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Guest Blog: Getting the Training Wheels Turning

Monday, August 18th, 2014
Don Vance, CCM, CPC Chief Operating Officer General Manager Hound Ears Club

Don Vance, CCM, CPC Chief Operating Officer General Manager Hound Ears Club

A recent Gallup survey reported that less than one-third of U.S. employees are “actively and genuinely engaged” in their jobs, while 17% are “actively disengaged.”  That means that the remainder—over 50%—are just going through the motions of their jobs and flying under the radar, basically trying not to get noticed.

As front-line managers, it’s up to us to create and maintain the relationships that stimulate employee engagement, while reducing physical and psychological turnover.  The worst employee is the one who quits mentally, but stays in your employ and has no inclination to leave.

One of the primary goals of all training programs, then, should be as much to generate enthusiasm and staff involvement— and ignite commitment—as to impart the needed knowledge and skills required for the specific duties of particular job responsibilities.  Making sure that our training programs include components for these critical motivational purposes will prove to be just as important factors in how successfully we can improve employee retention and service consistency, create customer loyalty, and drive business results.

Ready for the Call

This all becomes especially critical in industries like hospitality, where there has always been a traditional emphasis on promoting from within.  If you’re going to first look to fill positions by advancing people who are already on your staff, you certainly want to have confidence that those who are sitting “on the bench” and waiting for their chance are eager and motivated, not disgruntled and disengaged.  If we only have people on board who are not only not ready, but also not willing (or even just one of the two), we are only setting them up to fail.  As one of my favorite sayings holds, “You can’t send a Duck to Eagle School.”  And if our training programs fail to recognize this, we will be forever trying to fit square pegs into round holes.

A friend and colleague of mine and I recently had a conversation about this very subject.  He recently accepted the position of General Manager at a very fine city club in Florida.  Prior to his appointment to this position, the member-owned club’s Board of Directors had to terminate the previous General Manager, who had been promoted from within, simply because he was not capable of fulfilling the responsibilities of this role.  To get the opportunity, this manager must have done a good job in his former position.  But it sounds like this may have been another case of someone failing largely because they hadn’t been trained effectively for the next step in their career.

Yes, it could certainly have also been a case of the old “Peter Principle,” which held that many people will eventually be promoted beyond their capabilities.  But I think that’s a principle that has largely gone by the wayside, especially in the hospitality business.  In this day and age, we’ve become much better about identifying the people who “have what it takes” to move up in the managerial ranks, versus those who are also valuable contributors, but clearly have limits.  But that doesn’t mean we have also become much better about making sure those people who “have it” will be properly prepared when we do move them up.

Firing Up the Floaters

Effective training programs can only occur when we have gained the trust, loyalty and commitment of our employees—and a big part of gaining this trust and commitment is making sure they don’t see, or know about, examples like the one at the Florida city club.

Our employees aren’t stupid.  If they sense situations where they, or others, are being set up to fail, or feel that training programs are largely self-serving and designed only for the organization to feel good about itself or show that it has met an “obligation,” they will understandably do all they can to settle in as part of that 50-plus percent segment of the workforce identified by the Gallup study: People who just try to keep their heads low, get through the day, and float through their careers.

If we are to energize and excite our employees and maximize the talents and strengths of our entire workforce, we must do more to align all employees with their own individual needs along with our organization’s strategic plans.  The first key step to accomplishing this is to recognize that we shouldn’t “force feed” everyone into the same standard training programs.  Rather, we should do more to shape and customize our training efforts around three key initiatives;

  1. identify special training needs for individuals or groups through “skills assessments” of our employees;
  2. focus on continuous employee development, rather than ramming everyone through upfront training and then assuming that will be enough to carry them through forever, no matter how long they stay with us or what roles they advance to;
  3. create an overall “learning culture” within our organizations that requires more of a partnership with our employees.

