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Jim McLoughlin: Career Advancement is JOB ONE!


GCSAA Priorities: Upgrade The Nominating Process And Return To Transparent Governance

Posted 26 May 2016 · 2,105 views

Coming out of the winter of 1980, several chapters asked GCSAA to survey all the chapters to inquire whether they wanted to be mailed (no e-mail then) the minutes of GCSAA Board meetings for distribution to their chapters board members and to any of their chapter members requesting a copy.

 

The chapters voted 95-0 to implement this policy that served the Association well as evidenced by the fact that every existing activity/program given attention at the time realized sizable growth because the members felt for the first time that they were part of the team. This was a transformative time for GCSAA that everyone thought would last indefinitely.

 

Unfortunately, however, within a few years a disruptive headquarters relocation battle within GCSAA unsettled everything, politically divided the membership, and consequently, the still relatively new policy of distributing Board meeting minutes was abandoned and has not been revived to this day.

 

The Consequences Of Failed Leadership

The most critical consequence of this relocation skirmish was that all the headway that had been made up to that time to advance the job security and access to outreach counseling on behalf of the members stalled and quickly dissipated - not to return to this day.

 

For a detailed listing of the devastation wrought upon superintendents and their families when politics over-rides job performance and costs them their jobs - see April 28, 2016 blog message.

 

Why Board Efforts To Address Job Security Matters Fails

Through the years GCSAA watchers including myself have asked well-respected leaders within the membership why they consistently decline invitations to serve on the GCSAA Board? The persistent answer always has been:

 

"Because the nominating committee has been delivering more 'nice guys' with the best intentions' to the GCSAA Board than natural leaders who are needed to make the tough decisions. Important policy proposals consistently fail by 2-7 and 3-6 votes and I don't want to spend that much time traveling the country, attending meetings when so little gets done - especially when I know my one vote will not make a difference."

 

Clearly, the nominating process requires adjustments to ensure that it will become more effective delivering dominant leadership on a year-to-year basis to the GCSAA Board - because without enhanced leadership at the top the two embattled issues of our time: namely, making better job security and access to outreach counseling available to the membership will never get on the radar.

 

Recommended Plan Of Action

Following are four recommended steps that would upgrade the nominating process and return GCSAA to a much-heralded era of operational transparency.

 

Step Number One:     

Only chapter past presidents would be eligible to be nominated to the GCSAA Board. This would produce several hundreds of potentially qualified nominees at any one time from all the chapters.

 

Rationale: Logic suggests that chapter presidents would have demonstrated the necessary leadership qualities to a greater degree than any other official, or member within a chapter.

 

GCSAA nominating policy should always ensure advancing the very best qualified leaders to its Board.

 

Step Number Two:    

Only chapter boards can nominate past presidents to the GCSAA Board with the following understandings: only one past president can be nominated each election cycle; and the nominee must be a member of the same chapter as the endorsing board.

 

Rationale:  Chapter boards are the best "quality control" element available to ensure that only the best candidates get nominated to the GCSAA Board.

 

Step Number Three:

Sponsoring chapters would be required to submit a personal career web site profiling the career, professional vision and lifestyle of their nominees when notifying the GCSAA Nominating Committee of their selections.

 

The nominee would be responsible for designing/developing his own website - using outside counseling support, or not - which the endorsing chapter board must approve of before submitting its nomination to the GCSAA Nominating Committee.

 

The nominees personal career website would include, in part: a series of appropriate links depicting the nominees educational, career and lifestyle accomplishments; a full text presentation of all writings published by the nominee; a +/- 500 word essay stating what the nominee's short and long term visions are for GCSAA; and for those seeking re-election to the Board a statement of the nominee's issue by issue voting record while serving previously on the GCSAA Board.

 

The endorsing chapter would pay for the development of its nominee's personal career web site - the cost of which must stay within the limits established by GCSAA.

 

Rationale: Because the nominees' web site addresses could be included within each candidate's information package that GCSAA sends out to all its members before an election, the concept of a personal career web site guarantees that there will be a well-informed voting membership attending every GCSAA annual meeting.

 

Step Number Four:  

It is imperative that GCSAA returns to be the totally transparent organization it once was, which would require reinstating the policy of e-mailing Board meeting minutes to the board members of all of the 100-plus chapters.

 

Rationale: The primary fallout of GCSAA failing to restore the policy authorizing the distribution of Board meeting minutes would be that the members would continue to have absolutely no idea what the voting records were of the members they are electing as officers, or Board members.

 

Accordingly, without access to nominees' voting records, there would no available way for members to judge whether any candidate for election was an effective leader, or not.

 

Can anyone imagine a U.S. Senator, or a U.S. Congressman running for re-election without the American people knowing of their voting records? The entire election process would be declared unconstitutional and shut down.

 

Where Does GCSAA Go From Here?

Of course, this brings everything back to the original source of the problem; namely being dependent on the GCSAA Board to vote passage of important policy legislation.  

 

The consensus opinion, again, of GCSAA watchers is that the Board would more than likely be willing to upgrade the nominating process. But, becoming a totally transparent organization could be another matter.

 

But then, GCSAA might want to create a second transformative era similar to that referenced earlier above because this would launch GCSAA, its members and the profession to new national levels of recognition and respect.

 

Because the long-range welfare of every golf course superintendent across the land will totally depend in the years ahead on realizing the two goals of upgrading the GCSAA nominating process and returning the Association to transparent governance everyone should be well-motivated to get the job done.

 

It is time for leaders within GCSAA and at the chapter level to take charge, organize a campaign and lead!




Why Most Superintendents Have Jobs, Not Careers And What To Do About It

Posted 28 April 2016 · 3,809 views

 

While Jim McLoughlin's blog series was completed a short while ago, an additional thesis with an important message will be posted from time to time.

 

The following question relating to the career welfare of every golf course superintendent across the country has to be asked and should be addressed:

 

"Why have GCSAA Boards continuously failed to address the singular most important issue of their time? Namely, that it is time to liberate superintendents from the long-standing conundrum where a solid majority of employers consistently deny their superintendents access to written employment contract protection and outreach program support, which inevitably deprive superintendents of on-going job security and undermines their career advancement."

