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

Four HR Questions Club Boards Should Be Asking

When was the last time your club audited its human resources? Alignment between a club’s strategy and its employee offering is essential in order to enhance the overall club lifestyle, culture, and experience for members and staff.

To determine whether it’s time to reexamine culture, Partner Derek Johnston lays out 4 questions private club boards should be asking. 


Among the most reverberant takeaways from the coronavirus pandemic is the importance of people to businesses. Global business leaders and executives at leading corporations have indicated that the shift toward talent as the most important source of corporate value has continued. The pandemic also seems to be leading an increasing number of talent-forward companies to take an “employees first” approach.

But this is nothing new for large-scale global businesses. Indeed, the third week of August marked the one-year anniversary of the influential Business Roundtable’s statement on corporate purpose – which puts employees, customers, their communities, and the environment on a par with shareholders.

“Human resources” is trending

It’s also nothing new for club businesses. Our continuous research on club industry trends has shown human resource management and labor challenges to be a persisting trend, one which club managers have reported to be rising in importance – before the coronavirus.

In 2019, human resources was ranked the 6th most-impactful private club trend (out of 27) in a global survey of club managers. And, in a separate Canadian club industry survey, it was identified as both a key risk and primary hurdle to modernizing club management while topping the list of areas which managers say are under-supported from an education standpoint.

The early-pandemic question as to whether COVID-19 impacts would accelerate the business community’s move to stakeholder capitalism, or slow it down as companies focus on short-term financial pressures, seems to have answered itself.

For clubs, the people-related challenges previously reported by managers have exacerbated, with topics like employee willingness to work, labor anxiety, staff recruitment and turnover emerging as key strategic questions which club leaders are currently wrestling.

Widespread COVID-19 impacts like club closures, layoffs, and furloughs certainly haven’t helped ease concerns. With significant changes afoot in staffing, retention, human resource availability, and operational adaptations, clubs are presented with a unique opportunity right now – the chance to reevaluate and perhaps reset their culture.

Got culture?

In clubs, culture IS governance. Sound governance is a strategic imperative primarily because it enables, supports, and nurtures effective strategy. And, as the Peter Drucker saying goes, “Culture eats strategy for breakfast.”

This is extremely important for club leaders.

It’s important because it means that no matter how strong a club’s strategic plan is, its efficacy will be held back by team members, staff, and employees if they don’t share the proper culture.

When the breaks are going against the business, as they are for some right now, the people implementing the club’s plan are the ones that make all the difference. While strategy defines direction and focus, culture is the habitat in which strategy lives or dies.

Now is the perfect time to reexamine your club’s culture to ensure staff square rightly with the club’s strategy. In other words, to ensure that your people are the best fit for accomplishing the club’s goals and objectives. Someone who was right for a specific role pre-pandemic may not be right for the same role now. Your business has changed, and some people may need to change too, either themselves or their roles.

How can club leaders reexamine culture?

The first place to start is by understanding what you’re currently doing for employees. Club leaders require a comprehensive understanding of the club’s current approach to human resource management so that they can determine the alignment of people and culture with the club’s goals.

When was the last time the club audited its human resources approach, policies, procedures, and performance? Ensuring alignment between the club’s strategy and its employee offering is essential in order to enhance the overall club lifestyle, culture, and experience for members and staff.

To help you get started, here are four HR questions private club boards should be asking:

1. How does our current organizational structure sit relative to best practice and what recent COVID-related changes should we make permanent or revisit?

Review your club’s current organizational structure, including both employees and contract workers, against best practice structures at comparable clubs locally, nationally, and globally. This review should focus special attention on the roles and responsibilities of human resources within the organizational structure with the goal of highlighting key gaps or divergences from best practice. Often times in clubs, an overly flat organizational structure tends to create ‘siloes’ that breed inefficiencies and bloat staffing levels.

