A Culture of Service

September 10th, 2017

We frequently talk about the importance of developing an organizational culture of service.  What exactly do we mean by an organizational culture?

The dictionary defines “culture” as the sum total of ways of living built up by a group of human beings and transmitted from one generation to another.  With a slight modification of this definition we come up with the following working definition of organizational culture.  The sum total ways of working and interacting built up by a group of people within an organization and transmitted from one generation of employees to another.

The major benefit of establishing an organizational culture is that once adopted by the majority of people in an organization the culture takes on a life of its own and permeates the workplace.  As normal turnover takes place, new hires quickly learn that to be accepted in their new surroundings, they must embrace the culture and make it their own.  In the absence of a culture developed and disseminated by the organization’s leadership, a culture will arise on its own, usually fostered by a vocal few and often cynical and at odds with the purpose of the organization.

So how do you create a culture in your organization?  First, you have to define clearly and succinctly the aims of your organization and what it aspires to be.  These are most often found in Mission and Vision Statements.  Beyond these basic statements of intent, one must clearly spell out standards of behavior and performance.  These can be in the form of Guiding Principles, Operating Standards, Leadership Principles, Service Ethic, Principles of Employee Relations, Organizational Values, Service Pocket Cards, a Code of Professional Ethics, or any other formal statements describing the “What, How’s, and Why’s” of how organizational business should be conducted.

Yet publishing such principles and statements, no matter how inspirational and well-written, will only foster employee cynicism if the values are not enthusiastically embraced by the organization’s leadership.  On the other hand, when leadership demonstrates their commitment to the organization’s values by their daily example, employees will do likewise.

With well-defined values and the enthusiastic example of leaders, the ground has been prepared for the fruits of organizational culture, but just as in growing a garden, preparing the soil is only the first step.  The real work for a successful harvest is the daily tending – watering, fertilizing, pruning, weeding, and pest control.  In the case of an organizational culture, it is daily reinforcement at every opportunity with all employees that continues to focus individual attention on the values that underlie everyone’s efforts.  In some cases, it’s publicly recognizing an employee for embracing and utilizing the values in their work relationships or service rendered to members.  In other cases, it’s privately correcting an employee who has ignored or transgressed the culture.  In extreme cases, it’s terminating the employee who refuses to accept the group norm.  The key is to continually remind employees of the organization’s values and elevate them from words on a page to an animating spirit that permeates every aspect of the organization and its work.

From the process of continually accentuating and reminding one achieves a breakthrough similar to that described in Jim Collins’ book, Good to Great.

Sustainable transformations follow a predictable pattern of buildup and breakthrough.  Like pushing on a giant, heavy flywheel, it takes a lot of effort to get the thing moving at all, but with persistent pushing in a consistent direction over a long period of time, the flywheel builds momentum, eventually hitting a point of breakthrough.”

This breakthrough is reached when the organization achieves a critical mass of employee buy-in.  Though the process of establishing an organizational culture requires patience and persistence as well as leadership and example, when breakthrough is achieved, the culture takes over and is self-sustaining – with the employees holding the bar high and policing their own ranks.

In such an organization, employees understand what must be done and how.  Motivation and morale are sky-high as employees are empowered by their participation and contribution.  The leader, relieved of the burden of constantly following behind employees to ensure they are doing the right things, can focus on strategic issues and the future of the organization.

The importance of a well-defined and promoted organizational culture cannot be overemphasized or underestimated in its impact on quality, performance, and member service.  The only thing that can screw it up is for the leader to fail to show an ongoing interest or set an uncompromising example of the organizational culture and its values.

Thanks and have a great day!

Ed Rehkopf

This weekly blog comments on and discusses the club industry and its challenges. From time to time, we will feature guest bloggers – those managers and industry experts who have something of interest to say to all of us. We also welcome feedback and comment upon the blog, hoping that it will become a useful sounding board for what’s on the minds of hardworking club managers throughout the country and around the world.

Employee Empowerment

September 3rd, 2017

John Tschohl, Founder and President of the Service Quality Institute, says, “Without empowerment, an organization will never be a service leader. Empowerment is the most critical skill an employee can master and a company can drive in order to lure and keep customers.” That statement from one of the country’s leading thinkers on quality is strong and unequivocal. But just how does a company or organization “drive” employee empowerment.

The answer is simple and just as unequivocal – Service-Based Leadership.

