Archive for April, 2012

Creating Standards, Policies, and Procedures

Monday, April 30th, 2012

The terms “Standards,” “Policies,” and “Procedures” are used in business to describe the what, why, and how’s of a club’s organization and work processes.

Definitions.  The following definitions can be found in The Random House College Dictionary.  For convenience sake, we have only included those definitions that apply to our purposes.

Standard

  1. Something considered by an authority or by general consent as a basis for comparison; an approved model.
  2. Anything as a rule or principle that is used as a basis or model for judgment.
  3. Morals, ethics, habits, etc., established by authority, custom, or an individual as acceptable.
  4. Fulfilling specific requirements as established by an authority, law, rule, custom, etc.

In a manufacturing setting product standards usually include material specifications, manufacturing tolerances, quality measurements, and the functionality of the finished product.  In the hospitality field, however, the establishment of a standard is usually made by management based upon an understanding or expectation of what will satisfy or impress the customer.  Often this satisfaction is based upon the manner in which some service or action is performed.  Therefore, the standard is a description of the desired outcome of that service or action and/or the manner in which it is performed, for instance the approved way of presenting and opening a bottle of wine, or the correct way to fill a form used for documenting personnel actions, the manner in which month-end inventories will be conducted, or the level of professionalism of our management and operations.

In the case of club standards, standards are the model for the optimum way of doing things.  They are established by the general manager as the acceptable model of performance by which members judge proficiency and professionalism.  They apply not only to the daily performance of individual duties, but also to the manner in which you conduct yourself and your business.

Policy (ies)

  1. A definite course of action adopted for the sake of expediency, facility, etc.
  2. Action or procedure conforming to or considered with reference to prudence or expediency.
  3. Prudence, practical wisdom, or expediency.  (expedient:  tending to promote some proposed or desired object; fit or suitable under the circumstances.  Synonyms include advisable, appropriate, desirable.)

Policies and standards are so closely interwoven it is often hard to tell them apart.  Policies most often apply to those areas of the operation where they can be little or no leeway in how you do something, for instance in the area of Human Resources where so much of what you do is dictated by law or by the need for correct action to avoid litigation, or in the area of Accounting where exactness and consistency are necessary to ensure the correctness, accuracy, and transparency of financial reporting and fiduciary responsibilities.

Policies can also apply to operations.  For example you establish policies to ensure the consistent and fair treatment of members, for instance in how you take tee times or dining room reservations.  The need for policy here is to ensure that every member has equal treatment and the same opportunity to enjoy the club’s amenities, which as every manager knows is important to keeping members happy and satisfied.  Nothing will upset a member faster than believing he or she is not getting a fair shake from the club.

Procedure (s)

  1. An act or a manner of proceeding in any action or process; conduct.
  2. A particular course of mode of action.

Procedures are the “how to’s” of the club’s business.  Sometimes they flow from standards and sometimes from policies, but in the end they are the exact instructions of how to do or complete a particular process, act, or event.  Whereas policies are often the big picture of why we do something, procedures are the detail of how it is done.

Standards, Policies, Procedures. It is essential to develop detailed, written standards, policies, and procedures for every area of club operations.  Not only are these the basis for developing training material, but they serve as the foundation for developing a club culture that is consistently taught to new hires and reinforced by both management and other employees.  When everyone understands “the way things are done,” there is less opportunity for freelance behavior.  Eliminating freelancing or employee discretion fosters consistency of product and service delivery.  As Harvard Professor Theodore Levitt says in his book, Marketing for Business Growth, “Discretion is the enemy of order, standardization, and quality.”

In fact, employees will be the first to say that they appreciate the time and effort taken to teach them the accepted way of doing things and that management insists upon uniformly high standards.  People naturally take pride in being associated with quality and this is no less true for club employees.

Summary. Taken together standards, policies, and procedures form the bulk of the material that an employee must master to satisfactorily complete all their job functions, duties, and responsibilities.  Without taking the time to define, explain, and clarify standards, policies, and procedures, how can management realistically know what it is that employees need to learn?  Without well-defined (i.e., written and reviewed) standards, policies, and procedures, any attempt to train will be disorganized and inconsistent.

