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Myths That Undermine Superintendents’ Jobs...

Jim McLoughlin


Following are examples of myths that have plagued golf course superintendents for a long time:


MYTH: Employers don't mind when superintendents manipulate budget data from one line item to another without notifying anyone so long as the bottom line stays the same...


Wrong! Guaranteed at least one person up the chain of command on either the committee or staff side will notice because there are "budget hawks" within every administration who like to nail superintendents with something to advance their own status within the club hierarchy.


Superintendents should always seek new authority in writing to alter budget data in any way because otherwise a trust is broken that can be hard to repair. This is called "defensive" management. (See Jan 05 blog.) Generally, superintendents will get the budget altering authority requested and will always be respected for asking.


MYTH: Employers respect superintendents who assume greater CEO roles when managing their staffs..


Wrong! Almost to a man those up a superintendent's chain of command will disapprove when: they don't see a superintendent out on the course with some regularity; they do see a superintendent never getting his clothes dirty and/or staying in his office most of the time. The more superintendents overplay their role of a CEO the more their club administrations will believe they are on an ego trip and lacking maturity.


Administrators do not like to see superintendents at the other end of the spectrum either; i.e.- in the trenches sharing work loads equally with their staffs.


What administrations like to see is a superintendent out on the course with some regularity monitoring their assistants leadership skills by engaging them with "teachable moments" to enhance their supervisory and project management skill sets but they do not like to see superintendents necessarily putting in long hours to prove they can get their clothes dirty.


Because a good teacher earns the respect of everyone whether in school or out in the world, this teachable moments approach maximizes the respect a superintendent earns from his employers and staff alike thereby optimizing his job security because no one wants to lose a good teacher.


MYTH: It is almost impossible for a superintendent over 50 years of age to find a better job...


Wrong! Because golf course operators will always look to hire veteran superintendents that convey through their career websites and the interview process that they have the skill sets: (i) to maintain a golf course at an optimum conditioning level; and (ii) to manage budget spending in a highly cost-efficient manner - while at the same time being willing to work for a salary in a bad economy that would be comfortable for both the candidate and his employer. (See Nov 6th blog on this subject.)


The above scenario is no different than when major league baseball teams trade for veteran players late in the season to best ensure making the playoffs. It happens every year.


MYTH: Workaholic superintendents are perceived as being dedicated to their jobs...


Wrong! This is a dangerous myth that has been previously addressed in this series. (See Jul 2nd blog.) Interestingly, the blog just referenced has attracted more viewers than any other blog throughout the 71 blog series.


MYTH: Disorderly maintenance facilities are justified because of the hectic nature of the superintendent's work schedule...


Wrong! This, again, is a dangerous myth that has been previously addressed and heavily responded to in this series. (See Oct 23 blog.)


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