 

Proof of the pudding, as they say, lies is the fact that neither GCSAA's nor any chapter's bylaws or mission statements past or present mentions that the primary responsibility of these organizations is to provide priority support for the concepts of job security, career welfare and outreach program counseling for their members.

 

Because some are not familiar with the idea of "outreach" programming, following is a general definition of the concept:

 

Outreach is a career-salvaging concept where professional counselors provide the following support within the job/employment world: First - by making contact with dismissed employees to help sustain family morale until lost careers can be restarted; Second - by helping dismissed employees restart their careers, or to initiate new careers; and Third - by helping retiring employees initiate second careers if they so wish.

 

There is a reason why corporate America and the U.S. military are so fully committed to the idea of outreach programming, which is a concept the golf course superintendents' organizations should consider adopting because their need for fair and balanced employment practices are the equal of any job-based society across America. 

 

A LOOK AT THE SCOPE OF THE DEVASTATION WROUGHT

 

Few throughout the national golf community have born witness to the full scope of the devastation wrought when superintendents are dismissed without obvious cause because, lacking written contract protection, they too often become job vulnerable whenever political "turf wars" distract club administrations away from their intended course.

 

The seldom-noticed but always disturbing reality is that superintendents face the following family destabilizing situations when confronted with a politically-based short-notice forfeiture of their jobs: loss of the family's  primary income; mortgage payments and children's college tuition fees are put in jeopardy; employer-provided housing is quickly term-limited; family health coverage fades; children will generally have to change school systems; severance packages are curtailed; and finally victimized superintendents are often required to sign confidentiality agreements which inhibits their ability to defend themselves in the forum of industry opinion and, therefore, to successfully pursue their next jobs.

 

And last but not least, dismissed superintendents repeatedly face the daunting task of seeking their next job without the benefit of their former employers' backing and without encouragement or career counseling from yet to be established outreach programs (see above) - a somewhat lethal combination that more times than not terminates careers.

 

Interestingly, CMAA and PGA members generally have ready access to written contract protection and, therefore, avoid all the above stated ills that befall superintendents who generally work without this protection.

 

VICTIMS' REACTIONS

 

TurfNet has provided further insight into the world of the arbitrarily-dismissed superintendent by publishing the following victims' consensus opinion on the subject:

 

"I was shell-shocked and felt like I was being stabbed in the back; its like the grief experienced from a job loss is similar to the grief suffered because of the death of a close family member" - all of which puts untold stress on the marriages of those involved."

 

A reminder that this matter is no small kettle of fish is the fact that reliable surveys constantly remind us that roughly 80% of golf course superintendents are being continuously denied access to written contract job protection and are, therefore, always job vulnerable despite being the only essential work force throughout golf. 

 

This massive injustice strips away any illusion that golf course superintendents will be able to enjoy the long term benefits of "career" employment; rather, their only remaining option is to settle for year-to-year jobs that can be put in jeopardy any time by the under-currents of course politics, or by the changing of the guard up their chains of command.

 

Clearly, the above described situation will continue on indefinitely until the nominating process delivers enough natural leaders from within the membership to the GCSAA Board to effectively address this challenge. 

 

RECOMMENDED PLAN OF ACTION

 

The following plan of action will briefly present concepts within a long range plan format designed to address the job security issues presented above - with details to be made available at a later date.

 

Unfortunately, there is no quick fix to the job security issues profiled above because - quite logically - if this matter could be easily dealt with it would have been dealt with long before now. 

 

PHASE ONE  (Implement when ready - program can be immediately operational):

 

Pending the development of formal profession-wide outreach programming, chapters should establish interim outreach committees consisting of veteran and/or retired superintendents and their wives who would be asked to implement the outreach program defined above as best they can until more formal counseling becomes available at a later date.

 

PHASE TWO  (Implement when ready - chapters will comply a few at a time over two years):

 

Concurrently amend the GCSAA and chapter bylaws by following the procedures presented in Article XII to add the following policy to the bylaws and mission statements of these associations.

 

"The primary purposes for which this Corporation and its affiliated chapters were formed are to help to secure the jobs and to advance the career welfare of its members; and furthermore to also make professional outreach program counseling available to its members through its chapter infrastructure."

 

PHASE THREE  (Implement when ready - program can be set-up quickly - then chapters have to hire qualified Executive Directors and have them attend the training program - over all it will be five years before majority of chapters have their Executive Directors qualified and in place - but progress will be forth coming sooner as early compiling chapters get things done):

 

Because Executive Directors must be the eventual outreach counselors for their chapter members, GCSAA would develop a training program that would: First - circulate a model job description for the position to each chapter - a sample of which is presented later in this blog series; and Second - provide an online course of study with testing to prepare the Executive Directors to become effective outreach counselors for their chapters.

 

THE REAL CHALLENGE

 

The real problem with trying to address the above employment-based grievances is the fact that - except for a GM, a board member, or a chairman or two at some courses - over 90% of the administrators and players at the nation's golf courses are generally unaware of the inequitable employment practices superintendents have to deal with every year because this is by design the best kept secret in golf.

 

Therefore, any success to be gained here will have to be predicated upon a well-conceived non-threatening education program directed toward the nation's national golf community.

 

In summary: while the above action plan is clearly do-able over a modest period of time, it will require the natural leaders within the membership to "come out of the closet," to stand tall, to make things happen and for the first time bring pride to a profession - a goal that, once realized, will draw the golfing world toward it and by so doing will open the door to resolving the long-standing employment issues of our time.

 




Qualified Chapter Executive Directors Are Key To Superintendents' Career Advancement

Posted 02 March 2016 · 2,281 views

During the late 1970s GCSAA unexpectedly found itself floundering with its future in doubt because its trade show (now the GIS), magazine, dues revenues and member counseling programs were all suffering because the Association was conducting business within the high risk "not-for-profit" business world without the benefit of having a definitive mission statement to guide it through troubled waters.

