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The AD as middle management. (A.D. Ministration).

THE ATHLETIC DIRECTOR is generally considered to be the CEO in charge of the athletic program -- the man who makes all of the important decisions. The assumption is not completely correct. The AD takes care of all the daily nuisances and has input in the major decisions, but he is hardly "in charge."

In the typical secondary school setting, the AD reports to the principal or superintendent of his district. One or the other -- or perhaps the school board -- makes the significant decisions, determines policy, arid establishes the operating procedures.

The AD will advise these individuals and perhaps do the bulk of the grunt work in reaching the decisions, but make no mistake about it: they are in charge.

AD's, in the hierarchical structure of most school districts, are middle managers. If they worked in the business world, there would be no debate about it.

Take a look at your position: Beyond the fact that you do not establish policy and make major decisions, what exactly defines you as a middle manager? Ask yourself:

1. While you probably can make the routine day-to-day decisions, what other decisions are you empowered to make? How much autonomy do you have and what are the things for which you need approval before taking action?

2. Are you the messenger who has to inform the coaches and parents of the expectations, directions, and decisions that have been made at the executive level?

3. Do you actually hire or fire coaches, particularly those with high-profile status? Probably not. You may make recommendations, but the final determination will likely be made by the principal or superintendent, and sometimes require the approval of the Board of Education.

If you accept your role in middle management, the following ideas and strategies will help you cope with the associated problems.

1. Many things will be totally out of your control, such as the decisions made by your supervisor and the expectations passed down the line. Though it is easier said than done, do not worry about the things out of your control. Concern yourself with the things you can control.

2. If unsure about a decision or problem, check with your supervisor for direction and advice. Their input and ultimate approval will help create a more harmonious working relationship, facilitate the handling of the situation, and obviate the necessity of redoing or rectifying any action of your own. When in doubt, ask first.

3. Change is an ever-occurring fact of life. Even the person to whom you report can change from year to year. So can your budget, your support staff, the athletes and their parents, and a lot of other factors. This basic tenet will put you in a much better position to handle the twists and turns that invariably occur.

4. Some principal or superintendent may also like to micromanage. If micromanaging becomes troublesome, try having a candid, yet politically correct discussion with your supervisor. The establishment of limits and guidelines will enable you to operate better and even thrive in the environment.

5. Try to provide input for the major decisions before they reach the upper level management. Initial disagreements should be made privately. Once a decision has been reached, you should publicly support it. It is important to demonstrate loyalty and trustfulness. Such traits will enhance your relationship with your supervisor.

6. Follow the chain of command. If you disagree with your supervisor, do not jump over him (or her) to deal directly with the superintendent or the president of the school board. Failure to work within your guidelines can only cause trouble for you and even get you fired.

7. If your principal or superintendent wants something done in a particular manner, understand that he has the right to do so. Unless his wishes are unethical, illegal, or pose a safety risk, you really have no choice. You may try to inform and guide him, but he is still your boss. You should go along with him to ensure a good relationship.

8. Your constituents - coaches, athletes, or parents - don't always understand that you are simply following orders, and you may become a target for their anger or frustration. You have to make them understand that you "don't shoot the messenger." Until you succeed in communicating this concept, you may find it stressful to operate as a middle manager.

You cannot allow this to detract from the importance or value of your position. You positively impact the lives of large numbers of student-athletes and the community itself.

Once you understand your niche and develop survival strategies, you should be able to thrive as the director of the athletic program.
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Article Details
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Title Annotation:athletic directors
Author:Hoch, David, Dr.
Publication:Coach and Athletic Director
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jan 1, 2002
Words:775
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