Responses to our recent Player/ Parent Survey suggests there is still some confusion as to why we conduct these surveys as well as the survey process itself.
We conduct these surveys for several reasons. Our first objective is to provide our coaches with some first hand feedback from players and parents- what’s going well? what’s not going well? how could they be doing things better?
A second objective is to provide the Association with some understanding of issues at an individual team level they may not be aware of, or what the Association could be doing to improve the hockey experience. We quite often receive questions or comments which suggest there is misinformation or confusion which in turn indicates that we need to do a better job communicating.
We occasionally get questions re: the efficacy of the survey process. We hear, for example, “why should I bother filling out a survey- nothing ever changes!” This is not an easy concern to address. These are, of course many examples of actions taken by the Association over the years in response to survey input. Sometimes, however, the suggestions or criticisms are not well-founded (see the foregoing comment re: misinformation or confusion). Sometimes the suggested solutions are excellent, but simply not doable (financial or human resource constraints, regulation or policies of governing bodies etc). What we can say is that positive and negative comments- particularly ones we hear from more than one respondent- are forwarded to the House League Council, the Board, or the individual director responsible. We also try to get back to individual respondents who identify themselves and ask for a direct response to a specific issue.
Along similar lines we get comments like “I know you had a lot of negative comments last year about Coach X. How come he’s coaching the team again this year?” It’s easy to assume that because one or a group of parents feel a coaching change is necessary that all or even the majority feel the same way. We very often encounter situations where half the team surveys are critical of the coach and the other half suggest he walks on water. The better explanation, however, is that while surveys are important, they are only one factor the Coach Selection Committee takes into account in choosing coaches. Other factors influencing the selection process: qualifications, previous history, extenuating circumstances, response to survey comments during the personal interview, the availability of (better) candidates etc.
Another concern frequently expressed about the survey process is lack of confidentiality. We often hear comments like “I won’t sign the survey or tell you what I really think because I believe it will get back to the coach and he’ll take it out on my kid”. First of all, we accept all surveys whether signed or not. Just as importantly, we take steps to ensure the confidentiality of individual respondents. No individual rep or rostered select surveys are distributed to anyone other than the director responsible for summarizing the results. Each head coach receives a one-page report summarizing the results for his team (number of surveys returned, average "score”, number of positive and negative surveys). The VP Rep or Rostered Select Convenor are the only other Board members with access to the survey summaries. No reports are produced if there are less than five surveys from a team. We also include selected comments, but these are paraphrased if direct quotes might identify a particular individual, or if more than one respondent makes a similar observation.
Hopefully the above will address any misconceptions or confusion about the survey process and how the information is used. If not, we’ll be happy to respond to any specific questions or concerns forwarded to the Hockey Office.