 

There are over 40,000 n-f-p associations in the country with the golf industry housing about 300 of them - including the CMAA, GCSAA, PGA and their regional chapters/sections. But only those few (NGF and USGA) with definitive mission statements requiring that private sector expertise be incorporated into their management agenda realize their targeted objectives.

 

It should be further noted that in addition to the above mentioned operational shortcomings, GCSAA's members were being denied deserved recognition as employers nation-wide generally strove to curtail their job security and career advancement opportunities, as well as the quality and scope of their compensation packages. The collective impact of these career stalling initiatives was that the golfing world saw golf course superintendents more as a "blue collar" work force than as a college-educated professional work force.

 

To counteract all of the above operational failings, the 1979 GCSAA Board unanimously decided that private sector business experience was needed to address these shortcomings, which led to my being hired as CEO. My marching orders upon arrival were to prepare/implement a first time GCSAA mission statement - a draft of which follows - that would define the Association's purpose, address its above listed operational failings of the day and ensure the Associations future welfare:

 

GCSAA's primary purpose is dedicated to ensuring the job security and to advancing the career welfare of its members.

 

GCSAA's secondary purposes include making an on-going commitment to employ the better business practices of the day to ensure its operational success and committing to enhance the enjoyment, growth and vitality of the game of golf.

 

The above first-time mission statement had an immediate positive impact on the GCSAA world by effectively remedying all its shortcomings (except one) referenced above over a relatively short period of time.

 

However, the one objective stated within the "primary purpose" language of the above GCSAA mission statement - namely, securing the jobs and advancing the careers of its members - was never given the necessary attention or the time needed to evolve because an all-encompassing political battle between the GCSAA leadership and its members as to whether GCSAA should relocate its headquarters to Florida diverted attention away from this critical issue.

 

By the time a final decision was made to keep GCSAA's headquarters in Lawrence, the pivotal issue of GCSAA committing to ensuring its members' jobs and advancing their careers was long forgotten and has not been resurrected to this day. But as might be expected - the overwhelming career and family devastation wrought when superintendents lose their jobs more for political reasons than for a weak job performance continues on unabated to this day.

 

Neither GCSAA's present mission statement, nor those of its chapters make any mention today of what had previously been mandated as the Association's primary purpose some twenty-five years ago: namely, to ensure the job security and to advance the career welfare of its members through gaining access for the first time to legally binding written employment contracts - an opportunity readily made available to CMAA and PGA members.

 

Recommended Plan Of Action

Logic might suggest that the present task of attempting to restore the thinking presented within the 1979 mission statement as presented above would be quite simple; namely - resurrect the original GCSAA mission statement, get Board approval to re-establish it as the mission statement of the day and proceed from there.

 

Sounds good but a new element has found it way into the scenario; namely, that it has become abundantly clear that chapter board and/or committee members are not equipped to fill the vital role as on-going stewards of their respective mission statements. The reason for this is because they generally don't have the necessary skill sets to be effective stewards and won't be able to acquire them on the job because their tenures as board/committee members are term-limited denying them the opportunity to provide the steady hand needed to keep their chapter mission statements on course.

 

Clearly, the one person within chapter administrations that is hired to provide "continuous" year-to-year service is the chapter Executive Director. Accordingly, he alone, when properly hired against the standard of an appropriate job description (see January 18th blog message), will be equipped to serve as an effective steward of his chapter's mission statement. 

 

Reminder: the many chapter Executive Directors already on board were hired without the benefit of the job description presented within the above referenced January 18th blog message and, therefore, should be trained, or replaced.

 

The challenge here goes a bit further because while the chapters are not experienced/qualified to hire and train their Executive Directors themselves - the combined team of GCSAA and the chapters is well qualified. 

 

Therefore, the observation must be made: to establish effective member-oriented career planning and outreach programming today it will be necessary for both GCSAA and its chapters to concurrently develop and implement "complementing" model mission statements. 

 

Examples of these two mission statements follow:

 

Model GCSAA Mission Statement

 

GCSAA is a national member service organization of golf course superintendents and their assistants with a primary mission, in conjunction with its chapters: (I)  to support and advance the career welfare of its members and (ii) to help restart the careers of these same members, when necessary, through effective outreach program counseling.

 

This is to include GCSAA and its chapters: first - acknowledging the indispensable role chapter Executive Directors must play in both serving as stewards of their chapters mission statements and supporting/advancing the careers of their members; and second - establishing an online "Chapter Executive Director Training Program" to prepare these COO level executives once hired to be effective field leaders in support of their chapters' mission statements.

 

Thereafter, GCSAA's mission would focus on being a responsible steward of the environment; tracking the legislative process; developing scholarship and research programming as needs require; and contributing to the general welfare of the game of golf.

 

Chapter "Complementing" Mission Statement

 

The primary purpose of this chapter is to coordinate with GCSAA initiatives to promote the career welfare, to enhance the job security of and to provide outreach programming assistance to their common members as needed, which is to include coordinating the establishment of a GCSAA-driven chapter Executive Director Training Program.

 

Valued secondary chapter functions include: conducting the necessary surveys to make regional golf course operational and employment data available to its members; in conjunction with GCSAA, making model employment documents available to its members as need arises; maintaining solid local community ties; and establishing a regional grievance mechanism whereby contested employer-employee issues can be constructively resolved via arbitration. (See July 24th blog message.)

 

The above two model mission statements illustrate an important concept: that n-f-p organizations without appropriate mission statements are like ships sailing the seas without navigation systems - the exact reason why the vast majority of superintendents have not been able to secure their jobs or to advance their careers to levels justified by the the quality of their year-to-year work product.

 

Chapter Executive Directors Are The Key

 

It should be understood that the absolute key to golf course superintendents realizing their long sought after career stabilizing goal of gaining access to legally binding written contract protection and all the previously denied benefits this would bring is their chapters hiring qualified Executive Directors because - using an analogy to make this point - competent Executive Directors are like sheep dogs herding their flock (i.e.- chapter members) through challenging circumstances to their intended places in life.