2. Are we both efficient and competitive in the compensation and benefits afforded to employees?

Complete a comprehensive benchmarking exercise which compares compensation and benefit levels of all key staff and for the club as a whole to comparable clubs and other businesses with whom you compete for talent. The focus of this exercise should go beyond salary and hourly wages, factoring in relevant club financial and operating data, benefits packages, member and employee feedback scores, and other market-related information.

The goal is to identify current and accurate reference points for evaluating current compensation and benefits against best practice. There is a high degree of likelihood that there are opportunities in your current compensation and benefits structure to better align incentives and shift compensation to top talent, which tends to support increased productivity and reduced head count.

3. Are our personnel positioned to help us achieve the club’s goals and objectives? Are we helping them achieve theirs?

Assess your club’s performance tracking and review processes. The goal here is to analyze current performance evaluation processes and procedures to ensure alignment with the club’s overarching goals. This requires the board and executive committee to have a focused, clear, and comprehensive understanding of the club’s mission, vision, core values, and objectives.

For maximum benefit, to both member and employee satisfaction, it is incredibly important that performance is measurable and incentivized. The trick is determining the right way to track and measure performance and tie it to the right incentive.

4. Are our staff equipped with the tools they need to succeed? Are they empowered to do so?

Evaluate your club’s current recruiting, onboarding, training, and ongoing relational efforts. This will likely require management meetings and staff interviews to learn about the current approach and unearth any ideas or recommendations your team may have to suggest.


The success of every private club is dependent on the quality of their staff. Recruiting the best talent, integrating them into the envisioned culture, training them for success, ensuring their satisfaction, and ultimately retaining them is an important goal. The outcome from which tends to have a positive financial impact on the club and on the member experience.

After all, an investment in people is an investment in culture and clubs will benefit from this investment.

Defined by Passion

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

Golf is a service business that attracts people who have a passion for the game and its values. Identical twins Daryl and Derek Crawford were born and bred for the job.

© times publications

“Our father was a skycap at TWA in Phoenix and taught us the importance of service to others,” Daryl says. “He passed that along to us.”

He also told his sons they would be defined by their actions, not the color of their skin. A father’s guidance has proved invaluable over the course of his sons’ lifetimes and three decades in the golf business. Their story is one more example of the disparate ways golf can serve as the foundation for lives that are well lived.

The Arizona Golf Association’s 2020 Updegraff Award, given to Derek, an executive with Phoenix-based Gibson Golf Management; and Daryl, the general manager at Papago Golf Course in Phoenix, is only the most recent example. The award, named for Dr. Ed Updegraff of Tucson, a longtime supporter of amateur golf in Arizona, is earned by those whose actions exemplify the spirit of the game.

Golf was an early influence in the twins’ lives. Growing up, they were like most little guys, playing whatever sport was in season. They were introduced to golf at a municipal course in Phoenix and soon became fixtures. “We liked being at the golf course and were always looking for reasons to be there,” Derek remembers.

They began to compete as teenagers, and that’s when they met Bill Dickey, a former winner of the Updegraff Award, and other members of the Desert Mashies, a Phoenix-based group of minority golfers who help young golfers connect with the game. “Bill and Alice Dickey embraced us as family and always helped us when we needed it,” Daryl says.

They played on the first golf team at St. Mary’s Catholic High School in Phoenix and walked on at Arizona State. Good players and enthusiastic competitors, they were attracted to the game’s attributes and values. Accountability, striving toward a goal and staring down adversity or disappointment were part of their DNA.

They worked at courses in the Phoenix area, first in bag rooms, where they refined their service skills, and later in management positions with increasing responsibility. Soon they were being recognized as role models, especially for other young people of color.

In the 1990s, they both left the club life to work as PING tour reps on the men’s and women’s European tours. They became trusted friends and suppliers to the some of the world’s best golfers.

For Daryl and Derek, it all seemed a natural progression.

“We did as our parents taught us, to listen to and learn from good advice,” Derek says. “And we never lost the joy of playing the game.”

“They were brought up in the game and continue to grow as business leaders and all-around golf ambassadors,” said Phil Green, COO and Principal of OB Sports Golf Management, which manages the Papago course where Daryl is the general manager. “Their love for golf, years of experience and strong work ethic have served them well over the years, and they haven’t forgotten to give back along the way. Their story is a great example of the way golf can become the foundation of success.”

