This month, Game Plan – Henry DeLozier‘s monthly column in Golf Course Industry Magazine – kicks off a three-part series on staffing for success. First in the series is a look at how the pandemic has changed staffing needs and why superintendents and managers should consider reorganizing their teams and redefining job descriptions. Parts two and three will look at finding, hiring and retaining the right team members and creating the culture that inspires and motivates top performers.
“Never let a good crisis go to waste” is a quote often attributed to Winston Churchill in the days following World War II. Scholars question whether Churchill ever spoke those exact words, but as we make tentative steps to emerge from a pandemic-induced crisis of our own time, the lesson it implies — finding opportunity amidst great difficulty and challenge — rings as timely and as relevant as it would have in Churchill’s day.
In the still-churning wake of the global health pandemic of 2020, maybe the first place we should look for opportunity is with our own staffs. As COVID-19 raced through communities across America, thousands of golf clubs and facilities found themselves on either side of a dilemma. For those places where golf was booming, stretching tee sheets, golf car fleets and maintenance staffs to their limits and beyond, the question was whether to staff up to handle the surge or stay with current staff levels, figuring the wave would eventually crest and return to some semblance of normal. For places the boom never reached, the questions were: How long can we manage to keep our current team intact before payroll takes too much of a bite from dwindling revenues? And among those eventually let go, who will we bring back and who no longer has a place on our team?
By now, many of those calculations and decisions have been made and the ramifications felt. But the lessons they taught should not only endure, but also inform future staffing plans. In the heat of crisis, owners and managers learned who on their teams could take on more responsibility, who had leadership potential and who had reached their ceiling. They learned where they needed additional resources and where resources might be redeployed for better coverage and results. Now it’s time to put those lessons to work with redesigned organization charts and job descriptions.
One thing is for sure: a dynamic job market has changed even more in the last 12 months with continued disruption on the horizon. “The fallout will fundamentally change recruiting and hiring practices long after the pandemic has passed,” recruiting strategist Jack Whatley recently told Forbes.com.
Another certainty is that the war for talent will continue to escalate. Top performers will be in even greater demand because as businesses reshape themselves into leaner, more efficient operations, those top performers are the best value money can buy.
“Twenty years ago, all interns had mechanical skills and no computer knowledge. Now it is just the opposite. They all know how to operate computers, but they can’t change a spark plug,” says Rick Tegtmeier, the long-tenured and highly respected golf course superintendent at Des Moines Golf & Country Club. “It sure doesn’t hurt someone to work at a lesser-budget golf course operation and learn more of the skills that help you become a more rounded superintendent.”
There will never be a better time to take all the names off your org chart and rethink the needs of the club and course, the time and talent required of each of those needs, and the right names to place in those roles. As you go through that exercise, be aware that the pandemic and its economic reverberations have also changed employees’ perspectives.
Workers have had a lot of time recently to reevaluate their careers and question their next moves. Am I in the right job in the right industry? Where could I find more happiness and greater security for me and my family? Is this a stable environment and can I count on a stable paycheck? Where will I be exposed if (or when) another crisis emerges?
“Safety and job stability are at the top of mind for the job seeker now — and that changes what they want in a job,” Whatley says. “Businesses will have to become employee-centric as well as customer-centric.”
Hopefully, you and your facility have weathered this crisis without too much damage. Now’s the time to take advantage of an opportunity it has afforded.