. And again, you really should understand their facilities, their layout. Like, are they in one pool, two pools?
Are they in twelve pools spread out over a large area? What does that look like? Do you think there’s anything else as far as just the basic due diligence, Matt, they need to understand?
00:04:37 – Matt
Yeah, I think oftentimes you want to look at how successful the club is and then they’re trying to get an idea of, hey, what’s the pay going to be? And that’s the kind of, I think the two things that people kind of first want to look at, but there’s so many factors that are going to come into, are you going to be successful there?
And getting paid well is great, but what are the other things that you’re going to potentially have to deal with that may detract from even potential good pay? And nowadays with the internet, I think that is definitely the first step.
But to just dig into that stuff, what is the coaching staff, like you said, and have the coaches who are there as the head coach, how long were they there and why did they leave? What are the assisting coaches? If there’s a head age group coach or what assistance they have?
Are they full-time coaches? Are they part-time coaches? How long have they been involved with that specific program? Knowing your facilities is huge. Do they own the pool? Are they renting pool space? How long have they been at that facility?
And maybe look at what other teams are around in that area or other organizations, whether it’s water polo, swim lessons, who are you competing with potentially for that pool space?
That’s stuff that you can figure out pretty quickly by looking at the website, as you said, and then to dig a little deeper in, and I really suggest that they do, is to look at a Parent’s Manual, stuff like that, and see, hey, what are they requiring, right?
Are they requiring volunteer hours? How well organized are they? You can kind of sometimes see who’s taking on those responsibilities and kind of understand that, hey, that may be part of the job, too. So, there’s a lot of these little factors that are going to come into play.
But yeah, I think nowadays there’s a lot of information out there to be able to check if they are a 501c3. Right. We know you can look that information up, too, as far as those financials to know, hey, what type of standing is this club in financially? That’s not hard to find.
00:07:03 – Renata
That’s a good point. Sorry. We should probably should have thought about that and added it to the list. Something that I use is called guidestar.org
So anytime that a club reaches out to us to talk to us about working with them and they are a nonprofit, not a for-profit, I go in there and I type in the club name and the state and I just do a cursory search. I don’t do the paid membership, I only do the free.
But you can see all the 990s, you can look at financially what state they’re in now. Sometimes they’re a few years behind, but I think it is worthwhile by actually going on there and looking at it. You can also go through the IRS website.
You don’t have to go to Guidestar, but I just find the Guidestar one a little bit easier to navigate. Now, the next area on preparing for the interview is what is it that you’re specifically looking for. I know I’m probably telling you to kick rocks. This is common sense, but I would first start listing out what is important to you.
What are the things that matter to you from a values perspective, a work ethics perspective, your span of control, what are the things that you’re looking for? So, whatever it is that matters to you, it’s important for you to have that written down so you can formulate your own questions out of that personal space that you’re coming from.
And I think most coaches probably do a good job with that part. So I don’t want to belabor that, but I’m just saying that’s where you start. Next, we’re going to get into some questions that we really feel like you should ask. And this is the reason why you ask them.
Now, I understand you may not ask them or have time to ask them in the very first interview. We’ll give you some directions at the end of the podcast on what to do if you didn’t get a chance to ask your questions.
So let’s jump in. I think the very first place to start would be to ask the generic question of, can you explain the structure of the organization? Right. So what I would be asking is, how does that reporting work into the board? Okay.
And confirming that you and your role report into the board. Is there any other role that reports into the board? Is there an executive director? Is there any other roles that they feel like that would be your peer at that leadership level? Or do you have all the responsibility for all staff?
Or, hey, making sure that you actually do have responsibility for the rest of the staff, you need that clarity and out of that structure as well. Something that you may want to consider is, do you have a bit of autonomy to make those decisions. Right.
And I think that’s important for you to understand and that autonomy to make decisions. What I’m saying is decisions in your role as a head coach that affect the swim club, but also maybe affect the staff.
So getting a really good understanding of their structure and how they feel the roles report into the board and who is responsible to the head coach is very important. We see it quite often, Matt, you could probably talk about it.
We see quite often that coaches have a perspective of how they are going to, what their leadership responsibilities are because the role descriptions are quite lacking usually. And then they get there and they find out the board has a different perspective.