While department heads and junior managers are typically responsible for developing the operating standards, policies, and procedures for their departments, the general manager is still responsible for ensuring the overall quality of the operation and must therefore review all operating standards, policies, and procedures.  But how can this be done if they are not in writing and available for the GM’s review?

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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Guest Blog: Leading with Dignity in the Workplace

Monday, April 23rd, 2012

donna-hicks-152x200My work has brought me up close to leaders of all kinds. There is one thing they share: highly developed technical and intellectual capacities, many of them graduates of some of the world’s most prestigious educational institutions.

They also share something else; what many of them report as a major leadership challenge: knowing what to do in charged emotional situations. In spite of their technical expertise, they rarely feel confident when faced with subordinates who are experiencing outrage; who feel they are being treated unfairly; whose unacknowledged grievances have changed them into fighting men and women. In other words, they don’t know what to do when faced with people who have experienced repeated violations of their dignity, which are, by definition, highly charged emotional events.

Their default reaction is often to use their authority and the power of their position to control the situation, often leaving the aggrieved people angrier, more resentful, and less willing to extend themselves in their jobs or their roles within an organization. The dignity violations remained unaddressed, contaminating the work environment.

A reason why the default reaction is to exert authority and control over a volatile emotional situation is that they are afraid of it. They are especially fearful of being exposed and embarrassed by a bad move or a flawed policy for which they were responsible.

I have seen otherwise brilliant leaders get caught in all of the predictable traps that ignorance of how to best handle dignity violations creates. They are not bad people who deliberately try to make life difficult for those whom they lead; they simply don’t have the knowledge, awareness and skills they need to navigate through emotional turmoil. Without an education in matters related to dignity, a most vulnerable aspect of being human, even technically gifted and well-intentioned leaders can unknowingly create an undignified work environment.

The need has never been more urgent for people in leadership positions to be educated in all matters related to dignity; both the human vulnerability to being violated, and the positive effect it has on people when they feel seen, heard, understood, and acknowledged as valuable and worthy.

The emotional impact of treating someone well and honoring their dignity has benefits that are incalculable. It’s the easiest and fastest way to bring out the best in people. The opposite is equally as true: treat a person as if he or she doesn’t matter and watch how fast a destructive, if not violent, emotional storm erupts.

Leading with dignity means that leaders recognize this; that they are willing to embody what it looks like to treat others as valuable, to know what to do with people when they have been violated, and to know what to do when they have violated them. Below are some steps leaders can take to establish a culture of dignity in the workplace:

  1. Make a company-wide commitment to learn about the role dignity plays in establishing a healthy and productive (and profitable) work environment.
  2. Make a conscious effort to honor the dignity of your employees; both in everyday interactions and in the policies you create.
  3. Create a work environment where your employees feel safe to speak up about the dignity violations they are experiencing. Make it easy for them by inviting them on a regular basis to talk to you about ways that you or company policies may be unknowingly harming them.
  4. When it is reported to you that other managers and supervisors are violating the dignity of others, take action to address the situation. Make it company policy to take responsibility for the harm one causes others. No one should be above accountability.

There is no greater leadership challenge than to lead with dignity, helping us all to understand what it feels like to be honored and valued and to feel the expansive benefits that come from experiencing it. Employees yearn to see good leadership from their executives and managers.

They all knows how difficult it is for their leaders to take courageous steps that could leave them vulnerable such as overriding the need to save face by admitting to having made a mistake; stepping beyond what is safe and comfortable by apologizing for hurting employees; confronting a fellow leader who has repeatedly violated people; championing one’s employees when their voices are not strong enough to speak up to a failed policy that violates their dignity.

While we all recognize how difficult leadership can be, we still have the expectation that the title of leader means something. We want it to mean that by watching dignified leadership, we, too, can expect more of ourselves and not succumb to the all-too-familiar default mode of making excuses for not opting to do what is right.

