Addressing Board Transparency

ADDRESSING TRANSPARENCY
THREE FACTORS CRITICAL TO HIGHLY EFFECTIVE PRIVATE CLUB BOARDS

As society becomes more open and increasingly skeptical, club members demand greater transparency from their boards. Whether in member focus groups, general meetings of members or the club dining room, members seek greater transparency.

Three factors are proving critical to highly effective private club boards: (a) communication methods, (b) communication cadence, and (c) nondisclosure rules.
Boards are encouraged to heed three primary factors:

Establish and normalize the board’s communication methods. Develop a comprehensive communication plan for the club and make board communications an important and consistent part of the club’s communications. In so doing consider:

1. Topics of interest – Most club members seek a sense of “belonging.” See that they are invited to suggest topics of interest to them. In most clubs, that roster of needs includes activities and events, human interest stories about fellow members and staff, and the latest programs for each member segment. To ensure a sense of inclusion, see that members are aware of important activities well in advance of the sign-up or registration periods.

2. Multiple media options – Rely upon a wide array of media tools ranging from social media, email, postcards, and posters within club buildings. Most clubs serve multiple generations with preferred and most commonly used media options. Recognize that different subsets of the club’s members – separated by gender interests and generational media usage – require recognition and programming.

Maintain a reliable cadence of communications. Establish, announce and honor a realistic cadence of communications by topic and by membership category to help your members know what to expect and when. There are several keys to an effective communications cadence:

1. Communications profile – Develop an understanding of communications preferences for each member. Understand when – by day of the week and time of day – each member wants communications from the club. Understand what media options each member prefers. Use it.

2. Communications calendar – Publish the communications calendar to enable all members to watch for the topics of greatest interest to them. Keep it. Ensure that members and staff are well aware of the schedule and have ready access to each communication.

3. “Big events” communications – For the most popular club-wide events, such as the member-guest, holidays with Santa, parent-child dance, interrupt the normal cadence to draw attention to these special occasions.

Be transparent about the topics which will not be disclosed. Some topics – such as matters of club member discipline, employee compensation and benefits, and contract negotiations while in process – are confidential and should not be disclosed. Make it clear to members that topics require confidentiality of board members … and honor that confidentiality requirement. Be understanding and consistent to demonstrate that the board seeks the openness many members desire except on these important points.

Be transparent about what topics the board will not divulge for reasons of confidentiality and employee/member privacy. Some members want to see board meeting minutes and the club’s financial information, such as the balance sheet and income statement. The board should develop and broadly communicate what information it will share with members and in what format. The board is well advised to remember that these reports should be considered confidential and, therefore, not readily distributed outside of the club membership.

Beyond members’ demands for greater transparency, effective boards want club members to be well-informed and engaged with their clubs. Private club boards must maintain highly effective, truthful and consistent communications with club members. The rewards are greater member satisfaction, member engagement and a restful night’s sleep for board members.

This article was written by GGA’s Henry DeLozier for The Boardroom Magazine. It appeared in the March/April 2024 issue.

What Do Members Want?

Some club leaders believe that it is a fool’s mission to try to understand what members want.

In fact, it is quite simple…you need to ask members what they want. Michael Gregory and Dr. Eric Brey at GGA Partners can tell you with certainty that developing a broad and deep understanding of members’ wants, needs, expectations, and fears is a matter of faithfully applying proven practices of attitudinal research.

Dr. Brey, a PhD-accredited professor at the University of Wisconsin – Stout, is an expert at leveraging analytics to implement dependable customer-centric strategy and hone it on what truly impacts satisfaction. And it all begins with asking members what they want. Sometimes referred to as qualitative analysis, members’ viewpoints are normally collected within small groups and sometimes validated in expanded follow-up listening sessions. In his work with GGA, Dr. Brey has implemented this science within private clubs where understanding members’ attitudes are so important.

In order to measure what matters are of greatest importance to a given club’s members, attitudinal surveys prove to be a trustworthy tool. Establishing the proportion and intensity of members’ attitudes has become even more important in a time when members want to know that their viewpoints were taken into account.