As African-Americans, Daryl and Derek stand out in most golfing circles, where black and brown faces are significantly underrepresented. But it’s their actions, not their race – as their father predicted – that have defined them.

“We never felt anyone was trying to stop us or hold us back,” Derek says, as if anyone could.

“We have been blessed,” Daryl adds.

As have we all through their actions and their friendship.

 

Not the Time to Wait

Henry DeLozier highlights three important points for club leaders to ramp up club operations and refine their game plan.

When asked what steps they are taking to prepare their business for the post-COVID-19 environment, many small- and medium-sized business owners and managers say they’re taking a “wait-and-see” approach. While that attitude is understandable, with conditions and health and safety guidelines changing by the day, it’s also not advisable.

The more effective strategy is the one that many other businesses are taking to navigate the crisis in creative and productive ways: Anticipating and preparing for a post-COVID-19 business, whenever that may come and whatever it might resemble.

In a wide range of businesses, preemptive leaders are driving revenue through new marketing tactics and sales channels, putting new incentives in place to spur immediate purchasing and capture pent-up demand, moving more of their in-person interactions online, pivoting their business to address new needs and developing new products to position their business when customer demand returns to normal.

Others are enhancing their digital presence by sprucing up their website with new content or fixing online issues for a better customer experience. And many businesses are strategizing by mapping out potential scenarios for the future.

Three important points to consider when ramping up club operations:

1. Update the club’s financial plan.

The business interruption and financial impacts will be profound and may even threaten the club’s existence. The board must reset the club’s financial plan by evaluating the current in-flow of dues revenue and the realistic projection of pending banquet and catering activity. Refer to the club’s historic reference points for revenue as the key component in ramping up successfully. Balance revenue projections with the probable attrition rate caused by members who will leave the club for health and financial reasons.

Look realistically at the club’s expenses and prepare yourself – they will be discouraging. Plan to restart programs and services in a phased manner that focuses on the most popular and engaging programs in the eyes of your members.

It’s important to remember that members may have different priorities in a post-recession world. Knowing what those are through surveys and focus groups is far more advisable than assuming the old normal is also the new normal. Keep in mind that the club may not be able to restart at a level and pace that meets members’ expectations without what may be significant investments.

In a financial sense, the club is starting over financially. This can be good for clubs overloaded with expensive debt since it gives them incentive to renegotiate their debt structure. Interest rates are at historic lows and will remain so for some time. This makes it a good time to restructure the club’s financial plan to remove historic flaws, such as membership-optional communities and outdated governance practices.

2. Strengthen your team.

Every club in your area is being affected differently by the pandemic. Some will retain staff with little change. Others will be forced to reduce operations, programs and staff. Some of your own employees will decide not to return or may be unavailable. Be prepared and recruit aggressively to fill and strengthen key positions on your team. It’s also a good time to review and update personnel records, roles and benefits.

3. Introduce new social programs.

As leaders hit the reset button, remember that private clubs enjoy an emotional relationship with their members far more than a transactional one. When evaluating and creating programs, consider the following:

Members will want to see one another and be seen. There will be a great opportunity for friends to be reunited and reminded that their club is a safe haven for their families and friends.

Look at events that are either successive – where one event sets the stage for the next – or part of a series of similar events. Give members the sense of ongoing relationships rather than one-off types of events.

Host member information exchanges. As members anticipate their clubs reopening, they will have lots of questions, which can be boiled down to “What’s changed – and what hasn’t?” Assemble a team of staff members who constitute the Answers Team.

Get ahead of questions by anticipating as many as you can and communicating the answers widely through email, newsletters and social media.

Creating a Reliable Game Plan

The most effective transitional leaders will be those who can manage information aggressively. Keep your stakeholder groups of members, employees, suppliers, and extended business partners – like bankers and insurance carriers – well-informed.

