Drafting Your R4

The next step in Crafting Your Team Culture is not very glamorous. T0 be honest, it’s one that coaches devote little time to. Yet, if ignored, this area will generate more frustration and dissent than any other on our list. We call it R4:


With regard to staffing, the one constant is change. Success leads to new professional opportunities and poor performance results in associated replacements. But in addition to the regular “churn”, team staffs are constantly in flux as new positions are added and amended.

For example, consider the two teams who played in last year’s College Football Playoff National Championship. According to the most recent NCAA financial information, Alabama spent $837,000 for its football support staff in 2005–2006. By 2013–2014, that sum had grown to $2.7 million. That’s a 220% increase in only 8 years. Similarly, in one decade Clemson increased the size of its football support staff, growing its associated spending from $480,000 to $2.5 million. That’s a 420% increase.

To be clear, salary growth is not the pertinent issue here. Rather, it is the growing and evolving nature of athletic staffs, to include assistants, graduate assistants, quality control personnel, strength coaches, sports scientists, trainers, and more. Make no mistake, in the absence of clear roles and responsibilities, ambitious, driven team members will “jump in” and get busy. But, are they “doing” the right work?


“Collaboration improves when the roles of individual team members are clearly defined and well understood — in fact, when individuals feel their role is bounded in ways that allow them to do a significant portion of their work independently. Without such clarity, team members are likely to waste energy negotiating roles or protecting turf, rather than focusing on the task.”
— Tammy Erickson, Harvard Business Review

Coaching leaders prepare clear and succinct ROLES and RESPONSIBILITIES for every person in the organization to ensure each person has a clear understanding of how he or she will contribute to your overall success. Don’t make this harder than it needs to be. For example, a head basketball coach recently identified the following roles for one of his primary assistants:

  • Position Coach, Point Guards
  • Primary Recruiter, Central District
  • Academic Coordinator
  • Community Service Coordinator

After documenting one’s primary roles, use simple bullet statements to draft specific responsibilities for each role. As head coach, draft for your direct reports, while ensuring they do the same for the staff members they lead. Another technique is to have your direct reports write down their perceived roles and responsibilities and then schedule a meeting to sit down and review together. Use the time to validate, edit as necessary, and ensure you leave the meeting aligned.

Clear identification of roles and responsibilities helps filter the conjecture and noise from the outside, while keeping what is most important to you front and center.


People like predictability. They like to have routine meetings at the same time during the day or week. They like to exchange routine information in standardized ways. They like to know their expectations for where and when they need to be for certain activities.

Every good organization has certain regular patterns. Staff meetings are at 9:00am on Tuesdays. Quick huddles may occur every morning at the beginning of the day. Position meetings occur at 3pm. Team practice begins at 4pm. Subordinates submit standard reports every Friday on the week’s activities. Football teams establish standard practice schedules the week before games.

Daily and weekly ROUTINES are designed to add predictability and structure to an organization’s regular operations. Meetings might be weekly or bi-weekly…and cover things from game preparation to recruiting to player academics to game film reviews. You know the meetings a staff needs to have. You know the team activities to be accomplished. Be proactive and intentional…don’t waste your people’s time…and avoid unplanned, reactionary meetings for routine events and actions.

Your established ROUTINE is a deliberate cycle of player, staff, and team activities intended to synchronize current and future operations. It provides the framework in which we fit everything else we must do. While teams’ routines may differ greatly, their importance is something we all share. People throughout the entire organization know their expectations for presence, participation, and information.

Roles, responsibilities, and routines won’t ever get much publicity. They aren’t something you’ll talk about at press conferences or reporters will write about in flashy articles — but each is an essential component of crafting your team culture.