Without effective Service-Based Leadership, not just at the top of the organization, but at all the intervening ranks down to, and most importantly, front line supervisors, the necessary relationships will never be formed with line employees. Here are some quotes that make the point.

People who are unable to build solid, lasting relationships will soon discover that they are unable to sustain long, effective leadership.”
John C. Maxwell
Developing the Leader Within You

“With Service-Based Leadership, the attitude and primary motivation of the leader is service to others – to members, to employees, to shareholders. This approach to leadership naturally creates relationships – the deep and abiding bonds that sustain the efforts of the company.”

Leadership on the Line

“This leadership style differs from others in its focus on serving the needs of employees to provide them with the proper tools, training, resources, motivation, and empowerment to serve the club’s members.”
The Quest for Remarkable Service

“How can employees provide quality service if they are not properly served by the leadership and example of their managers?”
The Quest for Remarkable Service

“As a group of people committed to common goals, you can only achieve your team’s greatest potential by taking advantage of the talent, initiative, and ingenuity of each and every one of your employees. To the extent that any individual is not valued, trained, and motivated, your enterprise suffers.”
Leadership on the Line

For employees to feel empowered, you have to create a culture that nourishes and sustains it. By conscientiously and sincerely working to become the best Service-Based Leader you can be . . . you will create an environment where employees will recognize their empowerment and enthusiastically act on it in all they do.”
Employee Empowerment

“[None of the ways to kill empowerment] are caused by employees. If your employees do not feel empowered, look no further than your leadership and the way you interact with your people.”
Employee Empowerment

Summary: Since employee empowerment ultimately depends only on “the recognition by employees that they are empowered,” empowerment is a direct result of an organization’s systematic development and institutionalization of Service-Based Leadership.

Thanks and have a great day!

Ed Rehkopf

This weekly blog comments on and discusses the club industry and its challenges. From time to time, we will feature guest bloggers – those managers and industry experts who have something of interest to say to all of us. We also welcome feedback and comment upon the blog, hoping that it will become a useful sounding board for what’s on the minds of hardworking club managers throughout the country and around the world.

The Imperative of Manager Training

August 27th, 2017

Last week we talked a little about Employee Training and posed some questions about clubs’ training programs. This week we talk about an even more important topic – Manager Training.

In many clubs the assumption is that if you hire good people as golf professionals, food and beverage managers, controllers, activity directors, golf course superintendents, membership directors, etc., they don’t need to be trained because they know what they’re doing. While this may be true of the job skills for their particular position, there is far more a manager must know and ignoring this fact can be dangerous to your operation.

Managers and supervisors must understand and promote the club’s organizational values and culture. They must also understand their responsibilities in a variety of areas with legal and liability implications such as FLSA, EEO, ADA, USERRA, FMLA, OSHA, sexual harassment, workers and unemployment compensation, youth employment, and public health issues such as food sanitation and waterborne diseases.

They must also understand the club’s organizational systems, such as human resources and accounting, they need guidance on hiring, onboarding, and training; and while we expect all our subordinate managers to be honest, my long career experience proves that to be a naive assumption.  To be sure this doesn’t become an issue you should provide ongoing ethics training.

But more than anything I’ve found that managers, particularly junior or first-time supervisors, need leadership training. I would go even further and state that unless every manager and supervisor is trained in the requirements and habits of Service-Based Leadership, your club will never achieve service excellence and will continually be embroiled in time-consuming human resource issues.

As John Tschohl, Founder and President of the Service Quality Institute, says, “Without [employee] empowerment, an organization will never be a service leader.” And without a foundation of Service-Based Leadership, your employees will never be empowered.

Lastly, a club’s managers and supervisors act as agents of the club, granted the authority by the Board and General Manager to make decisions and act on behalf of the membership. As such, poorly-trained managers cannot be allowed to expose the club to liability as a result of ill-considered actions.

The Bottom Line: Training managers and supervisors to a common standard of leadership and understanding of their duties is an imperative for any club that aspires to excellence!

Thanks and have a great day!

Ed Rehkopf

This weekly blog comments on and discusses the club industry and its challenges. From time to time, we will feature guest bloggers – those managers and industry experts who have something of interest to say to all of us. We also welcome feedback and comment upon the blog, hoping that it will become a useful sounding board for what’s on the minds of hardworking club managers throughout the country and around the world.

Staff Training

August 21st, 2017

High quality and consistent service is something that our members not only expect, but demand.  Yet in a detail-intensive business such as ours where so much has to be done just right in every service encounter, training employees is a gargantuan task, made even more challenging by a transient workforce and high turnover in critical service positions.  Often our employees who have learned the most from our service culture are lost to the lure of the newest restaurant in town or the one with the highest tips.

