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If Your Prospect Picks Another School, Here’s What You Should DoTuesday, April 26th, 2016

by Jeremy Tiers, Director of Admissions Services

It’s happening right now to admissions counselors across the country: admitted students are saying thanks but no thanks to a school’s offer of admission. What’s even worse is some of those “no’s” are coming from recruits that many of you probably had penciled in as “yeses.”

The reasons will vary. Some will be legitimate, and some will make absolutely no sense whatsoever.

For most of you losing a recruit to another school should not signal gloom. I phrase it that way because if your no’s start to equal or out-number your yeses, I strongly encourage you to self-evaluate and discover why your recruiting efforts are failing. If you need help correcting bad habits or mastering closing techniques, feel free to reach out to me via email.

Today I want to focus on what to do next when your undecided admits pick another school. Handling this situation effectively is something that separates an average recruiter from a great recruiter.

Here are four simple tips to help you deal with rejection from your prospect:

  1. Don’t overreact. Sounds easy enough, right? If only that were the case. You just spent months, or in some cases even longer, cultivating a relationship with the recruit and their parents, and in an instant, all your hard work goes out the window. Combine that with fatigue and stress about yield, and it’s easy to see how a negative response from a prospect could become the tipping point for some counselors. Take a deep breath and exhale before responding to their email. If you get the bad news during a phone call, try hard not to change your tone and become bitter and combative with the already nervous teenager on the other end of the line.
  2. Respond gracefully (because doing so can lead to future “yeses”). When a prospect chooses another school send them a personal note wishing them well. Why, you ask? For starters very few counselors actually do this, so it will leave a lasting impression. “But Jeremy they picked a different school so that doesn’t matter at this point.” Oh, but it does! That kind of professionalism will pay dividends down the road when others around that prospect or their parents ask about your institution and the overall experience that they received from you. This goes back to one of my personal pillars of successful recruiting – Who’s recruiting for you, when you’re not recruiting. Think about that for a minute.
  3. Ask them WHY. Successful people in any line of work learn from their mistakes. Instead of trying to end the conversation abruptly when a recruit tells you they chose a different place to spend the next four years, use this as a learning opportunity. Ask them why they chose a different school, listen carefully to their answer, and thank them for their honesty. Your goal is not to try and change their mind (although we’ve seen it happen before) but simply to learn. What most counselors tell us they find is there was an objection left unanswered, or the school the student chose did a better job of consistently communicating with them during the process. Once you learn to overcome objections in particular you’ll find that recruiting gets a whole lot easier and more enjoyable. If you’re hearing the same objection or complaint from several prospects, it’s time to make some changes and come up with a new strategy. By doing so, I’m confident you’ll find that you get fewer “no’s” and more “yeses.”
  4. Never let rejection get you down.  Counselors, specifically less experienced ones, tend to get down on themselves when a prospect rejects their school’s offer.  Many develop a negative attitude and begin dreading the recruiting process.  Remember, they’re not rejecting you personally, they’re rejecting your school’s offer.  There’s a difference.  Don’t beat yourself up, and don’t lose your optimism.  Maintaining your confidence and belief in your ability in the face of rejection is key to future success.

It’s getting late in the recruiting year.  Are the results what you expected?  More importantly, are the results what you want and need?  If the answer is “no”, then let us explain what our Admissions Recruiting Advantage program is all about.  Here’s what to do…email me at jeremy@dantudor.com so we can arrange a time to show you what other admissions departments have already discovered.

Why You (and Your Recruits) Give In to the Fear FactorMonday, April 25th, 2016

Marketers know the rule.

So do politicians, drug manufacturers, and companies that sell gold.

We, the buying public, will make a buying decision based on the fear of something bad happening before we’ll decide to do something based on the possibility of a good outcome.

How often? Studies suggest it’s as high as six out of seven times.

We are prone to expect the worst, and plan our actions accordingly. And if we do it as adult consumers when we’re out shopping for an insurance policy, doesn’t it make sense that your prospects would be inclined to make their decisions the same way?

And yet, the majority of coaches feel the need to only focus on the positive. Tell the recruit what they want to hear, how great they’ll be as a part of their team, and how wonderful your college is.

Don’t get me wrong, there is a place for that. A big place. Heck, when we create messaging plans and recruiting strategies for our clients much of them revolve around the positive reasons a recruit would want to choose their programs, and college. You may do the same thing with your messaging, as well…there’s a place for it, and a compelling story is needed for this generation of recruits in order to feel good about making a decision.

