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“Do-Not-Do” ListsMonday, December 28th, 2015

by Mandy Green, Coaching Productivity Strategies

We all have a tremendous amount to do these days.  Between recruiting, managing and training the team, office stuff, meetings, camps, etc, our to-do lists are getting longer and more out of control.

If you are one of the many coaches out there who is overwhelmed trying to get everything done, I want to help you regain control over your workload by helping you make better choices.  Since we only have so much time to get things done, you need to CHOOSE what gets done and what doesn’t get done. You must consciously choose what you will work on based on how it will affect your program and the results you want to produce and you need to delay or eliminate other less important items from your schedule. You can’t find more time, but you can always change the way you use the time you already have.

Many productivity and time-management experts say the most helpful list you may ever create is one outlining what not to do. “Do-not-to-do” lists are often more effective than to-do lists for upgrading performance in the office.  

The reason is simple: what you don’t do determines what you can do.

The idea is to list all the activities you are intentionally going to stop doing for the sake of greater productivity.  This is a list of activities that are time-wasters, your list of people not to talk to because they’re time vampires, your do-not-eat list, your not-to-have-in the office list, etc.

In his best-seller Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap… and Others Don’t, Jim Collins lauds the value of a “stop-doing” list: “Those who built the good-to-great companies… made as much use of stop-doing lists as to-do lists. They displayed a remarkable discipline to unplug all sorts of extraneous junk.”

I believe that there are 2 ways to figure out what should go on your do-not-do-list.

  1. The first step in deciding what not to do in your life is zeroing in on what you ultimately want to achieve. “If you really get clear about your real goals, visions and values, it will be easier to cut the extraneous things off your lists that aren’t that purposeful for you,” says David Allen, author of Getting Things Done.
  2. The second way to figure out what not-to-do is to time track.  Write down on the left hand side of a piece of paper the day’s times in 15-minute increments. As your day goes along, write down what you’re doing at that time all day long so you can identify things that you may be wasting too much time on in the office. By taking a realistic look at how you spend your time, you can determine which activities don’t yield valuable results in return for the time and effort they require. Then, you can cut those time-wasters out of your life.

Here are a few examples of things that could be on your do-not-do list.

Do not check facebook during work hours

Do not check email constantly

Do not multitask when I am working on recruiting

Do not get sucked in by office gossip

 Seeing through on your do-not-do list ultimately may take sheer force of will. Like everything, you will get better with practice.  Jim Collins writes, “The real question is… do you have the discipline to do the right thing and, equally important, to stop doing the wrong things?”

 When you get stuck on your not-to-do list, you waste time and end the day frustrated because you didn’t get anything done.  Make your list and post it where you can always see it to remind yourself of what you should not be doing.  Enlist the support of co-workers to help keep you on track.  If you find yourself doing something on your do-not-do list, get up, walk around, refocus, and then get back after your important to-do list items.  Good luck!

I’d love to hear what makes your list!  Please email me your list at mandy@mandygreencps.com

As a thank you for reading, I want to offer you a free 15-minute productivity consultation with me! I want to help you set up your most productive and least chaotic coaching year yet. Email me at mandy@mandygreencps.com to set up an appointment. Mandy Green has been a College Soccer Coach for more than 17 years and is the founder of Coaching Productivity Strategies, where she helps coaches develop and discipline their time management. Mandy teaches practical and immediately usable ideas, methods, strategies, and techniques that will make your coaching and recruiting life much less chaotic. When you learn and apply these powerful, practical techniques, you will dramatically improve the quality of your life in every area. To get more awesome collegiate-specific productivity expertise, go to www.mandygreencps.com and opt-in. 

Squeeze The Most From Your Coaching Before 2016Monday, December 28th, 2015

by Mike Davenport, CoachingSportsToday.com

The year is closing fast.

This might be a good time to knock off that small-annoying task you’ve been hesitating to do.

“But I don’t have time now,” you might say, “it will take away from my family, the parties, the experience.”

Sure, coaching can do that — steal your time. And coaches need time to regenerate and connect with family and friends.

Yet, a terrific amount of time gets wasted these last few days of December.

A wise coach might be able to get one or two nagging things knocked off, WITHOUT, interfering with family/friend time or movie trips to StarWars (or better yet, Alvin).

For instance, recently, I focused on completing three things that had been bugging me for a month. Not big things, in fact, they took less that 15 minutes for each — but I kept putting them off. Finally getting them off the list felt great.

There might be an advantage to taking action now. One of my task was to order a few uniform replacement pieces. I called up the company and got the rep immediately. He told me that they were super-quiet, this being a slow week for them. I think he was actually glad to have the call.

Action You Just Might Want To Do

Don’t go nutso here, be reasonable. Is there one thing, small thing, you need to do — but have been ignoring? Something you could do quickly but for some reason just didn’t get it done, such as:

  • Finalize a contract for 2016
  • Call that one recruit you’re just-not-sure-about
  • Return the stapler you borrowed (and the 11 other things)
  • Empty the recycle box
  • Clean the top shelf of the closet
  • Enter receipts
  • Clean a workspace
  • Empty out a backpack
  • Fill out a short quick coaching survey

Look at your schedule between now and New Years Eve. Can you squeeze in 20 minutes to get the task done — WITHOUT detracting from your plans?

