The Change Study: Implementing Change (UK/IE Report)

The second of three survey reports in the GGA Partners change research initiative, these survey findings focus on “Implementing Change” at clubs throughout the United Kingdom and Ireland. To discuss these findings and learn more about the research initiative, contact Rob Hill Partner, EMEA. 

The Management of Change in Golf and Private Clubs

As the global economy hurtles forward in complex and surprising ways, private clubs must adapt to survive. The wider world of golf is also facing dilemmas, as its market shrinks. But while innovation and disruption are the key elements driving broad economic change, private clubs cling to tradition and honour-established customs.

What is the best approach to reconciling these divergent tendencies? How can clubs preserve their identities while adapting to a changing world? How can club leaders drive the change that is needed for their clubs to thrive in the future? Where do private clubs fit within golf’s shifting cultural and financial environment?

Managers and members who are planning and navigating a path forward for their clubs need reliable data to make informed decisions. And while GGA Partners has provided reliable and actionable insights to clubs since its founding, we believe that club leaders need more than data. They need an ally to illuminate the issues. They covet a reliable voice to provide unbiased guidance based on evidence rather than anecdote.

The Change Study

That is why GGA initiated this research project to help us all understand the landscape for change in the golf, private club and leisure industries. We want to quantify the extent and character of the appetite for change and determine how barriers to change impede implementation. We want to identify any common characteristics present in effective change management, along with ascertaining the best methods for cementing innovations and measuring change over time.

The aim of this research is to provide club and business leaders with the insights and tools they need to successfully navigate the changes which we believe all clubs and organizations are sure to face in the months and years ahead.

Key Insights from the Implementing Change Study

A summary of the key findings in this second report, of three, include:

Landscape for Implementing Change

  • Club Members are shown to exhibit the lowest tolerance of change amongst stakeholders with 84% of respondents believing members show moderate, little, or NO tolerance for change.
  • Prior to the COVID-19 crisis, 74% of clubs were in the midst of implementing new processes, products, services and/or policies requiring organisation-wide change.
  • The majority of clubs are currently implementing changes to their governance model or practices (62%), in capital planning capabilities (52%) and in technological enhancements (51%).
  • According to almost three-in-four (71%) club leaders, the management of change is Very or Extremely Influential on its overall success.

Characteristics of clubs that successfully manage the implementation of change

  • 84% of respondents agree that leaders should rely on evidence / intelligence to inform planning for change projects.
  • 83% of respondents agree that a club’s / organisation’s leadership must demonstrate true ownership and commitment to making change happen.
  • 78% of respondents agree that stakeholders must be kept informed throughout implementation on progress and impact.
  • 78% of respondents agree leaders should clearly communicate change-related projects and their intended outcomes with all appropriate stakeholders before implementation commences.
  • The Manager is the principal influence on effective change management. The most influential communication channels flow from the Board to the Manager, and on down the chain of command from Manager to Staff.

Measuring the Impact of Change

  • Fewer than half of club leaders (44%) ‘usually’ or ‘always’ use metrics to measure the impact of change.
  • For club leaders who are inclined to consistently apply metrics in measuring the impact of their change initiatives, there is a strong reliance on membership response (75%) and on the improvements to performance (71%) that result.

Coping with the COVID-19 Crisis

  • Overall, club leaders represent themselves to be reasonably satisfied with their organisation’s response to the COVID-19 Health Crisis (average rating 7.7 out of 10). 40% rate themselves as ‘highly satisfied’ (9-10).
  • The majority of club leaders (65%) have found member communication the most challenging aspect of leadership through the crisis.
  • By May 1st 2020, 91% of clubs throughout the UK and Ireland have applied to use the temporary wage subsidy schemes delivered by the respective governments, allowing them to put staff on furlough with the government covering between 70 and 80 percent of regular pay.
  • 8% of clubs classify their current cash position as Critical. A further 29% classify theirs as Concerning.

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