31 Years | 31 Lessons – Lesson 1

 

Managing a private club is  not an easy task. It requires knowledge, stamina, fortitude, patience and a sense of humor. With each new year comes new challenges, opportunities and lessons to learn.

When GGA Director Colin Burns, CCM, joined the firm, he shared the lessons he learned over a lifetime in the hospitality industry, as an advocate for club management and his three decades as the general manager of Winged Foot Golf Club with our team. In hearing those lessons, we were reminded how success comes from doing the right thing every day.

We asked Colin to record his common sense and professional advise for us to share with you. Today we present the first of Colin’s 31 Years | 31 Lessons videos. We will be releasing all 31 on our LinkedIn page over the next several months in the hope you find these lessons helpful as you navigate your own path to success as a leader in our industry.

Watch Lesson 1

 

You’re Now the Leader

In today’s world, where technology, media, and consumer demand intersect in a constant state of disruption, leadership starts with understanding and dealing with change. Henry DeLozier provides perspective on how superintendents can rise to the challenge.

Times have sure changed. Now you’re the one whom young men and women — the ones who aspire to your position one day — look to for guidance and assurance. And it’s in those hopeful faces, full of equal amounts potential and self-doubt, that your biggest challenge and the most important aspect of your job lies.

It’s called leadership. And in today’s world, where technology and media and consumer demand are intersecting in a constant state of disruption, leadership starts with effectively understanding and dealing with change. Among the biggest changes for golf course superintendents in the last decade:

 

  • Agronomic knowledge has become “table stakes.” Knowing the science of growing grass efficiently and effectively has gotten most superintendents into the game. The superintendent is often the best-educated member of the management staff in many facilities. There is no way to overstate the importance and reach of agronomic knowledge, and yet the job is so much more now.
  • Techniques have advanced. Generations of superintendents schooled in the college of hard knocks have found new and innovative solutions to age-old problems. These solutions have resulted in more efficient usage of water, advanced and less damaging pesticide management, and improved playing conditions arising from healthier and denser turf.
  • Environmentalism is of top-tier importance. If everyone was as diligent an environmental steward as golf course superintendents are, we would live in a better, safer world. Trained in the chemical sciences and well informed through professional resources like GCSAA, new generations of superintendents have introduced planet-friendly solutions to fertility and water scarcity challenges.
  • Golfers’ expectations have become more robust and detailed. In their insistence on improved playing conditions, golfers — God love ’em — have continued to push for tournament-quality conditions daily. Their demands, not unlike the quality demands of consumers for any other product or service for which they pay a premium, add stress and push budgets across the country.

If those are some of the major changes currently affecting the superintendent’s world, what might be over the horizon in terms of effective leadership qualities? From our perspective, it’s retaining your best talent. Although job-hopping in many industries has slowed this year as economic uncertainties weigh on employees, the situation could change as the economy and job market continue to improve, especially if employees aren’t feeling supported by their employer. It’s a challenge shared by your peers in organizations across the board.

“Employees crave a rewarding and purposeful workplace atmosphere. Now is the time for organizations to evaluate what is working well for their people, and what’s not resonating,” says Laine Thomas Conway of Alight Solutions, a global consulting firm. “When employees feel their employers are continually improving their offerings and working to enhance the employee experience, they are likely to remain positive and committed to their organizations, and in turn, employers can better retain top talent.”

In other words, says Tom Wilson, the CEO of Allstate Insurance: treat employees like customers. “They don’t pay you in dollars, but in hard work. That has led us to an employee choice model in the new world,” he says. Here are several tactical suggestions to help your team members:

 

  • Education grants for the children of your crew. When the club or golf course funds educational support for the children of its workers, your crew will see you as the employer of choice.
  • Field days for employees’ children. Help families share in the workplace culture and pride with your team. Most children want to see where their parents work, and what cooler place is there than a golf course?
  • Regular feedback sessions. Give employees the same feedback opportunities customers have with retailers and service providers.
  • All-team meetings. Help crew members understand their place in the overall team effort, including other departments and functions at the club and course.

It’s no longer enough to react to changes affecting our careers. To be an effective leader and to encourage your best players to remain part of the team, we must anticipate the next wave of change heading in our direction.

This article was authored by Henry DeLozier for Golf Course Industry magazine.

Say These Two Words to Boost Employee Performance

Game Plan – Henry DeLozier‘s monthly column in Golf Course Industry Magazine – continues its series on staffing for success with a review of the business bestseller “Leading with Gratitude: Eight Leadership Practices for Extraordinary Business Results.”

“Thank you.”

How does it make you feel when someone expresses their appreciation for a job well done? Pretty great, right? We can all remember the emotional high when a boss we respected told us how grateful he or she was for our contribution to a particularly meaningful project. As it turns out, beyond the personal boost gratitude provides, it’s also great for business. The multi-faceted benefits of gratitude is the subject of Adrian Gostick’s and Chester Elton’s business bestseller “Leading with Gratitude: Eight Leadership Practices for Extraordinary Business Results.”