Given the importance of training and the reality of tight budgets, it seems the only solution to the club training challenge is to organize and format training materials to be easily-given with a minimum of time investment for both instructor (manager) and student (employee).  One solution is to use “on-the-go” training materials where information and skills are provided in frequent, small and easily-digested doses.

But there is more to training employees than just the skills of their particular position.  Employees must also have a thorough grasp of the club’s culture and service values.  Otherwise, each employee is simply doing what he or she thinks is best.  While well-intentioned, this clearly doesn’t foster a consistent quality of service.

There are also a host of policies and procedures that each employee must know – again, this is an area where consistency is imperative.

With so much to teach each new employee, do you have a training strategy beyond osmosis?  Have you ever fleshed out a curriculum for each service position?  Is your training material written down for consistency and formatted for brevity and clarity?  Do you test your employees on training materials?  Do you offer follow-up or refresher training?  Do you track the training that each employee gets to make sure everyone is trained to the same standard?  Do you encourage feedback from employees regarding the adequacy of training?  Do you periodically review and revise training materials?

All of these are legitimate questions about your club’s training effort.  But who has the time you may be thinking?  Some managers will excuse the lack of formal training by saying it just isn’t in the budget.  Yet I would say that training is more about organization, discipline, and the “will to make it happen” than it is about cost.

Thanks and have a great day!

Ed Rehkopf

This weekly blog comments on and discusses the club industry and its challenges. From time to time, we will feature guest bloggers – those managers and industry experts who have something of interest to say to all of us. We also welcome feedback and comment upon the blog, hoping that it will become a useful sounding board for what’s on the minds of hardworking club managers throughout the country and around the world.

The Challenges of Standalone Club Operations

August 14th, 2017

My wife is a high school English teacher and I get to hear her periodic horror stories from the world of public education. Several years ago, growing interested in her comments on the state of our schools, I picked up a book called Crash Course by Chris Whittle. Whittle made his money in magazine publishing and with Channel One, the news program provided to public schools. He then turned his attention to public education and founded Edison Schools, a for-profit education management organization that would hopefully bring a solution to some of our worst-performing schools. While Edison Schools has not been as successful as originally envisioned, I found his review of public education insightful and full of interesting ideas.

In his book he discussed the challenges facing small town and rural school districts with limited resources and few economies of scale. As I read his critique, I was amazed that so many of the points he made about these school districts applied just as much to standalone club operations. For me it was a moment of epiphany. Throughout much of my career I worked in independent hotels or clubs with no more resources than our lean management staff could muster among ourselves. In job after job, we had to create personnel and accounting policies and procedures, job descriptions, training manuals, employee handbooks, and other materials to support our operations.

What made it so difficult was that we, the management staff, were up to our necks in operations and daily crises. Some of the operations were 24/7 and finding the time to develop organizational material was a nearly impossible challenge. Yet, if we ever wanted to stop reacting to problems, we needed to organize the operation for efficiency and consistency, while spending more time planning and thinking strategically.

Over the past thirty years, the hotel industry has successfully consolidated into chain operations and management companies, but the greater part of the club industry has not, and probably never will, due to the individual ownership of clubs by members and the reluctance of many to hire management companies. This leaves the industry full of standalone operations with limited resources and benefits of scale.

In response to these challenges Club Resources International, a portal website serving club industry managers at all levels of the operations, has recently been launched. On this site you’ll find a variety of resources from White Papers; Best Practices; Job Descriptions; Standards, Policies, and Procedures; Training Manuals and materials; programs to improve the understanding and efficiency of operations such as Tools to Beat Budget and Operations Benchmarking; as well as links to other industry resources.

The vision of this website is to grow into a one-stop resource for the materials that managers need, but don’t have the time to develop. Since so many of club operations are similar, there’s no sense in reinventing the wheel. Simply register for free on the site, download the desired material, and customize it to your own needs.

Lastly, we actively encourage other voices and points of view. Just as there are clubs with varying combinations of amenities, there are also  a number of ways to organize and operate a club. All quality submissions will be posted with appropriate attribution to individual author and organization. Harnessing the collective power and intellect of club managers worldwide makes more sense than each of us trying to go it alone!

Thanks and have a great day!