Your members and stakeholders want information, to be sure. Even more importantly, they want confidence that their club is in steady hands. They want to see evidence – action more so than talk – that the club is taking measured steps and addressing the key strategic issues without distraction with petty short-term matters. This capability requires a reliable game plan.

In May, GGA Partners conducted a series of weekly webinars to help club leaders construct their game plan and illustrate the thought processes that go into reopening and operating again in the wake of COVID-19. The sessions offered a deeper look into these three important points and tactics to prepare for a post-pandemic business environment.

The archive of each webinar and accompanying slide deck (if applicable) are available on CMAA University, complimentary to all CMAA members. Once you are signed in to CMAA University, you can find the recording and accompanying resources under CMAA Member Education, COVID-19 Resources. The content is then organized by topic area, see below for where each of the four webinars are housed:

Crisis Management and Communications

Changing Communications for Changing Times – Linda Dillenbeck & Bennett DeLozier – May 27, 2020

Member Surveys in Uncertain Times – Michael Gregory & Ben Hopkinson – May 20, 2020

Reopening Your Club

Transitional Leadership: Restarting Your Club – Henry DeLozier – May 6, 2020

Business Continuity

Future Trends in the Workforce – Patrick DeLozier – May 15, 2020

If you don’t know your login information, please contact CMAA through this online form.

 

This article also featured in Golf Course Industry magazine

Getting the Right People on the Bus

This article continues a series of communications from GGA Partners to help private club leaders address challenges confronting their businesses and their employees as a result of the global health crisis. Today, in the second of two articles on strategic people planning, Patrick DeLozier (Director, GGA Partners) and Jodie Cunningham (Partner, Optimus Talent Partners) highlight the importance of talent planning and optimization for a post-COVID-19 future.

Now’s a great time to re-examine job requirements to ensure the best fit for your club

In our first article on strategic people planning we discussed the first two phases of talent optimization: 1) adapting your business strategy and 2) plotting your revised organizational structure. In part two, we will focus on phases three and four: 3) selecting the right talent and 4) inspiring people development and engagement.

This part of your strategic people plan centers on filling roles in your organization with people best suited for the job. It’s a process that author Jim Collins in Good to Great likened to bus drivers (leaders) getting the right people on the bus (team), the wrong people off the bus, and the right people in the right seats (roles).

One cautionary note as we begin: Someone who was right for a specific role pre-pandemic may not be right for the same role now. Your business has changed, and some people may need to change seats. Others may need to get off the bus.

Phase 3: Select the Right Talent

Define the job. Before you start inserting applicants and rehires into the selection equation, you need to define your jobs. Without clarity, anyone involved in the hiring process will simply be guessing about those best fit for the job. The answers to a few basic questions will help form a solid job description.

 

  • What are the most important and frequent activities of this role?
  • What specific knowledge, skills and abilities are required?
  • What skills and experiences are complementary to those of the current team?
  • What behavioral style and temperament is best suited in this role?
  • Is independent decision-making or collaboration more important?
  • Does this role require social interaction or a more analytical, introspective approach?
  • Are normal working conditions in this role stable and consistent or constantly changing and pressure-filled?
  • Does this role require a big picture, strategic view where risk taking is welcomed, or is it more task oriented and risk-averse in nature?

To win the war for talent, your managers must be fully invested in driving the hiring process from start to finish. When you train managers to use people data in the hiring process, they will make smart, objective decisions, as opposed to desperate or bias-filled ones. Managers should enter the hiring process with the following information, knowledge and understanding.

 

  • A plan for all three phases of the interview process: before, during and after the interview.
  • A list of functional and behavioral-based questions that ensure consistency across all interviews.
  • An understanding of how to probe for (and evaluate) detailed applicant responses.
  • An understanding of the information they should and should not share regarding club culture, benefits and working experience? (Remember, the applicants are interviewing the club as well.)