Donna Hicks Ph.D., author of Dignity: The Essential Role It Plays in Resolving Conflict, Yale University Press, 2011.  You can read more about the author and her book at http://drdonnahicks.com/

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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Conducting Employee Counseling and Disciplinary Sessions

Monday, April 16th, 2012

How supervisors conduct counseling and disciplinary sessions has a lot to do with their success.

First, the meeting must be held in private, in a quiet, uninterrupted setting.  The supervisor may wish to include a witness, such as a trusted associate or the HR manager.  Do not use a departmental peer of the employee being counseled.

Second, the tone of the session should match the purpose.

  • If the session is for counseling, the meeting should be less formal, more comfortable, and supportive.  The conversation should focus on constructive criticism, problem discovery, and proposed solutions.  While this should be done in a supportive way, it is also necessary to communicate to the employee the negative consequences of continued problems.
  • When the purpose of the meeting is disciplinary, the session should be formal and the tone serious.  The idea is to impress upon the employee the serious nature his actions, the impending consequences if he does not improve his behavior or performance, and the issuance of the disciplinary report, suspension, or discharge, as the case may warrant.

Third, the investigation of any incident or documentation of a series of problems must be thorough and detailed.  Supervisors must not go off half-cocked to write somebody up before investigating.  Supervisors may have an incomplete picture of what happened and be embarrassed when the full story comes out.

Fourth, after telling the employee the reason for the meeting and relating the incident or allegations, the supervisor should give him a chance to tell his side of the story.  He may have mitigating circumstances or a very different version of what happened.  His story may require further investigation or corroboration.  The supervisor may need to call other people in as witnesses or to contradict his version.

Fifth, after hearing his side of the story, the supervisor will decide what action to take and prepare the Record of Employee Counseling, CRI Form 103, describing the incident or problem, allowing the employee to offer any response, and providing a summary of the counseling or disciplinary action.

Last, the supervisor will present the employee with the Report and ask for his signature.  If he chooses not to sign, so note it.  Make sure the Report is complete.  Provide the employee with a copy; send one to the HR manager for inclusion in his Personnel File, and save one for the departmental files.

The key to successful disciplinary actions is good documentation.  Supervisors have two documentary tools at their disposal – Staff Notes and the Record of Employee Counseling.

  • Staff Notes are daily or weekly notes made about staff performance.  They should contain instances of tardiness, absences, failure to follow instructions and procedures, complaints, arguments or disputes with other staff, instances of outstanding performance, etc.  These brief notes are invaluable in helping a supervisor reconstruct circumstances, give details in review sessions, or document continuing disciplinary problems of a minor nature.
  • Records of Employee Counseling are used for formal documentation of problems when the supervisor wishes to give the employee a copy.  These reports must be filled out completely and accurately.  If the supervisor fails to enter a date, fails to sign it, fails to present it to the employee, or fails to get his signature or note “chose not to sign,” the record may be useless as documentary evidence.

Right to Respond. Each employee subject to a disciplinary action or unsatisfactory performance review has a right to respond.  Such response should come within 7 days of the report or review.  Supervisors should consider the response, amend the report or review if warranted, and attach the response without alteration to all copies of the disciplinary report or review (personnel file copy and departmental copy).

Choosing Not to Sign. Employees are requested to sign all disciplinary reports and performance reviews, but have an absolute right not to sign.  The absence of the employee’s signature will not affect the validity of the document, so long as the supervisor notes that it was presented to him.  If an employee chooses not to sign, the supervisor does this by writing “chose not to sign” and the date on the signature line.  The words “refused to sign” should not be used as this connotes coercion or lack of choice.

One of the questions posed by supervisors with any employee disciplinary issue is “OK, so he cleans his act up for a time, but then at some later point, it starts up again.  What do I do then?”  The answer as usual depends on circumstances.

If his behavior has been exemplary for a number of months and then there is one instance of the offending behavior without a reasonable excuse, you may decide to give him the benefit of the doubt.  Certainly you may do this, but don’t miss the opportunity to sit him down again, remind him of the consequences should he do it again, and document the session.