I’m not suggesting you give that up. Not at all.

But if you want to take a more serious, more realistic approach to recruiting, you’d better start planning for your prospect’s “fear factor”.

This generation, more than any recent generation that has been studied, is ‘scared’ of making the wrong decision.

So, what specifically do you need to be aware of when you’re taking a prospect through the decision-making process? It’s not an exhaustive list, but here are five things we’ve seen trending around the country when it comes to things that your prospects are fearful of as you do your best to choose you and your program:

  1. They get a little scared when you tell them that they’re going to be the new go-to player on the team. I know that isn’t the case with every recruit, but even many your top kids are feeling the pressure when you talk about how great they are and over-hype what their experience could be like. Tread carefully here, Coach. I’ve personally heard dozens of stories from recruits who point to the idea of being the center of attention on a team as the main reason they ended up declining the offer from that coach. We find that most athletes hesitate at the idea of owning the spotlight right when they step on campus, so be aware of that “fearful fact” with many of the prospects you’re talking to, Coach.
  2. They get a little scared of returning your email or direct message. It’s one of the most overlooked aspects of a recruiting conversation. Coaches email and return messages all day long, and it requires no great effort or thought. Your prospects, on the other hand, hesitate at returning your message. It’s intimidating. That’s why the structure, tone and direction in your message is critically important – IF you want to get a reply.
  3. They get a little scared of workouts during a recruiting trip. That doesn’t happen on every recruiting trip, of course. And it’s irrelevant in some sports that don’t make a workout with the team a regular part of a recruiting visit on campus. However, if it does apply to you, just remember that a workout with the team, or playing pick-up, or any kind of athletic competition, can cause a lot of anxiety for your prospect. It’s the age difference…many times, those situations pair a young prospect with older, more experienced athletes. Your prospects won’t usually say anything to you about them being uncomfortable in that situation, but they report it back to us as one of their least favorite parts of a campus visit.
  4. They get a little scared to give you honest feedback. That workout that they didn’t really like, and made them a little uncomfortable and a little intimidated? They won’t say a thing about it to you. Why? Because this generation of recruit doesn’t want to risk offending you, or having you confront them. In general, they are “pleasers”. So as you take them through the recruiting process, here’s my advice: Assume that they aren’t telling you everything (mostly because they rarely do). One of your primary jobs as a recruiter is to extract actionable information from your prospect on how he or she is making their decision, and what aspects of your campus and program they either like or don’t like.
  5. They get a little scared when they don’t know what to do at the end. If you haven’t explained why you like them, how they fit into your specific plans once they arrive on campus, and haven’t been asked to commit to your program, it causes paralysis. They don’t know what to do next. (If you’re dealing with recruits who aren’t moving in the right direction, I would bet that it’s something related to one or more of those three key end-of-recruiting landmarks that your prospects are looking to.

Your job as a recruiter is to make sure you are exactly sure, throughout the process, that their questions are getting answered and their fears are being calmed. If you don’t, expect the process to drag on longer than you want it to…or even end with a less than desirable outcome.

Learning the finer points of advanced recruiting is easy. Attend the upcoming National Collegiate Recruiting Conference! It’s a weekend full of learning, and incredible networking with fellow coaches from all over the country. Click here to reserve your seat to this investment in your coaching career!

My 4 Favorite Productivity Tips I Learned From Brian TracyMonday, April 25th, 2016

by Mandy Green, Coaching Productivity Strategies

When I first started out on my journey of finding better ways to be more effective and efficient in the office as a coach, one of the productivity experts that I studied a lot was Brian Tracy.

Brian Tracy is one of America’s leading authorities on the enhancement of personal effectiveness, leadership, time management, goals, motivation, and success.

Brian’s stuff spoke to me.  It was so simple and incredibly applicable to everything we do as college coaches.

I really have gotten 100’s of amazing productivity tips from Brian Tracy, but here are four of my favorites:

1.  Be open to new ideas. Because I was so overwhelmed with work, I made the mistake when I first got into coaching 17 years ago of thinking that I had no time to learn about time management or even maybe that I already knew everything I needed to know.  I knew that the way I was working wasn’t working, so opening up to new productivity ideas and then applying them has been a game changer for how I now am able to get work done in the office.