Phase 4: Inspire People Development and Engagement

Once you have hired your team, it is critical to keep them engaged and ensure they work effectively together. To do this, you need to be mindful of four forces that can lead to employee disengagement:

 

  • Misalignment with the job. Poorly defined positions, sloppy hiring practices and evolving business needs can create a mismatch between employees and their roles. A bad fit will ultimately affect motivation and productivity.
  • Misalignment with the manager. The relationship between employees and their managers is the most critical contributor to engagement. But many managers are poorly equipped or not trained to effectively understand their employees’ individual needs. They struggle to communicate with and motive their employees.
  • Misalignment with the team. Team-based work is more critical than ever, yet poor communication, insufficient collaboration and an inability to manage tensions inherent to teamwork extract a major toll on productivity and innovation.
  • Misalignment with the culture. To be productive and engaged, employees need to feel they belong. When they feel out of sync with their organization’s values, or when they lose trust in their leadership, their own performance suffers. The result can be a toxic work environment that undermines productivity.

As clubs emerge from a pandemic-enforced hibernation and begin to re-establish business operations, now is an ideal time to evaluate the roles and responsibilities that make your club function efficiently and effectively.

Carefully defining each important job, making sure those involved in the hiring process are well-prepared and being alert to employees who may not be the ideal fit will help ensure that you have the right people on the bus and that they’re in the right seats. Your club’s success depends on it.

RelationSHIFTS: COVID-19 and a ‘New Normal’ for Clubs

This article continues a series of communications from GGA Partners to help private club leaders address challenges confronting their businesses and their employees as a result of the global health crisis. Today, Laurie Martin (Founder/CEO, Life Interrupted Inc.) offers several tips for club leaders to consider while navigating the ‘new normal’.

As a leader, you have made it through the initial weeks running on adrenaline as you and your organization have had to pivot quickly to address the COVID crisis. While you continue adapting to your makeshift workspaces at home, and preparing to keep your people safe, the realities of emotional, physical and psychological upheaval are revealed

Over the past few weeks, I have noticed a common thread of stresses related to adaptation and uncertainty. Phrases like: “Since I’ve been home, I have never worked this hard”, “I need stress-debriefing techniques to keep my sanity” and “I can’t stand this!” demonstrate the need to acknowledge the tensions in our surroundings and start a conversation about finding stability and hope.

Now, clubs around the world are moving into position to open slowly and methodically. As a leader, your fears and concerns for employees and their families, members, and the general public are heightened. The focus has been on best practices to deter or stop COVID-19 from coming to the club.  Now, employees have become essential workers and their stress levels will be heightened.

Leaders will need to create best safety practices that work for their clubs.  They will also need to provide a support system to help employees and members deal with the enormous changes of the new normal at clubs.  Employees will be looking at each other wearing appropriate personal protection equipment and following a series of new safety protocols and wonder if the masks or shields will protect them. Members will now be playing their sport very differently and question whether the club will ever be the same again.

There’s no question, this pandemic has created a different way for clubs to operate now and likely in the future.  The templates of tasks and best practices that clubs around the world have received are only a small part of what employees and leaders need to consider.  Each club is unique, with its own practices and services. As a leader, you will have to determine what works best for the club. You may consider to have a second opinion from an external professional working in risk management/health and safety professional guiding you to opening day.

Here are some tips to consider while coping with the new normal at your club:

Embrace the new normal

Our professional and personal lives have shifted and it is important to accept the reality that things will never go back to the way they were. Create new plans, or enhance previous plans and enjoy the freedom to be creative.  Use the skills and knowledge you’ve accumulated through this crisis.

Choose your thoughts

If we do not choose positive thoughts, we will face sadness and experience that “I give up” feeling. Try to remain optimistic and choose thoughts that will motivate you. You must believe you can do something, or you won’t even try. You can overcome negative thoughts with positive ones.

Stay connected

Fear isolates and distances people. As a leader and an entrepreneur, it is your responsibility to keep your family, friends, employees, colleagues, board of directors, and members connected and updated. Communication, collaboration and transparency are key during this difficult time. Promote video chats, share resources, reach out and ask how everyone is doing, encourage more casual interactions, and spread optimism. This is also an opportunity to learn new things to enhance your knowledge and streamline your business.

