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Why Rowing Organizations Should Post Compensation with Open Coach Positions

Head Coaches, Directors and Board Presidents have all had the same experience: A coach leaves and you cross your fingers and hope for the next Sandy Armstrong to wander into your boathouse.

Your usual first step is to review the budget allocation for the headcount, the position description, and the time requirements/schedule. If there is oversight, you submit these things for approval, make adjustments as need be, and head over to Row2K to post in the classifieds.

You post the job with some or all of the summary information about the position. The most important piece of information that is almost never included with the posting? The compensation. Instead the infamous “Salary is commensurate with experience.” sits there and says: “We’re nervous to say how little we can afford to pay you.”

Consider this, we don’t include compensation for coaches and staff for the same reason why teams don’t post erg scores: Fear that if you share too much, it will reflect back badly on you and the organization.

Some empirical research over the last year on postings that have listed compensation (about 20) has shown that most part-time coaches are being paid $10-15 an hour. The higher end comes close to $25/ hour, and I haven’t seen anything much below $10/hr. If you were going to pay a coach close to minimum wage however, would you post it publicly?

I’m going to tell you why it is imperative to hiring and retaining coaches that we need to move past this frankly outdated and inefficient practice.

First, HR professionals are openly advocating that we move past this practice:

Signs are also present that legislatively this is the direction we are heading:

The practical reality of today’s job market dictates that we need to change how we’re doing things when it comes to recruiting and hiring coaches. It is arguably a full employment economy. Which means that potential or aspirational coaches are being lured away by higher paying jobs outside of rowing that don’t require you to wake up at 4:30AM, end your day at 7PM, and sweep goose poop off of the docks.

Many coaches today are part-time and balancing their coaching jobs with full time employment. One positive aspect of the full employment economy is that more full time employers are growing more flexible with work hours. A coaching job that runs from 4-7pm for example may be tolerated by the coach’s primary, full time employer.

From the coach’s perspective, if you advertise a part-time coaching position that will openly offer an additional $10,000 in yearly income, that becomes very attractive to a recent college grad. Knowing that the average student loan sits at a little less than $400/mo, the idea that rowing might actually help pay off a student loan could be very appealing.

When advertising full time positions, the need to publish the salary band for the position is important to any applicant, particularly if that applicant is considering relocation. The position may be full time, but does it actually offer a competitive salary in regards to the cost of living in your community? Do you want to make a hire, only to end up the person you recruited and hired to move across the country has to live near the poverty line? Trust me when I say this happens a lot, more than anyone is willing to admit I think. Publishing the salary band for the position will remove those from the applicant pool who will not be able to afford to take the position, and streamline your hiring process.

You may also want to approach each position seasonally. In a growing gig economy, you may consider offering a flat, per season stipend or “project fee” ($10,000 for fall & winter for example). This offer would include a clear work schedule and list of responsibilities. The rising generation of workers might be more attracted to this model.

Consider finally the perspective of today’s professional or semi-professional rowing coach on how rowing organizations post open positions: a job is posted, the compensation is vague, the qualifications frequently are daunting (you shouldn’t need a bachelors degree to coach, there I said it), the responsibilities are nebulous and the hours can be very difficult to fit with any other full time or part time commitments.

If you want to recruit and hire better coaches in this full employment economy, you should remain flexible in how you are willing to advertise your open positions, and what your expectations are for those positions. The first step is not being afraid of posting what you are available to pay and what your expectations are.

Madder Consulting offers a coach recruiting service that helps organizations and professionals connect. Contact me for more details about how you can find the right position or get the right coaches in your boathouse.

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