Ed Rehkopf

These blogs comment on and discuss the club industry and its challenges. From time to time, we will feature guest bloggers, those managers and industry experts who have something of interest to say to all of us. We also welcome feedback and comment upon the blog, hoping that it will become a useful sounding board for what’s on the minds of hardworking club managers throughout the country and around the world.

Inspiring Your Work Teams

September 30th, 2016

You may direct and manage your operation, but it’s the line employees who deliver the quality and service you envision for your members and their guests.  Without an effort to inspire extraordinary performance from this critical staff, they will respond like many other hourly employees in other industries – just going through the motions without dedication or passion, doing what they have to do to get by and collect their paychecks.

This may be enough for a lot of jobs, but it doesn’t cut it in an industry whose very name implies warm, friendly, hospitable service. 

Recognizing as everyone should that such service flows from dedicated and passionate leaders, what are some practical things you should be doing to engage and inspire your work teams.

By consistently doing the above in all your dealings with staff, you build trust, establish meaningful relationships, and inspire your people with your daily engagement and example.  The impact on the quality and service your team provides will be astounding.  This then is the heart of Service-Based Leadership and when done consistently throughout the club, it will take your operation to a whole new level.

On the other hand, here are the Enemies of Effective Leadership.  Read the list and consider where your club stands.

Thanks and have a great day!

Ed Rehkopf

This weekly blog comments on and discusses the hospitality industry and its challenges. From time to time, we will feature guest bloggers – those managers and industry experts who have something of interest to say to all of us. We also welcome feedback and comment upon the blog, hoping that it will become a useful sounding board for what’s on the minds of hardworking hospitality managers throughout the country and around the world.

Hospitality Resources International – Management Resources for Hospitality Operators!

A Roadmap to Successful Club Benchmarking

June 28th, 2016

In late June of 2012 I participated in a panel discussion on benchmarking at the Hospitality Finance and Technology conference in Baltimore.  My fellow panelist was Russ Conde of Club Benchmarking.  Some weeks after the conference I received a sheet summarizing attendees’ reviews of the session.  While mostly positive, one of the attendees said that the discussion covered a lot of benchmarking concepts, but was short on the specifics of how to benchmark.

As I have written in Twelve Reasons I Benchmark, there are a number of reasons to benchmark your club’s operations.  One important reason is to compare your club’s performance to that of the wider industry – and Mr. Conde’s Club Benchmarking service does just that in a simple, automated way via the Internet while providing standardized benchmarks industry-wide.  The CB analysis tools and reports support strategic versus tactical thinking in the boardroom.  A study of data from more than 1,200 clubs currently in the CB system has revealed a number of Key Performance Indicators with direct impact to the bottom line and confirmed the existence of a common private club business model now known as the “Available Cash Model.”  I cannot commend Mr. Conde and his partner Ray Cronin enough for this invaluable service to the industry.

But just as there is value in benchmarking your operation externally, there are valid reasons to benchmark your performance internally – that is within each department and the club as a whole.  Having provided this context, let me now provide some of the key specifics on how to benchmark.

First, for those wishing to compare their performance to other clubs and graphically visualize how their operation relates to the industry’s common business model, it couldn’t be any easier – simply visit the Club Benchmarking website and sign up for their service.

Second, for those who want to set up an internal program of benchmarking, here’s a discussion of some of the challenges and pitfalls, as well as information on where to get the necessary benchmarking instructions and spreadsheets to do it:

  • Let me start by saying that every day there are literally hundreds of data points generated in club operations.  The real benefit of benchmarking, though, is in tracking data over time.  The number of meals served in the club dining room on a particular Friday night doesn’t signify very much; it is simply an occurrence.  But if that number is part of a declining trend in Friday night dining, it is certainly a cause for concern.  Without the effort to track trends and compare them to historical performance, there is no way to manage for either quality or performance.
  • It is essential that the club’s General Manager buys into the value of benchmarking and fully supports the effort.  Without his or her backing, it will be far more challenging to implement club-wide benchmarking.  That doesn’t mean that individual department heads cannot benchmark within their departments and be successful, but it does limit the overall value of benchmarking to the club.
  • It is helpful to have a point person for the project – and I suggest the club controller.  This does not mean that the burden of benchmarking falls on the controller’s shoulders – as each department’s benchmarks must be the responsibility of the department head.  But it is helpful to have a person knowledgeable about accounting and the use of MS-Excel to help guide and assist less knowledgeable department heads through the process.