00:10:30 – Matt
Yeah. Knowing who you’re directly reporting to and what those responsibilities are and who are, like you said, who are making the decisions potentially alongside of you and who’s reporting into you, and then just potentially, like, what’s the rest of the structure? Right.
If you have a big coaching staff, are there coaches that are reporting it to an age group head, age group coach, and then they’re reporting back to you? And these are things that obviously could potentially change down the road.
But to understand how a team is operated, that gives you that idea. And then there’s the other relationships that potentially that you have to be aware of. Are you renting pool space and are you going to be the one kind of responsible for having that relationship with that facility and maintaining that?
Or are you operating a pool that you potentially own? And is there an operator of the pool that you have to have because there’s all facilities managers? Yeah. These other relationships that are going to have a huge impact on the actual operations of the club and what you’re able to do potentially.
So just knowing what those potential other relationships are that you have to potentially maintain and then be responsible to report back to the board. So understanding those as well?
00:11:51 – Renata
Yeah, I think in this section, in asking this question, typically, I would assume that boards would kind of explain, but it’s really high level, so make sure you get the information out of it you’re looking for. And if you’re watching them answer the question and they’re kind of iffy on certain areas, I would pick away.
Okay. So if they’re kind of iffy on how the reporting structure works or what your responsibilities are, I’d be picking away at that, or making a mental note to follow up on a second interview or whatever it may be, to ensure that you really, truly, it would make me nervous if they don’t understand the whole structure of the organization, or if you could tell by body language, maybe they don’t agree with the structure.
So, you need to pay attention to those kind of things when you’re asking those questions. Now, the next question that we have is, from my perspective, a board should be delivering on strategy, so they should be looking forward.
What is their view of the club for the future? So, the next question would be, can you explain to me your vision or the future for this club? And it would be very telling if they aren’t able to answer that question because what that means is you have a board that works day to day in the business of the organization.
Whether they should be or not is a different story. But their only sole focus is the day-to-day, putting one foot in front of the other instead of the strategic of the vision of where they’re going.
So, you’ll want to understand that, and you’ll want to understand why it’s like that because it might be one of those clubs where it’s all hands on deck and the board is a working board. Okay. And you may want to walk into the scenario to where you’re part of that leadership team, where you want to develop the strategy, and that’s a good thing to know.
Or it could be that it’s not productive for it. They don’t do anything, they’re not looking towards the future, and they’re also not working in the day-to-day.
So, I think it’s telling for you to understand where they want to go and if they can’t really give you specifics, definition of where they want to go and it’s airy-fairy. Again, really good clue on how the board operates from a strategic perspective.
00:14:21 – Matt
Yeah. And I think it’s good to know that, too. As far as honestly, to be honest with yourself when you’re going to look at some of these jobs, right?
If you’re going in and you’re on this interview and the board is speaking of, hey, we want to grow these programs or we want to add extra programs to bring in more money, and truthfully, you’re just not interested in doing that aspect of it.
You’re just wanting to, hey, I just want to coach swimmers, right? I want to focus on producing athletes. And growing that side of it is potentially not something that you’re super interested in. Well, that’s something there then you need to understand then that maybe, hey, this is not going to be the best fit for me. Right.
Because if the board has a clear vision and this is what they want to accomplish, you’re not going to be able to go in there and necessarily change that.
So that’s going to have an issue there where there’s going to be conflict on the side of, hey, if they do have that vision, the flip side of it is, like you said, if there’s nothing there and they’re just like, we’re kind of just showing up and checking the boxes as a board, well, then a lot of stuff’s potentially going to fall back on you to do as far as day to day tasks potentially that you’re not going to think of.
And then all of a sudden you may have all these grand ideas, but you’re bogged down in the day-to-day because there’s no one there to help and support that and kind of run the operations of it. And then, so looking long-term is almost impossible, right? Because no one’s looking long-term, then.
00:15:51 – Renata
I’m glad you brought up the statement of, like, if you have no interest in growing programs and you seriously just want to coach and you might say to yourself, that’s not a good fit. I think a lot of people rush in and go, oh, just worry about it on the back end because the fear of not having a job, I’ve got a family in tow, I’ve got to make certain amount of money.
And they let that direct their acceptance of the role. And what ends up happening is you get yourself in a situation that is not going to work. So how is that going to reflect on you trying to get your next role right?
