As athletic director, a big part of your job is maintaining good working relationships with your fellow staff members. In almost every case, the most important professional relationship you will have is with your administrator. As we approach the beginning of a new school year, here are some tips that will help you build a positive relationship with your administrator in order to achieve a successful athletic year.
First, let me start by saying that I am NOT the model employee.
I have been a thorn in the administration’s side on multiple occasions. However, I have grown and matured over the years, and my ability to work with administration is something that I’m improving.
This post is also fairly easy to write since I feel that I have a good relationship with my administrator, Matt Ticzkus. It certainly helps the athletic director when the administrator is a “sports guy” as well.
Today’s post includes five simple tips to help your working relationship with your administration.
Keep Up Constant and Clear Communication
Our first tip sounds very obvious, but it is the most essential and often the most neglected.
The athletic department is the heartbeat of many Christian schools. It only make sense that the person in charge of the school and the person in charge of the athletic department talk every now and then.
Find the best way to communicate with your admin and keep him in the loop.
Everyone has different preferences regarding communication. Some like to use email; others text; some want face to face meetings; some want all of these and more. Whatever your admin prefers, that’s how you need to contact him.
Make sure communication is clear as well. Whenever you meet with your admin, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to take notes of the discussion and decisions. Then email him a summary later. This will help both of you to remember what was accomplished.
Keep your administrator in the loop. He needs to know what’s going on with athletics.
Respect His Time
For some athletic directors this is not a problem at all, since contact with administration is avoided whenever possible. For others, though, this can be tough.
I know this is one of my big problems as an athletic director. I’m always tempted to camp out in the admin office and talk about the programs, teams, and strategies (and Matt is too nice of a guy to tell me to go away). Being respectful of my administrator’s time is something I have to keep in mind.
Your administrator has a bigger job than everyone else at school; ultimately, he’s responsible for everything that happens there. He doesn’t have time to hear why the elementary girls’ volleyball team needs to bring proper shoes to practice.
Involve him in the important decisions affecting policy, procedures, finances, and facilities. Don’t nickel and dime his time.
The whole purpose of hiring an athletic director is that he doesn’t have to worry about the ins and outs of the athletic department. Hopefully he hired you because he trusts that you’re capable of handling everything within the department.
Do your best to take care of all the questions and updates at the proper time. This will allow both of you to do make the best use of your time.
Know His Vision for Athletics at Your School
Ideally, this would have been discussed when you were hired. But things change. Maybe you’re working for a new administrator. Maybe you were promoted to athletic director unexpectedly.
Whatever your situation is, you need to thoroughly understand the vision that your administrator has for the athletic department.
Some administrators want to take athletics to the next level. Some just want you to maintain the status quo.
Some view athletics as a necessary evil. Others see it as the vehicle through which your school will grow in size.
To better understand his vision, ask the following questions:
- What do you think is the purpose for athletics at our school?
- Where do you see our athletic department in 5 years, 10 years?
- How much time and resources do you want to devote to athletics?
Trust me when I say that misunderstanding the administrator’s vision for athletics will cause major headaches down the road.
Know what your administration expects of the athletic department and operate within that vision.
Involve them in the Athletic Department when Possible
This will depend a lot on the personality and preferences of your administrator.
My admin is also the elementary boys’ basketball coach, so he’s already pretty involved. Therefore, I try not to ask too much more of him when it comes to involvement.
If you have an admin who does not naturally gravitate toward athletics, then you need to find other ways to keep them involved.
Encourage them to attend games. They certainly don’t have time to be at everything, but keep them aware of big Friday night home games, rivalry games, and special ceremonies.
Get them to do something fun during pep rallies. All students will love seeing their principal acting silly in the name of school spirit.
People value what they participate in. If you can get your administrator involved in your department in some way, that should reaffirm to them the value of athletics in your school.
Hear the Word “NO!”
If you’re like me, this is extremely difficult.
If I spend a lot of time developing an idea I think will revolutionize our program and mapping out how it will work, the last thing I want to hear from my administrator is, “Let’s hold off on that for now.”
No one likes to be shut down, but sometimes it happens. As we said earlier, your administrator’s job is to keep the whole school functioning smoothly and effectively. He has a different perspective than you.
There are many different ways that people say “no.” Be sure to recognize when you’re being told to chill out.
Sometimes the answer is a hard and fast “no.” If that’s the case, then you probably should forget about it. For whatever reason, that idea isn’t going to fly.
Other times, the answer is a “wait and see.” Table the idea and bring it up again later when the time is right.
A “no” can also come in the form of “I like the idea, but I just don’t see how it will work for us.” Table that idea as well, but rethink it. Can you make it work for your school? If so, figure it out; if not, move on to other things.
When your admin gives you a “no” in any form, you need to move onto other ideas. You can bring it up again later if you feel necessary. However, realize that not everything is going to work out the way you want it to.
I hope these five tips will help you keep a great working relationship with your boss and prepare you to go into this school year determined to work with your administration as effectively as possible.
What are some effective ways you have found to work with your administrator? If you are in administration, what tips would you add?