Coaching ‘Em Up

In my experience (both as an employer/trainer and employee/ trainee), a key to pursuing these initiatives is to shift from the Boss to the Coach mentality.  As managers, we need to find ways to interact and identify with each individual employee in a way that give us better insights into their desires and aspirations.  Through a conversational process, we need to probe into not only their strengths but their weaknesses, so we can help to coach them beyond where many of them may ever see themselves going.

This is a real transformational process that requires time and patience—but the results can speak for themselves.  We have to base our approaches as managers in the belief that if an employee has a learning attitude, desire, passion, and the willingness to commit to something greater than themselves, we can teach them to achieve levels of success that they have never imagined on their own.

This notion of unearthing and nurturing hidden abilities, as a coach or talent scout would do, is especially apt in the hospitality business.  In fact, I have always believed that we are entertainers in this business, and that our workplace is the stage.  There is nothing more beautiful to me then to see a server on the dining room floor executing what they know how to do flawlessly (and instinctively) in the heat of the action on a busy night.  It is like watching and listening to a ballet of the highest caliber.

But if our training programs don’t touch the inside of our employees individually, they will not change on the outside, and then instead only go through the motions.  And when that happens, they will be depriving us (as managers), themselves (as employees) and most importantly and sadly, our members and guests (as customers) of their best performances.

Employees must also know, and believe, that they can benefit from whatever training we require of them.  We must have strong recognition and benefit systems in place that reward growth and performance.  In addition, we must continually reexamine the effectiveness of our current training programs, to monitor their success.

Group Dynamics

We must also not forget the importance of group training.  At The Club at Longview, we recently developed a program we call our Employee Member Experience Team.  Using an individual employee from every department of our club, this group learning experience is designed to identify and develop “Moment of Truth” opportunities that can define and enhance our members’ experiences, every time they come to the club.

We make sure that this group training program is interactive and engaging for the employees who participate in it, and it has led to significant contributions to our programs for members.  We have also found that this type of training encourages a spirit of team-building that is critical to our organization’s success.  Too many properties have disconnects among their employee groups, because they just don’t have enough chances to get to know or work with each other.  When you work out on the golf course, it is difficult to get to know the cook in the kitchen.  But with this type of group training program, we are also building effective interrelationships among our various employee groups.  It’s true: Working together works!

You should also encourage your employees to take full advantage of the amazing array of valuable free or low-cost training resources that are now available to them on the Internet or through local or national organizations.  And, if your club or resort hasn’t yet considered “Webinars” (Web-based training programs), you’re missing out on an approach that can be very cost-effective for supervisors, as well as more time-effective for entry-level management employees.

Rather than discourage or restrict computer use among your staff during “work hours,” in fact, you will find that one of the most productive aspects of your training regimen these days can be to encourage everyone to take a specified amount of time each day or week to research specific topics that you’ve assigned to them, and then report back to your group on what they’ve found.

Article written by: Don E. Vance, CCM, CPC, Chief Operating Officer/General Manager, Hound Ears Club

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!

Coaching Your Way to Excellence

Monday, January 13th, 2014

One of the most important responsibilities of any hospitality general manager is coaching your team to success.  The business concept of coaching is one borrowed from the sports world as can be seen from the following Merriam-Webster definition:

“Coach – one who instructs or trains; especially one who instructs players in the fundamentals of sports and directs team strategy.”  (Note the words “fundamentals” and “strategy.”)

Given the sports origins of coaching, let’s look at the role of coaches by using the National Football League as an example.  In this highly-competitive arena, the measure of success is winning.  As legendary football coach Vince Lombardi said, “Winning isn’t everything, it’s the only thing.”

Every team in the NFL is loaded with talented players who by their athletic prowess, physical conditioning, and demonstrated abilities over years of competition, have risen to the pinnacle of their profession.  Yet despite their talent and experience, these players are guided by a team of experts – the coach and assistants – who instruct players in the fundamentals of their positions, mold individual talent into a team for optimum performance, and plan the strategy for each game of the season.