Having said this I also want to stress that the controller’s office is the logical place for the preparations of several key reports (some sort of Weekly Revenue Report, see HRI Form 203 for an example, and a Pay Period Summary Report, HRI Form 229) that will facilitate data availability club-wide, as well as the consolidation of key benchmarks from all departments into the Executive Metrics Report which I have advocated as a useful enhancement to the monthly financial reporting package.

But even in the absence of such reports from the accounting office, a conscientious department head, recognizing that she is the person fully responsible for her department’s performance, can with a little effort get the necessary data to benchmark.  For example, revenue information can usually be accessed from point of sale reports and payroll data is available from the accounting office or payroll service – both merely take a little initiative to get the desired information.

  • Depending on the club’s pace of operations and individual department heads’ workloads, it may make more sense to start small with one or two departments whose managers are “numbers” people and who relish the idea of a deeper empirical understanding of their business operations.  The enthusiasm and resultant success from these early adopters or “pathfinders” will serve as an invaluable inspiration and guide for others.  An alternative would be to implement one significant form of benchmarking club-wide – say benchmarking payroll costs across all departments.  In time, the value of this will lead to a desire for more robust benchmarking of other areas of club operations.
  • While every club can set their priorities for data to benchmark, here are some suggested priorities and the reasoning behind them:

Profit and Loss Statement (as part of the Executive Metrics Report) – low hanging fruit, easy to access data from P&Ls, requires only monthly data entry.

Payroll Cost – largest cost in operations, potentially yielding greatest opportunity for improvement and savings; makes future budgeting far easier; most effective when employees are paid on a bi-weekly basis (read Why Our Workweek and Pay Cycle? to understand why).

Departmental Revenues – by day of week, week by week, monthly, and annually; easy to access data, historical record can improve staff scheduling, makes future budgeting far easier.

Food and Beverage – probably the most effort and time-intensive if done thoroughly (tracking sales of beer, wine, alcohol, appetizers, desserts, specialty drinks, etc.), but provides critical feedback on any efforts to improve the average check; data can also help with managing inventory levels of alcoholic beverages.

Inventory and Accounts Receivable – low hanging fruit, easy to access data in accounting office, helps monitor and correct inventory volatility, requires only monthly data entry.

Retail – can dramatically improve performance when coupled with other retail disciplines.

Utilities – low hanging fruit, data comes from monthly utility bills, once-monthly data entry for electricity, water & sewer, and gas; helpful in spotting and investigating usage and billing anomalies.

Individual Departments – prepared by department heads, makes them more knowledgeable about operations (enhancing their authority and influence), analysis of benchmarks leads to improved performance.

  • All the resources to begin internal benchmarking at your club can be found on the Club Resources International website.  Simply purchase the 153-page Club Benchmarking Resources for $99 at the Marketplace store.  It contains the background information, the basics of benchmarking, departmental benchmarking instructions, and samples of benchmarking spreadsheets.  Each departmental instruction gives a list of benchmarks to track and sources of data, as well as specific instructions on how to use the spreadsheets and a sample spreadsheet for both year-to-date and year-to-year tracking.

A number of benchmarking spreadsheets are available on the Club Resources International website and can be downloaded at no charge.  After downloading and reviewing the benchmarking material, managers can customize the spreadsheets* for their operations, and begin collecting and recording the necessary data.  If key data has never been tracked before, patterns will emerge pretty quickly as benchmarking progresses, though the longer the data is tracked, the more valuable the benchmarks will be as operating standards.

  • My experience with benchmarking over the years is that it usually takes several months of close focus and review to successfully set up; thereafter ongoing benchmarking becomes part of the club’s routine.
  • Some department heads may need training and handholding during implementation, particularly if they are not familiar with computers or spreadsheet software, but once up to speed, they fully appreciate the value of monitoring the underlying details of their operations.
  • An important discipline that fully exploits the benefits of benchmarking is to make a formal review of departmental benchmarks part of the ongoing monthly review of financial statements with each department head.  When combined with the Tools to Beat Budget program and an examination of progress toward the goals of the department head’s annual work plan, benchmarking becomes a particularly effective means of driving progress and performance club-wide.
  • All departmental benchmarks are then summarized on a monthly basis using the spreadsheets and a copy forwarded to the controller for the next and final step in the benchmarking program.
  • The club controller completes the Executive Metrics Report using selected benchmarks from the departmental spreadsheets and submits it to all stakeholders as part of the club’s financial reporting package.  One controller who presented the EMR to the club’s finance committee reported that a particularly influential member said he was “thrilled” to see such underlying performance data and looked forward to reviewing it on an ongoing basis.

