This blog by Michael Schurman last week sure hit more than one nerve among those who click on to GNN.
For the record, I agree with Michael in theory. I’m just not sure how widespread the bullying, berating and badgering of staff that he discusses in the blog is in the golf industry.
That’s not to say it doesn’t exist, only that I’m not sure to what extent and Michael himself says in his latest blog that many people in golf do get it right with how they treat employees who have earned the respect he talks about in his original blog.
It’s also not to say that all employees are victims, even if it does cause a commotion when they are let go for legitimate reasons. Even those who aren’t pulling their weight have friends on staff who resent them getting canned for that very reason.
What Michael is talking about, the way I read it, is the person who injects personality and charisma into a business that’s supposed to be all about fun, somebody who might say something to management about an important issue, even if it goes against their philosophy.
The fact that the person cares enough to say something is what makes a valuable employee, especially if the suggestion comes from the heart, experience or what he/she has picked up while dealing with members/patrons.
Anything less than that is the apathy that we’ve been discussing recently on GNN.
In today’s environment, with an uncertain economy and declining participation rates, it isn’t easy running a club and certainly, tough decisions have to be made that will likely raise the ire of employees, either vocally or silently.
On the other side, boards/management should understand that employees have families to be concerned about and that the old “just be glad you have a job” routine only causes resentment. Masking it with silence isn’t good for the employee or the facility.
There are obviously exceptions to this rule, but I find generally that in whatever business I deal with, be it a gas station or a retail outlet or restaurant, many employees are wooden in the way they present themselves these days.
The ones who stand out, at least to me, are the ones who are gregarious, outgoing and natural, similar to the rogue and wisecracker that Schurman talked about in his blog. That will go a long way towards me patronizing that establishment again.
That especially holds true in a golf environment that is supposed to be an escape from a busy work week, a place that’s supposed to be fun.
Employees can go a long way in providing that atmosphere, the good ones knowing how far they can go with each individual. If you have a good employee, hang on to that person as long as his/her expectations aren’t too high, which often happens.
That type of employee comprises your front-line staff which deals with members/patrons frequently. If treated with respect, they can provide valuable input and be the reason that those members/patrons are back the next day and the day after that.
The golf professional who played regularly with members, gave them tips to improve their games along the way and maybe even a nip of whiskey in the office afterwards is from days gone by, for the most part.
These days, it’s accepted that many are more on the business side, some with their duties in management or other aspects of the facility such as food and beverage. It’s good business and bottom line is more important than ever these days.
Yet, to improve that business do you gut its very essence, that being the fun and recreational side, by getting rid of an employee who is highly thought of by the people who contribute to the bottom line?
Do members/patrons appreciate somebody they see occasionally in the hallway or somebody who waves from their office or should that employee be seen on a regular basis out on the golf course or stop to talk with them about what happened on the PGA Tour that weekend?
If improving member/patron relations by stopping to chat or playing the occasional round is in the past, does it do any harm to kick it old school every now and again in what’s supposed to be a lighthearted atmosphere around the club?
If you have the rogue or wisecracker that Schurman describes, use that person to your advantage as long as other aspects of his/her job are being handled. Removing such a person is cutting a potential soul out of the business.
That rogue shouldn’t be seen as a threat, but rather, an asset.
Compelling personalities that members/patrons enjoy and look up to should be cherished, not scorned. Likewise, bullying and berating, if it does go on, will only lead to lack of motivation, even if it isn’t outwardly obvious.
Golf continues to look for answers and at least part of the answer is going old school to a time when people looked forward to seeing the club pro and other employees in the shop.
No amount of technology will stop golf from being a people business unless we have androids playing for us one day.
As blogger Kevin Thistle pointed out in this blog on employee absenteeism, you’ll never have that kind of a problem if workers are engaged, appreciated and see a future in what they’re doing, rather than just working for a paycheque.
Having new ideas, personality and all hands on deck to face golf’s challenges seems a better way to take on golf’s challenges.