Retaining Sport Coaches: A qualitative Assessment of Retention Strategies at Sport Clubs in South Africa
AbstractRetaining key employees in any organization is critical to the sustainability and long term success of the organization. Sport organizations are no exception. In today’s competitive and professional sport environment, coaching resources are vital for the development of future sport ‘stars’. Researchers, in their examination of strategies affecting sport performance, conclude that sport coaches are one of the critical success factors in sport performance. In this regard it is of utmost importance that sport organizations retain their staff and specifically coaches to face the challenges in in a highly competitive environment. Coach turnover is a common phenomenon that most sport organizations experience. Trends in coach turnover both nationally and internationally reveal that sport coaches do not stay long in most of the popular sports. The increasing demands of fans and the media place tremendous pressure on both the organization and coach to deliver better results and performance. Unlike many corporate organizations where employees leave due to stressors, lack of commitment in the organization and job dissatisfaction, sport coaches are forced to leave either because fans are dissatisfied with their performance or management perceive that they are not contributing to achieving the objectives of the organization. Currently it is difficult to assess actually what strategies sport organizations use to attract and retain sport coaches. The purpose of this exploratory study was, therefore, to identify strategies sport clubs have in place to retain sport coaches. In order to collect information-rich data, a qualitative research approach utilising telephonic interviews was adopted for the study. The rationale for using this approach lies in the fact that real-life experiences of the respondents involved in the phenomenon being researched would be obtained. Emerging from the content analysis of the data were the following strategies used by sport clubs to retain their coaches: compensation, training and development, participatory decision making, provision of resources, participation in the budgeting process, and contracts. It was concluded that it is important for sport organizations to have an in-depth knowledge of the needs of coaches. While it is important to acknowledge that despite the implementation of various retention strategies, not all sport coaches are guaranteed to remain in the club; it is almost certain that coaches whose needs are not met are more likely to leave.
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