by Mandy Green, Busy Coach
I have spoken at Dan Tudor’s National Collegiate Recruiting Conference for college coaches for more than a decade. A few years ago, my topic was email management. I had a lot of coaches come up to me afterwards and say that one of the biggest points that 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 coaches 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.