In less than one week you’ll be bombarded with plans/thoughts/gimmicks/resolutions on how to make 2016 a great year. By doing one or two small tasks now, you’re already ahead of the game.

Win-win!

I’ll be taking off until Jan 4th. I hope you and those special to you have a joyous end to 2015. Thanks for being here, you make this a special journey.

-Mike

12 Ways to Keep Your Admissions Team MotivatedTuesday, December 22nd, 2015

by Jeremy Tiers, Director of Admissions Services

I want to start this week’s article by wishing everyone a Merry Christmas! It sounds like those of us in the central and eastern states may experience record-breaking warm temperatures. Crazy, I know!

Over the next few months, admissions staffs everywhere will review mountains of applications looking for those students who best fit their institutional profile. Counselors will also be tasked with staying on top of their emails, making phone calls to inquiries, prospects and admits and meeting the additional, never-ending requests of what is commonly described as a grueling profession.

Working in college admissions is a demanding lifestyle where the pressure to achieve specific enrollment numbers increases stress and causes frequent frustration, specifically among the young professionals who are the face of most admissions teams. Their list of responsibilities on campus keeps increasing despite less funding and compensation. At the end of the day, you have a workforce that is stressed out, tired, and ultimately searching for daily motivation.

Motivation can be the determining factor for the amount of success a team achieves. In most instances, a successful group will have been motivated from start to finish. That doesn’t mean there won’t be days when it’s harder to drum up some enthusiasm and stay focused. When those days occur I encourage you to remind yourself, and your colleagues, that the objective they’re working towards is greater than any individual.

Here are twelve suggestions (in honor of the 12 days of Christmas) on how to create and keep a motivated and confident admissions team:

Be a leader that others want to follow. There are a wide variety of leadership styles.  However you choose to lead, I cannot stress enough the importance of being consistent. Your team will model your actions. If you’re unpredictable it’s going to lead to an unstable work environment. Keep your word if you say you’re going to do something. This cultivates an environment of trust. No matter what they think of you, it’s vital that your staff has faith that in the end you will make the right decisions. According to a study by Interaction Associates, 82% of employees say being able to trust their managers is crucial to their work performance. Let me also touch on your mood. Regardless of how crazy your daily schedule may be or what personal issues you might be dealing with, your staff shouldn’t have to walk around on eggshells because they have a moody boss. It will negatively affect productivity and staff morale.

Communicate clearly. Many problems and failures are a direct result of a breakdown in communication. If your staff is receiving mixed messages when it comes to expectations and performance, it will result in confusion and undesirable results. You can gauge whether or not your messages are being received clearly by asking specific questions during both staff and individual meetings. The responses will let you know if your directions or messages need to be conveyed through a different approach or even redesigned. Focusing on communication can be even more important when communication isn’t the problem. If a staff member makes an honest mistake, discussing the problem in terms of communication makes it nobody’s fault yet still addresses the fact that a problem occurred.

Productive meetings. Use that time wisely. Too often people have meetings just so they can say they had a meeting. These interactions need to be productive. For example, if there’s a push in your office to convert more inquiries into applications, open the floor up for feedback so as a group you can come up with a strategic solution that benefits each staff member and the overall team.

Remember that everyone is different. The worst mistake that I constantly see good managers make is treating each member of their staff the same way. As a leader it’s your responsibility to understand how to effectively manage the different members of your team. Getting to know your staff on an individual basis allows you to understand how they communicate and what motivates them. It will also help you to recognize strengths and provide high potential people with more freedom and decision-making opportunities. For example, some of your staff members will respond well to direct criticism while others will view it as an attack on them and lose focus. Developing different strategies will result in your entire staff working smarter and more confidently.

Goal setting with follow up. “Lack of clear direction” is among the most common complaints in a dissatisfied workforce. The team members don’t understand the framework or value of what they’re doing, so they can’t get excited about it. Successful leaders set realistic goals and clearly define them, both team and individual. This not only gives people something to shoot for, but it also allows you to rate their performance. Also, don’t forget to follow up periodically to see how each staff member is progressing.

Create a career path. We all know that many admissions counselors enter the field and quickly discover there’s a lack of information about possible career paths.  As a manager, it’s beneficial to designate time during the year to discuss professional goals both short and long term. Talk to them about the admissions career pyramid. Staff members who have a path set before them that may lead to promotion will create internal motivation. Plus, when an employee knows their boss has a genuine interest in them and their professional development, they’re more likely to perform well.

Mentoring. Setting up a mentoring program for your staff members who are new to the admissions field, or those recently promoted to a leadership position, is a great way to show you care about their well being. Mentors can transfer knowledge and help their mentees set and achieve career goals while also introducing them to different networks of people in the admissions field. Additionally, you will be giving the mentors ownership of something which demonstrates confidence in them.

Ask for input and listen to new ideas. One of the easiest ways to develop trust with your staff is to ask for their input when it comes to making decisions that will affect them. Your team is the “boots on the ground” for your office and their insight is invaluable. Even if you choose not to implement their suggestions, simply listening is a sign of mutual respect. Remember that when a staff member comes to you with an idea or a solution to a problem it’s a sign that they care.

