Coaches and Conflict: Top 5 for Outsmarting Parent Conflict
1. As you build your schedule for the year, create a simple communication plan beginning with the parent meeting.
Think about it this way: What do you want parents to know or do?
What support documents do you need to provide?
For your parent meeting, meet in smaller groups, so the dynamics will foster connection and interaction. More meetings now = fewer meetings later.
People will ask questions and give feedback in smaller groups when they won’t in larger gatherings. This also allows parents to see you as a person, not just the coach/boss.
Share something personal like a picture of your family, or a favorite coach that inspired you as a player.
2. Explain the evaluation process and how playing time is earned.
Things that get measured get managed.
Lay out ground rules for parent communication with the help of a mentor and input from your AD/Administrator.
3. Establish yourself as a credible communicator and leader. Get a coach, or mentor to give you honest feedback on your presentation skills.
The goal is always to communicate that coaches and parents are on the same team; we all want to be a part of a player’s growth as a strong leader.
Hammer the language; repetition is necessary. When people start making fun of the message, the idea is just starting to sink in.
Check your defensiveness, that’s always a credibility killer.
4. Invite parents to watch or participate consistently, possibly five to six times per year. Pull back the curtain so they can see behind the scenes.
Ideas include watching video, attending special practices, participating in radio shows, taking pictures for social media….
There is no end to what you can do here. Parents love to have the inside track.
5. When parents want to schedule a meeting because they are upset, do the following:
Slow down the timeline for the meeting. Schedule out at least three days so everyone has a chance to calm down and you have time to get a plan for the meeting.
Have an appointment immediately following the meeting so you don’t get hijacked into a long and draining meeting. Be sure to communicate this early. “Sure, I can meet with you at 2pm on Thursday of next week. I have practice at 3, so that should give us plenty of time.” An hour is a generous amount of time for any parent meeting and spares everyone unproductive repetition.
Talk to your AD and ask what is needed from you during the meeting. Ask for what you need as well. Work together on a plan.