The essence of any club can be felt upon arrival. At the front entrance, at the locker room/ bag drop, in the golf shop, or upon entering the foyer/reception area, there is an immediate and defining sense of the quality and the culture of the club. Driven by a blend of the quality of the facilities, the ambience that is felt, and the degree of professionalism and warmth offered in the opening personal interactions, impressions are instantly made, and tones set. The extent to which a visitor feels the warmth of the welcome, feels comfortable and at ease defines their perception of the club’s quality.
Of course, for such impressions to be very positive doesn’t just happen: it needs commitments on different levels, including facilities, amenities and management, staff – and service. Members want to experience the special moments consistently: that requires the type of staff who will deliver them, all the time. Previous articles in this series have emphasized the importance of delivering the member sensation, wherein the goal is to under promise and over deliver, rather than the opposite.
The question is whether your club has the team to do so.
Further, has the club’s business strategy, board and committees recognised and embraced the commitment? Are they actually investing in their teams to prosper a growth and sustainability? Or, like too many businesses, are they in denial – or using the economic situation as an excuse.
One recent experince I had, which will resonate with many General Managers: when a chairman of a club questioned “why do we have to invest in their training, as they then leave, the reply: if we don’t invest in training and they stay, what do we have on our hands?” Not every club manager has the knowledge and motivational skill to constantly drive their team forward. Clubs need to recognize such cases, and lend greater urgency to training and development plans.
On a recent club visit, an inexperienced General Manager was observed inappropriately criticising a member of staff who had misdirected a guest. The ridiculing of the young lady in the presence of colleagues and members prompted reflection on 30 years in the club industry, motivating and communicating with all ages – and the dramatically different impact of styles.
A General Manager’s job is to mentor, to motivate, and to get them to perform as close to potential as possible. Speaking to groups of managers, I encourage them to be aware that they are also psychologists. They have to evaluate and understand staff psyches, their goals and their fears. As a result, they need to know when to push them and when to put their arm around their shoulder.
The key issue in terms of motivating team members revolves around respect. When a manager and employee are able to communicate clearly, openly and honestly it doesn’t matter what method they use, it is the message they are sharing. However, if a manager feels the need to scream and yell at an employee, they are missing the point of being a quality General Manager. Does yelling work? Maybe sometimes, but most of the time it is probably done out of frustration. A professional quality General Manager who is able to communicate their thoughts clearly and calmly will get more out of their team than the one who is unable to maintain control.
A quality General Manager who yells at an employee may get their attention initially, but eventually will lose them if they do it too much. General Managers are teachers, as well as psychologists and motivators. They must be able to communicate in a balanced and controlled manner. A General Manager must have balance in their communication skills. If they feel they need to get team attention, sometimes raising their voice can work, but repeatedly screaming will eventually result in losing the individual, and the quality of service that members expect to be delivered.
Sometimes special treatment has to be administered – no surprise. Golf management involves smart management skills, including the art of treating individuals differently. Having the ability to empathise with team members is a powerful quality to demonstrate.
It can be disillusioning to find so many golf operations in the United Kingdom, from where the game evolved, falling short in changing attitudes to make the game more desirable for the next generation. As their expectations are totally different to those encased in the 1970s/80s capsule, clubs do need to adapt, as the environment shifts and develops – regardless of individual club culture. Parallel with this is the recent rise of the professional club manager, which suggests that increasing and differing management and leadership skills are high on the agenda for effective management for the future.
Service standards are more important now than at any other period in UK club life, with particular regard towards motivating teams. Too many operations still have amateurs at the helm, hence many clubs are not taking the matter of developing their staff as seriously as they should.
Building a winning service culture team is an essential part of delivering the clubs ethos. For the many club businesses in an economical tussle about future developments, some considerations:
– club businesses, boards, committees, trustees, and owners must recognise that you need strong personnel in place to take the club forward
– clubs need a clear vision of where they want to go
– transparency needs to exist within all departments
– accurate information and knowledge needs to be constantly shared
– maintain the motivation to excel and dominate, so critical in our very competitive market
– fill the expectation of today’s employees for team performance management
– offer guiding principles that show a pathway towards an elite levels of service
– Remember, members, potential prospective members and guests have a choice as to which club they wish to use or join.
Consider these 7 principles towards building Teamwork:
Create a GREAT environment – build a supportive, challenging workplace where communication is encouraged and initiative rewarded. A good work environment offers team members interesting work, growth opportunities, ongoing training and development, and a chance to be heard.
Support the Team – Talk with your team. Make certain they know their jobs and your expectations. Provide the team with clear end goals and the information resources necessary to work towards those goals. Include two way conversations that allow team members to be heard. Value their input and include them in the decision making process.
Ongoing Training and Development opportunities – the key to keeping staff enthusiastic> Involve them in the discovery of new opportunities and innovations. Provide learning opportunities on every level of the club in the form of seminars, educational opportunities or training opportunities. Armed with new skills and motivated by the learning process, they will gladly assume new responsibilities and meet challenges with greater initiative.
Involvement – take time to find out how the team is doing. Make it a priority to have the conversation and find out what their needs are, whether they are being met, and how the club can support them.
Deliver Praise – Respect and appreciation earn respect and appreciation – don’t be shy to say THANK YOU. Genuine appreciation costs nothing, but will yield significant benefits. Recognise even the smaller accomplishments. Let them leave the office feeling Brilliant.
Golf Club Business is FUN – How can you make the workplace more of an adventure? When was the last time you celebrated some achievement at the club, some milestone that everybody can get excited about. Find ways within the club that will make the team want to contribute more and succeed. Celebrating success is the best motivation.
Authenticity and Leadership – an effective influence at the helm, demonstrating the standards, delegating ownership – Walk your Talk
People are each club’s most important asset if they recruit the wrong ones, the definition of the club changes! Hiring the right people creates the opportunity to create real Teamwork within the club.