This analogy could not be more appropriate for hospitality general managers who have a team of assistants – the individual department heads – and the players – the line employees who interact daily with customers/guests/members and whose performance is critical to overall success.  The general manager and department heads are responsible for instructing their line employees in the fundamentals of their positions and establishing plans for success – the enterprise annual plan and each departmental plan.

Recognizing the key role of coaching in the excellence of any enterprise, why is it so often neglected in hospitality operations?  I suspect the main reasons are the busy pace of daily operations, the time-consuming involvement of managers in the basics of the business – basics that should be made routine by organization and structure, and the lack of ready materials to organize and convey instruction to managers and employees alike.

Hospitality Resources International has created a number of proven coaching tools covering the fundamentals, structure, organization, and disciplines for success.  These that can be used in short, easy-to-absorb sessions to focus any hospitality team on the fundamentals of the profession.  When used in conjunction with well-thought out strategy and plans, they become powerful conveyances on the road to operational excellence.  Here’s a list and brief explanation of each:

Leadership on the Go – 53 coaching topics for the most fundamental and critical foundation of success; the perfect tool for coaching a consistent, service-based style of leadership.

Values on the Go – A means to constantly and consistently remind your management team of the operation’s underlying values.  Includes topics on Mission, Vision, Guiding Principles, and Operating Standards.

Service on the Go – The 54 topics in this book cover such topics as The Foundation of Service, Principles of Service, Attitude, Teamwork, Etiquette, Common Courtesies, Body Language and Tone of Voice, The Pre-Shift Meeting, Suggestive Selling, Engaging Members, Dining Service Tips, Service Recovery, Wow Factors, and more.  Taken together they form an incredibly effective tool for coaching new employees and reminding long term employees on the basics of service and service delivery.

Management Disciplines on the Go – 130 topics to coach your management team on the essential disciplines of hospitality success.

Employee Development and Discipline on the Go – This 65 topic, wire-bound book is directed at the necessary disciplines to find, hire, develop, and retain the best talent for your operation.  Includes detailed principles and procedures for counseling, disciplining, and discharging problem employees.

Food Service Management on the Go – 136 best practice topics to remind and reinforce the necessary disciplines for running a high-quality and high-performing food service operation.

Accounting on the Go – A great teaching and coaching tool for managers and supervisors with bottom line responsibility.  Use these 46 short topics in a wire-bound book to remind your managers of their important fiscal responsibilities, as well as to help standardize the accounting functions of your operation.

Human Resources in the Go – 84 Human Resources coaching topics covering employment laws, hiring, onboarding, employee development, training, performance reviews, and necessary club HR policies.  These topics are designed to assist your club’s management team in meeting all regulatory requirements and HR best practices.

Each of these coaching tools can be purchased individually on the HRI Marketplace store.  As an alternative, all eight can be purchased at a 25% discount here.

Hospitality enterprises that engage in a formal program of coaching experience significant benefits, ranging from improved morale and engagement from people who recognize their employer’s commitment to their development, to enhanced performance resulting from a focus on the fundamentals of the business, and to pride in belonging to a high-performing operation.

Lastly, there is no greater satisfaction than that of the coaches who share their knowledge and experience in a meaningful way with those following in their footsteps.

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 the Hospitality Industry!

Employee Counseling/Disciplinary Sessions

Monday, December 9th, 2013

Periodically it becomes necessary to meet privately with an employee to discuss problems with his conduct or work performance.  Such meetings can merely be counseling sessions (i.e., discussions) or they can be more formal disciplinary sessions.

The difference between the two depends upon your aims for the meeting.  If you wish to have an exploratory discussion to find out what is wrong and to constructively criticize conduct or performance, a counseling session is appropriate.  If you wish to discipline or punish an employee for more serious or repeated misconduct, a disciplinary session is in order.

Conducting Counseling/Disciplinary Sessions

How you 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.  You may wish to include a witness, such as a trusted associate or the Personnel Administrator.  Never 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 termination, as the case may warrant.