Ownership. Motivation comes through ownership, and ownership comes from engagement. The most effective workers are those who take ownership of their work. If they feel that an assignment or task is theirs, they are more likely to demonstrate responsibility. Make sure that you delegate effectively. Clearly communicate who is the decision maker on a project. Giving your team ownership will create a more positive working environment.

Recognize professional achievements. Your team wants to feel that you as their boss value and appreciate their efforts. Talk is great, but public recognition is better. Numerous studies show that employees who don’t feel valued are unhappy and less productive.  Having a reward program in place or acknowledging them in a group setting is an easy way to show your gratitude. It doesn’t have to be a major achievement. Focus on even the small victories. We all enjoy receiving compliments.

Team building activities. Organizing a team outing particularly after a hard week is a great way for everyone to relax and let off some steam. It helps with work-life balance which is something your staff wants and needs. You will be amazed at how something as simple as a nice dinner will recharge their batteries and build team unity.

Take time to reflect. Each member of your admissions team has impacted the lives of young people. It’s useful every once in a while to take some time to reflect on both the successes and the failures because each can teach you about what works and what does not. It also allows people to see the fruits of their labor and may even result in some great ideas for the future.

If you’ve got a few extra minutes now or over the holiday break and want to learn how we can give your college or university enrollment team an INCREDIBLE EDGE with recruits, click the links below!

Admissions Recruiting Advantage Program

On-Campus Training Workshops

How to Argue the Correct Way With Your Next RecruitMonday, December 21st, 2015

Because it really seems like an “argument”, doesn’t it?

Where your campus is located is so vastly superior to the two other schools your recruit is looking at, the choice would seem obvious. And so you try to convince them that they should see it your way.

Also, that new U.S. News campus ranking: Your campus just got ranked 49th, while the other school she’s considering came in at a paltry 88th. It’s not even close, so the choice (again) should be obvious.

And the fact that your prospect could start in your program as a Freshman…well, shouldn’t that seal the deal? In your mind it does, right?

Here’s why it’s hard to make that case successfully:

First of all, college coaches we’ve seen attempt it try to do so quickly, at the start of the recruiting process, and condense their argument in one or two long, detail-filled messages. As we’ve talked about before, that’s not the right way to approach this generation of recruit if you want their attention, and gain their trust.

Secondly, you’re essentially bullying them into trying to get them to believe that your point of view is the right one. Your school’s ranking is higher, they could start as a Freshman, and where you’re located is amazing. What’s not to love, right? And so you begin to convince them of how you see the world, and that that your point of view should be their point of view as well.

The problem is, your point of view may not match their point of view.

Marketing author and expert Seth Godin makes the point that “to many people, it feels manipulative or insincere or even morally wrong to momentarily take the other person’s point of view when trying to advance an argument that we already believe in. And that’s one reason why so many people claim to not like engaging in marketing. Marketing is the empathetic act of telling a story that works, that’s true for the person hearing it, that stands up to scrutiny. But marketing is not about merely sharing what you, the marketer believes. It’s about what we, the listener, believe.”

Let’s use the example of your prospect being able to start as a Freshman in your program. You, as an intelligent college coach who has the perspective of a successful playing career under your belt, see this as being a huge selling point to your prospect. Being able to start all four years of school?  Who wouldn’t want that, right?

And yet when we conduct our focus group interviews when beginning work with a new client, or conducting one of our On-Campus Workshops for an athletic department, we find that the majority of athletes you recruit actually are nervous about the idea of starting right away and having the pressure to perform on their shoulders. The ‘safer’ worldview for them? No pressure at the start, get used to the team, and ease into a role where they’ll be able to succeed.  How many times have you seen one of your talented prospects opt not to compete immediately for you, and instead choose a school where they’ll probably have to sit on the bench for a year or two?  For many athletes – even the great ones – that’s the more appealing option.

What I’m saying is that you “convincing” them that your world view is the correct one isn’t going to be easy, especially if you don’t take a patient, consistent approach to the whole thing. They aren’t looking to be convinced, they’re looking to be listened to. It’s true in politics, and it’s true in recruiting.

As Godin observes, “Even when people making an argument know this, they don’t like making an argument that appeals to the other person’s alternative worldview.” Why? It’s harder, it takes more time, and requires a more organized thought pattern. For many coaches, that’s a tough trifecta to overcome.

If you accept this idea to have merit, it may require two key changes in thinking for you and your coaching staff:

  • You will need to commit to developing a long term, consistent approach to telling your story and developing communication that is focused on creating a conversation, rather than relying on the brilliance of your logical argument to sway the minds of your prospect.
  • You will need to ask more questions, and use your recruit’s answers to develop an individual strategy for communicating with that specific recruit.

Let’s go back to the example of the opportunity for a prospect to start for you as a Freshman, rather than sit on the bench for a year or so at another program. Knowing now that she might be tempted to play it safe and choose that other option, you might want to ask her questions that get to the center of her worldview:

“If you play for the other program, you probably wouldn’t be able to play right away. Tell me why you’re thinking this might be o.k. for you?”

