What started as a nonchalant Hallmark remark, “sure, I’ll help out if you need”, has turned into an entirely new full-time job. Between game schedules, communications with parents, planning with coaching, managing the team budget, fighting for ice time at arena, registering for tournaments and everything else in between, I have been blindsided by the enormity of this task. A task for which I was frankly, unprepared.
You see, I know nothing about hockey. I mean nothing. My kids play. That is the extent of my knowledge.
And yet, I am managing the team. It became painfully obvious to me right away that I needed to dive in, and learn the lay of the land quickly! So I started reading, researching, talking to other coaches, reading some more…and then asked my kids to fill in the blanks where necessary! Talk about a learning curve!
So, in my infinite wisdom of the last two weeks as a minor hockey team manager, here’s what I’ve learned so far:
1- Management is management, regardless of the team function. Whether I am managing a program at work (I work for the Federal Government of Canada), or a hockey team, the basic principles apply. Planning, organizing and communicating remain the most important things.
2- Rallying folks in one direction is not simple. In my day job, we call this employee engagement. In this context, it’s more about clear communication than anything else. Whether you are working with an employee on an important deadline, or simply trying to get a group of 9 year old boys to the arena at a certain time, ambiguity does not work. I stopped using grey words in my messaging such as “like”, “kind of”, “sort of”, “maybe”, “could be”….you get the point.
3- Most of the time, it is expected that you will figure it out. All by yourself. People will answer your questions, but you need to first approach them with direct and specific ones. You’re not likely gonna get someone to sit down with you for three hours and give you a crash course on “everything I need to know and do to manage this team”. And by the way…there’s no handbook either!! This holds true for many of the projects and tasks we are given to work on throughout the day…your boss wants to know that you are resourceful enough to figure it out, and employ a strategic approach to getting things done.
4 – Some people are simply not nice. We are unfortunately surrounded by some nasty people in our workplace (and in our volunteer work!), and these people can easily get the better of you. These are the folks that will take up all your time and energy arguing for the silliest of things….it brings them pleasure to be so disruptive. The way in which you handle these folks is critical to your own success. Demonstrate compassion, patience, and kindness. And when that doesn’t work (which is often the case), simply walk away, and re-focus your energy on the more positive folks around you. This is a hard one to learn…most of us have a strong instinct to want to resolve conflict.
4- I don’t think I thanked last year’s team manager enough for all the work he did. Perhaps I took much of the work for granted because I did not see all that he put into it behind the scenes. Recognition is so important to people, in any type of work they are doing. Make it a habit to over-thank people around you who work hard and give their best.
5- My son think it’s cool that I manage his hockey team. Lesson learned: I can now retire and do this full time 🙂