After surveying more than 1 million employees, Gostick and Elton found that expressing gratitude is the easiest, fastest and least expensive way for managers to improve employee performance and engagement. In that sense, showing gratitude is not only about being nice — it’s about being smart because it could also uncover untapped employee potential and identify obstacles standing in the way of even better performance.

Maybe the best thing about practicing gratitude is that it’s easy. But that’s not to say that it comes naturally to all leaders or that it’s well understood as a business strategy. In many organizations, there exists a sizeable “gratitude gap” between the appreciation employees feel they deserve and what they receive.

This gap points to the consequences of an ungrateful work culture. The authors found that 81 percent of workers said they would work harder if their boss was more grateful for their work. And if you want to reduce turnover, start with gratitude. The No. 1 reason people leave a job, according to the U.S. Department of Labor: They don’t feel appreciated by their managers, even more of an issue with today’s younger workers.

Expressing gratitude effectively is an easily learned behavior, but it does require more, in the authors’ view, than “showering more thank-yous” on employees: “Developing genuine gratitude involves carefully observing what employees are doing, developing greater empathy and sincerely trying to understand the challenges they face.”

Some leaders will insist they are “not wired” for gratitude, excusing their command-and-control style with increased performance, production and results. But the authors insist just the opposite: “Leaders who infuse fear into their work cultures undermine their objectives to increase performance and instead produce stress that can lead to burnout and other productivity-crushing effects.”

Former Ford CEO Alan Mulally is among the many executives who back up the authors’ claims. “Skills are one thing,” he says, “but to create a smart and healthy organization, void of politics, whose people don’t go after each other, that’s about respecting them, showing them the data and thanking them for what they’ve done.”

In his first meeting with Ford’s 4,000 dealers, Mulally began practicing what he preached. He asked Ford employees in the audience to stand, turn and face the dealers. “Now say ‘We love you,’” Mulally instructed. It took the employees three tries before Mulally was satisfied with their sincerity and enthusiasm, but the dealers were quickly convinced this was going to be a new Ford under Mulally’s leadership, one where their roles were valued.

“We aren’t saying every manager needs to offer praise to every employee every day,” Gostick and Elton conclude. “We are saying that most managers should be offering more of it, quite a bit more often.”

This article was authored by Henry DeLozier for Golf Course Industry magazine.

 

Learn more about staffing for success:
Read Staffing for Success: Part 1
Read Staffing for Success: Part 2
Read Staffing for Success: Part 3

Staffing For Success: Part 3

Game Plan – Henry DeLozier‘s monthly column in Golf Course Industry Magazine – continues its series on staffing for success with the third of three installments. After looking at how the pandemic has afforded club and course managers the opportunity to reevaluate their teams (Staffing for Success: Part 1) and strategies for finding and hiring the right team members (Staffing for Success: Part 2), we turn to creating a culture that inspires and retains top performers.

Culture: The Secret Sauce of Success

A Supreme Court justice once defined obscenity by not defining it. “I know it when I see it,” Justice Potter Stewart famously said in 1964. It seems that an organization’s culture might fit into the same category: difficult to define, but obvious once illuminated.

The difficulty in defining organizational culture is because it is so many things at once. An amalgamation of personality, values, reputation, purpose, style and traditions framed by a set of written and unwritten rules developed over time and considered inviolable. Put them all in a pot, let them simmer for a while — a few years or maybe a few decades — and what’s left is culture!

Culture then is nothing less than an organization’s heart and soul, and its importance rivals any other asset or advantage. It is the glue that holds the organization together. It inspires loyalty in employees and motivates them to act consistently and pridefully. It influences them to perform at a high level because they feel a responsibility to uphold their end of the cultural bargain.

Culture is also an important factor in retaining top performers. Randstad, the international employment and recruitment firm, lists toxic cultures with poor pay, limited career opportunities, lack of challenging work, lack of recognition and work-life imbalance as the leading reasons people leave their jobs. There is an urgent need to pay attention to the culture growing around your club or course or risk losing top talent.

If this amorphous entity known as culture is so critical, what steps can you take, what keywords can you prioritize for search engines and what KPIs do you elevate to bake it into your organization? If only creating or transforming culture were so easy. Every winning culture is part of a unique set of attributes and characteristics that cannot be invented or imposed. It must be discovered from within.