Share your feelings

It is beneficial to demonstrate the emotional side of your leadership, especially in tough times where members, friends, family, and colleagues are anxious or uncertain of the impact of COVID-19 on the economy. Now is the time to reach out and ask how others are dealing with working from home or with the stress of COVID-19. It’s also good to share your concerns. Sharing your own vulnerability will help others to do the same. Remember, we are all experiencing similar feelings of grief, stress, uncertainty and living day by day.

Accept diversity

It is important to remember that each one of us has a unique home life. Our lifestyles, habits and priorities all differ, which is coming to light as we collaborate from our homes. Some may be experiencing additional challenges such as financial burdens, potential job loss, death of a loved one, divorce, fear of going back to work, etc., and it is important to be mindful of this. Additionally, our methods of coping differ, so be gentle and try to keep an open mind.  It’s important to create time out for yourself too.

Stay away from deception and misinformation

There is a great deal of fear associated with the COVID-19 pandemic and, unfortunately, this fear has triggered a wave of insecurity, and misinformation. It is important to distance yourself from this when possible. Ignore negativity and work from facts not rumours. Educate yourself by reading reputable, peer-reviewed sources and recognize and address your own fears. Contact an external resource you know in the club industry that provides education and tools that can be resourceful.

Set boundaries

If you live with others in your home, working in tight quarters can cause increased stress nd frustration. It is important to establish boundaries. Determine who is going to be in which room, when, and set an agreed time limit for how long.  This will help minimize disruptions.  Having a clear conversation about how to reasonably share your home space will ultimately reduce conflict. You may want to consider setting boundaries on screen time and media exposure which can reduce the feelings of being overwhelmed and help you gain control of your situation.

Create a routine

If you are working from home, building a routine will help you foster a sense of normalcy and allow you to stay on track. Wake up at your usual time, get dressed as you would normally, have your coffee and breakfast, get your kids ready, stick to some type of exercise regimen. Create a good night-time routine and stay away from reading emails before bed.  This will keep your immune system healthy and boost your resilience.

Take breaks

Taking breaks throughout your workday is pivotal to productivity. Take a 5-10-minute break every hour to stretch, take deep breaths, drink water, have a healthy snack or get some fresh air. You should also take some time to have your lunch each day. Support a local business in your area by ordering food through a delivery service.

Practice self-care

As leaders, it is natural to put the needs of your family, employees and members before your own. However, it is important to take care of yourself too. Take care of your body, your mind, and your spirit.  Make time to unwind.  Practising self-care will reduce your stress, clear your mind, and help you to better support and work with others.

Don’t forget hope

While COVID-19 is impacting our daily routines, it is comforting to know that there are still moments of strength that help us realize we can get through this together. Communities coming together, inspiring stories, businesses opening, and people connecting while respecting physical distancing are all signs of hope that we shouldn’t ignore.

A ‘new normal’ for leaders

As leaders, you’ve already felt the stress and emotional upheaval when the clubs were closed down for the pandemic.  Now you get to experience the stress of anticipating when they will open again, and question whether you’re doing everything you can to keep people safe.  Hopefully, leaders are doing their due diligence by taking the templates and customising the best practices and creating policies in place, ordering personal protective equipment and supplies ahead of time.  Asking for a second opinion by reaching out to the services of risk management or health and safety experts familiar with the club industry to guide them to a new normal for pre- and post-opening day.

Although these days are filled with uncertainty and we continue to feel overwhelmed, disconnected and out of control, it is important remember we are all in this together. There will be an end to this pandemic, and we are going to learn a lot about ourselves as leaders and as people.

 

Laurie Martin, CTTS, EPC, founder of Life Interrupted Inc.

She is an innovator with an ability to change the way club leaders think, both professionally and personally, and to enhance their lives.  Laurie brings over 25 years of risk management and crisis education experience, and more than 17,000 hours of accredited frontline experience.  She educates by using a solid process for preparing for any crisis or critical life interruption, before, during and after.  Laurie’s techniques keep leaders and their teams connected, resilient, focused and to stay safe.  All programs provide education credits.  To learn more, contact Laurie at laurie@lifeinterrupted.ca, or, visit lifeinterrupted.ca.