Third, your investigation of any incident or your documentation of a series of problems must be thorough and detailed.  Do not go off half-cocked to write somebody up before investigating.  You 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 as you know them, 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.  You may need to call other people in as witnesses or to contradict his version.

Fifth, after hearing his side of the story, decide what action you will take and prepare the Record of Employee Counseling, describing the incident or problem, allowing him to offer any response, and providing your summary of the counseling or disciplinary action.

Last, present him with the Report.  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 Personnel Administrator for inclusion in his Personnel File, and save one for your departmental files.

Documenting the Session

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.

As previously mentioned, 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 to be used for formal documentation of problems when you wish to give the employee a copy.  These reports must be filled out completely and accurately.  If you fail to enter a date, fail to sign it, fail to present it to the employee, or fail 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 you note that it was presented to him.  If an employee chooses not to sign, you do this by writing “chose not to sign” and the date on the signature line.  Do not use the words “refused to sign” as this connotes coercion or lack of choice.

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 the Hospitality Industry!

Put a Stop to Petty Pilferage with Clear, Consistently Enforced Policies

Monday, December 2nd, 2013

Pilferage of food and beverage items can cost hospitality operations a significant amount of money.  Not only does pilferage directly affect your bottom line, but it contributes to unsanitary conditions and damages your reputation when seen by members.

The best way to reduce pilferage is to have a clear policy that is explained to new hires during the onboarding process and constantly reinforced and enforced by all supervisors.  It is also essential that all supervisors set the example and refrain from “snitching a bite” from buffets and the kitchen line.

Here is a sample policy:

A.  Policy.  It is the policy of the Club that employees are not allowed to eat food prepared for service to members or guests.

B.  Discussion

  1. Definition.  “Grazing” – Employees helping themselves to food that is being or has been prepared for service to members or guests.
  2. Employees are not permitted to take or eat food other than the Employee Meal or eat at times other than their meal break unless authorized by their Supervisor.
  3. “Grazing” by food service staff in the kitchen or from buffet lines in the dining room will not be tolerated under any circumstances and no excuses will be accepted.
  4.  This policy is taken seriously and will be enforced by all supervisors.  We ask that you understand the necessity of such a policy and realize that it is essential for a number of reasons, including cost control, sanitation, professional appearances, and good member relations.  Please cooperate so that none of us is put in the position of having to play “food police”.

A further policy is that no food or beverage items whatsoever will be removed from the premises including leftovers or unconsumed employee meals.

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 the Hospitality Industry!

What You Owe Your Boss – Loyalty and Support

Monday, June 17th, 2013

In Leadership on the Line, we talked about managing your boss with a “State of the Union” report, timely and accurate information about your plans and projects, as well as the progress of your initiatives.  In doing these things you keep your boss informed and assured that you are properly attending to the needs and requirements of your position.  The ultimate purpose of managing your boss is to make her job easier, allowing her to focus on the other pressing issues of her position.  Beyond this, what do you “owe” your boss?  Most importantly you owe her your undivided loyalty and complete support.

Hopefully your boss is an active and engaged leader who has a plan of improvement and works diligently toward its implementation.  In the process of implementing her agenda she will develop plans and programs and issue directives for their accomplishment.  It is your responsibility and duty, then, to wholeheartedly support her agenda in its thorough implementation within your area of the operation.

But what if you have doubts about the wisdom or efficacy of her program?  In this case you as a leader have a duty to fully and frankly express your reservations to her.  However, this should always be done in private in a calm and deliberate way.  Your purpose here is to convince, not attack or criticize.  Clearly, rationally, and with suggestions for alternative courses of action, you must express your reservations and persuade your boss of other means to her desired ends.

If, after exhausting your powers of persuasion, your boss is unmoved and insists upon her original instructions, you have but two choices-to completely support and devote yourself 100% to accomplishing her directives or, if sufficiently opposed, to resign your position since you are unable to fully support her initiatives.

