Friday, July 31, 2009

Delegation of Authority (Using Assistants)

just bring me a juice box!

When we are TOLD what to do we often, as prideful men, reject it, no matter what it is because we want to maintain our autonomy and dignity. When we are asked what to do and given the choice to determine our own fate, we tend to buy in (even if its the very thing we would've been TOLD to do).

coach, let me get you a juice box!

Some thoughts I'll offer on managing your assistants to better serve them and the program;

1) Pick your battles / weigh the economics of responsibility;
What CAN they do? You likely have laid the groundwork of the Offense, Defense, and Special Teams. The frame has been built, why not let one of one of the most promising assistants to pick out the furniture? Maybe there is no incentive (monetarily / position), so it is going to come down to who wants to take on more responsibility. You may be stuck in a situation where assistants will do as little as possible because they just want a stipend and a good seat during the games (only you would know that). However, if a MAN is given the authority and responsibility, he will take interest and his pride usually takes over (to ensure the performance doesn't embarrass him)

This isn't just throwing someone the keys and told to lock up when he's done. I believe you'll have to be closely interactive with them ('what are we going to do about this?'/ 'what is our answer to that?' / 'what could go wrong?') This shouldn't be a blank check, but should be a stewardship position - "we need you to lead us in this area, we want to take full use of your knowledge and perspective of the game".

You may not be relinquishing the offense (naturally) but there are roles people can take responsibility for. Case in point, any monkey can run a defense (it takes a unique individual to actually screw up a defense) that you have a defense installed, why not just give them the burden of keeping it running? Another example, any assistant can run Special Teams, too.

I believe your main concern is HOW they see the position (their role on staff). What can you live with? If you give a guy the defense, you have to be willing to give up a 3rd down here, a touchdown there - and not freak out. Special Teams, that guy should be responsible for knowing the players and abilities to know what will be the best result in a given situation (reverse here? fake it now?). Just make sure you have the 11 ready to go. The "coordinator" title gives guys hard-ons apparently....feel free to invoke its power.

2) Define Expectations
Again, we can't just throw the keys to someone and say, "Drive!". He must define his costs & expenditures and justify the what and why (keep him within the budget of authority and responsibilities). Set clear expectations of what his job is. This is most important with regards to;
A) Scouting and Game planning -WHAT is this guy preparing for? Regardless of what you run, it is in response to your opponent. Your opponent is different every week. This guy has to be plugged in to scouting and the information to understand your opponent and provide answers for each situation.

B) Practice Planning - HOW is he preparing the rest of the TEAM? What is he declaring before practice that he NEEDS before the competition? ('speak up now, or forever hold your peace'). This responsibility will be a SHOCK to most of the guys you have on staff, but when there is plenty of warning of what is coming - there really is no excuse not to be organized or prepared (the true role of a coordinator).

C) Game Day Communication - WHERE do the pieces fit? How are the calls getting in? How are the other coaches fitting within this role (someone in the box? Someone signaling? Someone working rotations?) Let this guy define those.

So this becomes, "You're running this show - just need you to provide us the answers (for planning) so we can help you help us (this week)". If he can't come up with those criteria without shitting his pants, he isn't qualified to begin with (and may not need to be on staff).

3) Hold accountable for group results
It isn't the offense and should be the TEAM. If Bob is the DC or ST coordinator, the team of coaches should be meeting to define practices and game plans. Bob is going to have to articulate this to the rest of the staff. "What can WE do to help the defense better, Bob?" It shouldn't be a YOU / ME thing, it should be an US thing, where the staff works together and challenges each other. Criticism should be ENCOURAGED here. Rather than taking the approach of "damit, the defense ain't getting the job done - YOU SUCK!", (because, naturally, the guy will blame everyone but himself) present it to include all hands on deck. "how are we / what can we do to improve our performance?" (so that introspection analyzes how to improve the TEAM).essentially,

  • Sunday - "We play City High this week. Bob, what should we watch for this week? What is our game plan? What will work? What won't work? What is the 3rd and 3 play we have to watch out for within our 20 yd line, Bob?"
  • Wednesday - "Bob, how do we look this week? What are we opening with? Any concerns?"
  • Saturday - "Bob, good work - what went right? What could we improve on? What should we look for next week?"

Your guy(s) will either run from this or embrace it - but the bottom line they won't be able to hide anymore. Give these guys an arena to prove their worth. This is essentially telling these guys, "You can do what you need to make this work, but you have to be able to make it bullet-proof and be able to justify it to the rest of the staff" . This isn't a "do whatever you want" approach, it is "justify what your are doing to the rest of us, and that it is fail-safe, so we ALL can get on board".

Having said ALL THAT --- I don't think it has to be as black & white as a coordinator position. More importantly, there just needs to be more interaction with the staff. Do you guys meet together for game planning? Do you guys hang out together after practice?

Staff Cohesion is very important to make a team work.

Put someone in charge of scouting / tendency tracking. Put someone in charge of game day rotations....something ANYTHING where they are forced to provide a product for the team, that we all are dependent on them.

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