“What is it about starting right away for a college program that might seem a little intimidating for you? What worries you or makes you nervous when you picture that in your mind?”

“Walk me through the pros and cons of playing right away for a program.”

Those three sample questions aren’t trying to “sell” a prospect on doing it your way. They are questions designed to find out what your recruit’s view is, so that you can then adapt your argument to fit that view.

(This is also very much the same concept of “collaborating versus negotiating” that we’ve discussed before. It’s always much more effective to come alongside a prospect, instead of sit across a table and negotiate with them over a point of view).

This idea is something that requires a wholesale philosophical change in the way that a recruiting message is structured. That’s why most coaches who read this won’t do it; it’s always going to be more expedient to just sell, sell, sell and let the chips fall where they may.

That’s the challenge for serious college coaches:

Invest the time in creating a smarter, more effective approach, or continuing with an old style of recruiting that requires your recruit to quickly buying what you’re selling.

 

Overcoming Coaching Obstacles – A Must Have ResourceMonday, December 21st, 2015

by Mike Davenport, CoachingSportsToday.com

It’s a busy time of year. Your to-do list is overflowing. Let me get right to the point — by hook or by crook go read this book.

Here’s Why

The nature of coaching is obstacles. Identifying and overcoming them. That’s what we do. What we teach others to do.

  • 10 seconds left and you need the ball – obstacle
  • 1 week to get 3 recruits for next year’s class – obstacle
  • Practice ends at 6:00 pm, your son needs a ride to the doctor at 5:00 pm – obstacle
  • A bus costs $750 but your budget only has $109 – obstacle
  • You love coaching but you can’t pay your bills – obstacle

The list is endless.

Also endless is the supply of books, videos, podcasts about being successful. However, there are few, if any, resources on turning an obstacle into an advantage. That’s what The Obstacle Is The Way Does.

The author Ryan Holiday writes:

This thing in front of you. This issue. This obstacle—this frustrating, unfortunate, problematic, unexpected problem preventing you from doing what you want to do. That thing you dread or secretly hope will never happen. What if it wasn’t so bad? What if embedded inside it or inherent in it were certain benefits—benefits only for you? What would you do? What do you think most people would do?

Using the philosophy of Stoics as a lever, Holiday shows how to take an obstacle, and make it an advantage.

The Obstacle Is The Way is becoming mandatory reading in the sports world. It’s on the required reading list for multiple NFL coaches and entire teams. Entrepreneur magazine noted it should be on everyone’s holiday book list. And Sports Illustrated did an article on it in the recent December 8th issue.

Holiday has a knack of helping the reading grasp the issue:

Every obstacle is unique to each of us. But the responses they elicit are the same: Fear. Frustration. Confusion. Helplessness. Depression. Anger. … On the other hand, not everyone is paralyzed. We watch in awe as some seem to turn those very obstacles, which stymie us, into launching pads for themselves. How do they do that? What’s the secret?

But Holiday goes further than theory —detailing how to process and overcome obstacles. Everywhere you turn in coaching, there is an obstacle. Which means everywhere you turn is an advantage, an opportunity, a chance to:

  • Shine
  • Make a difference
  • Learn about yourself
  • Do the impossible
  • Take unexpected action

As Holiday writes:

So the first step is: Take the bat off your shoulder and give it a swing. You’ve got to start, to go anywhere. Now let’s say you’ve already done that. Fantastic. You’re already ahead of most people. But let’s ask an honest question: Could you be doing more? You probably could—there’s always more. At minimum, you could be trying harder. You might have gotten started, but your full effort isn’t in it—and that shows.

Action You Can (and gosh darn it, you should) Take

Do something nice (and wise) for yourself this season, or share the love with someone else. Whether you get a print, digital, or audio copy of The Obstacle Is The Way (affiliate link), borrow it from your local library (prepare for a wait), or heist your pal’s copy (please don’t tell him it was my idea) — get and consume a copy. You WILL be a better coach, athlete, person because of it.

I hope you find joy and peace during these next few weeks. You deserve it, and I look forward to connecting again in 2016.

Coach well, be well. We need ya!

-Mike

 

Slow Down To Go FasterMonday, December 21st, 2015

by Mandy Green, Coaching Productivity Strategies

I was listening to Darren Hardy, who is the editor of Success magazine, on the Darren Daily emails that I got a few weeks ago and it made me think of how college coaches work in the office.

The study he shared had a valuable lesson for us as coaches.

In the 1980s psychologist Mickey Chi investigated what caused individuals to succeed or fail in a difficult problem-solving and high pressure situation. She gave a basic set of physics problems to Ph.D. students and then the same set of questions to undergrad students who had only completed one semester of physics. Not surprisingly, the Ph.D. students performed much better than the undergrad students. The surprising finding was why. She found the success of the Ph.D. students came because of their approach.

The Ph.D. students took longer to get started solving the problem then the undergrads did. Before putting their pens to paper, the Ph.D.’s paused to think about the problem and the underlying principles. Once the Ph.D. students had a grasp of the problem they were able to solve the problem much quicker and more accurately. The undergrad students simply jumped into the problem without mulling it over and that caused them to get distracted and stressed over irrelevant details and then often directly caused them to create incorrect answers.