2.  Develop a plan. Tracy is always saying that successful men and women are both effective and efficient. They do the right things, and they do them in the right way. They are constantly looking for ways to improve the quality and quantity of their output. Develop a plan, then decide what is the most important thing to do, and then decide how to do it.  Love it. This piece of advice was instrumental in me developing my Green Time Management System for Coaches.

3.  Set priorities. As a coach, we will never have enough time to do everything that needs to be done, so we must choose.  Tracy’s advice on this is that you must continually set priorities on your activities. He wants you to constantly be asking yourself, what is the most valuable use of my time right now?

4.  Start with your top tasks. The natural tendency is to spend a lot of valuable time clearing up smaller and easier things first. Tracy believe though that the self-discipline of organizing your work and focusing on your highest-value tasks is the starting point of getting your time under control and lowering your stress levels.

Another great tip from Tracy is that If you want to be a big success in any area, find out what other successful people in that area are doing—and do the same things until you get the same results.  Brian Tracy has been one of the many successful people that I have studied on time management principals.

If you are interested in seeing how I have taken what all of the successful experts on time management out there have done with the business world and see how I have applied it to what we do as college coaches, for now until my new website is up and running in a few weeks, go to www.mandygreencps.com.  If you want more productivity advice delivered into your inbox every few weeks, sign up for my free newsletter!  Have a great week!

Digital Angel or Digital Devil?Monday, April 25th, 2016

by Mike Davenport, CoachingSportsToday.com

There comes a time when I need to face the truth.

In this instance, there are three truths, digital truths, that I’m trying to process:

  1. Digital Truth #1: Digital is impacting coaches
  2. Digital Truth #2: Coaches adopt digital at different speeds
  3. Digital Truth #3: Screen sizes keep getting smaller

Here is what has me scratching my head … there is a positive impact (Digital Angel) and a negative impact (Digital Devil) to each of these truths. And I’m trying to understand how this will work.

Truth #1: Digital is impacting coaches

In a recent survey of sport coaches, over 35% of them told me they were significantly concerned about the impact digital was having on their coaching.

04-24-16 - impact of digital on coaches

 

Yikes — all those coaches worried about data flying around, media that’s called social, and powerful phones in people’s pockets.

Are their concerns valid?

At the other end of the survey results, 31% of coaches told me that they were NOT worried about the impact of digital. AT ALL.

Are they ignoring reality?

Who is right? On my end, I see the Angel and the Devil:

  • Digital Angel: One day I was pumped about the value of sharing a race video I just recorded, through social media, to team members.
  • Digital Devil: The next day I spent hours trying to sort out a “social media dust up” between team members. At the end of the day I was ready to condemn all things electronic.
  • Digital Angel: A huge percentage of coaches report the impact of digital on their recruiting is positive (>70%)
  • Digital Devil: Everyday there is another story about a coach who runs into trouble due to digital, like this one.

See, there’s an Digital Angel and a Digital Devil sitting there. On a shoulder. Whisper confusing things.

Truth #2: Coaches adopt digital at different speeds

Almost half of coaches in my survey (44.1%) told me as soon as they know about a new digital thing they want to try it.

04-24-16 - coaches adopt digital

That’s crazy stuff. What are these coaches looking for? A recruiting advantage? Easing of workload? Distraction?

Yet, the other half yawned when new digital popped up. They said they don’t care about the new stuff..

So, half of coaches are early adopters (that’s me, actually I’m a super-early adopter), and the other half are late (if ever) adopters.

Angel and Devil again.

Truth #3: Screen size is getting smaller

Thanks to Moore’s Law, digital gadgets are shrinking and so is their cost. And this is leading to smaller screen sizes.

desktop => laptop => tablet => smartphone => smartwatch

I have a theory. Here’s the first part: “smaller screen size means devices are becoming more mobile.” It is so easy to stick the smartphone in your pocket or slip the smartwatch on your wrist and take the screen with you — everywhere.

Here’s the second part: “smaller screens lead to greater human contact which leads to greater use.” And, of course there is an Angel/Devil aspect here.

  • Digital Angel: quick communication is at arms length
  • Digital Devil: distracted coaching becomes a reality (how many times do you check during practices?)
  • Digital Angel: everyone has a smartphone
  • Digital Devil: a smartphone in plain view, even if off, changes conversations

The list goes on.