Gregory, having worked at GGA since 2007, is expert at administering private club surveys. He emphasizes that attitudinal surveys in private clubs are essential because the relationship between the club and its members is an emotional and often intense one. In recent years, club leaders have become more reliant on member surveys as the sophistication of such surveys goes deeper into members’ viewpoints. Not the stuff of satisfaction surveys, an attitudinal survey seeks to quantify and measure members concerns and expectations, willingness to fund certain capital projects, and identify the characteristics – by analyzing underlying data – to provide club leaders with clearcut insight into what members want. Five factors that are consistently revealed in member surveys include:

 

  1. When factures occur in private clubs, they are often on the lines of gender and generation.
  2. Normally, the most satisfied members are the newest and the least satisfied members are the most tenured in the club.
  3. Older (in age) members are least supportive of capital projects and debt.
  4. Younger members are eager to see regular capital improvements.
  5. Women tend to be most alert to the club’s value system…”are we what we claim to be?”

Insights vary from club to club and require careful and objective analysis of underlying demographic data to enable the board to understand how members align and differ on certain topics. Dr. Brey advises careful analytical discipline and measurement. “There is no substitute for patient and transparent data analysis,” he says.

At the end of the day, Brey and Gregory confirm that it is possible to know what members want. One simply needs to ask the right questions in the right way.

This piece was authored by Henry DeLozier, Partner, for the National Club Association‘s Winter 2023 Issue of Club Director Magazine. 

Whitepaper: Unlocking the Strategic Power of Member Feedback

This GGA Partners whitepaper discusses new approaches to understanding private club members. By re-imagining the potential of member feedback and charting a path towards maximizing feedback in strategic planning, private clubs can increase their attractiveness and competitiveness further.

This whitepaper reviews how Medinah Country Club strengthened its position in an increasingly competitive environment and uncertain economic time. By supplementing its understanding of member satisfaction to identify how to allocate limited resources, the Club was able to significantly impact member satisfaction and identify the greatest areas of opportunity.

Key topics and actions that are highlighted in this whitepaper include:

  • Advanced data analytics, including the Member Feedback Loop
  • Approaching data differently to pivot towards feedback opportunities
  • Unlocking the true potential of member surveys
  • Leveraging Satisfaction Impact Assessments to support club strategy
  • Delivering on the promise of data-informed decision-making

Download the whitepaper

For more information, please contact us.

Labor, Capital Spending Top 2022 Budgets

Budgeting for 2022 is complicated by rapidly changing circumstances and market conditions. GGA Partner Henry DeLozier offers insight into areas where budgetary impact will be greatest. 

Budgeting for 2022 is complicated by rapidly changing circumstances and market conditions. For most experienced hands, anticipating changes within their industry and business is far easier than predicting the breadth and depth of the impact the changes will have on their budgets. Here are two significant categories where budgetary impact will be greatest:

1. Labor costs

Historically, the cost of labor and employee benefits represent the largest line item in a golf course’s operational budget. A trend toward a $15-plus per hour minimum wage and desperately low labor supply conditions will only increase the budgetary impact of labor and benefits. In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the resulting impacts on labor, two truths are becoming evident:

  • Those clubs and courses that kept staff on the payroll and continued long-term relationships with their employees are being rewarded in two ways. First, those courses are not having to search a tight labor market for replacements. Second, course care and upkeep have been sustained by committed and knowledgeable employees who have a running head start on those clubs that have been forced practically to start over.
  • Working knowledge of your specific course and conditioning expectations promotes a more cost-effective recovery process.

But what if circumstances and decisions beyond your control have forced you into a game of agronomic catch-up? Here are some remedial actions to consider:

  • Update your agronomic plan to state your expectations for course conditioning. New employees need (and want) to understand what is expected of them. Be thorough. Be enthusiastic. Show how much you care.
  • Plan for robust new hire training. Pair experienced hands with newcomers. See that the veterans describe the values and standards of the work to be done with the same clarity and as enthusiastically as teaching the job’s “how to” components. Train the trainers to ensure across-the-board engagement and understanding. Plan daily technical training for your round-up sessions to bring new hires up to speed and promote consistency.
  • Hire veterans. There are approximately 19 million veterans in the United States, according to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. As the increasing number of veterans mustering out of service expands, many trained and mature workers are searching for jobs. Some three-quarters of these veterans saw wartime service. Take the steps to learn more about those who have given so much and see how much they can give to your operation.

2. Capital maintenance

Capital spending for most golf facilities has expanded decidedly as an improving economy loosened purse strings and made more money available for deferred capital maintenance spending. Financial analysts at our firm note that capital spending is up by more than 55 percent at U.S. golf facilities, with most projects focusing on course renovations and restorations of historic designs, greens reconstruction and new bunker projects.