Talent: The Big Differentiator

This article continues a series of communications from GGA Partners to help private club leaders address challenges confronting their businesses and their employees as a result of the global health crisis. Today, in the first of two articles on strategic people planning, Patrick DeLozier (Director, GGA Partners) and Jodie Cunningham (Partner, Optimus Talent Partners) highlight the importance of talent planning and optimization for a post-COVID-19 future.

A strategic people plan turns vision into reality.

“You can design and create and build the most wonderful place in the world. But it takes people to make the dream a reality.”

– Walt Disney

Every club has a strategy and a corresponding expectation: If it executes the strategy effectively, it will grow and prosper. Underpinning its strategy are detailed plans – financial plans, marketing plans, capital plans and agronomic plans. The most successful businesses, including the most successful private clubs, also have what we consider the most important plan – a people plan.

Creating a people plan – one that aligns the goals of an overall strategy with the talents and passions of your team – is a discipline known as talent optimization. Just as Walt Disney turned over the execution of his vision for “the most wonderful place in the world” to smart managers and thousands of Disney cast members, today’s astute club leaders turn to their teams of dedicated staff to implement their vision for long-term success.

As you face the challenges brought on by this crisis, there is no better time to examine your staffing model and create a strategic people plan to guide your new normal. In a post-pandemic future, your people strategy must change because the world has changed. There are four important phases to navigate to adjust your talent optimization plan:

Phase 1: Adapt your business strategy

Based on how business has changed recently, ask yourself:

 

  • What are you trying to accomplish?
  • What does success look like?
  • How will you flex to meet the demands of your new normal?
  • What new processes/products/services will you offer?
  • What processes/products/services will you eliminate?
  • Operationally and culturally, what’s working? What’s not working?

Recalibrating your strategy will involve tough decisions. You will need to assess the strength of the business, an exercise that will force an examination of people in key management positions, as well as support staff. For help, reach out to your network and bounce ideas off your colleagues. Enlist professional consultants to brainstorm best practices. And don’t be deterred if you hear “that will never work.”  Most great ideas start with critics who recite those exact words.

This is the perfect opportunity to hit the reset button. Think about all the times you wished you could make changes but allowed circumstances to delay acting. Now is the time to give yourself permission to pivot, to try new things and to take calculated risks.

Phase 2: Plot your revised organizational structure

As you finalize your new business strategy, you need to flex your people plan.

 

  • Take time to reimagine how your team should be optimally structured
  • What does your perfect world organizational chart look like?
  • What talents do you need more of? Less of?
  • Don’t think “specific people, specific titles, specific pay rates”
  • Instead, think “positions, responsibilities, behaviors, skills and talents”

As you create this new organizational structure, keep in mind how your operation is changing.  Will there be more curbside service in the future? Will there be fewer group activities? Will there be a greater need for virtual activities? Will there be a less formal food and beverage operation? Will there be a greater need for technology integration?

The Future Is Now

Let’s be clear about why a club business strategy is important:

 

  • It determines where the club is going
  • It gives a sense of direction for the entire club, employees and members alike
  • It supports smarter decision-making

Your club business strategy, which communicates key aspects of why and how the club operates, includes:

 

  • Objectives the club wants to achieve
  • Its services, products, stakeholders and members
  • Guidance on how the club competes and operates in its segment
  • Financial resources required to achieve the objectives and support the operating model

Talent is arguably the last big differentiator a business has. It is what stands between average clubs and innovative clubs. In our next article, we will dig into phases three and four and discuss the process of selecting the right talent to support your revised business strategy and creating a plan to develop that talent for long term success.

Planning For a Crisis

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

On March 4, 2015, a single-engine, World War II-era training plane crashed onto the Penmar Golf Course in Venice, California, shortly after takeoff from a nearby airport. The pilot, who sustained only minor injuries, was none other than Indiana Jones, aka Harrison Ford.