So What?

Does any of this matter?

Growing up, rock-n-roll was just becoming popular. The adults around me were split between how great it was, and it being a sign of our society’s demise. Angel/Devil.

Digital is part of our coaching world. There are smart/safe ways to use it. I doubt if we will see a lessening of it’s popularity. Knowing there is both a Digital Angel and Digital Devil might be helpful as I (and you) keep moving ahead.

6 Pointers for Creating Impactful Recruiting LettersTuesday, April 19th, 2016

by Jeremy Tiers, Director of Admissions Services

It’s the first thing my 6-year old daughter does when she gets off the school bus: She runs over to the mailbox to retrieve our mail.

This started about a year ago after she received a recruiting letter, of sorts. She had received mail before from her grandparents, but this time was different. It was a flashy envelope addressed specifically to her from the kids club at our local mall.

As we walked up the driveway, my daughter tore open the envelope. Inside was a letter with her name hand-written at the top, listing upcoming events that “members” could experience as well as other perks that came from joining the club. As she read me each bullet point the level of excitement in her voice increased! I’ll let you guess what we did 15 minutes later.

The same “feeling” that came over my daughter last spring showed up again earlier this month. Inside our mailbox was the latest edition of National Geographic for kids. Her grandparents had signed her up without telling her. After jumping up and down for a few minutes she ran inside and promptly began reading the magazine (out loud of course). Since that time she asks me every single day when the next magazine will arrive.

It’s that kind of excitement and those kinds of “feelings” that you should strive to create with prospective students when putting together your recruiting communications.

Direct mail is a vital part of any successful recruiting campaign. Despite advances in technology, your recruits continue to tell us that there’s no substitute for good old-fashioned letters:

“Letters in the mail are a really effective way to recruit students.”

“Letters are a lot better because they’re physical, but make them stand out and catch our eye so we don’t throw them away.”

Both of those quotes appeared in a recent focus group research survey we did prior to leading an on-campus admissions workshop. We see similar statements all the time in the surveys we conduct.

The bottom line is letters still matter to this generation of students. Emails can easily be deleted and text messages are sometimes ignored. Letters on the other hand are real, written proof that a prospect can hold in their hand and show others, confirming that they’re wanted.

Before I offer up some secrets to creating effective recruiting letters, I have a question for each of you. Have you ever asked yourself why you’re sending a recruiting letter? It’s an important question, and one that you need to raise. Yes it’s important for prospective students to learn more about your school.   More than anything though, each recruiting letter should be built to generate a response. When you get a response from your prospect it confirms they’re genuinely interested, and you now have a basis for future communications. This is particularly valuable during the early stages of the recruitment cycle.

Now, here are 6 pointers that you should follow if you want your recruiting letters to make a big impact.

  1. Most admissions departments and counselors start a recruiting letter with what we call a “warm up.” The first paragraph contains facts, figures, and a lot of “fluff.” I want you to get rid of the fluff. Studies have shown this generation of students doesn’t want this. If you choose to keep it, you risk them losing interest before you even get started.
  1. Your main objective in those first couple of sentences should be to grab their attention. That means formal and professional, which is what I’m guessing most of your messages currently are, isn’t going to be effective enough. You need to be more direct. Consider starting with a statement that’s short and to the point. It needs to be something that gets their attention and makes them want to read further.
  1. Visually your letter needs to be easy to read. Think about your reaction when you receive a lengthy email with all kinds of numbers and links from your boss. You’re in the middle of cleaning out your inbox and want to keep things moving along. How many times have you closed it and said, “I’ll read it later.” Do you want that same reaction from your prospects?
  1. When coming up with a list of things you want to highlight to your recruits, don’t forget to ask yourself why they will care about what you’re telling them. It has to matter to them; otherwise it won’t work.
  1. In the middle of your letter, it’s crucial that you continue to keep them hooked. This is where we see a lot of admissions departments struggle. They choose a topic and try to jam everything into one letter. That’s the wrong approach. Instead, your goal should be to give them no more than two or three pieces of information on a single topic at one time. Additional points regarding that same topic should be communicated over several weeks. The reason behind that is simple. Teenagers forget things quickly. Let’s use your school’s location as an example. If you present everything that makes it great all at once, it won’t resonate for very long.  Instead I want you to take a long-term approach, like we do with our clients when we assist them with message creation.  That way when you’re ready to move on to something else it will be clear to your prospect why your school’s location is perfect for them and why they should be excited about it.
  1. At the end of your letter think long and hard about what you want them to take away from it. Avoid being passive and saying something like, “If you or your parents have questions feel free to contact us.” That’s not effective. Instead, demand some type of action from them. If you want them to call or email you with specific information, tell them that, very clearly. Tell them when to call or let them know when to expect an email from you. Always set up the next communication.   Our research continues to confirm that your prospects want you to do that for them. If you don’t tell them what to do, don’t be surprised when they don’t respond.

