Archive for May, 2009

Employee Empowerment

Monday, May 25th, 2009

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.bowtie-21

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

rc-staff-31For 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.

Club Resources International – where membership and all resources are FREE!

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On Top at Mountaintop

Monday, May 18th, 2009

I had the opportunity and pleasure to speak at a meeting of the Charlotte-Blue Ridge Mountain chapter of the Hospitality Financial and Technology Professionals (HFTP) this past week in Cashiers, NC.

This was my fourth occasion to speak before HFTP groups and spoke this time on The Quest for Remarkable Service, Service-Based Leadership, and Employee Empowerment.  The setting for the meeting at the Mountaintop Golf and Lake Club could not have been more idyllic.  Spring has come to the NC Mountains and the rhododendrons are in full bloom with the Mountain Laurel not far behind.

L-R:  Ed Rehkopf, Myra Bumgarner, Rob Duckett

L-R: Ed Rehkopf, Myra Bumgarner, Rob Duckett

For those unfamiliar with Mountaintop, it is a recent addition to the fabulous stable of Discovery Land Company properties.  Now in its fourth season under General Manager Rob Duckett and selected as the top country club in the country by GolfWeek Magazine, Mountaintop has raised the bar for the entire industry when it comes to exceptional service and delivering the “wow” factor to members and guests.

Three things strike me as I contemplate Mountaintop’s service levels.  First, is the engaging, knowledgeable, and professional manner of their employees.  Without exception they make you feel welcomed as if you were a long, lost family member or friend.  Second, are the unexpected service touches, large and small, that both surprise and delight – from the golf course comfort stations stocked with an unbelievable assortment of complimentary snacks and delectables, to the iced bottled water placed by the valet in the cup holder of your car as you depart.  Lastly, is the genuinely pleasant and friendly demeanor of every employee, both line staff and management, whom you encounter.

I joined Rob for dinner Thurdsay night and we talked about his management style and the special challenges he and his staff face.  As I listened I began to understand how he has achieved such a well-deserved reputation for service excellence.  It can simply be summed up in one word – leadership!  During my brief time on property employee after employee spoke glowingly of their boss.  They described Rob as “a great leader,” “demanding, yet fair,” “open and approachable,” “a great communicator,” and “brings out the best in all of us.”

While so many of us struggle to find and retain good employees, Rob has managed to attract great people who stay with him or come back season after season; and remarkably he has achieved this in a remote mountain setting with a limited pool of qualified people.

While Mountaintop’s membership pay well for the privilege of belonging, I am convinced that Rob’s rare leadership style could provide similar results in almost any club at any price point.  Granted the service touches may be less extravagant, but it’s the human element that really makes the difference and Rob’s leadership does bring out the best in his people.

Top (L-R): Dennis Buckner, Gray McRimmon, Dennis Leftwich  Middle: Steven Argo, Linda Fletcher, Pat Weyandt   Bottom: Melody Bumwell, Chrissy Sheridan, Myra Bumgarner

Top (L-R): Dennis Buckner, Gray McRimmon, Dennis Leftwich Middle: Steven Argo, Linda Fletcher, Pat Weyandt . . . . . . . . . . . . . Bottom: Melody Bumwell, Chrissy Sheridan, Myra Bumgarner

About the HFTP:  As mentioned before this is my fourth time speaking to various HFTP groups – and I’ll do so again next month in NJ and again the following month in Richmond.  At each conference I’ve attended I have been truly impressed by this group of hospitality professionals.  Their meetings are far more than social networking opportunities.  Education and sharing their challenges and solutions is a large part of the agendas.  With their headquarters in Austin, TX, and an international office in Maastricht, the Netherlands, this group strives to enhance the professionalism, career development, and advancement opportunities of its 4,800 members.

The topic of Service-Based Leadership touched off a lively discussion of the do’s and don’ts, the characteristics of good leaders, some of the causes of weak leadership, and the need for more leadership development and accountability throughout the industry.  The implications of this important topic were emphasized in a dramatic way by the example and experience of Mountaintop and its marvelous staff.

Special thanks to our Mountaintop hosts, Myra Bumgarner, Controller, and Chrissy Sheridan, Assistant Controller, for a memorable day.  They and the rest of the Mountaintop staff made us all – participants and presenter – most welcomed and at home on top of their mountain!

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.

Club Resources International – where membership and all resources are FREE!

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The Imperative of Manager Training

Monday, May 11th, 2009

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 naïve 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.

 

Club Resources International – where membership and all resources are FREE!

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Staff Training

Monday, May 4th, 2009

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.

NEXT WEEK: Even more important – Managers Training!

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.

Club Resources International – where membership and all resources are FREE!

Add to Technorati Favorites