Coverage of the plane’s crash and its famous pilot was extensive in local Southern California markets and across entertainment and mainstream media. A New York Times story the next day quoted spokespeople for the Los Angeles Police Department, the LA Fire Department and the Federal Aviation Administration – but not from the Penmar Golf Course. Public relations professionals would call that an opportunity squandered.

What if Indiana Jones landed on your golf course … or your data system was breached and hundreds of members’ credit card numbers were exposed or, heaven forbid, an employee died after being infected with COVID-19? Are you ready to deal with major media opportunities and crises professionally and in a way that, depending on the event, either enhances or protects the club’s and the course’s reputation and brand?

We like to say that you can’t predict a crisis, but you can – and definitely should – plan for one. The same goes for an opportunity to shine your brand. Here are four important steps to do both:

1. Designate a spokesperson.

Everyone on staff – especially at the management level – should know who has the authority to speak to media regarding these types of events. Usually there is only one person with this authority. Consolidating official comments and responses through one spokesperson – ideally someone with media training – keeps messaging consistent, reduces the likelihood of inaccurate information being disseminated and clarifies sources for media. Everyone at the course and around the club should know to direct all media inquiries to the appointed spokesperson.

2. Establish communications protocols.

The media react and report on their schedule, not yours. That means that you should have an established protocol that identifies and prioritizes what must be done, when it should be done and by whom. Having anticipated the media’s needs – including their first and most logical questions and the steps you’re taking to respond – puts you in control of the situation and keeps you from playing defense as the story unfolds. Other protocols include:

– Knowing which emergency responders should be notified. (Keep their contact information handy and updated.)

– Knowing who will notify the course owner, club president and board members.

– Knowing who will notify staff and what they will be told. (All employees must be notified of dangerous on-the-job conditions.)

3. Prepare for the unexpected.

Plan your work and work your plan. Knowing that unforeseen events always seem obvious in retrospect, develop an after-action perspective to anticipate circumstances that could arise:

– Request that your insurance provider conduct a risk assessment of the course, clubhouse and all club amenities. Conduct what-if evaluations with experienced professionals whose advice can be incorporated into your plans.

– Request a site review and evaluation from police and firefighters to anticipate problems that can be prevented or lessened.

– Assign key managers at your facility regular check-up actions to mitigate risks identified by the experts.

4. Inform and educate staff. 

Knowing what to do is critical. That’s why the military calls it training. Assume direct responsibility for training your team; do not delegate this important duty. When you thoroughly educate team members, they’ll understand that this is a mission-critical topic.

– Conduct department training meetings. Put the collective knowledge and intelligence of your team to work by asking line-level staff to identify any threats or risks.

– Rehearse the unexpected. Stage situational training during off-season or slow periods to help your team focus on preparedness.

What are the odds of Harrison Ford dropping unannounced onto your golf course? Or of a cyberattack or COVID-19 victim at your club? Not good, right? But is that a bet you want to take?

Webinar: A Changing Future for Golf Course Superintendents

This webinar was originally aired by the Florida Chapter of the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America.

The Florida Chapter of the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America (GCSAA) and Henry DeLozier, GGA Partners, have a frank discussion on golf and what the future might look like for golf and golf course superintendents in Florida.

Speaking with Nick Kearns, Director of Green and Grounds at The Oaks Club and President of the Florida GCSAA, Henry shares his big picture perspective on changes resulting from the global health crisis and the details to which golf course superintendents need to be paying attention.

Spotlight:

 

  • Budgets will come under pressure, anticipated economic slowdown and its impact on golf course maintenance budgets.
  • The significance of the golf course superintendent and his/her ability to provide patrons a safe platform to enjoy golf will increase.
  • Emerging trends and best practices in the industry, pre-vaccine and post-vaccine.
  • Accelerated pace of change and impacts on supply chain.
  • Heightened expectations for expertise, prioritization, and communication.
  • And much more.

 

(29 minute watch)

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