If your recruiting letters aren’t generating a good response, we can help revamp them using proven techniques.  It will save you time and provide you and your team with an Admissions Recruiting Advantage.

Email me today at jeremy@dantudor.com for more information about how to get started.

Preventing Athletes From Making Mistakes on Social MediaMonday, April 18th, 2016

by Mike Davenport, CoachingSportsToday.com

I had a problem.

My oldest son, a college football player, was eating ALL the food in our house.

He ate everything. Every-single-crumb. Including stuff I cooked. (Even though I’m the son of a professional cook, my cooking skills have been classified as “lacking.”)

There was no stopping him:

  • Hiding food didn’t help — he found it.
  • Not buying food didn’t matter — we need to eat so WE need food.
  • Yelling at him didn’t matter — he had a teenager brain.
  • Locking the fridge would not have helped — it just wouldn’t.

We finally came up with several solutions:

  1. We bought inexpensive high-caloric food. Placed in the front of the fridge, he grazed on that before he found the good stuff behind it.
  2. We had him chip in money to help pay the food bill.
  3. We bought food that filled him up (I had no idea “super family size” even existed)

This kid was hungry. Often, I think that’s what social media is about.

How do I prevent athletes from making inappropriate posting on social media?

Today’s kids aren’t different than you and I were. They are hungry for attention, to be liked, to connect. Plus, they don’t want to miss out.

Social media, regardless of the app that’s hot today, helps feed those hungers. It is a way to get attention, to connect with friends, and to keep current with the latest happening.

That’s the good side.

The Flip Side

Of course, social media has a down side (more than one, some would say). My biggest issue with social media is that users don’t see the human response to their postings.

I think that causes most issues with social media and inappropriate postings.

Imagine for a moment. I come up to you, face to face, and say, “Hey, I know your momma gave you that shirt. I don’t like it. It makes you look dumb.”

Immediately I will see your response with my own eyes. Without you saying one word, I can tell by your expression, your eyes, your body english, that what I said was hurtful.

That doesn’t happen on social media.

I post something, but because of the digital-disconnect, I miss the human response. That distance opens the door for inappropriate comments.

And those inappropriate comments can have a wicked negative impact.

As a smart guy I work with says, “The internet is forever, and it’s unforgiving.”

So What’s A Coach To Do?

Having dealt with social media, athletes, and postings for sometime, I have a few suggestions. I’ll hedge my comments with this statement — you can’t STOP an athlete from making mistakes on social media.

You can help them make good choices, but you can’t stop them from making bad ones.

Just like you can’t stop a driver from making a bad choice behind the steering wheel.

It’s not a hopeless cause — athletes and social media. It just takes work, honesty, and like food and my son, some creative thinking.

Actions To Experiment With

I don’t have all the answers. I may not have any. I’ve written about what a coach can do for their own social media, but what about athletes?

Here are a few ideas. You might find one of these helpful:

  • See the repercussions. During a class, I had students send other students in the class text messages, trying to get them to laugh. All this happened while everyone was in the classroom. It was interesting to see the sender watch the reaction of the receiver in real life. There might be a lesson here trying this with social media.
  • Use a social media peer. If an athlete is posting something about your team, another team, your sport, tell them to send the posting first to a leader on your team. If the leader approves, post away. If not approved, fix the message, and retry. Might have to do this only once or twice.
  • Sign a contract. Do you have a policy about social media? One that gives them guidelines for posting? I’ve included a copy of one we use at our College. You can download that sample by clicking here.
  • Stalk their social media accounts.This sounds like a bad idea — because it is. Freedom of speech issue — maybe. Creepy — absolutely. There must be good methods of being alerted of inappropriate postings, beside a nuclear call from an irate administrator or parents. I haven’t found it yet. Still looking. (Yes I use Google Alerts, and spot-search Twitter, but whose got the time?)
  • Reading of postings at practice. What if the athletes stood up at practice, and read any of their postings related to the team, coach, sport? Would that help? Hurt? I dunno. I heard rumors of one coach who did this. Sounds funky. Maybe it worked.
  • Create a digital citizens course/class workshop. Have a team session about being a good citizen. Then extend that to their online presence. I bet everyone, including Coach, would learn a lot. I just might try this one. If I do, I’ll report back
  • Start with smartphone smart-use. Are you helping your athletes with their smartphone use? You should. Here’s how.