The Challenging Task Of Hiring A Chapter Executive Director

Posted 25 January 2016 · 1,488 views

It is recommended that last week's blog message entitled, "The Indispensable Role Of The Chapter Executive Director" be reviewed before reading the blog message below.

 

Appropriate job descriptions for a chapter Executive Director define the job as a COO (Chief Operating Officer) level assignment. (See Jan. 18th blog message.) However, be cautioned that hiring at the COO level is one of the more challenging personnel assignments throughout the small business and corporate worlds because it requires experience to execute effectively.

 

Yet, this challenge has to be met because at this point chapters are routinely hiring Executive Directors without appropriate job descriptions and, accordingly, are hiring Executive Directors in name only without the necessary qualifications to act as stewards of their chapters' mission statements.

 

Consequently, job security with all its related issues and much needed outreach program counseling support remain unrealized goals throughout the profession.

 

The Good and Bad Search Approaches To Hiring A Chapter Executive Director

 

1. Best Approach: Hopefully, GCSAA will soon establish an in-house "chapter counseling department" whose primary duties would be:

 

a. To counsel chapters through the process of hiring Executive Directors making sure that chapters rely on the job description presented within the January 18th blog message when hiring an Executive Director.

 

b. To counsel/monitor newly hired Executive Directors' early job performance as stewards of their chapters' mission statements.

 

c. To establish online educational programming to prepare chapter Executive Directors for their assignments once hired.

 

d. To evaluate the possibility of establishing a GCSAA driven chapter Executive Director certification program.

 

2. Weak Approach: Hire a search firm to identify a number of quality candidates to interview and then to lead the interview process. Not the best approach because it could be expensive and because search firms have traditionally had too little experience within the golf industry to be effective hiring agents.

 

3. Guaranteed To Fail Approach: The chapters would continue to hire Executive Director themselves. This is a proven failed approach because of the historic chapter track record of 100% failed hirings through the years. Hiring an Executive Director is a lot different than hiring an assistant, or a mechanic. These are two different worlds.

 

Because this approach is where inexperienced search committees consistently flounder, it is suggested that chapter search committees refer to the "Qualifications Check List For Interviewing Executive Director Candidates" that is presented later in this blog message to establish a valid list of issues to question candidates about and to identify the better candidates.

 

Detailing The Search Process

Regardless of which one of the above three hiring formats are used, each would benefit from the practice of hiring retired military and retired corporate executives as prime candidates for the position of chapter Executive Director because they are mature, experienced leaders with pension plans in place that would negate the necessity of paying unwarranted high salaries and they would love to have the job.

 

To implement any of the above three search approaches place the following type ad in some combination of the following: the regional Wall Street Journal, regional  golf magazines, market web sites and local newspapers. This initiative should produce all the qualified candidates needed.

 

GOLF EXECUTIVE WANTED

A regional golf association is looking to fill the newly created position of Executive Director. See association web site (www.golfassn.com) for a listing of job qualifications and job description. Retired military and corporate executives encouraged to apply. Interested parties should forward a 350 word statement summarizing how their experience correlates with job profile along with a resume to: P.O. Box 235, Golftown XX xxxxx.

 

Reminder: If a chapter is too small to justify hiring an Executive Director for itself, hire one Executive Director to serve two or more neighboring chapters.

 

If golf course superintendents are perceived to be the indispensable work force in golf, then their properly qualified chapter Executive Directors should be looked upon as the equivalent of well-trained "sheep dogs" who successfully meet their responsibility of corralling and moving the flock to its intended destination.

 

Meanwhile to begin to allow readers to become familiar with the key role chapter Executive Directors must play as defined by the previously above referenced model job description in the January 18th blog message, read the immediately following, "Qualifications Check List For Hiring a Chapter Executive Director" below. Understand that the world is full of people who would kill to find a job in golf like this.

 

FYI: Only about half of the chapters have hired an Executive Director to date and none of these were engaged based on the Qualifications Check List presented below; consequently, these hirings are not realizing their intended goals.

 

Now, after reading through and becoming familiar with the check list below, imagine the kind of job security support a well-qualified Executive Director will be able to deliver to his chapter members at some near future time.

 

Qualification Checklist for Interviewing/Hiring Chapter Executive Director Candidates

 

Personal Qualifications (3 points each):

  • Innate leadership potential.
  • A neat appearance in person and dress.
  • A personal demeanor that commands respect.
  • A demonstrated self-starting enthusiastic approach toward work.
  • A profound belief in the unique role of the golf course superintendent.
  • Familiarity with the public and private sectors of golf.
  • An ability to become an effective spokesperson for golf and the profession.
  • A commitment to play golf regularly with a USGA approved handicap.
  • A Rules Of Golf literacy.    

 

Primary Skill Set Qualifications (5 points each)

  • An ability to develop and support chapter mission statements. 
  • An ability to be a spokesperson for the career welfare of chapter members. 
  • Familiarity with employee outreach programs. 
  • The ability to develop/present seminar programs. 
  • Effective publication writing capabilities.
  • Web site development and maintenance (updating) literacy. 
  • Database development, analysis and data distribution literacy. 

 

Secondary Skill Set Qualifications (4 points each)

  • Familiarity with chapter/industry orientation programming.
  • Experience in writing effective job descriptions.
  • Sound management and budget experience.
  • Investment management experience.
  • Professional counseling experience.
  • Community service experience.

 

No candidate is expected to possess all the experience profiled within the above check-list. Accordingly, candidates should be evaluated based on their weighted cumulative qualifications. 

 

FYI: An Executive Director with a total evaluation score that approximates +/-62 will do an exemplary job; that approximates +/-47 will do a good job; and that approximates +/-35 will do a mediocre job.




The Indispensable Role Of The Chapter Executive Director

Posted 18 January 2016 · 9,312 views

The purpose of this blog message is to identify the appropriate role of the chapter Executive Director, which is concisely stated within the following model chapter Executive Director job description:

 

Chapter Executive Director: General Duties & Responsibilities

 

The Executive Director shall serve as the chapter COO . . . .

