Thursday, May 7, 2015

Growing your staff this spring

With the two weeks of spring now out of the way, summer has practically set in.  This is the transition season that superintendents have waited for all winter. For those who came into the golf season in great shape, the course is set and standard practices are underway. For those less fortunate, the recovery process is in full swing, and often more aggressive cultivation and agronomic practices are dominating the job board.  No matter the spring outcome, this part of the season is dominated by stress.  How you handle the stress and pressures of your job will go a long way toward your success, and the success of your staff.

I have recently completed the three-day Applied Leadership Institute offered by the University of New Hampshire’s Professional Development and Training department.  I hope to include many of the topics that were covered in the program here on my blog from time to time.  I will not look to recreate leadership messages you may have heard at educational events, but more to give you items to consider at pertinent times of the season.

Spring time means staffing time and that can be stressful in itself.  Those returning from previous seasons are often relied on to pick up where they left off, with very little training.  Often, changes made in the off-season need to be discussed and put into action.  For some team members, change is looked at as positive and embraced, but not all staff will feel that way.  Will you get pushback?  Will they comply for a time, and then revert back to the old ways?  How will you handle this?  Communication can be used to engage those who are non-compliant, but it may come down to you as a leader making a decision to commit to the change, or to the non-compliant team member.  Will you be ready to choose?

How will your new employees fit into your team and facility plans?  You will tell them, and they will certainly learn what you expect of them.  But what will they expect of you?  Feel free to ask them, you might be surprised at what they tell you!  Proper training and support will be the key to their (and your) success.  Competitive wages are important, but studies often show that financial benefits are not always on the top of the list.  Think of what else might matter.  Job-life balance is often critical to success.  Does your new hire have a wife, family or even just a life outside of work?  These many areas of concern will dictate mood and effort.  Actively working with staff to balance these needs will help ensure team success.  These will be new eyes asking questions about some very standard practices.  Often we get set in our ways and new ideas can lead to improved processes.  Listen, encourage questions and reward creative thinking.  An eager employee is a terrible thing to waste!  Work to engage them with other staff members.  A new job can be intimidating enough when they do not know others around them well enough to socialize.  Your staff veterans will often help answer the questions new hires are too afraid to ask.  Empower them when they are ready to perform duties for you and the team.  Lastly, and above all, respect them through the learning process.  Not everything they are asked to do will be easy, and there will be mistakes along the way.  Show respect for them as a person, and they will respect you for it.

Please let me know if you found this helpful, or if there are other staff related items you thought should have been included.  I would really appreciate any feedback!

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