It comes to this, a coach can’t STOP an athlete from making mistakes on social media, but a coach can HELP them make good choices.

Maybe that’s the best we can do. What do you do? Send me an email or post in the comments below, and let me/us/everyone know. If you do, I’ll tell you how I solved the food-vacuum cleaner in my house.

A Magic Formula to Getting a Read On Your RecruitsTuesday, April 12th, 2016

by Jeremy Tiers, Director of Admissions Services

Last week a veteran admissions counselor who reads this newsletter reached out to me for the first time. It quickly became clear that she was really frustrated, mainly with a handful of her undecided recruits.

“These teenagers,” she said. “They know all they want to know about us and it still takes them forever to make up their minds…Do you have a magic formula or something that will clue me in on what they’re thinking?”

My reply to this counselor: “Tell me what kinds of questions you’ve been asking these students lately.”

“I’m just trying to see if there’s anything else they need, and when they think, they will make a decision.”

Are you facing a similar situation?  You’re asking questions of your undecided students, and all they’re giving you is one-word or short answers or maybe even not getting back to you at all anymore.

Not a fun scenario, right?

The good news is, after you read this article you will have a strategy to use, and you won’t have to wonder about it anymore. In fact, there is a magic formula, of sorts, that you can use at any time during the recruitment process that will help erase all the mystery when it comes to what your recruits are thinking.

It’s called a follow-up question.

That’s it? You got it.

When we want to get a read on someone we ask that person a question. They proceed to respond, and typically many of us just accept their answer and move onto another topic.

Now, how many times after the fact have you thought to yourself that those responses to your questions actually revealed very little, and when it comes down to it, you learned nothing new about the other person?

The key to getting a true understanding of people and their thought process lies in asking a good follow-up question. Why then don’t more admissions counselors do that? In my experience, many counselors aren’t actually paying close enough attention to ask a detailed follow-up question. Maybe you’re on your sixth call of the night with a bunch more to go, and you’re trying to keep things moving along (I’ve actually been told this exact thing before by multiple admissions counselors). It’s really hard to ask a good follow-up question if you’re not truly “locked in” to how your recruit (or maybe their parents) responds to your initial question.

Another possibility is the “I don’t want to be pushy” justification. Often newer counselors tell me that they’re hesitant to probe further because they don’t want to seem pushy or have the recruit feel nagged.

Let’s go ahead then and put our plan into action. Here’s how a typical conversation right now with an undecided student could go. Start by asking them:

“How will you make your final decision?”

Cut to the chase and ask the student upfront how they will be making their decision on which college to attend.

After the student answers, here’s the next question I want you to ask:

“And then what?”

They’ll tell you more. And then you ask, “And then what?” again.  And they’ll tell you more. And on and on until you finally get to the real source of their decision – the financial aid package, their parents’ input, or maybe a school’s location or size. The bottom line is, you’ll know what their decision rests on.

This strategy will also work at other key junctures of the recruitment process (not just the end).

Here are a couple of other effective follow-up questions that we’ve recommended to our clients:

  • “What does that mean?”
  • “Can you help me understand that a little better?”
  • “Why is that important to you?”

I can’t stress how important asking a follow-up question is. It’s an essential tool for any business professional to use when they seek to understand how a sales decision is going to be made, or when you’re wondering what a recruit is thinking or where your school ranks versus your competition.

Try it. I’m confident you’ll like the results.

By the way, if you have a particular question, problem or recruiting issue that you want addressed and answered, don’t hesitate to email me just like that veteran counselor did last week. I’ll get right back to you.

The Superpower Your Team Must HaveMonday, April 11th, 2016

by Mike Davenport, CoachingSportsToday.com

Here’s a harsh reality of coaching sports — the quality of your team defines who YOU are as a coach.

