Staff Dysfunction

During my time around sports, I have seen both very healthy and very dysfunctional coaching staff’s.

I want to share 4 key dysfunctions of a coaching staff… not to be confused with Patrick Lencioni’s famous book ‘The Five Dysfunctions of a Team”.

There are many ways in which coaching staffs can be dysfunctional.

But before I dive into the 4 key dysfunctions, I want to pause and highlight the importance of building a healthy staff culture.

I wish we had a way to accurately measure to impact that staff culture has on athletic programs.

I believe that a healthy staff culture positively impacts the overall culture of your program.

How can it not?

When a staff culture is not good, everyone on the staff is miserable and hates being in the office.

It has a cascading effect. The health or un-health cascades down to the rest of the program.

4 Dysfunctions of a Coaching Staff

1. Lack of Trust 

Coaching staffs work very closely together.

They spend hours in the office together, on the field together, traveling together, and recruiting together. In most cases, a coach will spend more time with their co-workers than their family.

If there is a lack of trust, you can guarantee there is dysfunction.

2. Lack of Communication

If you have ever been on a staff that doesn’t have good communication, especially from the head coach, you know that, at best, it is tough, and at the worst, it is miserable.

There are multiple reasons why communication lacks: lack of clarity, frustration, silo’s, passive-aggressive behavior, stress/worry/anxiety, lack of awareness of its importance, insecurity, etc.

If you struggle with communication, start working on it today.

3. Lack of Collaboration

There is nothing more frustrating for an assistant coach to come in the office every day knowing the head coach will decide: the practice plan, who is traveling, who is starting, who is redshirting, what the depth chart is, etc.

The quickest way to frustrate coaches and bring dysfunction to a staff, is by not collaborating on decisions.

4. Lack of Accountability

When staff members are not held accountable for doing their job, dysfunction is sure to follow.

This dysfunction often time looks like several coaches being resentful of the head coach and the one coach that is not being held accountable.

The definition of dysfunction is “abnormally or impairment in the function of a specified organ or system.”

When these four things are lacking within a coaching staff, it is impossible to function as it should.

There will be a high turnover rate among assistants, and the program will under-achieve.

If you want to develop a healthy, well-functioning staff culture, make sure you are doing a good job in these four areas!

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Travis Wyckoff

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