Benchmarking is an essential business discipline that yields significant benefits to club operators.  As H. James Harrington author, engineer, entrepreneur, and consultant in performance improvement, said “If you can’t measure something, you can’t understand it.  If you can’t understand it, you can’t control it.  If you can’t control it, you can’t improve it.”

*Individual clubs will undoubtedly want to customize the Excel spreadsheets for their range of departments and scope of operations.  While spreadsheets are “protected” to prevent inadvertent write-over of cell formulas, the protection is not password-protected, allowing individual clubs to modify the spreadsheets as necessary.

If you have any questions or want more information about any aspect of benchmarking, contact us at info@clubresourcesinternational.com.

Thanks and have a great day!

Ed Rehkopf

This weekly blog comments on and discusses the hospitality industry and its challenges. From time to time, we will feature guest bloggers – those managers and industry experts who have something of interest to say to all of us. We also welcome feedback and comment upon the blog, hoping that it will become a useful sounding board for what’s on the minds of hardworking hospitality managers throughout the country and around the world.

Hospitality Resources International – Management Resources for Hospitality Operators!

 

Onboarding Managers – An Often Overlooked Best Practice

May 30th, 2016

A long-recognized best practice is to develop an onboarding plan for your operation’s new hires.  The purpose of such a plan is to ensure that new employees are welcomed to the enterprise, receive the appropriate orientation and introductions, and are indoctrinated into the organizational culture, as well as receiving a basic review of enterprise information, employee benefits, operating policies, and work rules.  When the onboarding process is formalized and consistent, all employees have an appreciation for the story of the organization, an awareness of their job requirements, and a common understanding of expectations for their conduct and performance.

While there is no denying the benefits of a thorough onboarding process for line employees, it is even more critical that the enterprise put a similar effort into onboarding newly-hired managers and supervisors.  Regardless of education, work history, and experience, these individuals act as agents of the enterprise and set the standard for everything their employees do.  With so much riding on their leadership and example, ensuring they convey consistent direction and standards to their employees cannot be left to chance.

My optimum onboarding process for managers and supervisors includes the following:

  • The same onboarding process as line employees receive so that they hear and understand what line employees are told.
  • A copy of the Employee Handbook provided for the same reason.
  • A thorough indoctrination in organizational values, presented by the General Manager for maximum impact and effect.
  • Leadership guidance from the General Manager to ensure that all managers have a common understanding of service-based leadership and their critical role in communicating with and motivating employees.
  • A copy of a Managers Handbook, written specifically to spell out expectations for those who direct the line employees with emphasis on employment law, legal and liability issues, work rules, fiscal responsibilities, safety and security, as well as an in-depth discussion of counseling, conduct, discipline, and performance requirements.
  • A detailed review of job description and performance expectations by immediate supervisor
  • A copy of the operation’s Strategic and Annual Plans so they understand its direction and trajectory.
  • In concert with immediate supervisor, the development of an individual work plan with first year reviews at 30, 90, and 180-days.  Early engagement, counseling, and intervention as necessary are critical to the long-term performance and success of any newly hired manager.
  • Introduction to and review of personnel and accounting standards, policies, and procedures by Human Resources Manager and Controller, respectively.
  • Introductions to key management staff.
  • For managers of private club, presentation to board and key committee members.
  • A first-year reading list of management and leadership books to include Jim Collins’ Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap . . . and Others Don’t, John Maxwell’s Developing the Leader Within You, and Stephen Covey’s The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.  To be most effective, these books and other periodically assigned reading material should be discussed on an ongoing basis at weekly staff meetings.
  • Office or work space set up, fully prepared, and waiting for the new hire.  Minimum support requirements include a personal computer or laptop, cell phone or PDA, a list of key phone numbers, a listing of department heads and managers with land line and cell numbers, security codes for work areas, and a set of keys for all necessary spaces.
  • After several weeks the General Manager will set up a one-on-one meeting with the new hire to see how he or she is settling in, to answer any questions, and to once again reinforce basic leadership concerns, organizational values, and enterprise goals.

While this level of effort to onboard management staff seems like a lot of work for something that may only happen a couple of times a year with normal turnover, the potential repercussions of not providing consistent information and expectations to new managers and supervisors and continuing to reinforce it on a regular basis can have a significant and long-term impact on the quality of the operation.