Lousy team = lousy coach
Good team = good coach
Great team = great coach

Like it or not, that’s the standard we coaches are held too.

Teams Are the Currency

It’s a safe (and true) statement that great teams make our World go round.

And it’s also a safe statement that coaches are starving to know HOW to make a great team.

Group Norms

Bury your head into the academic literature about teams. A trend about great teams appears — there’s NO consensus about what makes a great team. Study after study report different, and often conflicting, results:

  • it’s the people
  • no, it’s their education
  • no, it’s the leader
  • no, it’s the location
  • no, it’s team cohesion
  • no, it’s the environment

The lists goes on and on about what has been studied and what makes a great team. As I noted, there’s no agreement.

However … one factor has emerged specific to what great teams have. They have group norms. Group norms are where team members willingly give up a measure of control to their teammates, for the betterment of the team.

There are bad group norms (we always haze our freshmen) and there are good ones (we always help each other study).

Of all the possible norms a team can have, one particular group norm exists in great teams. It’s called psychological safety. And to be a successful coach you better have it on your team.

The Superpower of Psychological Safety

You’ve heard of Google, right? Well, the folks at Google wanted to know how to make great teams — because they rely on teams.

So they created Project Aristotle. A team of Google employees was charged to learn how great teams function and if you can create them.

They spent thousands of hours reviewing literature, interviewing Google employees, looking at Google teams and questioning Google leaders.

What they found was not what they expected. It wasn’t WHO was on the team that made it great, instead it was HOW the team worked — specifically how safe (psychologically) each member felt.

A Safe Place To Risk It

Charles Duhigg is an exceptional writer. He writes about great teams in his new book, Smarter Faster Better.

He goes into detail about Google’s research and research conducted at other places such at Harvard.

And how they determined that psychological safety (the shared belief that the team is a safe place for interpersonal risk taking, and team members feel accepted and respected) is critical for great teams. In other words, team members can make mistakes, express opinions, be authentic.

Psychological safety is more important than talent. As Duhigg notes, “you can take a team of average performers and if you teach them to interact the right way they will do things no superstar could ever accomplish.

Read that statement again Coach — that’s a superpower in the making.

Without psychological safety a great team won’t happen, and a good team will crash and burn. It’s that simple.

Creating Psychological Safety On Your Team

So how do you create the group norm of psychological safety on your team? Well, you CAN create it. And, there are actions you CAN take, such as:

  • team leaders (coaches, captains, etc.) should model the correct behavior (for instance, a leader should not interrupt a team member who is talking, because that establishes an “interrupting group norm.”)
  • team leaders should admit if they don’t know something
  • team leaders should give people who are upset the opportunity to express themselves, and team members should respond to them in non-judgmental ways
  • everyone should feel they can speak up, and members should feel they have equal voices
  • members need to show sensitivity to how other members feel

The actions of team leaders are important to developing psychological safety — and so are the team members.

Keep this in mind as you move ahead in your coaching — group norms are critical to building a great team, and the most important group norm is psychological safety. Ignore it at your own risk — actually … at your team’s risk.

You Can Learn More


Have thoughts on this superpower you care to share? If so, pop them in the comments, or send me an email. It’s a safe place to let your opinion fly!

-Mike

The Smart Way to Control Your ScheduleMonday, April 11th, 2016

by Mandy Green, Coaching Productivity Strategies

Due to the nature of the work, coaches have to follow a flexible schedule. You need to be free to accommodate the needs of your teams and recruits and other administrative staff with whom you work.

But coach, you don’t have to turn your schedules over to others as much as you may think.

The most successful people in any profession are usually highly scheduled. Have you ever met a successful doctor who tells patients to “come on in any ol’ time”?

No, doctors have highly scheduled lives. They have blocks of time set up for seeing patients, performing surgeries, and working at their hospitals. They know how many patients they need to see each day to create the lifestyles they choose to live.

Is it possible for you to run your program the same way? It’s certainly more efficient than the way most of us coaches run our programs now.

Time blocking involves consistently setting aside time for the high priority activities.  Time blocking will provide some much needed structure in your day and as long as you avoid getting distracted and commit to just doing the one thing, it will allow you to complete tasks or at least complete a large part of a task before moving on to something else.  The fundamental rationale for time blocking is the knowledge that if high priority activities don’t get scheduled, they usually get done feebly, fruitlessly, or not at all.