 

The Executive Director's fundamental responsibility is to act as a "steward" of his chapter's mission statement in the following ways: to ensure the chapter has a valid mission statement (as presented in the January 6th blog) in place and if not to lead the effort to correct this oversight through board action; then, to support the implementation of the chapter's mission statement by serving as a regional spokesman to best ensure that no superintendent is unfairly dismissed; that fair employment practices are established through educational writings and forums; that agreed to separation agreements are honored; that effective outreach programming is established for all chapter members in need; and that binding arbitration would be used to settle employment disputes throughout the chapter's jurisdiction.   (See July 24th blog message.)

 

Thereafter, the Executive Director shall contribute to policy-making and execute decisions made by the Board of Directors; shall be responsible for the administration of the chapter; and shall promote the game of golf and the golf course superintendents' unique role within the Game.

 

To the best of my knowledge, not one single chapter's bylaws, constitution, or mission statement contains the above job description.

 

Chapter Executive Director Employment Status

  1. Only about half of the GCSAA chapters have engaged an Executive Director and those that do have done so without the benefit of a job description similar to the model presented above.
  1. Consequently, the present array of chapter Executive Directors that have been so randomly hired serve as the equivalent of office managers - a worthy position in its own right - but not up to what is needed to serve as stewards of their chapters mission statements; and their members suffer accordingly. (See Jan 6th blog message.)
  1. To further accentuate the problem, many chapters find themselves overpaying their faux Executive Directors at the going salary range for the position ($30,000 to $40,000/yr.), but are receiving only +/- $20,000/yr. of office manager service. A mis-use of funding without any reward.

FYI: Chapter Boards should not steward their own mission statements because board members have not been prepare to do this and because they turn over too frequently - while Executive Directors are and don't.

  1. If a chapter has too few members to justify hiring and paying for its own Executive Director (and there are more than a few of these situations) - itis recommended that one Executive Director be hired to serve a combination of several neighboring chapters.

 

Without a true Executive Director serving as a steward of their mission statements, the chapters become the equivalent of a ship sailing the high seas without a navigation system.

 

FYI: While the PGA sections' mission statements remain incomplete, through the years their Executive Directors have intuitively grown into the equivalent of the model job description presented above. Accordingly, no course administration dares to mistreat a PGA golf professional because it will pay a price. Golf course superintendents deserve the same protection.

 

The Challenge Of Hiring A Chapter Executive Director

 

Hiring a COO anytime, anywhere is a challenge that GCSAA chapters are not equipped to do effectively on their own. Accordingly, I would recommend against chapters trying to hire Executive Directors to fill the above job description on their own because I have not seen a chapter do a good job of this in my 30-plus years of monitoring the matter chapter by chapter.

 

Next week's blog message will detail a recommended search process for hiring a qualified chapter Executive Director.




Prototype Chapter Mission Statement: The Key To Members' Job Security

Posted 06 January 2016 · 2,181 views

The purpose of this blog message is to demonstrate that a chapter without an effective mission statement is like an airplane flying without a navigation system. Nobody knows how to get to where they want to go; and missions fail accordingly.

 

What Is The Status Of Chapter Mission Statements?

Appalling, because the reality is that about half of GCSAA chapters do not have a mission statement and the mission statements of the remaining half of the chapters are too vaguely worded and miss identifying what their chapters' primary missions are and, therefore, do not serve a vital purpose.

 

In my 30-plus years of interacting with the 100-plus GCSAA chapters I have not come upon one chapter with an appropriate mission statement and I have reviewed them all.   

 

What Price Do Chapter Members Pay For This Oversight?

The worst possible price because the mission statements that are in place fail to recognize the chapters most vital responsibility: to support member superintendents in how to best secure, advance and, when necessary, recapture their careers. Without this support the vast majority of superintendents' careers are the equivalent of being deserted on an ocean island - alone.

 

Without this stated purpose the following unrelenting difficulties routinely invade the world of golf course superintendents and their families:

 

  • All the many painful ills brought about because roughly 80% of established golf course superintendents are denied the courtesy of written contract protection? (See Sept 25th blog message.)
  • These misfortunes persist because those up their chains of command are never presented with the educational opportunities to become superintendent literate.
  • Artificially shortened careers result when those up the chains of command prefer to replace proven veteran superintendents than pay them an escalating fair wage.

 

It might be of interest to know that the mission statements of the PGA sections and CMAA chapters are in similar states of disrepair for different reasons - all the by-product of a not-for-profit business format.

 

Example Of An "Ineffective" Chapter Mission Statement

Following is a live chapter mission statement that is similar in tone and scope to most of the chapter mission statements in place today:

 

The mission of the ABC Golf Course Superintendents Association is to provide for and enhance the recognition of the golf course superintendent as a professional and to advance the profession of the golf course superintendent through education and fellowship.

 

Critique:

Clearly, though well intended, the above sample chapter mission statement fails to identify the chapter's prime responsibility: to provide effective career-planning counsel and outreach programming throughout its membership.

 

Example Of An "Effective" Model Chapter Mission Statement

In the interest of advancing the professional image of the golf course superintendent and the ethical treatment of its members, the primary function of this chapter is - in conjunction with GCSAA - to promote the career welfare and to enhance the job security of its members in all the many ways possible (see Dec 11th blog message), which is to include providing access to effective member-oriented outreach programming when necessary and the hiring of a qualified Executive Director to monitor and implement the chapter mission statement itself.

 

Valued secondary chapter functions include: being a responsible steward of the environment; continuing the well-respected scholarship and research programming and so on.

 

Lets face reality: superintendents will not be able to earn respect as a "profession" (clearly individual superintendents do earn this respect) and the job security they deserve until their chapters begin to resolve key employment issues through interaction with their members' course administrations as stated within the above model mission statement. What we have now is not a way for superintendents to live.

 

The Role Of The Chapter Executive Director

The primary responsibility of chapter Executive Directors, which is to support and implement their chapters' mission statements in a manner that will bring universal pride and vitality to the profession, will be addressed in detail in coming blog messages.