You may also decide in light of any number of issues – poor attitude, sloppy work, lack of teamwork, unwillingness to go above and beyond requirements, complaints received, member feedback, lethargic work performance, etc., that you’ll discharge him.  This is also defensible, though the longer the period of time between this and his last offense, might cause the reasonable person to consider another, fresher warning.

If during the same period the employee had other documented incidents of misconduct and generally unsatisfactory performance, this would provide all the necessary cause to discharge the employee.

If in doubt, you should always seek the advice of the Human Resources Manager or General Manager.

– excerpted from Employee Development and Discipline on the Go

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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Recognizing the Limits of Your Influence

Monday, April 9th, 2012

Being an effective leader requires that you understand the parameters of your authority and the extent of your sphere of influence.  For instance, what should you do when you report to a superior who lacks essential leadership skills?

Remember the freedom of taking personal responsibility.  You cannot control your boss’ skill or lack of it, but instead of getting upset, focus on what you can control.  Do everything in your power to be the best leader you can be.  Try to insulate your team from the worst effects of the situation.  Do not disparage your boss in front of your employees.  They will size up the situation quickly enough and will respect you even more for not trying to make him look bad.

Possibly your efforts will have a positive effect on your boss.  If your area of the operation is performing well because of your leadership, it may cause him to take notice.  Maybe your boss will become curious enough to ask about the secrets of your success.  In any case, focus on your own efforts.  If the situation should become untenable, remember that you retain ultimate control over your future and can make the appropriate decision at any time.

Understanding the limits of your influence also entails the recognition that you have more impact and control over your employees than you do over your other constituencies.  Your customers are removed from your direct influence since they are served by your employees.  For the most part your influence on customers is secondhand.

Farthest removed from your influence are your company’s shareholders.  Unless as owners they take a direct role in your company, they are often absent from the operation.  Their role and status with the company is still of major importance, but their interests are served at a distance.

So as you work to accomplish your company’s goals, concentrate on those nearest at hand and those over whom you have the greatest influence – the employees on your service team.  If they do their jobs with enthusiasm and a sense of service, the needs of your other constituencies will also be met.

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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Guest Blog: Is a Resigned Member Still a Member?

Monday, April 2nd, 2012

Club management often assumes that once a member resigns, he or she is no longer a member.  The answer is not always so simple.  Club membership documents rarely directly answer this question.

Club membership documents often require a resigned member to continue to pay dues after resignation for some period of time, whether it be to the end of the membership year, for 12 or 24 months, or in the case of a refundable membership, until the resigned membership is reissued by the club to a new member.  The membership documents also often (but not always) permit the resigned member facilities use privileges as long as the member continues to pay dues.  Some resigned members continue to pay dues even after their dues obligation ceases, with the consent of the club, in order to continue facilities use privileges.

When members vote in an election or vote on a matter, club management and the club board must determine whether resigned members may vote.   Club bylaws often are silent on whether a resigned member who continues to pay dues may vote.   If the membership documents give a resigned dues-paying member “use privileges,” this likely is not sufficient to give the member voting rights.  However, if the membership documents state that a resigned member has “membership privileges” as long as the member pays dues, then the resigned member has a good argument that he or she has voting rights, not solely facilities use privileges.

A related question is whether a resigned membership is outstanding for purposes of a membership cap or determination of how many memberships have been issued.  In the case of a refundable membership, a membership once issued, is always outstanding, because it counts as a membership for purposes of the membership cap.  Therefore, a resigned membership is outstanding for such purpose even if the member has no membership privileges.   In the case of a nonrefundable membership, the club probably should not count a resigned non-dues paying membership as outstanding, because it gets “turned back” to the club.

Even though club management and active club members often do not consider resigned members to be real members, the resigned members’ status and the treatment of resigned memberships often depend on review of club membership documents and whether the membership is refundable.

Glenn A. Gerena, a shareholder with the national law firm of Greenberg Traurig, P.A., concentrates his practice on structuring, documentation for, and restructuring club membership programs.  You can read more about the author at http://www.gtlaw.com/People/GlennAGerena, and read more club related articles by the author at http://www.hospitalitylawcheckin.com.

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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