Why is the choice so stark?  Is there no alternative between these two extremes?  No!  Either you fully support and implement her program without grumbling, complaining, or hesitation-as if the initiative was your own-or you step aside because you can’t.

The most damaging thing you can do is to undermine your boss’ efforts by publicly criticizing her plan or by failing to actively and aggressively implement it.  Both send a clear message to your employees that you neither agree with nor support the plan.  This will quickly set up divided loyalties in the workforce.  Its impact on employees will be similar to the well-known phenomenon of parents sending mixed behavioral messages to their children.

Even worse is to pretend to support your boss’ agenda while secretly acting to sabotage it.  This passive-aggressive behavior is unfair to the person who hired you and is damaging to the organization.  Your employees will readily understand your lack of commitment and ultimately your boss will recognize it too.  In this instance, your boss’ only recourse is to discharge you-and you will certainly deserve it.

The bottom line is that you have a responsibility to fully support and show loyalty to your boss.  If, for whatever reason, you have come to lack respect for your boss, it’s time for you to move on.

Still unconvinced?  For one moment put yourself in the position of the boss-how long could you tolerate a subordinate manager who, either actively or passively, worked at cross purposes to your plans?

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

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 hospitality hardworking  managers throughout the country and around the world.

Hospitality Resources International – Management Resources for the Hospitality Industry!

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Impediments to Quality and Service

Monday, October 29th, 2012

We frequently write about those steps that a club must take to promote excellence.  As an alternative let’s examine those things that act as impediments to quality and service.

Think about each of the following obstacles to a smooth-running operation where quality and service are paramount; then decide whose responsibility it is to remove the impediment:

  1. Lack of culture or failure to consistently reinforce the culture
  2. Lack of standards (stated expectations)
  3. Lack of communication
  4. Lack of leadership, leadership consistency, and example
  5. Lack of organization; toleration of a chaotic work environment
  6. Lack of disciplines to hire the best staff
  7. Lack of planning, operational review, and process improvement
  8. Failure to remove obstacles to efficiency
  9. Lack of training or training consistency
  10. Lack of teamwork, morale, and enthusiasm
  11. Lack of understanding about what members want/expect
  12. Lack of member relationship management plan
  13. Lack of employee empowerment
  14. Lack of accountability

If you have a true understanding of the responsibilities of leadership – that a leader is responsible for everything his or her unit does or fails to do – then correcting every one of these impediments is a function of management.

Intrinsically understanding this validates that W. Edwards Deming was right when he said, “The worker is not the problem.  The problem is at the top!  Management is the problem!” and “There is much talk about how to get employees involved with quality.  The big problem is how to get management involved.”

Understanding what causes a problem is the first step to correcting it.  So take the next step and read The Quest for Remarkable Service which provides an overarching plan for excellence in club operations.  Then begin implementing the processes and disciplines that will remove any and all impediments to quality and service.

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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Improve Quality – Lower Costs

Monday, February 20th, 2012

Common wisdom tells us that quality costs more, but according to one of the foremost experts on quality this is not the case.

W. Edwards Deming, statistician, professor, author, consultant, lecturer, a man who made significant contributions to Japan’s reputation for high quality products and its rise to an economic power in the latter half of the 20th Century, wrote extensively about how a focus on quality and the use of statistical process control actually reduces costs while providing a number of other benefits. Convincingly, his ideas and methods were proven true by numerous success stories – most dramatically the rise of Japanese manufacturing to world class status after World War II.

On page 3 of his 1982 book, Out of the Crisis, written as he said with the aim of transforming American management, he provides a chart that shows the logic of his methods.

  • When you improve quality,
  • Your costs decrease because of less rework, fewer mistakes, fewer delays and snags, better use of time and materials.
  • This improves productivity,
  • Which drives increased market share with better quality and lower prices,
  • Which allows you to stay in business, and
  • Provide more and more jobs.