With the upsurge in golf’s popularity in the wake of the pandemic, many facilities have experienced growth in rounds played and membership enrollments. According to Golf Datatech, rounds played in 2020 increased by 13.9 percent over 2019 and through the first quarter of 2021 are up another 24 percent. The increased demand for tee times has given owners and managers new confidence to expand facility spending.

What are the smart moves being made by superintendents? They’re updating capital project rosters and renewing long-awaited requests for capital to upgrade facilities. And they’re not waiting. They’re describing the features and benefits of the intended projects and supporting financial projections with trustworthy third-party analysis.

In these uncommon times, it is important for turf pros to remember the sun does not shine on the same dog’s back every day. Market demand will shift. Access to labor will change. But the self-imposed high standards for most superintendents will remain and the expectations of enthusiastic golfers will expand. Prepare your 2022 budget carefully and with a broader understanding of social, economic and market conditions.

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

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.

Mid-Year Predictions for the Second Half of 2021

At the start of the new year and in the spirit of planning, the thought leaders at GGA Partners sat down to predict what we believed to be coming throughout the year and shared our 2021 Predictions on the Shape of the Next Normal. Now, halfway through 2021 with the spring season in the books and summer underway, we reconvened GGA leaders for a mid-year check-in on predictions for the latter half of the year.

1. Ensuring fair and equitable access to amenities remains top of mind, especially on the golf course

A trending topic throughout the industry is golf’s demand surge and how long it will sustain, much has been written on this point and those who are closely watching rounds played metrics anticipate a clearer reading by the end of the summer.

Stephen Johnston, GGA’s founding partner, expects that private clubs will see the surge continue to elevate rounds played by members which will likely increase issues relating to compaction of tee traffic and accessibility.  He predicts the benchmark regarding average number of rounds per member to be higher by approximately 10% following the pandemic and also increased golf course utilization by members’ spouses and family members.  Both factors will create a greater demand for tee times at private clubs.

Johnston believes some clubs may need to consider permitting round play by fivesomes instead of foursomes, potentially catalyzing logistical challenges such as a greater need for single-rider power carts in order to maintain speed of play at the same rate as foursomes with all players using power carts. For club managers and course operators, this entails an increased need for current and detailed evaluation of the benefits of membership and the relationship between playing privileges and the practical ability to book a tee time and get on-course.

2. Effective demand management is key and will shift from agile, flexible approaches to new operating standards as demand stabilizes

During the pandemic and throughout 2020, many golf, club, and leisure businesses recognized the increased need to more accurately and routinely measure the utilization of amenities, adapting operations management to react quickly to change.

Craig Johnston, head of GGA’s transaction advisory practice, anticipates an evolution in this one-day-at-a-time, agile monitoring approach into a new and more formalized standard of operating procedures.  “At the start of 2021, we said we would see clubs provide flexibility and experiment with various operational changes,” he explained.  “With the pandemic feeling like it’s steadily moving toward the rear-view mirror, members will be expecting clubs to begin instituting the ‘new normal’ operations and the data compiled by clubs in the first half of the year will be critical to deciding on the new normal.”

Johnston believes that membership demand will continue to be strong through the second half of the year and that it is likely utilization will reduce marginally as members begin travelling again for work and social obligations.  Even with a marginal reduction in utilization, demand for private club services will remain strong and will continue to put pressure on capacity and access in most clubs.

Senior Partner Henry DeLozier encourages club and facility operators to embrace short-term continuations of high demand while keeping an eye on the future and the non-zero probability of a demand shift in the coming years.  “Clubs must create pathways to sustain demand while navigating utilization volume.  It is unwise to place hard or irreversible limitations on capacity while clubs are at historic maximums for demand and usage,” cautioned DeLozier. “Clubs will do well to establish a clear understanding of demand and utilization to enable innovative programs which serve to fill periods of low demand in the future.”

3. Ongoing uncertainty about the pandemic’s long-term impact on club finances will increase the review and reevaluation of club financial projections to ensure sustained budget flexibility

While data regarding utilization, participation, and engagement throughout the summer months continues to be captured and consolidated, business leaders should not delay their financial planning and instead get to work on reevaluating finances and updating their future forecasts.

“Now is the time to review, evaluate, and reset club debt levels,” emphasized Henry DeLozier. “Clubs need to recast financial projections based upon elevated joining/initiation fees arising from high demand.”

In support of alacrity in financial planning, DeLozier notes that labor shortages spurred by the pandemic will increase payroll-related costs at a material level. He also predicts that comprehensive risk review is needed at most clubs to evaluate possible impacts arising from cyber-crime and/or declining club revenues during 2022.

