Archive for December, 2009

Employee Empowerment

Monday, December 28th, 2009

The aim of Service-Based Leadership is to empower employees at all levels to think and act in alignment with your club’s values as they serve the needs of all constituencies—boards, members, and other employees.  Ultimately, employee empowerment is the end result of Service-Based Leadership.

Instead of the traditional view that employees are easily replaceable elements in an organization, people who must be trained to do narrow, well-defined tasks and who must be closely watched and supervised at all times, the concept of empowerment says that today’s more educated and sometimes more sophisticated employees need and want to contribute more to their employer and workplace.  Yet many clubs marginalize their employees by refusing to listen to them and by failing to let them contribute to the enterprise in any meaningful way.

Further, highly successful clubs who engage their employees in developing work processes and continual process improvement have discovered that these empowered employees make indispensable partners in delivering service.  Not only do they have a greater stake in the enterprise and are more fully committed to and responsible for their work, they actually equate their purpose and success with that of their club.

What is Employee Empowerment?

So what are empowered employees and how can they help your club meet its Mission and Vision?  In the simplest terms empowered employees are viewed as full-fledged partners in your quest for high levels of quality and service.  They are encouraged to think, act, and make decisions on their own based on guidelines defined by the club.

Leaders must understand that empowerment is not something bestowed on employees like some magical gift from management.  The leaders’ role is to establish both the environment and atmosphere where employees feel their empowerment and are emboldened to make decisions, knowing they have the support and backing of their leaders.

The major role that leaders make in empowering their employees is to create a culture where employees are valued and recognized as vital resources of the enterprise.  They must also understand that to be successful with employee empowerment, employees must fully sense the club’s commitment to such empowerment; simply saying that employees are empowered, does not make it so.  Leaders at all levels must do more than talk the talk.

While employee empowerment may be seen as a desirable practice by management, it ultimately comes about only with the recognition by employees that they are empowered.  This means that the focus of leaders must not be on what employees are doing to achieve empowerment, but on what they themselves are doing to promote and enable it.

Excerpted from Leadership on the Line – The Workbook.

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 – Management Resources for Clubs!

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Leadership Growth and Adaptation

Monday, December 21st, 2009

As any individual grows in leadership, his ideas about what leadership entails will mature and, in that maturation, one constant will stand out — change.  Adaptation to insistently changing circumstances is a hallmark of success.  One must approach life as a continual learning experience.

What attitudes and approaches lend themselves to this continual learning experience?

theworkbook_cover-41.  Always keep an open mind.  Try not to pre-judge situations or people.

2.  Never assume you know it all.  The more you learn, the more you realize how little you know.

3.  Be open and accessible to constituents-particularly followers.

4.  Remember that each follower and each constituent is unique and may require different motivators.

5.  Take time to stop and listen to your constituents.  In your rush to accomplish, do not forget that you need their input, feedback, and support.  Knowing their needs is essential.

6.  Don’t cast others as adversaries.  Find out their legitimate concerns about your agenda.  Accept the challenge of winning over your most difficult constituents.

7.  Take constituent concerns seriously and adjust your agenda as necessary.  Their buy-in to your program is essential to your success.  Judicious compromise is a sign of intelligence and flexibility, not defeat.  It should never be “my way or the highway.”

8.  Stay informed.  Know what’s going on in your organization, community, and the world at large.  To be effective, you must be relevant to your time and place.  To speak with authority and win people over, you must be knowledgeable about more than just your job.

9.  Nurture and care for your constituents.  While never on a quid pro quo basis, you will find that the care you give will be returned many times over in loyalty, support, and advancement of your goals.

10.  Be aware and alert to what goes on around you.  Learn by observing others, by witnessing their successes and failures.  Most knowledge comes not from education, but from your life experiences.  When you go through life in a fog of your own making-too consumed with real and imaginary dramas-you are inert, like a rock, to the wealth of learning opportunities around you.  As one leading hospitality company puts it, “keep your antennas up and your radar on” at all times—you’ll learn a lot by doing so!

11.  When you’re stressed or something has you ill-at-ease or on edge, it is a sure sign that something is wrong somewhere.  Analyze your situation.  Discovering the source is the first step in finding out what’s wrong and where you need to act.

12.  Once you’ve discovered the problem, contemplate how your leadership can overcome the issue.  Like any other learned ability, this continual “puzzling” over leadership challenges will enhance your skills and usually bring you to a better resolution.  If things turn out badly, figure out what went wrong and learn from the mistake.

Darwin was right on many levels when he said that creatures have to adapt to survive.  Leaders must adapt, not just to survive, but to thrive.

Excerpted from Leadership on the Line – The Workbook.

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 – Management Resources for Clubs!

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Manage Your Boss

Monday, December 14th, 2009

Randy was the long-standing maintenance supervisor at a club that I was hired to manage.  My first impressions of him were not good.  The facilities were poorly maintained and he always had excuses for the many problems of the property.

presentation2-2As I began to dig deeper and deeper into the challenges of the club, Randy took to stopping by my office each morning.  While I was anxious to learn as much as I could from him, each morning became a litany of complaints, usually that he did not have the necessary tools, staff, or time to take care of all the things for which his department was responsible.  Frequently, he disparaged his employees and their lack of necessary skills.  Further, I had the distinct sense that Randy was looking to me for solutions to his problems, both real and imagined.

After repeated attempts to prod Randy into positive action, I had a serious heart-to-heart with him.  In particular I told him that if I had to make all his decisions and solve his problems, I clearly didn’t need him.  Unexpectedly he resigned on the spot.  While surprised by his sudden action, I was relieved to see him go.  On an interim basis, I appointed John, his assistant, to run the department.

