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Step Two Approach To Written Contracts: Commit To The "Plant The Seed" Concept

Jim McLoughlin


This post is intended to complement the message presented in the last post and presents the negotiating sequence that should be considered in the pursuit of a written employment contract.


Acknowledging the fact that roughly 80% of qualifying superintendents are consistently denied the protection of written contracts and suffer the consequences thereof (see Sep 25th blog), the purpose of this blog message is to educate newly hired and already employed superintendents who have been denied written contract protection of the following:

That there is a way to introduce the concept of written contract protection to hesitant employers with an expectation of success.




STEP 1: Put The Issue Of Written Contracts On The Table And Keep It Alive

When presented with the opportunity to negotiate, the winning job applicant or presently employed superintendent (i.e.- the negotiatees) seeking to re-negotiate a new agreement should ask when the discussion turns to the matter of compensation, "Is it the policy of the club to grant written employment contracts?"



The selected candidate or employed superintendent should proceed with negotiations to finalize a mutually agreed to contract draft that his or a chapter designated attorney would approve before signing. Never sign an employment agreement without an experienced contract attorney's approval.


If NO:  

At this point, the negotiatee should introduce the "plant the seed" concept suggesting that provided he completes the coming (next) work year to the satisfaction of the employer -- he would have earned four months notice of job termination in writing with pay for the coming next year of employment at a pay level that would be a natural incremental increase to the first year's salary.


However, if the negotiatee's above job offer is rejected he should repeat the process all over again for the next employment year when the odds of succeeding should be improved because the previously mentioned "visibility" campaign would now have run for a second year.


If this approach fails again the negotiatee should consider looking for another job because this employer will likely never allow for the written job security that is deserved.


Important: The possibility of eventually earning a written contract depends on selling the "plant the seed" concept up front to course administrations, which would be a far easier task to accomplish should job applicants and presently employed superintendents have developed a functioning Maintenance Program web site (see Oct 2nd blog) and implemented some, if not all of the increased "visibility" recommendations presented within the Oct 9th blog.


The key concept to use when trying to "sell" the plant the seed scenario to employers is the fact that they would be granting written contract protection incrementally -- no longer to a totally unproven superintendent -- but only after a newly hired or presently employed superintendent had proven himself for a full year on the job... virtually eliminating the risk of a bad hire.


It is important that minutes of the above negotiation meetings record all final decisions-- especially those relating to the "planting the seed" concept.


STEP 2: Building Job Security Incrementally


Then, once the employer accepts the "plant the seed" concept and it is in place, for each succeeding year of satisfactory employment, candidates would earn four additional months notice of written job protection with pay -- up to an earned three-year maximum 12 months notice with pay. (Seeking more than 12-months notice of job termination with pay would be self-defeating/rejected because it asks the employer to assume too much liability.)


If the annual four-month escalating interval is too steep for the employer, negotiate three or two-month increments instead of four months if necessary, which would obviously delay reaching the 12-month year-round security level, but patience is often a necessary virtue in these situations.


Of course, well-credentialed superintendents seeking new jobs have the option of directly requesting 12 months of immediate written job security and expect to get it.


STEP 3: Convert To A Better Contract Format


The vast majority of superintendents think a long term (i.e.- 5 year) contract with top pay is the ideal job arrangement when in fact it is the worst format to use because after the five years have run their course - the superintendent is left with absolutely no written job protection and he has to renegotiate a future written agreement from scratch often with a new GM or green committee chairman who might be opposed to the concept of granting written agreements.


Instead, superintendents should plan to convert to multi-year "roll-over" contracts that automatically extend one year at a time when the contract has been reduced to one remaining year - thus always maintaining one year of written job security.


Roll-over contracts should identify annual salary increments and define mutually agreed to termination terms. Because of their relative complexity, roll-over contracts should never be negotiated or finalized without the benefit of legal counsel. (See July 24th blog.)


Allowing an employer the time to witness a recently hired superintendent's initial year of employment before granting access to a written contract . . .


...eliminates the fear of a "bad hire" and should open the door to written contract negotiations in due course. I've counseled many superintendents through this process quite successfully.


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