 




Insights For The New Year Or Any Time

Posted 16 December 2015 · 2,020 views

Superintendents No.1 Asset: Their Work Ethic

Ask the average golfer, or the country's many superintendents themselves, "What is the golf course superintendents' Number One Asset?" The answers that come forth cover a wide variety of skills (communications skills, technical expertise, quality greens, etc.) all of which with the best of intentions miss the mark.

 

A consensus of industry-wide opinion suggests that what separates the core of golf course superintendents' performance from virtually every other professional group country-wide is its unrelenting commitment to excellence. This is the essence of the golf course superintendents' work ethic.

 

Sabbatical Leaves Are Possible

Year long sabbatical leaves with pay are a rare occurrence in golf (while they are quite common throughout the academic world) but not impossible to schedule provided the right approach is taken when applying as profiled below.

 

Application Guidelines

1.   Only superintendents with exemplary track records need apply by submitting a sabbatical year leave proposal in writing probably not earlier than the tenth year of employment at the same job to take affect no sooner than three years later.

 

2.   The proposal should identify the purpose for requesting the leave: to recharge batteries; family vacation and travel, schooling, to research and write a meaningful treatise; to participate in a special industry program, etc.

 

3.   Essential: Proposal must identify how the superintendent will guarantee maintenance program coverage during his year's absence; best option: a well-established first assistant (requiring only a modest salary adjustment) to take over during the leave year; next option: hire a proven local retired superintendent for the one year.

 

4.   Final written agreement must mutually bind the employer and the sabbatical requesting superintendent to each other employment-wise for a minimum of two years following the completion of the leave year.

 

The benefits that accrue to the employing club when it grants a sabbatical leave are: first, that it rewards a deserving employee; and second, that it significantly increases the probability of retaining a highly regarded superintendent for the long run upon return from the sabbatical year leave.

 

Funding the sabbatical leave year should not be a problem because it would be the equivalent of a club funding one year of a retirement plan having been given 3-plus years' notice to prepare.

 

Player Community Respect Will Negate Internal Politics And Secure Jobs

In as close to any guarantee that can be given - no superintendent will have his job unjustly put in jeopardy once his player community has readily identified with his respected work ethic and persona.

 

Neither course administrations, nor board, nor committee members would dare go against the will of the players/members to unjustly undermine the job security of a treasured superintendent once he has been identified arguably as the primary reason for the club's/course's long term success.       

 

To make this work, however, the superintendent must first be visible throughout the campus and be in contact with the player community as the Oct 9th blog suggests.

 

The Most Adaptable Will Survive

Regrettably, career-planning procrastination appears to be in the DNA of many golf course superintendents.

 

Unfortunately, superintendents are too often blind to the high price they pay when failing to address employment issues on a timely basis. Consequently, job security is threatened; access to new jobs is denied; anxiety mounts; and careers stall.

 

In an economic era when maintenance program and career planning adaptability should be superintendents' best friend, procrastination can often prove to be their worst enemy. (See Dec 9th blog.)

 

Superintendents' Fear Of Employer Retaliation Stalls The Profession

Note the following dichotomy: first, when most superintendents elect to confront their employers on a one-on-one basis about job compensation and security issues they too often renege on this intention and fall back not feeling comfortable about confronting their bosses; however, when coached by an experienced consultant the superintendents stand firm, negotiate effectively and generally win some points.

 

What is the morale of the story? A lack of negotiating experience and personal confidence will undermine every human being when engaged in a contest of wills with employers.

 

What is the solution? First: Just like mock trials are used to successfully train young lawyers for the courtroom, a similar chapter program might be established to schedule mock interviews with employers.  Capable chapter Executive Directors would be the ideal people to manage a mock interview program. Add this to their job descriptions.

 

Golfs Not-For-Profit Business Format Undermines Its Effectiveness

There are over 40,000 not-for-profit associations across America, which includes virtually every meaningful golf organization including regional GCSAA/CMAA chapters and PGA sections.

 

The inherent weaknesses of n-f-p associations is their consistent lack accountability and commitment to excellence which precipitate over-spending, a lack of needed program development, unnecessary staff growth (at the national level) while at the same time discouraging natural leaders within the association memberships from seeking Board and committee service.

 

Only two of golfs many not-for-profit organizations - the USGA and the NGF - provide total consistent professional service to their members. Why is this the case?  Simply and solely because these two organizations have brought an extensive level of private sector expertise to their boards.

 

One thing golf cannot do to avoid the shortcomings of the n-f-p world is change to a "for profit" environment for reasons readers can figure out on their own. But, fortunately, the flaws of the not-for-profit world are correctable. More on this later.

 




Outreach Programs: The Profession’s Vital Missing Link

Posted 11 December 2015 · 2,115 views

Outreach programming is the most vital service an organization can provide its employees or members because it redirects careers, stabilizes families and ensures that there will always be "career hope" through the most difficult of times. Outreach programming permeates the corporate and military worlds of employment for a good reason.

 

DEFINING THE CONCEPT

Outreach is a counseling program provided by employers, or their affiliates, where trained counselors support employees in the following ways: First - by making contact with recently dismissed employees and their families to maintain morale until lost careers can be restarted; Second - by helping dismissed employees restart their careers, or to initiate new careers; and Third - by helping retiring employees initiate second careers if they so wish.

 

Yet, by default outreach programming has not found a place within the world of the golf course superintendent from Day One. This despite the fact that superintendents are the most job threatened professionals throughout the free world beset by the ills that a persistent lack of written contract protection brings to the profession.

 

ESTABLISHING OUTREACH PROGRAMMING

Unfortunately, outreach programming cannot be easily or quickly established throughout the superintendents' world because before such a program could get under way either trained counselors would have to be hired at the chapter level - a daunting task - or chapter Executive Directors would have to be trained to become effective outreach program counselors to their chapter members because there is nobody else continuously on the scene available to accept this responsibility.

 

The obvious entity that would have the motivation and be capable of sponsoring a national outreach training program for chapter Executive Directors would be GCSAA.