He also clearly states that quality is not the job of production (or line) workers, it is the job of management. To this end he stipulates the 14 Points for Management which he describes as the “basis for transformation of American industry.” They are:

  1. “Create constancy of purpose toward improvement of product and service.
  2. “Adopt the new philosophy that comes with the new economic age. Western management must awaken to the challenge, must learn their responsibilities, and take on leadership for change.
  3. “Cease dependence on inspection to achieve quality. Eliminate the need for inspection on a mass basis by building quality into the product in the first place.
  4. “End the practice of awarding business on the basis of price. Instead minimize total cost. Move toward a single supplier for any one item, on a long-term relationship of loyalty and trust.
  5. “Improve constantly and forever the system of production and service, to improve quality and productivity, and thus constantly decrease costs.
  6. “Institute training on the job. Training must be totally reconstructed. Management needs training to learn about the company, all the way from incoming material to the customer.
  7. “Institute leadership. The aim of supervision should be to help people and machines and gadgets do a better job. Supervision of management is in need of overhaul, as well as supervision of production workers.
  8. “Drive out fear, so that everyone may work effectively for the company.
  9. “Break down barriers between departments.
  10. “Eliminate slogans, exhortations, and targets for the work force asking for zero defects and new levels of productivity. Such exhortations only create adversarial relationships, as the bulk of the causes of low quality and low productivity belong to the system and thus lie beyond the power of the work force.
  11. “Eliminate work quotas. Eliminate management by objective. Eliminate management by numbers, numerical goals. Substitute leadership.
  12. “Remove barriers that rob the hourly worker of his right to pride in workmanship. The responsibility of supervisors must be changed from sheer numbers to quality. Remove barriers that rob people in management of their right to pride in workmanship. This means abolishment of the annual or merit rating and of management by objective.
  13. “Institute a vigorous program of education and self-improvement.
  14. “Put everybody in the company to work to accomplish the transformation. The transformation is everybody’s job.”

While his life’s work was primarily with manufacturing industries, he categorically states that the principles of statistical process control that produce quality in manufacturing and “all that we learned about the 14 points and the diseases of management applies to service organizations.”

Deming goes on to compare and contrast the challenges of manufacturing a product and delivering a service. These are instructive to anyone in service who wants to improve quality. As an example he provides an observation contributed by William J. Latzko, a consultant who works with clients on quality and service:

“One finds in service organizations, as in manufacturing, absence of definite procedures. There is an unstated assumption in most service organizations that the procedures are fully defined and followed. This appears to be so obvious that authors avoid it. Yet in practice this condition is often not met. Few organizations have up-to-date procedures. Consider a manufacturer who has full specifications for making a product, but whose sales department does not have guidelines for how to enter an order. A control on error on placing orders would require procedures for the sales department. I have seen numerous service-oriented operations functioning without them.”

How does a company measure or quantify the cost of confusion, mishandled or incomplete information, time to investigate and correct errors, and customer dissatisfaction? Without well-defined procedures how can a company consistently train its workers to do quality work?

The bottom line is that poor quality and disorganization is a major driver of costs in manufacturing and service organizations. In the service industries an improvement in quality not only lowers costs but also improves service. The combination of lower cost and better service makes the business more competitive and successful in the marketplace – and isn’t this the very job that management is hired to do?

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: How to Become a Self-Starter

Monday, December 19th, 2011

Consider yourself lucky if you have an amazing boss. Unfortunately, mentors are not easy to come by. Whether or not you are one of the lucky few to work with a great motivator should not make a difference in what you are able to accomplish. Even with a talented mentor at your side, it is important to learn to be a self-starter.  Don’t wait for things to happen, make them happen yourself.

Becoming a self-starter can help you achieve any goal. Self-starters can stand up and take control of any situation. Moreover, they can get more accomplished in a shorter period of time. This ability can help you reach your goals faster and on your own terms.

Set Clear Goals

You must define your goals before you can start working toward them. If you want to be successful, start by defining what success will look like to you. Be as specific as possible about what you want to achieve.