You see, too often we do the same thing and act like the undergrads in this study as coaches when we get into the office. We often walk into the office without a plan, just sit down and start working. We work and work and are busy jumping from one thing to the next, but we leave the day feeling like we didn’t get any significant work done to build our programs. We see a problem and jump right into it without much planning or thought before engaging. Then we find ourselves overwhelmed and stressed and distracted by irrrelevant details which causes us to deliver poor performances in almost every thing that we do.

Your performance as a coach will go up, significantly in fact, when you just slow down. Before you jump into something, take a few seconds to think about the desired objective that you want and how you want to perform before engaging in the activity. This could be a 30 second mental mulling over, or a 30 minute planning session depending on the importance of the engagement.

Here are a few examples of situations where your performance will improve when you take a little extra time upfront-

    • Have a clear objective before you pick up the phone and start a phone call.
    • Decide on your agenda before you start a meeting
    • Think before mindlessly sending off a quick response to an email
    • Before entering a room with your team, think about how you want to show up and engage with them.
    • Design a plan for each day

In order to go faster with the development of your team and recruiting, sometimes you need to slow down to speed up.

As a thank you for readying my articles in Dan’s newsletter, in an effort to set you up to have your most productive and least chaotic year ever, I’d like to offer you a free 30 minute productivity consultation.  Email me at mandy@mandygreencps.com to get your session set up. To get more awesome collegiate specific productivity advice, go to www.mandygreencps.com and opt-in.  

 Mandy Green has been a College Soccer Coach for over 17 years now and has created a company called Coaching Productivity Strategies. She helps coaches change how they are working in the office by developing the disciplines of time management.  She teaches practical and immediately usable ideas, methods, strategies, and techniques that will help make your coaching and recruiting life much less chaotic. When you learn and apply these powerful, practical techniques, you will dramatically improve the quality of your life in every area. The Green Time Management System for College Coaches is a complete blueprint to helping you take control of your day with research of proven time and energy management methods that you can apply in your career, to recruiting, and to your personal life. For more information, contact mandy@mandygreencps.com or visit www.mandygreencps.com.

 

Read This Before You Text Your RecruitsTuesday, December 15th, 2015

by Jeremy Tiers, Director of Admissions Services

Texting. It’s been a hot topic lately during calls with both clients and other admissions leaders.  Many of the counselors that I’ve spoken with lately continue to get reports from prospects that they’re receiving “recruiting texts” from competing institutions. Hold that thought for a minute.

Let’s begin with the facts. We all know that today’s teenagers use text messaging more than any other mode of communication. Well, why is that? Your prospects tell us in our surveys that they like short bursts of information that get to the point plus it’s convenient for them. When it comes to the college recruitment process, many say there’s “less pressure” texting than there is with a phone call. Your recruits also tell us that phone calls with admissions counselors, too many of which are unexpected and not planned in advance, distract them from what they’re doing and always seem to take longer than promised.

It’s easy then to assume that text messaging might just be the answer to your phone call problems with recruits. In the words of Lee Corso, “Not so fast, my friend!” Teenagers haven’t abandoned phone calls (nor should you). “Text messages are cool, but kind of impersonal. I prefer phone calls because the conversation moves faster and there’s less misunderstanding.” That recent quote is one of many that still pop up all the time on our recruiting surveys. Want more proof? A recent Pew Research Center survey of teenagers finds that phone calls are an important way that teens connect, particularly with their closest friends.

So, where do you go from here? There’s no doubt that texting has a place in today’s recruiting communication flow. Let me start by telling you that our latest research with students says both emails and phone calls rank one and two as preferred methods of communication with admissions. The gap, however, between text messages and phone calls has closed significantly.

Now I want to circle back to the beginning of this article (where I asked you to hold that thought). Understandably, counselors are calling and emailing to ask if they should be sending text messages that contain recruiting content.

The short answer is NO. I want you to resist the temptation to recruit via text message.

Let me define what I mean by “recruit”:

  • Giving your prospect facts and information about your college or university
  • Giving your prospect any kind of “sales message” about your school
  • Making the text message look and sound like one of your regular recruiting emails or letters

Under no circumstances should your text messaging with a prospect include anything that would remotely look or sound like one of those three bullet points. Spread that word to your colleagues in the office, but let your competitors keep doing it (because believe me many of them are).

Text messaging isn’t used to “sell,” it’s used to communicate and hold conversations.

If you want to utilize texting the “right way,” which is the way that your prospects want you to use it, here are three things you need to keep in mind:

  • You should ALWAYS ask your prospect for permission before sending him or her a text. Many will be okay with it, but there will be some who tell you not to. Never assume.
  • Text messaging should be used to casually communicate back and forth during the recruiting process. Be concise and specific. Sending reminders, for example, is effective. “Most students from this generation would rather receive a quick text reminding them of something rather than a phone call.” That’s another direct quote from a recent recruiting survey with a client of ours. These could include, but aren’t limited to, reminding them of your upcoming visit to their high school, a visit to your campus, or a deadline reminder.
  • Your wording and sentence structure matters. You need to make it easy for your prospect to actually reply to your text message. If that doesn’t happen, it might mean that you aren’t “sounding” like you’re easy to talk to, which you need to be with this generation.