 

At some point GCSAA might consider amending its bylaws to mandate that its 100+ chapters commit to establishing outreach programming within a specified time period.

 

ESTABLISHING INTERIM OUTREACH PROGRAMMING

 

In the mean time pending the development of formal nation-wide chapter-based outreach programming, chapters should immediately consider initiating the following interim outreach programming because the need is constant:

 

1.  Establish an Interim Outreach Committee consisting of several mature superintendent (or retired superintendent) couples charged with the responsibility of making and sustaining contact with stressed chapter families recently forced into the unemployed world.

 

2. The first order of business in support of families where the superintendent has recently lost a job would be for a Committee male/female team to make quick contact with these families to let them know that their chapter peers care about them, are willing to listen to their concerns and that the Committee will provide ongoing counseling to help the bread winner in the family find a job.

 

The purpose of contacting families with a male/female team is the following: the man is primed to listen to the dismissed superintendent's career concerns; while the women is equipped to listen and provide solace to the mother's family concerns.

    

A willingness to listen to the plight of recently stressed families might be the most vital element outreach programs can provide because having some caring people available to tell their immediate concerns to: (i) brings immediate solace to stressed families who have need to be constantly reminded that there will always be light at the end of their tunnels; and (ii) opens the door to receive much needed career counseling advice.

 

3. Remind/educate the superintendents/families looking to find jobs to restart careers of the following:

 

a. That it is essential that job-seeking superintendents have quality personal and maintenance program web sites ready to use as they pursue new employment. Reminder: +/- 80% of new jobs are going to superintendents with effective web sires.

 

b. That it is equally as essential to follow the job application guidelines presented earlier within this blog series.

 

c. Because superintendents possess highly transferable skill sets, suggest to dismissed superintendents that they consider starting a new career while at the same time endeavoring to find another job as a superintendent. (See Nov 11th blog)

 

The jobless should always concurrently pursue both new employment and starting a new career or business when out of work.

 

Without outreach programming, the majority of out of work superintendents will find it unnecessarily more difficult to restart their careers - to the point where some will give up hope, with family disasters following. With outreach program counseling hope remains eternal.

 

Spread the word to the GCSAA and chapter Boards of Directors.




Accomplished Superintendents Have 'Fortune 500' CEO Talent

Posted 30 November 2015 · 3,185 views

A long-standing axiom that is consistently noticed by knowledgeable sports fans and beyond states that established NFL coaches have the equivalent personal skill sets as Fortune 500 Company CEOs.

 

Accordingly, in this hypothetical world, it is believed that proven NFL coaches are equipped to successfully manage the worlds most dynamic companies given the same preparatory educational opportunity the CEOs have had.

 

Informed golf industry watchers familiar with the above premise consistently express the opinion that accomplished golf course superintendents are qualified in their own right to join company with NFL coaches and Fortune 500 Company CEOs at the top of the most respected management professionals' list - given the same preparatory educational opportunity the CEOs have had.

 

Following is a survey with estimated value ratings - that represents the consensus opinions of informed interested parties emanating from several discussions over the years on the subject of comparing NFL coaches, superintendents and Fortune 500 CEO management qualifications:


Comparison: Communications Responsibilities

  • NFL Coaches: Limited to player rosters and media contacts. Rating: 3
  • Superintendents: Extend to player communities and boards/committees. Rating: 3
  • Fortune 500 CEOs: Extend to stockholders and multi media contacts. Rating: 4

 

Comparison: Hiring Responsibilities

  • NFL Coaches: Coordinate with club GMs in finalizing team player rosters. Rating: 4
  • Superintendents: Solely responsible for hiring assistants, mechanics and ground crews. Rating: 4
  • Fortune 500 CEOs: Human Resource departments do the main hiring. Rating: 2  

 

Comparison: Fiscal Welfare Responsibilities

  • NFL Coaches: Coaching quality responsible for teams fiscal welfare. Rating: 4
  • Superintendents: Golf course conditioning quality drives club/course revenues. Rating: 5
  • Fortune 500 CEOs: Set financial agendas for their companies. Rating: 5

 

Comparison: Long Range Planning Responsibilities

  • NFL Coaches: Limited to player drafts to sustain quality multi year rosters. Rating: 3
  • Superintendents: Develop and revise multi year, multi-million dollar LRPs. Rating: 4
  • Fortune 500 CEOs: Direct development of and delivery on stock forecasts. Rating: 4

 

Comparison: Scope Of Education Degrees

  • NFL Coaches: Generally limited to standard undergraduate degrees. Rating: 3
  • Superintendents: Technically difficult undergraduate degrees, plus arduous certification and maintaining certification programming. Rating: 4
  • Fortune 500 CEOs: 100% undergraduate; 60% MBA; and 20% doctorate. Rating: 4

 

Conclusions To Be Drawn:

  1. The following rating totals from the above survey:

NFL coaches: 17; Superintendents: 20; and Fortune 500 CEOs: 19 . . .

 

Support the premise that within the above opinion survey proven veteran golf course superintendents are arguably recognized as being on a par with the better of corporate America's most effective skill set-based management personnel; again, given the same preparatory educational opportunity as corporate executives.

 

  1. Accordingly, veteran superintendents should never doubt their ability to develop successful entrepreneurial businesses later in their careers if they so elect. (See Nov 11th blog.)

 

  1. Based on the conclusions drawn in this blog message, there is no mountain hard-working, dedicated superintendents can't climb in life.



Ground Rules For Starting Your Own Business

Posted 11 November 2015 · 2,281 views

The content of this blog message is extensive. But this might be the only time a reader will have access to a concise presentation on the subject of "How To Start A Business"  - something superintendents should prepare for in case the desire/need arises later in their careers.

 

Superintendents should always be mentally prepared to start a business at an appropriate time in their careers for the following reasons:

  1. Course operators are hesitant to assure superintendents employment beyond their early to mid 50 years of age generally because it is cheaper to hire less experienced superintendents.