So I think you need to keep that into consideration and it’s okay to like if you get to a point to where you want to say no and you’re wanting to say no just because of this one thing, why wouldn’t you speak up and say, hey, listen, I’m really focused on, I just want to coach and lead my coaches. I don’t want to develop programs.
Are you guys open to shifting the job description to that and that in the future or once I’m on board, we’ll start looking for someone that can grow the programs or looking for volunteers that can help us grow the program? It would be better for your longevity and your reputation as a coach to say that upfront.
And then if they say no, then, okay, good job’s not for me, or they may go, wow, that’s a really good idea. We really love you as a coach, technically speaking, and what you’ve done to other swimmers has been great.
And yeah, I think we should keep you focused there in your skill set, and let’s find someone else. And I think a lot of times coaches are probably hiding that because they just need the job and they’re running off of fear instead of looking for the job that they want to stay with for a period of time.
00:17:38 – Matt
And sometimes, maybe when there are coach-owned programs, we see it a little bit more, too where I think you hit it right on there, where maybe I take over as a head coach and we need to bring somebody in as an assistant associate head coach, a head age group coach that has those other skills that can help grow that.
But then the flip side of the thing is maybe with sometimes more of the coach-owned programs, you see where these people understand that, hey, I have to grow the business and maybe I’m not a coach of the senior team and the one traveling as much and I’ve got to hire somebody to come in and potentially do that role.
So sometimes it’s, I think, also misunderstood that you have to be the head coach and coaching the top kids sometimes having that mindset of, hey, I have a good business acumen, I know what I want to do, I could be a great leader for this organization and we can hire other coaches to do some of those other things that are going to be done well.
So it really depends on, again, where your strengths are, what you’re trying to get out of it long term, because if you have that mindset, then it will probably have long-term success. But you’re right. If you’re doing it and just taking the job to take the job, then most likely you’re going to be looking for another job pretty shortly.
00:18:53 – Renata
Why would you want to move again or move your family? I mean, there’s so much more to that. Again, as long as you’re not driven by fear and just holding out for the right job, that’s the best way to go. Okay, the next question is, and it may feel a little uncomfortable, but I think it’s very important.
As soon as I read it, I know you’re going to understand it. And that is, can you give me an example of how you, as the board supported the coach in a way that demonstrates a collaborative relationship?
And what I would be looking for here is a very specific example and not something like, oh, whatever he wants to do is, okay, I’d be picking away and going, can you give me an example? Why do you think I chose that question, Matt? Why is that important to the coaches?
00:19:41 – Matt
Yeah. You want to see how they are working, right? You want to see how they’re working together. You want to see how their structure is there to support whatever your job is going to be.
So, right. If I have this job description and this is what I’m supposed to be doing, you want to make sure that those people, when things do arise, are coming to help you reach whatever those goals may be that you have all kind of agreed upon.
So, understanding how that relationship is going to work and they should be able to give you some pretty straightforward examples. Right.
00:20:20 – Renata
I think it’s a really big clue on what you are up against, you know. So, the next question is, what would you consider your biggest success as a business to date?
And I chose the word business on purpose because I think it’s important that you, as a head coach, stepping in, in the leadership role of the organization is you want to know that your board believes in this organization as a business because they are, in effect, as far as the IRS is concerned, they are the leaders of the organization.
So, we want you to put forward that mindset that you’re leading an actual business. And again, instinctively, people know that, but they still treat their clubs like it’s just some odd, just some kids club and not that big of a deal.
And that’s not true. This is a big functioning business and I think that it’s important that you ask the question one from there so you can glean their response on them treating themselves as a business, but also so you can understand what they consider to be success because I think that will be a very interesting response.
So, is it going to be about placement? Is it going to be about, I don’t know, now being a silver club with USA swimming, is it because you’ve built a pool, is it because you’ve added new programs and all of those answers really give you an insight to how they’re doing.
00:22:07 – Matt
Yeah. And I think that’s something to maybe just kind of put out there as well as. And I don’t know if everybody who’s out there looking for those jobs is thinking of it in that way. Right. That it’s a business. I’m going to kind of be as the head coach, you’re going to be the face of that business essentially, right?