Again, let me be clear. Texting is not a “one size fits all.” For many of your prospects in this current recruiting class it will be a great way to reach and engage them if you go about it the right way. Remember, though, just because your prospect gives you the green light to text doesn’t mean you can or should eliminate phone calls with him or her.

I want you to be the admissions counselor that knows how to effectively use every single communication platform to your advantage. Good luck!

Did you know that our team of experts at Tudor Collegiate Strategies gives our clients an incredible competitive edge when it comes to getting the attention of, and communicating with, their prospects? It’s true. This in turn leads to measurable increases in YIELD. Email me at jeremy@dantudor.com to have a conversation about how we can do that for your institution.

Set Up Your Assistants To Be SuccessfulMonday, December 14th, 2015

by Mandy Green, Coaching Productivity Strategies

A few weekends ago, I spoke at the NCRC about email management. I had a lot of coaches come up to me afterwards and say that one of the biggest points they took away is how they can help their assistants be more productive during the day.

To be blunt, most assistants are at the mercy of doing what their head coaches need them to do. For the most part, when an email gets sent, or they stop by because something needs to get done, it is expected (depending on the coach) that the assistant stops what they are doing, and gets after what the head coach needs done immediately.

And if you’re like most assistant coaches, not only do you have to deal with the head coach, you get a dozen other little interruptions every hour; new emails pertaining to other responsibilities you have coming in, phone calls, text messages, etc. If you do the math for these poor assistants, they literally can’t focus on one thing for more than 5 minutes.

There is just no way that a head coach can expect their assistants to get everything they are expected to do done, when they are constantly being interrupted.

Many assistants will speak up if they need a faster computer, or a better software system, or for other “hardware” things like that. But what coaches have told me, especially young assistants, is that they are not comfortable sitting down and telling their boss that they need more quiet time to work, or they are having a hard time working because they are constantly getting interrupted, or that they hate when you accumulate a week’s worth of recruiting emails at a time and then forward a them all at once, etc.

Today I want to talk to you about 4 different changes you can make to help your staff be more productive.

Process ALL of your email every day

The point for coaches I made at the conference was that you should try to get to zero emails in your inbox every day. That means that you have to process every email that comes through your inbox by forwarding it, responding to it, filing it, deleting it, or deferring it. It is distracting and unproductive to have a lot of unread emails cluttering up your inbox. Plus you waste a lot of time reading the same emails over and over again.

How to help your assistants: when a head coach “saves up” over the course of the week and then sends all recruiting emails at once to the recruiting coordinator, according to the coaches I have interviewed about how they deal with their email, it is very overwhelming. Instead of sending 40 recruiting emails all at once, process your email everyday so you can send all recruiting emails in smaller more manageable chunks.

Establish set times for checking email 

The point for coaches I made at the conference is that instead of checking your email as the notifications come up every few minutes, set aside specific chunks of time each day that you dedicate to checking and responding to email. For example, you could check it for 30-minutes in the morning, for 30 minutes right after lunch, and then another 30 at the end of the day. You’ll be amazed how much email you’ll be able to process and answer when you’re solely focused on the task.

How to help your assistants-If you are only checking email two or three times during the day, you eliminate the need to ping your assistants with new messages every 5 minutes. By doing this, you are giving your assistants larger chunks of uninterrupted time to get more work done.

I got this great email from a coach after the conference about this point.

Thanks for this! While I generally think I tackle my inbox pretty well and don’t get overwhelmed I pulled some great tips for myself in regards to limiting the “rolling email forward chain” that I was doing to my assistants for recruits and now limit it to morning forward chunk and after lunch forward chunk, which they have already said THANK YOU! to and it’s only been one day!!

 – Elizabeth Robertshaw, Boston University Lacrosse

Are you allowing your assistants time to concentrate? Are you guilty of always stopping by for impromptu conversations rather than scheduling regular one-on-ones? Have you discouraged your staff from blocking off quiet work periods on their calendars, telling them instead to be accessible to each other at all times? If so, you might be impeding your staff’s productivity. While coaches you work with of course need to be accessible and you don’t want to ban spontaneous conversations, coaching is a profession I believe where you need to balance that against your assistants’ need to focus. If you’re constantly interrupting their workflow or insisting that others be allowed to, their inability to deeply focus will be reflected in your team’s output.

Ask your staff what they need to do their jobs better

You might think that you already know what your team’s needs are – but you might be surprised by what you’d find out if you asked.

The best meeting you may ever have with your staff is when you just sit and listen to what your staff needs. Think 80/20. Head coach ask questions and talks only 20% of the time, assistant coaches will run the conversation and talk 80% of the time.

I am working with a few programs right now and actually was there and sat everybody down to work through this. Holy cow was this eye opening for the head coach. This meeting started slow because the assistants were shy about speaking out, but once they got going and were able to finally share what they needed to be more productive with their head coach, the meetings went really well. Everybody left excited because they felt like they were going to be able to get more work done and even possibly shorten their work day.