But that doesn’t mean you should sit back and wait for culture to reveal itself — or for it to form in ways that could be detrimental to your future success. The road to a sustainable and winning culture ensures that employees:

 

  • Understand the club’s/course’s vision and how they contribute to it. When everyone knows where their leaders are steering the ship, it’s much easier to get people onboard and for employees to feel good about rowing.
  • Know how their performance is measured and what their personal success looks like. What results are expected? Are there both quantifiable and qualitative measures?
  • Are consistently recognized for contributions that meet and exceed goals. Nothing is more motivating than recognition in front of colleagues.
  • Recognize a commitment to diversity and inclusion. Employees of color and minorities want to see evidence that their opinions and work is valued and that they’re on a level playing field.
  • Feel that their managers are taking steps to safeguard their health and well-being. In a post-pandemic world, employees want to feel confident that their job is not putting them and their families in danger.
  • Are rewarded through a set of personal, flexible, creative benefits. Baby boomers, millennials and Gen Xers think about benefits and perks differently. To make them meaningful, managers must understand what each employee values most.

In addition to helping retain top performers, an engaging and embracing culture also has competitive advantages, particularly when it comes to sustaining high performance. Bain & Company research found that nearly 70 percent of business leaders agree that culture provides the greatest source of competitive advantage. In fact, more than 80 percent believe an organization that lacks a high-performance culture is doomed to mediocrity.

Culture may not be the easiest thing to define, but you can take steps that encourage a culture in which your organization thrives. You can’t rush culture, but you’ll know it when you see it.

This article was authored by Henry DeLozier for Golf Course Industry magazine.

Staffing For Success: Part 2

Game Plan – Henry DeLozier‘s monthly column in Golf Course Industry Magazine – continues its series on staffing for success with the second of three installments. After looking at how the pandemic has afforded club and course managers the opportunity to reevaluate their teams and redefine job descriptions in Staffing for Success: Part 1, we turn to finding and hiring the right team members.

As businesses reshape themselves into leaner and more efficient operations, top performers are the best value their money can buy.

A great many Americans are currently unemployed and looking for a job. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 6.7 percent of the labor force — more than 10 million people — is out of work. Finding top performers for rising needs in club management roles should be easy work, right? If only it were a simple matter of statistics.

As management professionals in any business know, the magic is finding the right person for the right job. With the war for talent continuing to escalate, we turn to three experts to help us identify the best practices for optimum staffing in these turbulent times.

Jim Collins: Get the right people on the bus

Step one, as management thinker Jim Collins advises in his bestseller “Good to Great,” is to start by “getting the right people on the bus, the wrong people off the bus, and the right people in the right seats” before heading down the proverbial highway. In other words, focus on “who” before determining “what.”

Those who build great organizations make sure they have a busload of people who can adapt and perform brilliantly no matter what comes next. Selecting the right people is a matter of clearly deciding what types of people — attitudes, talents, backgrounds, skillsets — are needed to enable your team to accomplish great things.

Jeff Bezos: Ask these three questions

The Amazon founder uses a straightforward three-question guide for hiring key employees. Bezos’ three questions offer direct application to the management of golf and private clubs and are particularly useful during unpredictable circumstances.

1. Will you admire this person?

“If you think about the people you’ve admired in your life, they are probably people you’ve been able to learn or take an example from,” Bezos says. This discipline requires that management first knows who he or she is and has a clear-eyed understanding of the strengths and benefits that are needed for any position. Hiring managers do well to ask themselves:

  • What traits and attributes inspire me to be my best?
  • What do we need?
  • To what do we aspire?

2. Will this person raise the average level of effectiveness of the group they are entering?

Will the candidate increase the efficiency within the organization? Is he or she able to see around the corner and anticipate needs? Are they willing to challenge established norms and traditions? (Should course setup be executed in the afternoon instead of first thing each day? Can mechanical work be executed after hours by veterans who need extra work?)

3. Along what dimension might the person be a superstar?

Listen to candidates’ answers. Push for details. Ask follow-up questions to understand how your candidate thinks and imagines your operation. One is more likely to be a superstar when he or she is encouraged to make others better.

Regina Hartley: Hire the scrapper

Throughout her 25-year UPS career — working in talent acquisition, succession planning, learning and development, employee relations, and communications — Hartley has seen how people with passion and purpose will astound you when given the opportunity. That’s why she says, “Hire the scrapper.” She defines scrappers as people who have had to fight against the odds to get ahead. They differ from those she calls the “silver spoons” — people who have had clear advantages in their lives and from birth seem destined for success.

Before tossing the résumé of someone who has obviously scrapped his or her way to the experience and skills that qualify them for a job in your organization, at least give them an interview, Hartley says: “A résumé tells a story. A patchwork quilt of odd jobs and experiences may signal a lack of focus and unpredictability. Or it may indicate a committed struggle against obstacles.”

This article was authored by Henry DeLozier for Golf Course Industry magazine.

Read Staffing for Success: Part 3

The Three Keys to Effective Governance

Governance in private clubs can too often resemble what is seen on the evening news: factions, resentment, distrust, skepticism, cynicism. In troubled times, sound governance is essential.

In our continuing Whitepaper Series, Senior Partner Henry DeLozier highlights the three keys to effective governance and proactive steps leaders can take to address and improve it at their club.

 

 

Read our Governance Whitepaper
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