Beyond internal shake-ups in utilization or operations, club leaders should be anticipating external impacts that could impact their financial plans.  A hypothetical example raised by DeLozier is if the U.S. economy were to become more inflationary.  In such a circumstance he believes clubs would see an increase in the costs of labor and supplies which would necessitate increases in member dues and fees, a deceleration of new-member enrollments as consumer confidence dips, and a slight slow-down in housing demand.

Right now, uncertainty remains with respect to the virus as well as the resulting economic impact from the pandemic. From a financial standpoint, clubs will do well to advance their forward planning while retaining budget elasticity.  “It will be imperative for clubs and boards to build flexibility into their budgets and agility into their operations,” added Craig Johnston.

4. Existing governance practices, policies, and procedures will be revisited, refurbished, and reinvigorated

A litany of new ways of operating and governing the club arose as a result of the pandemic, some of which suggest an efficacy that can be sustained in a post-pandemic environment.  Essential to assimilating these adaptions into new standards of procedure is a review of existing governance practices and the documentation which supports them.

“At a time when boards can measure the full range of financial performance metrics, updating club governing documents is a primary board responsibility,” noted Henry DeLozier.  “Board room succession planning must be formalized to prepare clubs for the inevitable downturn from record high utilization.”

In considering the nearly overnight adoption of technology tools to enable remote meetings and board-level deliberations, partner Michael Gregory noted a substantial increase in the use of technology tools that go beyond virtual Zoom meetings.  “The pandemic has allowed clubs to test online voting,” he explained.  “For many clubs, once things return to normal, their bylaws won’t allow for the continued execution of online voting unless they make changes.”

“We have seen the adoption and implementation of online voting to be a huge success for the clubs who have tried it for the first time,” said Gregory. “Members love it, it’s easy, it’s convenient, it leads to higher participation from the membership, and many clubs are in the process of changing their governing documents to allow for online voting as a result.”  The challenges and opportunities of employing online voting are detailed in our piece on taking club elections digital, which features a downloadable resource that can be shared among club boards.

5. In human resources, expect to see deeper reevaluations of compensation structures and employee value propositions

Weighing in from across the pond, Rob Hill, partner and managing director of GGA’s EMEA office in Dublin, predicts that club leaders will face bigger challenges in human resources throughout the remainder of 2021.

The first of three particular items he called out is a reevaluation of compensation.  “Making decisions about employee pay is among the biggest challenges facing club leaders in the wake of the coronavirus shutdown,” stated Hill. “As they begin compensation planning for the rest of the year and into 2022, these leaders not only have to consider pay levels, but also the suitability of their mission and operating model to thrive in a post-pandemic world.”

Citing his recent experiences in the European market, Hill shared that club leaders are challenged with finding new ways to operate smarter and more efficiently, while also looking for innovative ways to implement sturdy, low-cost solutions that their employees will love.  Which leads to his second point, that there will be a renewed emphasis on what employees love and how clubs, as employers, can provide an enhanced value proposition for their employees.

“As employees get back to work onsite, employers are finding that what their people value from the employment relationship has changed,” Hill explained.  “Where pay has been viewed as largely transactional in the past, clubs may need to provide new types of benefits, especially programs that provide more flexibility, financial security, and empowerment to retain and motivate their people.”

Lastly, there is likely to be considerable movement of talent over the coming year brought on by employees’ new work-life ambitions and financial imperatives, said Hill, “As demand for their skills and experience grows, the very best talent will seek out employers that demonstrate they view employees not as costs but as assets and reflect this in their approach to compensation.”

Recalling our start-of-year prediction that the movement of people and relocation of companies will reshape markets, partner Craig Johnston added, “The relocation of people continues to be a prominent trend and one that is likely to continue in the second half of the year.”  For club employers, it’s not just the changing physical locations which impact the cost and supply of labor, but also the expectations of employees as they seek out competitive new roles and work experiences.

6. The repurposing and reimagining of club facilities, amenities, and member-use areas will continue

The pandemic pushed to the fore the need for clubs to adapt their facilities to match changes in the ways members use and enjoy their clubs.  A combination of practical evolutions for health and safety and circumstantial evolutions drawn from widespread ability for members to work remotely created increased desire for clubs to offer more casual outdoor dining options and spaces to enable members to conduct work while at the club.