You’re the one that the parents are going to see that are working with the athletes on a regular basis. And I think it’s like any other job necessarily where you want to go work for good companies, then making sure that that business is run well and is something that’s going to be sustainable and successful long term, I think it’s a little bit overlooked, honestly.
And I know myself as a younger coach, when I was first starting, when I was coaching club, I didn’t think about those things. Right.
You’re thinking about like, hey, what type of swimmers do I have? What are the facilities like? What are the ways you can be successful in the pool? And those things are so often tied to how well the business is run.
Because if there’s issues with facilities, if there’s not the money to go do those things that you necessarily want to go do for the athletes, then it’s really going to directly affect how you feel in that position and maybe how long you’re going to be there and then ultimately your success.
So, I think that is something that people do need to wrap their heads around, is that it is a business. You are going to be the leader of that business and to go into it with that mindset is, I think going to be, is a shift for some people.
00:23:57 – Renata
Absolutely. Yeah, and again, I think it just gives a really good insight on what they consider success to be. They may struggle with that question, I don’t know.
00:24:09 – Matt
Yeah, success. Like you said, it may be fast swimming because there’s teams that produce a lot of really fast swimmers that if you probably looked at their financials or like, hey, they’re just getting by and they probably have a lot of headaches behind the scenes.
And then there’s other teams that, hey, they have really great programs and, man, financially they’re just kind of knocking it out of the park and you’re like, man, this is like a well-oiled machine and they’re just producing all kinds of profits and maybe their coaches are well paid, they have benefits. So, there’s so many factors, right?
00:24:44 – Renata
Absolutely. All right. The next question is, might feel like it’s a little negative, but it’s similar to a question I always ask people when I’m hiring them. I want to understand how they handle issues.
So, the next question is, can you give me an example of a time where the board and the head coach or the coaches were not aligned? What was the issue and how was it resolved? And if it wasn’t resolved, what did you learn from it?
I feel like understanding how they handle conflict and understanding why there was a conflict is going to be a huge eye-opener to your potential relationship with the board.
00:25:31 – Matt
And part of that, I think to add to maybe something goes back to something earlier that just kind of, I think it’s not out of the realm, too, to ask if the head coach who was there retired and they were there for 30 years and they retired.
Okay, that’s easy to know, but I also think it is not out of that realm to ask why did the previous head coach leave. Right. And they should be able to answer that. Right. Just like this, where if it’s, oh, it was great. We had no issues whatsoever.
Everything was, well, then why are you again, barring that? Hey, they’ve been here forever and they moved on or they retired or they moved on to something that you obviously can see was significantly like a jump to another level.
That’s one thing. But as we all know, in any job there’s going to be things that pop up. Right. There’s going to be those times that there’s going to be something to work through. So, they should be able to answer that pretty easily. Right.
00:26:45 – Renata
And if they’re not forthcoming with how things might have gone awry and how they handled them, I don’t think it could be from a standpoint that they’ve never had problems. Right. It may be that they don’t want to talk about it, but I think you should press, I think you should understand.
And you could say something like if they’re pausing and hemming and hawing like you said, then maybe it’s like, listen, I don’t need to know the depths of the details, but I do want to understand how you as a board work through conflict with the coaching staff. It’s important. And so, give them another break or opportunity to answer that question.
00:27:25 – Matt
Yeah. And it’s also, what did you learn through that process? Right. Are there things that if you’ve changed or things that moving forward that you would do differently from when that happened because as we all know, again, that they’re going to have conflict and it’s going to be, one side is going to say this, one side is going to say something different and are we recognizing that, hey, this is where we were at fault, this is what we could have potentially done better and now we know that moving forward and same thing with the coach, right?
That there’s always things that we can look at and say, oh, okay, I probably should have handled that different next time. I know this, right?
00:28:01 – Renata
Yeah, absolutely. Now, the next question kind of stems from that. It’s an area where we have found as being advisors with clubs that coaches really have a hard time with. And that is when parents are complaining and they’re going around the coaches and they’re going to the board.
So, the next question I would ask, and maybe it’s a two- or three-part question, is how do you as a board navigate parent complaints? Like, is there a process? And would you support pushing complaints back to the coaches first, so they have the opportunity of building strong relationships and there’s not that trust or fear that there’s retaliation to the athletes?
