5 Tips to Optimize Coach Evaluations

Shortly after the end of the recent college football season, I ran into a good friend and current head coach. During our conversation, he shared that upon his return to campus, he “had” to conduct coaching evaluations. Based on his tone, body language, and word choice, I sensed he wasn’t looking forward to it.

This coach is not alone. Yet despite the growing list of demands on a head coach’s time, developing quality assistants is arguably his most important responsibility. In order to optimize their growth, it requires your deliberate, targeted feedback. Here are 5 considerations for the next time you “get” to conduct performance evaluations.

  1. This should not be a “dreaded” experience. First, think back to all your years as an assistant coach. How many times did the head coach pull you into the office for a 1-on-1 meeting to discuss your performance? IF it did happen (because it is a rarity for most), did you view it as a negative? I would bet the farm that you craved that type of feedback as a young coach. The same is true for your assistants — even the seasoned ones with more years in the business. Second, they will sense your attitude toward the meetings. If you are genuinely excited to meet with them and help them grow, even if it involves hard discussions regarding areas of improvement, they will feed off your energy and genuine concern for them.
  2. You’re not simply doing evaluations…you’re conducting Developmental COUNSELing. Your assistants need your counsel as a head coach. You’ve done their job, and you’ve done it successfully, or you wouldn’t be sitting in the Head Coach’s chair. This isn’t arrogance. Realize you have a lot to offer them, both with regard to their goals in coaching and their growth as a leader.
  3. Remember “The Law of the Lid.” John Maxwell states that a person’s leadership ability determines his level of effectiveness. If we take this a step further, the leadership ability of each assistant coach will determine the level of effectiveness of his players. Your challenge is to “raise the lid” of each leader in your program. In doing so, you raise the level of effectiveness of your entire program. This occurs through individual development, and it requires deliberate consistent feedback. Bottom line: you don’t just want good followers — you’re developing leaders (coaches and players alike) that will multiply your efforts as the head coach.
  4. Review performance yes…but also outline expectations. This may be for the next 6 months, but could also be the semester, quarter, or whatever best suits your annual rhythm. You will likely take the time to review coaches’ significant contributions to the staff and team, but don’t neglect to have them outline their major performance objectives moving forward. What is it they hope to accomplish — both professionally and personally? Are they focusing on the right things? Is it in line with your overall intent as the head coach? Do you need to help them reorient? You should each leave the session confident you’re “on the same page” moving forward.
  5. The entire experience is an opportunity to MODEL proper developmental counseling. This is a huge teachable moment. Show them what right looks like. Trust me…they are “learning” by your “doing.” Many of the positive techniques you use with them will then be used with their players and direct reports.

What other suggestions do you have for maximizing the growth of your assistants?