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Performance Enablement: A Key to Attracting and Retaining the Best Talent

Updated: Nov 13, 2023

The transfer portal is affecting sports at all levels. There are many options for today’s athletes and parents, so retaining your top talent should be one of your top priorities.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were 11 million open jobs at the end of October 2021, while there were only 7.4 million unemployed people. A gap this large provides employees with leverage in demanding great workplace experiences.

According to SHRM, companies must deliver outstanding employee experiences if they want to attract and retain desirable talent. It is incumbent on every company that values skilled employees to find a way to offer the employee experiences that our 21st-century workforce demands.

The same can be said for coaches and their programs. There are so many more options for today's athletes at all levels. To attract and retain the best talent, coaches need to look at how they can provide the best experience possible.

Performance Enablement is a framework that can help you grow and keep your best players.

Performance Enablement helps you help your athletes accomplish their individual goals while working together to accomplish team goals. It is the process by which employees and their supervisors set goals and expectations for performance that connect to the job, the organization, and the mission.

According to Forbes, there are three parts to Performance Enablement:

1 - Collaborative Goal Setting

2 - Individual Growth and Development Plans 3 - Coaching through Check-ins and Feedback

Goal Setting

Start with your own vision and goals of what you want the team to accomplish, and establish and clearly communicate the performance expectations that will drive success. Help your athletes do the same. Examine [with them] their goals and their ‘why’ or greater purpose for doing what they do.

Ask: Why did you choose [basketball] as your sport? What are 3 goals you have for this season? What is your favorite part about playing [soccer]? What do you hope to get out of this season? What are 3 things you need to do to achieve your goals? What are 3 things that can keep you from achieving your goals?

Then see how you can align the goals for the individual and the goals for the team. Hopefully, you can both see how your goals work together and how the success of the individual and the success of the team is dependent on each other.

Growth Plans

The second part is creating together a plan for skill development and personal growth. Growing skills and IQ should be built into everything you do.

Effective coaching is knowing what your athletes do best and allowing them to do that as much as possible while having a plan for how you will communicate, address, and grow weaknesses. When you lead with strengths, your athletes can grow their confidence by experiencing success.


Finally, regularly check in on your athletes and provide meaningful feedback while also seeking feedback from them. The check-ins should be a 2-way conversation. You should be able to communicate what you are seeing from them while also allowing them to communicate what they are seeing and experiencing so that you can work together to find solutions and achieve all your goals together.

The key to Performance Enablement is that these check-ins are focused more on future performance than past performance. Learn from the past, but focus on what you can do better in the future and what that looks like.

Ask: How do you feel like things are going? What is something you feel good about? What is something you are still struggling with? On a scale of 1-5, how do you feel things are going?

By collaborating in creating goals for the team and the individual, creating a culture where check-ins and feedback are normal parts of your routine, and having a clear action plan for how you are going to help your athletes grow individually and within what the teams need, you create relationships that are harder for your athletes to leave.

You are learning more about them and their needs on an individual level, you are showing and communicating to them that you care about them as athletes and people, and you are showing that you are willing and able to help them grow into the level of athletes and people they want to be.

SOMETHING(s) TO THINK ABOUT [When you have athletes and families wanting to leave]

1 - Have you talked about goals with them? Do you know what their individual goals are? Do they know what the team's goals are? Have y’all talked about how their goals and the team's goals are aligned?

2 - Have you been checking in with them and providing them with effective feedback? Have you asked them how things are going? Have you given them the opportunity to give you feedback?

3 - Do you have a growth plan for them? Have you looked at their strengths and weaknesses and put together a plan for how you are going to help them reach their goals? Have you communicated that with them?

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