I feel like that’s always the excuse, but I’ve never really met coaches that would take it out on a swimmer because their parent was complaining. So, I feel like it’s really empty threat, but for some reason, boards grab onto that and I think that’s from a finger-wagging perspective.
It’s usually when a club is really not a good relationship between staff and board. So, I think it’s important for coaches to understand what is their thought process about how do they handle parents that go around them and would they support putting the complaints back to the coaches so they’re able to navigate and handle them effectively.
What do you think that shows to the coach, the head coach that’s asking that question? If the board can’t answer that question in a public?
00:29:40 – Matt
I think knowing what the processes are right is huge. Right. Because what you don’t want to have is, and I think we all know that there’s going to be different reasons that people get on boards. Again, they’re there to help support you.
So, knowing that, hey, they’ve got my back and we’re going to work through these problems because they should be going, hey, you know what? These questions go to whoever your direct coach is and that coach, if they’re not the head coach, then they’re going to report that to who’s above them.
So, if it’s the head coach, then it goes to them, and then they’re going to take it back to the board if they need to elevate it kind of to that and understanding that, hey, this is the process. This is what if the board has this in place, it just really detours a lot of major issues down the road, right?
And I’ve been on boards of other organizations outside of swimming where I’ve seen that we’ve had, nothing was in place as far as how to deal with potential conflicts. And it takes a toll on everybody, right? It takes a toll on the board members.
It takes a huge toll on the coaches. And ultimately what really gets hurt is the athlete, right? Because they may have screwed up or the parent may have, but typically it’s not something that’s intentional. Right, kids, things are going to happen.
So just knowing, hey, this is what this process is, and as a board, knowing that, hey, they’re going to be behind you, it tells you what type of board you’re working with, right? It tells you if they’re there like you said, to be supportive, to help support the coach and push what the actual vision is, or are they there to just kind of meddle. Whatever. Push their personal agenda, potentially.
00:31:40 – Renata
That’s a good point. Are they being strategic? Are they micromanaging for their own benefit? I think it’s a really good insight into that. Okay, the next question is really to understand how the board operates. And from my perspective, I’m looking to see if they’ve got their own mess together.
So, I would ask a question of if I take a role as a head coach, I’m looking to be here for several years, which means that I would like to have a bit of understanding of the continuity of the board. And continuity is important to me because you’re starting over with new people, but as long as the workflow is good, then usually you have a board that can, new board members that can come in and just hit the ground running because they know exactly what they’re supposed to be doing.
So, my question would be, tell me about how the board operates. And that’s important to me from a continuity perspective because I plan to be here long term. Okay. So, what I’d be looking for is, tell me about the people that are on the board.
Do you have your own job descriptions? Do you have your own format and expectations of what each board member should do? And they’ll say, oh, yeah, everybody knows, go. No. Is it documented? Is it clear?
Do the board members coming on board know exactly what they’re supposed to be doing when you’re trying to recruit new board members? Do they understand what they’ll be walking into? I’d also ask questions like, what is your purpose?
What do you feel like you are supposed to do to deliver on that purpose? And again, it may feel like it’s a harsh question, but it’s important for you to understand. Is that board looking at their feet every day and just kind of living in the moment, or are they looking ahead?
I would ask them questions like, so what’s going well with the board? Do you have a strategic plan or are you working on one? How often do you meet? Do you feel like you have gaps? I think you really need to flesh out questions for the board.
If you preface it, know, I’m looking for continuity. I want to make sure that when we have new board members that we’ve got really good strength for long term, they’ll answer those questions. Do you feel like, Matt, as a coach, do you feel like that would be a hard question for coaches to ask?
00:34:11 – Matt
I don’t think it’s, and again, I think it comes with a little bit more experience and understanding, but they should be okay with that. Right. And that should be something that maybe if they can’t answer that, then they need to potentially consider, okay, what do we want out of our head coach?
What role do they play? What role do we play? Because we have seen this where we go in or we talk to clubs and it’s the middle of the season and they don’t even have a budget for that season. Right. That in itself. What’s the budget looking like?
Where are you kind of at? What are the last couple of years looked like? So again, it’s understanding that the board should be in place to support the operations of the club. Right. They should have the business side of it.
