Archive for November, 2010

Report This!

Monday, November 29th, 2010

Some years ago while I was discussing the benefits of benchmarking with a club general manager, he surprised me by saying that he “didn’t like reports.”  I was so stunned by this admission that I never did discover his objection – whether he didn’t like preparing them for his superiors or didn’t like getting and reading them from subordinates.  Either way it seemed to me that he was unnecessarily limiting the flow of information and blinding himself to the details of his operation.

Let me digress for a moment to imagine a pilot of a commercial airliner in the cockpit of his plane.  At any moment of the flight from pre-flight preparation, take off, cruising to destination, to approach and landing, he has a host of dials, gauges, and indicators that keep him informed of the status of all operating systems and external factors affecting the plane – information such as altitude readings, fuel levels, engine oil pressure, status of hydraulic systems, radar signals, navigation beacons, and so on.  The pilot, by monitoring this array of displays, assures himself that all parameters of the plane’s performance are within desired standards.  If something is amiss, alarms will immediately notify him of problems needing attention, thereby assisting him in taking the appropriate action to assure the safety of plane and passengers.

It may be argued that club operations are just as complex with thousands of details that must be attended to daily (though without the serious safety implications).  Yet the person with overall responsibility for club operations – the general manager – has limited mechanisms to report on the health and vitality of the enterprise in anything approaching real time.  In some clubs the only indicator of developing problems is the monthly financial statement that becomes available weeks later.  Even then, the summary information in the club’s operating statement provides only a limited assessment of performance at best.

Modern point of sale and club management software systems have come a long way in providing the underlying detail of the operations with “drill-down” capabilities and custom reporting, yet how many general managers avail themselves of this trove of information or make a formal effort to analyze the detail in the longer term context of goals and budgets?

This brings me back again to reports.  A discipline of formal reporting can and does provide a means of monitoring specific information on a regular basis.  As such, reports are an important mechanism for the general manager, as well as department heads, to monitor performance in a timely and efficient way.  For the department head tasked with preparing the report, it is a disciplined means of focusing on the important details of departmental operations while creating a record of ongoing initiatives, progress toward goals, and departmental performance.  Once established, the discipline of routine periodic reports is the best way for a subordinate manager to influence the boss’s perceptions about his or her performance.

For the general manager, regular reporting of key information from department heads is the best way to monitor departmental performance with the least investment of time.  Instead of personally digging into the details of the operation, the general manager can review periodic reports and benchmarks and focus time and attention on out-of-line parameters.  Also, when the responsibility to monitor and report key data is put on the department heads, they are in the position of primary discovery, allowing them to formulate solutions or initiatives to correct operational deficiencies, as opposed to putting that burden on the general manager.  Lastly, by establishing such a reporting discipline, the general manager is providing a critical lesson to subordinate managers – that they are responsible for the performance of their departments, that they must pay close attention to the details of their operation, and that they are responsible for managing the boss’s perceptions of their performance by providing timely and accurate data, analyzing information, and drawing conclusions regarding operational trends.

While reports may seem like a lot of paperwork to some, once the discipline of preparing and submitting these reports is established, department heads will discover that they are just part of operational routine.  On the other hand, the benefit of everyone paying attention to key performance indicators is well worth the effort.  Ultimately, it makes the general manager’s challenging job easier and serves to make club operations more efficient.

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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Problems as Opportunities to Lead

Monday, November 22nd, 2010

It’s been said that every problem is a gift in disguise.  It brings to light something that can be done to make the organization function more efficiently.  Having a negative attitude toward problems blinds you to solutions.

Problems should be solved at the lowest possible level.  Senior leaders are responsible for charting the course of the club and planning for the future.  The more time they spend dealing with day-to-day operating problems, the less able they are to fulfill those roles.

Be Proactive in Finding Problems. Every organization has problems, but some managers try to hide them.  A sure sign that there are problems is that no one ever talks about them.  Everything seems to go too smoothly; no one wants to rock the boat or else they are in deep denial.  It is a simple task to ask questions, to dig a little wherever you go.  Inevitably problems turn up.  Often those most familiar with and vocal about problems are the employees who deal with them every day.

A significant step in solving problems is to place a major and positive emphasis on problem discovery.  It’s the first step in problem solution.  As a leader, your performance is not measured by how few problems you have, rather by how many are being actively addressed.  Senior leaders expect to hear about problems from you, not from your employees or members.

Every Problem Has a Solution.  There may not be an ideal solution, but there will be a solution.  Many problems are complex and involve other areas of the club.  Setting priorities and being willing to work as a team play large parts in solving interrelated problems.