 

Smarter CoachingMonday, December 14th, 2015


 

 

 

 

by Mike Davenport, CoachingSportsToday.com

I passed her in the hall. She was crying. I asked her what was going on. Was she okay? She responded, “I don’t know what I’m doing. Coaching is pure craziness.

Later, when we talked, she spilled her frustrations on the table. “I’m a smart person. There’s just so much stuff about coaching I don’t know.”

I’ve come to learn that a LOT of us coaches are struggling with getting better. Coaching sports mean learning as you go. Few colleges offer a coaching degree, and coaching education exists in a vacuum. Most new college coaches come to coaching armed with background as an athlete in the sport, not as a coach. Some coaches don’t even have the athlete background.

The Get Better Struggle

Two thing I’ve noticed when I struggle with my coaching. First, it’s difficult when things change rapidly in my world of coaching. For example, I had never experienced a “shelter in place” event, or a school lock down, in 35 years of coaching — but did so last month. An entire college locked down and then ultimately closed for days is something I wasn’t prepared for. Two weeks later, my son, a college sophomore at another college experienced a similar thing — twice in the same week.

Things change quickly. Dang quick.

Second, today’s coaches need a lot of knowledge about a lot of things. There is so much to learn.

What I find interesting is coaches know they need to be quick and smart. And a lot of coaches know (including myself) that we need to constantly improve. In my recent survey which dozens and dozens of coaches have taken (you can take it right here) 67% of coaches indicated that professional and personal improvement are areas they are working on in 2016.

However, the path of getting smarter as a coach — developing professionally — is a dark path that few travel easily.

Architect Your Learning

Improving as a coach is a tricky thing. It takes desire, focus, resources. And a plan. I call my plan Coach You. Let’s drill down on how a Coach You plan might work for you:

A) HOW DO I KNOW WHAT TO IMPROVE?

Try this … look at what you are worried about. What’s waking you up at 3:37 am? Or what have you messed up this season/year. Or what question was a stumper (“Yo Coach, why do we always do this this way?“)?

That’s one perspective, and another would be to focus on the things you’re doing well. Maybe there’s something you’re acing you can expand upon or branch out on — or even teach.

B) WHAT SHOULD I LEARN ABOUT? 

Here’s a few things that come quickly to mind:

  • physiology
  • relationship building
  • fundraising
  • time control
  • recruiting
  • money management
  • mechanics about your sport
  • networking – how to do it and get the most from it
  • retention
  • fine tuning your vision
  • getting and keeping people’s attention
  • leadership
  • creating a culture

Actually, the list is endless. Maybe the very first area to focus on would be how to create and tell your story. So many things can build off that. Here’s a resource to get some perspective.

C) MY BOSS SAYS I NEED TO DO A BETTER JOB.

Fine. That means she is watching and at some level is caring about your development. Get the specifics from her — what needs to improve? Then ask said boss how she suggests you could improve, and if she has resources to help you get better.

D) WHAT IF I WANT TO IMPROVE IN ONE THING BUT NEED TO IMPROVE ON SOMETHING DIFFERENT?

You have to go with the need first, want second. I want a donut because its fun to eat but I need water to survive. Water first, donut later.

E) I WIN MORE GAMES THAN ANYONE AROUND ME, WHY SHOULD I GET BETTER?

What I hear you say is, “I don’t WANT to get better.” The fact is you NEED to get better. We just talked about that. The world around you is changing quickly — you have to stay current or become irrelevant.

Here’s something to consider — as a coach you ask those around you to get better every day. Shouldn’t you do the same? Are you really that special/smart/gifted/omnipresent? What would you say to one of your athletes if they waved you off and said, “Coach, I’m good, why should I practice?” Hm.

F) I DON’T HAVE ANY TIME FOR IMPROVEMENT!

That’s an easy trap to fall into. A Coach You plan could be as simple as 10 minutes a day. Think about it — 10 minutes every day over the course of a year and you have invested 52 hours in getting better. And that’s with Sunday’s off.

G) I’M PERFECT THE WAY I AM — I DON’T NEED TO IMPROVE.

Hey, that works. Let us know how your next profession goes.

H) I DON’T HAVE ANY MONEY TO START COACHING MYSELF.

Fair enough. Holidays are coming up — ask for a coaching book. When’s your birthday? Does your organization set aside any money for professional development? And if not, WHY not? Maybe you could get that ball rolling.

Also, there’s so much free stuff online — you can get a heck of an education for free. Lack of money is a lame excuse when it comes to getting smarter.

I) I COACHED MYSELF FOR 3 WEEKS, THEN I STOPPED.

You need to make it a habit, like brushing your teeth. Ten minutes a day. See F. It all comes down to taking action — which isn’t easy today with all the distractions rambling around. Regardless, to get better, action is required, so make it a habit.

An improvement-buddy might help — someone committed to the same process. Peer pressure can be a powerful tool. Use it.

J) HOW LONG WILL IT TAKE?

Well … how long do you plan to stay in coaching? That’s how long you should Coach You.

K) HOW SHOULD I LEARN?