Kind of nailed down so they can hand things over to you that are going to be your responsibilities and then you can focus on what those responsibilities are and then obviously coaching your kids at the same point. I do agree with that in a lot of ways because if I’m planning on going there and I do want to be there long-term, I want to know if there’s a long-term strategy.
Like, is somebody planning this out? Right. And, you know, if they don’t have board job descriptions and, you know, every couple of years it’s going to be chaotic because new people are going to come in and nothing’s going to get done.
It’s going to be this spinning your wheels kind of scenario where you’re just going to have new people coming in. They’re going to think this is what the job is.
00:36:05 – Renata
Yeah, they work off assumptions.
00:36:08 – Matt
Yeah. Everybody is rowing in a different direction. Right. It’s chaos. So, if you truly are going into a situation as, hey, I love this, I like this area, I want this to be long term, then asking those questions are key to know that, hey, this could work out long term and we have a long-term strategy. And here’s where I could see this going in myself being a part of it. So, if they can’t answer those, then honestly it’s not going to happen.
00:36:37 – Renata
Yeah. And it’s good for. Because obviously, I think anybody can infer coaches listening or the audience listening. You can understand that the reason why we’re asking these questions is because, or proposing these questions is because these are the pain points that we hear every day from clubs. Right.
And the biggest one is the board doesn’t even understand their own structure and what they should be doing. Do they have that right? Is that something they should be doing? And it would be better for you to understand what their thought process is and how they’re structured and organized. Right.
Or is it every time a new president comes in, they have their own perspective of what they should be doing? Right. And you want to avoid that. Now, listen, if they say, hey, that’s probably a really good idea and that’s something that we should do, I think that that says a lot. Right.
And then you can help them as you come on board as the head coach, you can help them formulate that process.
The point is to get them to the point to where you have a really good feeling and are feeling strong in the fact that you’re not going to have to be dealing with a rogue board member that feels like their role should be X and it comes down to more finger-wagging or a useless individual on the board that won’t do anything or an overbearing type of role.
So, I think it’s important that even if they don’t have that, but they seem receptive to it, that’s a good sign. Now, the last area I wanted to talk about was volunteers. So how do you think they should approach the board on asking about their volunteers?
00:38:22 – Matt
Yeah. And I think this is, again, something you can do a little bit of research like you said prior to, but just understand, is there a requirement, right? Are parents required to come in and do certain number of volunteer hours?
If they’re able to do that or if that is a requirement, who’s organizing that? Right. Does that fall on you? Is that somebody on the board? Is that a subcommittee or something of the board? Because it doesn’t necessarily have to be the coach or the board.
It could be a smaller group of other people that are there to organize that stuff. And then if they’re not, there is no requirement. Like, okay, well, where are we falling short? Right? Where are our pain points that we’re always having to deal with there?
Or maybe we do need to implement some sort of volunteer hours because we’ve heard it both ways, right? A lot of teams have, hey, this is what the requirement is, and you kind of have to go do this number of hours and there’s people coordinating it and then there’s other teams that are like, yeah, we don’t ask our parents to volunteer.
We don’t want to have to do that. But yet then they’re running around because those responsibilities are going to fall on somebody. Right. Whether it’s.
00:39:30 – Renata
That would be the follow-up question, wouldn’t it? Does that fall on me or are you guys always chasing your tails to try to find people?
00:39:38 – Matt
Right? Because we all know that volunteers are key. And yes, you may not want to ask people to do that, but there’s certain things where if you’re, say, hosting meets, well, you need volunteers. So, you’re either getting someone to do that or you’re paying someone to potentially have to come in and do that.
But what you don’t want to be is, hey, if this falls on me, at least you know that. And that’s something that maybe you can talk about addressing as you come on and say, like, hey, this takes away. Because we’ve talked to coaches, right? I’ve talked to coaches.
I know you’ve talked to coaches that say, we host meets and all I do is run around like crazy and I don’t actually even get to participate in the actual swimming part of the meet and watch the kids. I’m running around taking care of 80 little fires that happen throughout the day. Those could potentially be resolved. So, I think all of these questions are free to ask and important to ask.
00:40:34 – Renata
Yeah. And I think the reason for the volunteer one is to really gauge that. Okay, again, is there structure behind it? Is it going to fall on you? But also, don’t you really want to get a sense of, are the parents engaged?