You may also need to break large problems down into their component parts.  This often points the way to a solution.  The many small steps taken to correct a problem frequently involve compromises.  Do not be discouraged if no perfect solution exists; find one that solves the greatest part of the problem, or is the easiest to implement, or gives the biggest bang for the buck.

Brainstorming with other leaders or with employees can provide insights into solving large and complex problems.  Do not hesitate to use your employees’ knowledge of the operation to help find solutions.

Finally, solutions cannot be implemented in a vacuum.  Examine how proposed solutions might affect other parts of the club and coordinate implementation accordingly.

Design System Solutions.  Quick fixes usually do not address the underlying causes of problems.  By examining, improving, and documenting the process, you can establish underlying systems that will routinely handle situations.  When the bulk of situations in a club are handled routinely, more time is available for member service and paying attention to details.

Attempt to follow the Pareto Principle* or 80-20 rule.  If you have established routine system procedures for your operation, you are able to devote 80% of your efforts to 20% of the operation – the most critical details.

Summary.  Continual Process Improvement requires a positive emphasis on problems and problem discovery.  How you as a manager address the problems of your organization sets the example for your employees.  If everyone in the organization views problems as a hassle to be avoided, nothing is ever solved and your club founders in a never-ending sea of troubles.

*“The Pareto principle (also known as the 80-20 rule) states that, for many events, roughly 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes. Business management thinker Joseph M. Juran suggested the principle and named it after Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto, who observed in 1906 that 80% of the land in Italy was owned by 20% of the population. It is a common rule of thumb in business; e.g., ‘80% of your sales come from 20% of your clients.'”  (source:  Wikipedia)

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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Value Your People

Monday, November 15th, 2010

In an article on employee empowerment, business consultant Susan M. Heathfield said, “Your regard for people shines through in all of your actions and words. Your facial expression, your body language, and your words express what you are thinking about the people who report to you. Your goal is to demonstrate your appreciation for each person’s unique value. No matter how an employee is performing on their current task, your value for the employee as a human being should never falter and always be visible.”

What things can you as a leader do to demonstrate your regard for people “in all your actions and words”?

Know and use employee names.  Everyone likes to be recognized as an individual and called by name.  Certainly your members do and your employees do as well.  Introduce them to members and guests when appropriate.  Failing to do so implies they’re just part of the scenery instead of key contributors to the success of your operation.

Learn about employees as individuals.  Get to know them, their life situations, their dreams and plans, their goals in life.  This does not mean you are to become their friend or confidante, but it does mean you have enough interest in them as individuals to try to understand their situation, their needs, and motivations.

Greet employees daily.  You should never fail to greet employees when you see them each day.  You don’t like to be ignored as if you were unimportant, and neither do they.

Share your time with employees.  As busy as you are, make time for your employees.  They have questions, concerns, and needs that should never be ignored.  Be open and approachable.  When you are not, when they are afraid to come to you for fear of your reaction, you are kept in the dark about what is really going on in your team.  If any employee is monopolizing your time or is a “high maintenance” employee, do not be shy about letting him know the inappropriateness of this behavior.

Recognize each person’s strengths and weaknesses.  None of us is the perfect manager, server, retail attendant, etc.  Don’t expect your employees to be.  Learn each person’s strengths and weakness.  Capitalize on the strengths and help each person overcome their weaknesses.  The time you invest in helping an employee develop his or her skills and abilities is well worth the effort and will be appreciated far more than you’ll ever realize.

Be involved in the workplace and work processes.  Do not create a hostile work environment by failing to adequately engage with your employees.  Without your ongoing guidance and direction, petty dissensions and friction will grow among the workers of your team as they struggle to figure out who must do what.

Look out for your peoples’ welfare.  Make sure your employees get adequate work breaks, that their work spaces are set up for comfort and efficiency, that they are properly trained and equipped for their jobs, that you adjust work schedules when possible to meet individual needs, that you resolve pay discrepancies quickly, that you get back to them to resolve issues they’ve raised.

Treat employees as adults.  When you treat employees like children, they will act like children.  Don’t talk down to them or treat them as if they’re immature.  When you give people responsibility, most will reward your trust.  Those who demonstrate they can’t be trusted should be encouraged to move on.

Show respect.  This is critically important in the way you speak, the tone of your voice, your choice of words, and your body language.  Your respect for others cannot be faked.  You must sincerely value people to treat them with respect at all times.

Do not take advantage of people.  Employees are not your servants and should not be expected to perform personal services for you.  If you delegate tasks, make sure there is value in it for them, either in enhanced compensation or a genuine learning opportunity.

Demonstrate the common decencies of human interaction in all your dealings.  Be kind and courteous.  Give your people the benefit of the doubt.  Don’t be quick to take offense or become upset.  Maintain control of your temper and reaction to events.