While there are many important and valuable HR best practices, I don’t believe there is any as important as establishing the basis for how your organization runs with those who must lead employees.  The time and effort put into individually developing your management staff and forging them into a team with a common understanding of purpose and means is the single most critical driver of an enterprise’s success, yet how often is it overlooked in the ongoing press of daily operations?

Thanks and have a great day!

Ed Rehkopf

This weekly blog comments on and discusses the hospitality industry and its challenges. From time to time, we will feature guest bloggers – those managers and industry experts who have something of interest to say to all of us. We also welcome feedback and comment upon the blog, hoping that it will become a useful sounding board for what’s on the minds of hardworking hospitality managers throughout the country and around the world.

Hospitality Resources International – Management Resources for Hospitality Operators!

Q.E.D. Managerial Malpractice

May 23rd, 2016

Fifty years ago this fall in my freshman year at college I was enrolled in my first course in calculus.  Every day in class we were drilled in solving problems and were required to “recite” our solutions to assigned problems at the blackboard in front of the rest of the class.  By drill and repetition our final step in every recitation was to write Q.E.D followed by the double underlined solution.

This may seem like an arcane ritual, but as we were told Q.E.D. stood for the Latin phrase Quod erat Demonstratum, which as Wikipedia states, means “which is what had to be proven” — an abbreviated phrase traditionally placed at the end of a mathematical proof or philosophical argument indicating the completion of the proof.

Though my college and calculus days are long behind me, I cannot help but use this traditional formulation to explicate the most basic problem we face in club management and how to overcome it.  If you agree with the postulated statements, they then should logically lead to the demonstrated resolution.  So, in the words of a number of very successful individuals who’ve given much thought to the matter, here’s the argument:

“The quality of leadership, more than any other single factor, determines the success or failure of an organization.”

Fred Fiedler & Martin Chemers, authors of Improving Leadership Effectiveness

“The most dangerous leadership myth is that leaders are born – that there is a genetic factor to leadership.  This myth asserts that people simply either have certain charismatic qualities or not.  That’s nonsense; in fact, the opposite is true.  Leaders are made rather than born.”

Warren Bennis, scholar, organizational consultant and author, widely regarded as a pioneer of the contemporary field of Leadership studies

“Before you are a leader, success is all about growing yourself.  When you become a leader, success is all about growing others.”

                Jack Welch, former chairman and CEO of General Electric

 “Coaching isn’t an addition to a leader’s job; it’s an integral part of it.”

George S. Odiorne, business school professor and dean, consultant, corporate manager and author of 300 articles and 26 books

“The single biggest way to impact an organization is to focus on leadership development. There is almost no limit to the potential of an organization that recruits good people, raises them up as leaders and continually develops them.”

John Maxwell, author, speaker, and pastor who has written many books, primarily focusing on leadership

Q.E.D. “Not investing in leadership development is the equivalent of organizational malpractice.

Quint Studer, businessman, philanthropist, author of Hardwiring Excellence

When put this bluntly, no self-respecting club manager wants to be accused of managerial malpractice, so here are some cost-effective solutions to this lack of investment – in actuality the cost is more an investment in time, but the rewards are extraordinary to both individuals and the club.

  • Make development of leadership and management discipline skills part of each department head’s annual plan for improvement, insisting they do the same for their subordinate managers.  Review development progress during annual performance reviews.
  • Use the Bully Pulpit to “preach” both an enthusiasm and commitment to self-development among subordinate managers.
  • Use Leadership on the Line and The Workbook to teach and model a consistent, Service-Based Leadership style throughout the club.  The basic lessons in these books are the perfect introduction to what should become a lifetime of leadership development.
  • Commit to building a leadership and management disciplines library of reading material.  Routinely assign books, articles, and white papers to be read by some or all.  Encourage subordinates to lead discussions on relevant topics.  Articles, white papers, and infographics can be downloaded at no cost from the HRI website.
  • Use staff meetings for brief on-the-go discussions of leadership and management disciplines.  A wide variety of On the Go Training books are available for purchase on the HRI website store.
  • Use the Monthly Review of Operating Statements meetings with each department head to review and discuss leadership development.
  • Set a strong example of the leadership/mentoring/coaching paradigm for all managers to emulate.
  • Continue to maintain a focus on leadership development over the long haul.  Such self-development is a lifelong enterprise and helps the individual as well as the club.