I’ve worked with clubs where the coaches have said that. I don’t even see the parents. They drop their kids off, they take off. They never go to meets. They’re not engaged whatsoever. We’re really struggling. We never host meets. Because we can’t get them involved.
So, it really gives you a good insight. I think every board is going to say, like, they have a problem with volunteers, but you got to dig deeper. You got to understand, is it the problem of they don’t care about the organization at all? It’s babysitting, like, I’m just dropping my kids off?
Or is it you can never kind of fill all the slots at the swim team or, sorry, at the swim meets? Or is it like, you’ll never have to worry about parent engagement? Right. So, you just kind of want to get a reading as far as that’s concerned. I would love for that to be the case more often than not. I don’t know. All right.
So that’s pretty much the questions. We feel like that covers all the areas. It’s understanding the parents, it’s understanding your role. It’s really understanding how the board operates. And that’s the bulk of the questions, is you want to understand how the board leads and what your role is in that environment.
And I think the key to asking serious questions is to be light to lighthearted, to be open, to smile. It shows that you’re interested and open to transparency. You’re not being judgmental or egotistical or just rude by asking the question.
So, remember, you can ask tough questions if your approach is right. The bottom line is this is your livelihood. And if they won’t entertain questions from you or. Or seem like they’re put off by it, well, that’s a big sign that you need to run, right?
And honestly, one of my biggest pet peeves for me when I am hiring people is when people have no questions for me. I don’t feel like you’re truly interested in the professionalism of the role. If you have no questions for me, okay, to me, I feel like then you’re just coming in, it’s just a job and you’re going to collect a paycheck.
So, I want to know that my business meets your values, and I will never know that if you don’t ask any questions. Now, if you run out of time for questions, I would simply ask them, is there a second interview?
What’s the process? If there’s a second interview, am I able to ask questions at that time? Okay. Or if you feel like this is the only interview, you could simply ask them like, hey, can we catch up on another call? Because I do have questions that I would like to ask. Okay.
And I think, again, if they don’t afford you time to ask questions, that’s a really big sign. If they ask you to submit questions via email, which I’ve seen as well, I would very frankly tell them no, you would prefer to ask the questions live. That could be through a Zoom call or whatever, or in person if you’re local.
And the reason for that is you need to be able to watch them as they answer your questions. And I’m just going to say, if you don’t understand why that is, I would highly recommend you go take the new course that we wrote with ASCA, that winning connections course.
In there, you’ll learn a lot about body language, reactions, how you should propose your conversations based on what they’re doing, how you’re reading, how they’re answering their questions. But to me, if you’re going to be looking for a job that you’re going to be in for long term, you need to make sure that it reaches your values or meets your values.
You need to understand how they operate, and the only way that you’re going to do that and ensure that you’re in a club that you can do something with is by asking the right questions. Any final thoughts, Matt?
00:44:54 – Matt
Yeah, just understand, do your research. But, yeah, the interview goes two ways, right? Yes. They’re looking for somebody to bring in that fits what they’re looking for and to help with the vision of their program, and you’re trying to do the same thing.
So knowing what you want to get out of it, how you operate, what your strengths are, what your weaknesses, and going into there. So you’re trying to find a program that fits what’s going to work for you. It’s a lot same when we talked about kids when doing college recruiting. Right.
It’s the same thing. It works both ways. It’s got to fit for both parties or else it’s not going to be successful. Yeah.
00:45:34 – Renata
And I think that’s important. And I know this probably all sounds like common sense, but when it comes down to it, I think people let fear take over and they’re worried about asking questions. So you got to get yourself over that because this is your life. Right.
And most of you head coaches have families in tow. So it’s not just your life, it’s also your family’s life. And you need to do yourself a favor by being able to dismiss an organization pretty easily if it doesn’t match up if they can’t answer the questions in a way that you want them to answer them.
All right, everybody, thank you for listening. I’d like to ask if you could please subscribe rate and review the podcast so we can reach a bigger audience and help others such as yourself. And don’t forget to visit the website yoursportsresource.com, where you can find articles and tools as well as more information about how we can work with you directly.
Finally, remember what is common sense isn’t always common practice. Put what you learn into action. Don’t just be good, be good at it. Thanks, everybody.