Partner Stephen Johnston believes these sentiments will continue to near-term facility improvements at clubs.  “With more flexibility in the workplace and members working from home periodically, there will be a need at the club for members to do work or take calls before their tee time or their lunch date,” he said.  “It has been evident for some time that members generally prefer to enjoy outdoor dining and since, throughout the pandemic, it has become apparent that guests draw greater comfort in outdoor experiences, I see a greater demand for outside patio and food and beverage service.”

As society begins to reopen and communities begin to stabilize, time can only tell precisely how clubs will continue to evolve their operations, whether that be scaling back pandemic-relevant operations or doubling-down on new services and efficiencies.  Evident in our work with clients are significant efforts to reorganize club leaders, reevaluate operations, and retool plans for a successful future in the new normal.  Here are a few highlights of efforts clubs are making for the next normal:

 

  • Reinvigoration of governance processes and engagement of leaders to ensure alignment between boards and club strategic plans.
  • Renewed surveying of members to keep a pulse on how sentiments have changed from pre-pandemic, during pandemic, and currently as communities stabilize.
  • Enhanced adoption and application of electronic voting as clubs reevaluate membership structures, governing documents, and operating policies amidst “displaced” members.
  • Reconfiguring of budgets, capital plans, and long-range financial models.
  • Refinement and advancement of membership marketing strategies, tactics, and materials.
  • Tightening relationships between facility planning, capital improvements, and member communications campaigns.

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

GGA Partners Renews Legacy Alliance Partnership with the National Club Association

Top corporate partnership demonstrates GGA’s commitment to supporting the advancement of clubs nationwide.

(Washington, D.C., May 17, 2021) – The National Club Association (NCA) announced that GGA Partners Inc. (GGA) has renewed its corporate partnership with NCA at our top corporate partnership level, Legacy Alliance Partner, for three years. As a Legacy Alliance Partner, GGA will continue to provide industry-leading resources to NCA members in an effort to strengthen and advance clubs nationwide.

GGA is an international consulting firm and trusted advisor to many of the world’s most successful private clubs. Its global reach and wide-ranging experience allow its professionals to deliver proven best practices and innovative concepts to clubs of all types.

For NCA members, GGA will continue to be the source of data-driven strategic solutions that consider the unique market, financial, operational and governance circumstances of their clubs.

“We’re thrilled to continue to better serve the club community with industry leading education resources through this powerful partnership,” said NCA President & CEO Henry Wallmeyer. “GGA’s expertise in critical areas like market analysis, financial and operational analysis, governance, and strategic planning provides clubs of all kinds the framework they need for sustained success.”

“NCA serving as the foremost club authority on COVID-19 is emblematic of their visionary leadership throughout our partnership,” said GGA Partner Henry DeLozier. “We are pleased to continue our long-standing partnership and eager to provide more value for the club community.”

As a Legacy Alliance Partner and lead sponsor of the NCA Board Leadership Institute, GGA will benefit NCA club members through numerous sponsorships, research and educational initiatives, including:

 

  • Hosting the Club Governance Symposium during NCA’s annual National Club Conference.
  • Sponsorship of NCA’s Board Leadership Institute, a leading resource for club board members.
  • Co-publishing a new joint periodical, Club Governance, to provide club leaders with industry data, case studies and best practices to improve club leadership, strategy and governance.
  • Sponsorship of NCA’s Club Governance Standards, a collection of whitepapers designed to educate and guide club boards on specific issues.
  • Presenting the Club Leadership and Governance Webinar Series focusing on improving the function of club boards.

 

About the National Club Association

The National Club Association (NCA) has been the advocate for the private club industry in Washington, D.C. for 60 years. As the voice of private clubs on Capitol Hill, NCA ensures that club concerns are at the forefront when legislative and regulatory issues affecting the industry are being decided. In addition, NCA provides club leaders an outstanding array of resources on club industry trends, governance best practices, legal and operational matters, and ways to strengthen club leadership. For more information, please visit nationalclub.org.

 

About GGA Partners

GGA Partners™ is an international consulting firm and trusted advisor to many of the world’s most successful golf courses, private clubs, resorts, and residential communities. The firm is dedicated to helping owners, asset managers, club and community leaders, investors and real estate developers tackle challenges, achieve objectives, and maximize asset performance.

Established in 1992 as the KPMG Golf Industry Practice, our global team of experienced professionals leverage in-depth business intelligence and proprietary global data to deliver impactful strategic solutions and lasting success. GGA Partners has offices in Toronto, Ontario; Phoenix, Arizona; Bluffton, South Carolina; and Dublin, Ireland. For more information, please visit ggapartners.com.

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
Menu