Here is how it works. Decide on the tasks you will do for a particular day. Instead of just having a “to do” list with everything listed in order of importance and working down the list, take a few items from the list that are top priority for accomplishing what you need to accomplish, and block out whatever time you want to allocate to that task. This can be 15 minutes, 30 minutes, 1 hour, or 2 hours. The point is to only allocate the allotted time to each task.

What activities should you time block for?

Time Blocking at Work
What if you had two uninterrupted hours every day to focus on nothing else but your most important activities? The time might be spent planning or working on recruiting, developing your team and staff, getting caught up on administrative work, or learning something that will add value to your program. How would spending just two hours dedicated to the really important things improve your program? Keep in mind that these two hours are focused, uninterrupted work time and do not include all the other time spent traveling, in meetings, talking by phone, sending email and other activities also directly related to achieving these activities.

Personal Time Blocking
You cannot be effective in your work if your inner reserves are depleted. Making time to “recharge your batteries” will actually boost your energy. Block time for exercise, contemplation, relaxation or recreation. Be sure to carve out time for family or friends as well. And, before committing to anything else, be sure to pencil in some vacation time as well. Then, treat appointments with yourself as respectfully as you would with others.

After talking to all of the coaches that I have worked with since coming on board with Dan Tudor about 10 years ago, I would say that the number one reason coaches do not reach their goals is because they did not allocate enough time in the office to accomplish the goal or goals that they set for their recruiting, team, staff, or for themselves.

Tonight, figure out what your 3 most important activities are for tomorrow.  Then open your calendar and block off the time you need to get these activities worked on.  When it is time to get to work, WORK! Protect that time and don’t let anything interrupt that time you have allocated to work on a significant task or goal that you have.  Good luck!

Asking or Telling: Make Sure You’re Taking the Correct ApproachTuesday, April 5th, 2016

by Jeremy Tiers, Director of Admissions Services

Most college admissions recruiters go to great lengths to tell their recruits all the reasons why they should commit or deposit to their school. Today, I’m going to show you why you might be taking the wrong approach if you’re doing it that way.

It has to do with the very subtle difference between telling your prospect to commit versus asking them if they can see themselves as a part of your school’s student body.

There’s science to back up what I’m about to tell you. The research that’s been done on this topic tells us that it’s smarter to ask and get them to visualize that commitment if you want them to eventually accept your school’s offer.

If you tell someone, particularly a young person, what you think they should do, many of them tend to shut down because they feel like you’re sending the message that you know better than they do.

When you ask your recruit to make a verbal statement about his or her intent on a future action, such as whether or not they see themselves living in your dorms or attending a campus event, they’re far more inclined to follow through with that commitment.  That research is one of the big reasons we make sure our clients know how to ask effective questions. Our customized recruiting messages are designed to start conversations between our clients and their prospects and focuses on having their prospects commit to doing things like replying to their email or coming to visit their campus.

It’s those small commitments that can signal genuine interest from a prospect.

Here are a few more things that I would recommend you do with current and future recruits that you’re targeting:

  • When you’ve received some of those small commitments that I just spoke of, ask your recruit about their intent to attend your institution.  This is an important step! Just asking the question can have a big impact on your recruit.  Don’t tell them to commit…ask them if they’re ready to commit.
  • Try hard…I mean really, really hard to get some kind of affirmative answer. Again, the research shows that if the student gives you a positive statement more than likely they will eventually act on it.
  • If you can, get them to make that statement in some kind of public way in front of their parent(s) or while they’re on campus for a visit or admitted student day event.  It drastically increases the likelihood that they will commit to you.
  • If they don’t respond in a positive way on the first try, don’t freak out. Asking consistently over time in a professional, collaborative way can build a feeling of trust and get them to understand that you and your school are serious about them.

The lesson here is pretty simple. Instead of spending time just telling your prospect how great your school is, make sure you ask them if they can see themselves as a part of your campus community. If you haven’t already done that with all of your current undecided seniors or transfers, you now know what your next move needs to be.

Gaining those small commitments throughout the recruitment process is a more effective way to getting that big commitment at the end!

Do you need help putting together the right message for your prospects? We create recruiting campaigns for admissions departments all over the country.   You don’t have to wait until the next recruiting cycle to get started. All you have to do is email me and ask about becoming a client of Tudor Collegiate Strategies. Together we can dominate your competition.    

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