What works best for you? There are a wealth of learning styles and the one that works for you is the one you’ll enjoy and stick with. So, which style is it?

L) I LIKE BOOKS.

Super duper — there’s a ton a great books out there. Too many maybe, but not if you drill down on your topic. Here are 5 of my favorite:

  1. Habits
  2. InSideOut Coaching
  3. Positive Coaching
  4. Verbal Judo
  5. Championship Culture

You can find many more I like by clicking here.

M) I LIKE PODCASTS.

Super duper again — I listen to dozens. Podcasts, like listening to radio, are great playing in the background. I listen to mine while I walk or drive, and scribble notes like crazy. Here are 5 of my favorites:

  1. SportCoachRadio
  2. The James Altucher Show
  3. The Owners Mind with Chris Brogan
  4. ProBlogger
  5. Six Pixels of Separation
N) I LIKE TO READ ONLINE.

That’ll work. Here are five of my favorite web destinations for info I use in my coaching:

  1. Seth Godin
  2. Sports Coach Brain
  3. Kottke
  4. Zen Habits
  5. xkcd

I guess I’m one of the few folks who still uses RSS. I have the latest posts from these folks sent to my phone. I use the app Feedly, and scan through the articles each day. The ones I like I save to Pocket … and often share here.

O) I DON’T LIKE ANY OF THOSE METHODS OF LEARNING. ARE THERE OTHERS?

Sure. How about a mentor? Or watching other coaches during practices and games. Or you could record yourself at a practice (voice recorder slid into your pocket could work) and learn a lot from that. What other ideas can you come up with? Here’s 21 ways you may want to consider.

P) WHO SHOULD I LEARN FROM?

People:

  • who are smarter than you
  • who have done what you want to do
  • who can explain things clearly
  • who give a hoot

Action You Can (and should) Take

The gal I started this article with … she threw herself into becoming the best version of herself possible. She bought into a Coach You program, and went on to a long and fun coaching career.

You’re next — Coach You. You’re too special a person not to.

-Mike

PS. This topic of self-improvement is at the core of my kindle-series Hack Your Coaching. I plan to launch 6 books in 2016 which focus on helping YOU get more from YOUR coaching. You can find the first one here.

I’ve Got a Recruiting Secret I Need to Share With YouTuesday, December 8th, 2015

by Jeremy Tiers, Director of Admissions Services

Have you ever asked yourself, “What are my recruits thinking after they read that latest recruiting letter or email from us?” It’s an important question, and quite frankly in today’s recruiting environment, you can’t afford not to ask it.

During our ongoing research with students, we ask them to offer feedback about the communications they receive from colleges. I’m guessing you want to know what their answers are, right? Here are two recent responses:

  • “Create an outreach that is personal. Not just generic messages that are sent to 1,000s of students.”
  • “We get hundreds of emails during senior year. Make it shorter and actually interesting because everything sounds the same and we get distracted easily.”

Both of these responses echoed sentiments that we hear quite frequently. So today I’m going to add another job responsibility to your title:  expert recruiting message writer.

It’s not an option any longer.  If you don’t create great letters and emails, you risk not only losing the attention of your prospect but also not having the opportunity to start a relationship with them at all.

So, how can you craft messaging that is personal yet distributed to the masses and still generates a high level of responses from your prospects? Hint: Putting your recruit’s name at the top of the letter or email isn’t the answer. That kind of personalization will get your prospect’s attention at first, but when they see the same letter with a different name on it at their friend’s house or on a classmate’s social media page, the novelty will wear off.

Over the years, our team of experts has developed some tricks and techniques that help us to break through that occasional writer’s block hurdle. There’s one secret in particular that I want to share with you today: Forget the rules.

You heard me correctly. I want you to forget the rules – the writing rules that is. Believe it or not, all of those letter-writing rules you’ve learned over the years are preventing many of you from truly connecting with this current class of recruits.

Instead of worrying about the rules you learned in high school and college, I want you to focus on your prospect while also recalling how a typical conversation plays out when you’re in the company of friends. Think, “If I were in a room with (insert your recruit’s name) and needed to get his/her attention, engage him/her, and present reasons why he/she should attend (insert your school’s name), what would I say?” Then let the conversation flow naturally out of your fingers to the keyboard or to your pen as if you were talking to them one-on-one.  Less formal and more conversational. That’s the key.

For some of you reading this article, the strategy of forgetting the writing rules will be hard. I mean really hard…to the point where it might even be a non-starter because you’re afraid the end result will look “funny,” or not sound academic/professional enough.

Every now and then we have new clients who express those same concerns after they receive their first set of custom recruiting messages from us. The tone of the message is different than they’re used to, and seeing a sentence begin with the word “and” or “but” causes them to worry. About a week or two later I’ll get an email from the school’s director telling me everything worked out just fine. The counselors are getting a lot of responses and in many cases having conversations where prospects tell them exactly what their top priorities are.

Every admissions team wants a competitive edge when it comes to building relationships with their prospects. Changing the language and tone of your letters and emails can yield the results you’re looking for.

Different works.

Do you want another effective selling technique that you can use right now in your recruiting communications? Simply email me at jeremy@dantudor.com with the subject line “I want more.”

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