Yes, this all requires effort, organization, and work for small standalone operations, but keep in mind that clubs that engage in a formal program of leadership development experience significant benefits, ranging from improved initiative and engagement among managers, to enhanced performance resulting from the club-wide impact of consistent service-based leadership, as well as to pride in belonging to a high-performing operation known for quality and excellence.

Thanks and have a great day!

Ed Rehkopf

This weekly blog comments on and discusses the hospitality industry and its challenges. From time to time, we will feature guest bloggers – those managers and industry experts who have something of interest to say to all of us. We also welcome feedback and comment upon the blog, hoping that it will become a useful sounding board for what’s on the minds of hardworking hospitality managers throughout the country and around the world.

Hospitality Resources International – Management Resources for Hospitality Operators!

Could It Be Any Easier?

May 16th, 2016

Well, yes it certainly could!

It’s club management of which I speak – and we all know it’s a challenging and often difficult profession with a complex set of realities to negotiate on a day in, day out basis.

In the interest of preserving your personal life and sanity, it’s important to search out and implement plans and programs to make your job easier and more fulfilling while at the same time providing your various constituencies – the Board, the club’s membership, management team, and employees – with the implied promise you made when accepting the position of General Manager.

So what was that promise?  Meeting the highest expectations of all constituencies.

  • For the Board – doing all you’re capable of to meet and exceed their agenda to make their club great while making them look good.
  • For the membership – getting to know them well enough to understand and exceed their collective expectations for quality, service, programming, and enjoyment of their club.
  • For your management team – providing them with the leadership, direction, and coaching to enhance their sense of purpose, professional skill set, and personal satisfaction from participating in a well-managed and high performing operation.
  • For the club’s employees – providing them with more than just a paycheck by engaging them as partners in your quest for remarkable quality and service.

When viewed in this light, the undertaking of managing a private club is a mighty tall order regardless of the club’s state of affairs, made all the more challenging by the standalone nature of most clubs.

Some might argue that they made no such promise to the club’s stakeholders, yet that’s exactly what one does in presenting themselves as a club management professional who has the wide-ranging talents and skills to operate a private club no matter the extent of amenities and membership price point.

To repeat myself – could it be any easier?  The simple answer is yes, it could, but only when you operate your club as a franchise – a well-organized and efficient enterprise where everyone knows what’s expected of them and effortlessly executes the daily routines.

In speaking of franchises, Michael E. Gerber, author of the bestselling E-Myth Revisited, says,

“Without a franchise no business can hope to succeed.  If, by a franchise, you understand that I’m talking about a proprietary way of doing business that differentiates your business from everyone else’s.  In short, the definition of a franchise is simply your unique way of doing business.”

The obvious implication for clubs is that to be successful you must define your expectations, standards, policies, procedures, and work processes and organize your club as if it were a franchise – one where how it interacts with its members and how quality and service is delivered sets it apart from all others.

While the effort to establish such a “franchised” operation is not insignificant, the major benefit of such an approach is that much of the day-to-day functioning of the enterprise takes place routinely, allowing management to focus on strategic issues, guiding the deliberations and direction of the Board, and providing extraordinary levels of personalized service and programming to the membership.  To summarize:

  • When the basics of an operation are routine, everyone’s focus becomes the extraordinary in all areas of the operation – in quality, service, and programming.
  • When you’re able to combine consistently excellent quality and service with extraordinary and compelling programs, activities, and events, you will maximize your member’s enjoyment and use of their club; and this ongoing support will ensure the club’s viability and future.

But this cannot and will not happen so long as the entire staff from General Manager to line employees is enmeshed in the “make-it-up-as-you-go” turbulence of daily operations.  Most, if not all, managers would have to admit there’s nothing easy about this operational model – which unfortunately is the reality in far too many clubs.  But until there is a commitment to organize and operate your club like a franchise, this will continue to be your reality.

No one would say that the effort to franchise your operation is simple or easy to implement, but the effort itself yields so many benefits for all constituencies that it’s an effort that must be made.  And it will certainly bring both light and an improved level of ease at the end of the tunnel.

Here is some additional reading that will illuminate the issue and the effort:

Thanks and have a great day!

Ed Rehkopf

This weekly blog comments on and discusses the hospitality industry and its challenges. From time to time, we will feature guest bloggers – those managers and industry experts who have something of interest to say to all of us. We also welcome feedback and comment upon the blog, hoping that it will become a useful sounding board for what’s on the minds of hardworking hospitality managers throughout the country and around the world.

Hospitality Resources International – Management Resources for Hospitality Operators!