Advice for Aspiring Administrators
I recently had a conversation with a strength and conditioning coach who is interested in moving into administration one day. This coach asked some of the best questions I have ever been asked so I wanted to share some of the main takeaways with you.
Here’s what I have found to be most helpful to me while I’ve been in the role of an assistant athletic director, overseeing all health and performance for all sports teams at a university.
- Listen & Listen A LOT
- NEVER STOP listening and listening A LOT
- Be a great leader: My Athletic Director wasn’t looking for narrowly focused mindsets; need for a leader with a greater vision
- Constantly and consistently reassure the staff your supervise that you’re there to help them and then follow through
- Every department head within athletics experiences similar issues. ie. Not enough time to communicate what you need and want AND do your job. Athletic trainers are busy doing rehabs and taking care of the health of the athletes. The sports dietitians are busy making sure the athletes are fed and understand how to eat. The strength and conditioning and sports performance coaches are busy coaching and making sure the team is developing. The mental health and mental performance staff are busy making sure the athletes are mentally healthy and can organize their thoughts. This is not to reduce the role of these health and performance departments but just to give an example of a few of the responsibilities they have. The point is they are all very busy doing their jobs they love!
- **A solution would be to close the communication loops thereby allowing them to focus on the job they were hired to perform. You can think of this like a cornerman in boxing. I find I spend most of my time handling a lot of the back office communication to help the health and performance professionals.
- If you want a good haircut, it’s better not to drop-in! Administration is like a good barber: make an appointment. This isn’t to say you can’t have casual conversations or make phone calls, but for more complex and complicated situations it’s always better to schedule some time. Learn how to use virtual calendars and make sure yours is up-to-date.
- Constantly go through your distribution list to keep those who want/need to know information informed. Learn to anticipate who may want/need to be involved in varying issues. This will help to understand when to bring the right people in at the right time.
- Flow charts/well defined steps for protocols, policies, and procedures will also begin to close communication gaps. This is much like a well-organized decision tree when prescribing programs. If you ask the right questions, you will get better answers which gives you a better chance for good outcomes.
- Success (probably 99% of organizations) looks like smooth collaborations between departments. All need to row the boat in the same direction.
- Critical to solidify each sports team’s health and performance team. What I mean by this is each sport has all the members of the health and performance team (sports nutrition, sports medicine, sports performance, sport science, mental health, and mental performance) operating as a team to provide the best care, communication, and collaboration to support the student athletes and coaches for that particular sport. It’s important for sports teams and health and performance teams to have regularly scheduled reviews. Like marriage, it’s important to have the “tough” conversations in order to keep the boats effectively sailing in the right direction. No GREAT thing has ever been born from comfort. Accept that there will be uneasy conversations.