Accordingly, many veteran superintendents face 10 to 12 years of forced unemployment late in their careers - a daunting circumstance that should encourage every superintendent to prepare early in life for the possibility of starting a business later in life.

  1. Because superintendents have a wide range of proven skill sets that are better prepared than most to start a new business.

What Elements Are Needed To Start A Business?

The three steps a potential entrepreneur must execute to start a business are:

  1. Identify a target audience that is not being well-served by society's spectrum of businesses (either because a market void currently exists, or because a bad economy has weakened a previously vibrant market) where a new business can provide needed services/products.
  1. Prepare a due diligence feasibility study to determine: (i) what the competitive quality and fee levels are throughout the marketing region; (ii) whether the target market has the revenue potential needed to support a new business; and (iii) what the minimum cost would be to start and sustain a new business for at least three years while in-house revenues are building to a point where they could support a new business entirely.

 

FYI: Some new businesses can be developed at low cost because: (i) the entrepreneurs' brain power, muscle power and experience come free to the party; (ii) free access to the Internet produces an untold wealth of intangible and tangible assets; and (iii) today's communications technologies allows a new business to create a brand supported by a complete visual image (logo, business cards, stationary, web sites, etc.) virtually free of cost.

 

If a superintendent can't conduct his own feasibility study (a more than likely occurrence) he should hire an experienced consultant to do so for him.

 

FYI: History indicates first and foremost that roughly 75% of all new small businesses fail; and second, that the primary reason why they do fail is because no one conducted credible feasible studies that would have indicated that certain new businesses should never have been started.

  1. Identify the specific personal skill sets a potential entrepreneur must be able to apply to the intended new business to succeed.

What Is The Impact Of A Bad Economy On Starting A Business?

Because bad economies create greater economic needs within society there is, accordingly, more opportunities to start new businesses although they may be of a different nature than in a routine economy. However, definitive feasibility studies will be needed to identify the pricing schedule customers will be able to afford in the bad economy.

 

Examples Of The Two Categories of Start-up Businesses - Outside Of Golf

  1. Addressing a void market: Laura is a knitting guru who noticed that there were no blogs promoting the sale of knitting goods and knitting patterns not only across the USA, but around the world as well.

Accordingly, Laura started a blog (at virtually no cost) a while back that sells knitting patterns around the world and today her blog averages 4,000 hits a month with about half of the contacts ordering knitting patterns at a respectable price.

  1. Addressing a needs market: When the economy went sour back in the 1990s Ken noticed that high tech companies were having a problem affording the technicians needed to keep their in-house tech equipment going because labor costs had sky rocketed. Suddenly, there was a need for more affordable technical equipment support throughout the industry.

Fortunately, one of Ken's proven skill sets was a thorough working knowledge of how to use the Internet in a variety of ways to support high tech intra-business communications.

 

Accordingly, Ken started a new firm that allowed the tech companies to have their in-house tech equipment serviced via the Internet from an outside central location (Ken's new company office) - a strategy that allowed these companies to terminate their expensive in-house tech personnel thereby saving a fortune and at the same time presenting Ken with a very successful start-up business.

 

Early in their careers superintendents should analyze the above two approaches to starting a business and be on the look out for similar but different opportunities to start their own businesses in due course. Months of hypothesizing are needed before anyone can conclude that they have identified the right opportunity to start a business.

 

Examples Of Golf-Based Businesses Superintendents Have Traditionally Started:

  1. Lawn care companies to service private home and corporate facilities: a highly competitive field but one where better service at better pricing can prevail.
  2. Irrigation System Installation and Consulting companies to service private home and corporate facilities. New customer market here is reasonably available because few property owners understand the nuances of getting irrigation/pumping systems up and keeping them up and running.
  3. Rock Garden Design and Installation companies to service private home and corporate facilities. A real business potential exists here but not necessarily an easy one because home owners and companies like the concept but find it difficult to do because there are so few qualified/reliable companies and these projects are expensive. Best way to approach this new business concept is by becoming a multi-service company that combines design with any and/or all of the other start-up options mentioned here.
  4. Consulting To Regional Golf Course Operations where less experienced superintendents lack the total know how to manage their maintenance programs expertly. There is a definite market here not one necessarily easy to start: because superintendents fear that their employers will see hiring an outside consultant as a sign of weakness; and because approved operating budgets leave little room to pay the unexpected hiring of consultants. A good way around this is to set consulting fees so low that they can't be refused - meaning that while revenues will be low - a vital client list is being assembled that often is enough to get hired again.
  5. A Marketing/Sales company that will sell products/services to golf course operations that are not readily available through traditional company sales reps. Once a unique product/service or two are identified (a challenging but do-able task) the new business should flourish.
  6. A Hybrid Company that would provide all of (or some of) the service lines listed above that would offer efficiencies in staffing and operational costs - which could be either a start-up firm, or an existing company that was purchased, etc.

      Reminder: (i) A due diligence feasibility study is needed before starting any one

      of above listed new businesses; and (ii) A dynamic newly prepared start-up 

      company website, one link of which would present the superintendent's career

      track record, should be developed to effectively sell any new company.

 

Partnership Options:

It is a critical decision whether a superintendent should be a sole principal, or one of two principals/partners within a start-up firm.

 

If a superintendent possesses the skill sets to address all the needs a start-up company will require to succeed (a rare occurrence), being a sole principal should be a consideration. If not, a second partner can serve a useful purpose.

 

Caution: When forming a new company always use a lawyer to ensure a legal set-up for the new business; and when two or more partners will be involved make sure the creating paperwork requires using arbitration to resolve all issues between partners - otherwise court cases will bankrupt everyone.

 

What To Expect When Starting A New Business?

It is a myth to think that operating your own business will be a cake walk because experience consistently shows that workloads can/will average +/- 75 hours per week and profit margins will be relatively thin during the early years of company development. So plan accordingly.

 

The primary benefit of owning and operating your own company is that you are calling the shots and controlling your company's destiny without the customary outside interference/politics routinely associated with the employment world. Starting a new business is a difficult challenge to overcome but one that promises untold rewards.








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