Thank employees often.  How easy is it to say “Thank you”?  It costs nothing and it reaps great rewards.  The only requirement is that it must be sincerely given.

Say goodbye at the end of the day or shift.  A farewell is a common courtesy that you would extend to family and friends, if for no other reason than as an acknowledgement of departure.  The members of your work team, who you depend on for your success, should receive no less a courtesy.  Again, the need for sincerity is absolute.

American poet and author Maya Angelou said, “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

Value your people and they will be willing and committed participants in your quest for quality and service.

Excerpted from Leadership on the Line – The Workbook, Ed Rehkopf, Clarity Publications, 2009

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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Leading Change

Monday, November 8th, 2010

Amin came to work for me as the Restaurant Manager in an historic university-owned hotel.  He faced many challenges, not the least of which was the fact that the restaurant was losing money and badly needed repositioning.

He attacked the problem with enthusiasm and energy, and he promptly ran into a buzz saw of opposition.  It seems that many of his customers, including several academics who were powerful shapers of university opinion, thought the existing operation was just fine.

While surprised by their reaction to his plans, Amin developed a strategy to win them to his cause.  He actively courted them, made appointments for office visits, listened to many nostalgic tales of meals gone by, but also heard in all the conversation their distinct desire to maintain the restaurant as a quiet, dignified place where ideas could be discussed over a good, reasonably-priced meal.

He then enlisted a respected professor’s wife and interior designer with a deep sense of university tradition to prepare designs to renovate the restaurant.  He also formed a focus group of key individuals to communicate menu preferences to the Chef.  As the plans began to take shape he was careful to keep his many advisers abreast of developments.

Amin also took great pains to involve the food service staff in his planning and designs.  Not only were their suggestions helpful, but they looked forward to the repositioning with proprietary interest.

Finally, the day came when the restaurant was closed for renovation.  During the three-week closure, a number of our “advisers” stopped by to see how the project was coming.  Most made reservations for re-opening day so they could bring friends and colleagues to see the results of “their work.”

Needless to say, the re-opening was a great success.  Certainly, there were some minor glitches, but the pride and good feeling of our many active participants carried the day.

As this example suggests, a lot of mistakes can be prevented if you take the time to completely think through the ramifications of planned changes.

  • Attempt to understand the impact of proposed changes on all elements of the organization and customers alike.
  • Change can be threatening to employees.  They sometimes do not understand that change can also be an opportunity.  Reassure them.  Much of how change is viewed is attitudinal and can be influenced by the manner in which you, as the leader, approach it.
  • Enact change in a manner that lessens the threat to employees.  Lead your staff through change.  Make sure they understand the reasons for the change and whatever new goals you have.  Brief them thoroughly on new policies or procedures.
  • New processes also impact your customers, so make sure you communicate changes to them.  Start well in advance of the proposed changes and “sell” new services and procedures to your customers.
  • Change isn’t any good unless it works.  Evaluate change and analyze the effectiveness of new systems, policies, and procedures.  Corrections and modifications will inevitably be necessary.  Do not be afraid to admit that things aren’t going as planned or hoped.  Intervene as necessary.  Stay focused and committed until all the bugs are worked out.
  • Communicate well and thoroughly throughout the period of change.  Fear feeds on itself and can get out of hand quickly.  In the absence of information, employees will usually assume the worst.  Listen to their fears and try to allay them.
  • A leader must exude confidence and enthusiasm for change.  Be supportive of the change even if you don’t agree with it.  Leaders usually have opportunities to express disagreement with proposed changes.  Once a decision is made, though, support the idea as if it were your own.  Never disparage the change in front of your employees.  You will doom it to failure.

Work to create an environment where change occurs naturally and the process of change thrives.  It can be essential to your success.

Excerpted from Leadership on the Line – A Guide for Front Line Supervisors, Business Owners and Emerging Leaders, 2d Edition, Ed Rehkopf, Clarity Publications, 2006

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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Consequences

Monday, November 1st, 2010

Albert Einstein said, “Setting an example is not the main means of influencing another, it is the only means.”

Always keep in mind the consequences of your own behavior as a leader:

  • If you are not loyal to your employees, they will not be loyal to you.
  • If you do not respect your employees, they will respond in kind.
  • If you don’t care about your employees, they won’t care about you or your endeavors.
  • If you don’t look out for their interests, they won’t look out for yours.
  • If you don’t treat your employees with respect, they will not treat you or our members with respect.
  • If you are abusive to employees, the good ones will leave; only the poor ones will stay.
  • Remarkable service is all about attitude; treating employees badly fosters bad attitudes.

 

“A leader leads by example, whether he intends to or not.”   – Unknown

Your example sets the standard for all your employees.  Don’t blame them if they don’t have high standards.

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!

Add                   to Technorati Favorites