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Qualified Chapter Executive Directors Are Key To Superintendents' Career Advancement

Jim McLoughlin

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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.



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