From the day he took over, John made a huge difference.  He reorganized the department, held weekly meetings with his staff, presented me with requests for tools and equipment supported by detailed justification and cost/benefit analyses, established a new work order system, met with department heads to foster improved communications, and provided me with weekly and monthly reports of his actions and progress.

Like Randy, John also stopped by my office each day for a few minutes.  But he never complained; he only kept me informed of what he was working on.  Sometimes he sought my permission to pursue a particular course of action or sought confirmation of his plans.  With each passing day I grew less and less concerned about maintenance.  Confidence in John and the job he was doing allowed me to turn my attention to other pressing matters.

Two months later I suspended the search for a new maintenance chief – I had already found my leader in John!

As a leader, you are responsible for influencing your boss’ perceptions of your work and performance.  Keep your boss informed of the problems you’re working on.  Periodic summary reports showing operational trends, improved performance, and greater efficiencies keep her better informed and influence perceptions of your performance.

Keep in mind that she has large responsibilities, is often very busy, and yet still has the need to know what is going on in the organization. Assuring your boss that you are aware of and actively working on problems sets her mind at ease.  In this regard you are seen as someone who helps make your boss’ job easier.

Don’t be afraid to seek guidance from your boss.  One of her responsibilities is to provide direction to your efforts.  Most bosses are open to questions and concerns, so long as you do not dominate their time or use them as a crutch in your own decision-making.

If you go to your boss with a problem, make sure you have a recommended solution.  This allows her to agree with your thinking and problem-solving approach without being expected to do your job for you.

Also, the members of your service team will see how managing your boss enhances the team’s stature in the eyes of higher management.  Nothing is better for staff morale than knowing that your own supervisor is highly regarded by her superiors.

Excerpted from Leadership on the Line:  A Guide for Front Line Supervisors, Business Owners, and Emerging Leaders.

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 – Management Resources for Clubs!

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Establishing and Maintaining Discipline

Monday, December 7th, 2009

Discipline is necessary to maintain the direction and focus of the organization and to establish and maintain standards of quality and service.  The desire is to achieve excellence and success and supervisors should understand that these goals are dependent upon the quality and commitment of the staff.

Unfortunately, in every group of employees, there are some who have attitude problems, lack commitment, or are not capable of meeting standards.  When confronted with such a problem employee, it is the responsibility of supervisors to deal quickly and effectively with the situation before it degrades the efforts of the rest of the staff.

Supervisors’ Responsibility

It does no good to have rules, regulations, and policies spelled out, if they are not going to be enforced by all supervisors.  Whenever a supervisor overlooks an infraction, he encourages others to similar violations.  A lax supervisor can be more damaging than no supervisor at all.

Further, supervisors are expected to actively confront any problem employee in their departments with the aim of correcting the problem.  If it cannot be corrected in a reasonable period of time, supervisors are expected to terminate the individual while following established discharge policies.

Good Communication

Good communication is important when working with a troubled or problem employee.  Some supervisors do not like to confront employees on seemingly “small” issues.  As a result, many small problems build up until the supervisor finally blows his top and is ready to fire the individual.  However, termination is inappropriate because the supervisor has not previously discussed the problems with the employee, warned him of the consequences of continued problems, or offered any help to correct the problem.

Good communication would prevent this situation.  If the supervisor talks frequently with employees, points out minor problems as they occur, addresses continuing problems in a proactive and formal way, an employee will never be surprised should he be terminated.

Disciplinary Philosophy

A club should subscribe to the “Hot Stove” approach to discipline.  Employees are told what is expected of them and what the consequences are of ignoring rules, requirements, policy, and procedure.  If they then touch the hot stove, they get burned.

The rationale behind this philosophy is that supervisors want to deal with staff as adults who are responsible for their own actions and they want to avoid inconsistency in applying rules, regulations, policies, and procedures.

Rules, Requirements, Policies, and Procedures

This philosophy requires that supervisors tell staff what is expected of them.  First, do this by spelling out in detail the rules, requirements, policies, and procedures of the club and position.  An Employee Handbook should contain the more important club-wide rules for employees.  Second, expend some effort through orientations and formal training to make staff fully aware of their responsibilities and the club’s expectations.

Fairness and Consistency

A club’s disciplinary process must be fair and consistent.  This will follow naturally from rules, requirements, policies, and procedures being applied fairly and consistently to all employees.  Supervisors who are not fair and consistent will create major problems within their departments.  There is no quicker way to destroy departmental morale and trust than to play favorites.

Often the perception of fairness is as important as the reality.  Supervisors should not only be fair, but also give all appearances of being fair.  If some special situation comes up where your decision may seem unfair to some employees, take the time to explain the situation to everyone.  This will “clear the air” and more than likely satisfy the staff.

Constructive and Progressive

A club’s disciplinary process should be both constructive and progressive.  By this it is meant that all disciplinary actions are aimed at correcting erroneous or inappropriate behavior, and successive disciplinary actions will be progressively more severe.  These two aspects are, in reality, part of the same philosophy.  While the club wants to help employees overcome their problems, when the problems continue, it wants to get the employee’s attention with progressively more severe consequences.

Higher Standard for Supervisors

Because of a supervisor’s position, experience, training, education, and other factors that led to hiring, they are held to a higher standard of conduct and performance than line staff.  In disputes between staff and supervisors, it is expected that supervisors will have solidly documented cases showing thorough investigation of any incident.

While supervisors will always be supported when in the right, line employees will be given the benefit of the doubt when there is insufficient evidence or the absence of a thorough investigation.  The best way for a supervisor to ensure that he is supported in his decisions is to have all his facts together before taking disciplinary action.

For a complete discussion of disciplinary procedures see Employee Development and Disciplinary Guides.

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 – Management Resources for Clubs!

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