After you know what you’re working towards, you need to set up long and short term goals. Start off with something you want to accomplish within a year, and then set up short term goals that will help you get there. Using short term goals as stepping stones for long term goals will help create a plan of action.

Make Detailed Plans

Once your goals are defined, it is time to figure out how you will achieve them. The key to reaching your goals is to create a specific action plan.  Your plan should be comprised of short, actionable items that can function like a checklist. Set up action steps with deadlines that will keep propelling you forward.

Treat self-imposed deadlines the same way you would if they were provided by a boss. Being able to stay on task is a huge part of becoming a successful self-starter. Just because you set the deadline doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t be accountable for keeping it. Consider sharing your plan with a superior or team member. Making someone else aware of your deadline can help you keep the necessary sense of urgency.

Never Put Things Off

Procrastination is a self-starter’s mortal enemy. Putting things off won’t help you in the long run.  Though it might seem easy to set a task aside, it will only add more stress as the work piles up. It might be tempting to push back a deadline if you’re really busy, so you have to remind yourself of why you made the deadline in the first place.

Every task, step and deadline affects your goals. One missed deadline can easily snowball into more. The point of being proactive is to assure that you accomplish everything possible to help you reach your goals. You will make things a lot more difficult for yourself if you make a habit out of putting things off.

Keep Track of Your Successes

Motivation is a driving force behind a self-starter. When you are working toward larger goals it might feel as if you will never get there. One of the benefits of creating a plan based on actionable steps is that you will accomplish many of your short term goals along the way.

Remember to acknowledge the small accomplishments that you’ve made. Each step brings you closer to reaching that final goal. Keeping track of your successes will remind you of how far you’ve come. Moreover, you can use your successes as a learning tool. Think about what you did right and what you might have done differently. Use what you’ve learned to increase your efficiency for your next step.

Remain Positive

Worrying about failure is a waste of time and energy. Instead of fretting, keep your energy focused on the work. When stresses come up, refer back to your action plan. Redirect the stress into a specific action. Working through your worry can remind you that you are on your way to reaching your goals.

Bumps in the road are inevitable, but it’s how you handle them that will determine whether or not you are successful in the end. Keep an optimistic attitude and power through. Every successful task should help alleviate your misgivings.

Becoming a self-starter will help you achieve professional and personal goals. Organization and focus will go a long way towards helping you reach those goals. Stick to your action plan and don’t let doubt get in the way of your accomplishments. You already have the ability, so make your plan and stick to it.

This post was written by Erin Palmer on behalf of Villanova University’s online programs. Choose from a variety of topics such as IT Service Management, Project Management, Six Sigma, and more!

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: You Don’t Know . . . What You Don’t Know!

Monday, May 9th, 2011

blake_ashdownNote:  This week’s guest blog is by Blake Ashdown.  Blake is CEO of Club Insights by SureVista.  You can learn more about their services by clicking on the link at the end of the blog.

As a professor at the business school at Michigan State University, I was frequently asked by my students, “What do I have to do to be successful in business?”  It’s a simple question, but one without a definitive answer.  Over the years, I have started and run many successful businesses and each one taught me something different.

But after reflecting on this question, I realized that there was one success principle that stood out; one that, if I hadn’t followed, would not have led me to the successes I eventually achieved –  here it is, “Successful people have an insatiable appetite to pursue what they do not know, and then apply it to their business and life.”

There are two key concepts in this principle:

  1. You must have an appetite to pursue what you do not know.
  2. After you discover or learn something you did not know you must apply it to your business and life.  If you never apply it, it is of no value.

This principle seems simple, and yet very few successfully execute it.  Here is why:

You don’t know what you don’t know!  You probably think you know, but you don’t!  How do you know what you don’t know?  If this seems confusing, let me try to bring some clarity.  Have you ever thought or said something like this, “If only I had known two years ago what I know today, I never would have…

  • hired that person.”
  • bought that car.”
  • used that vendor.”
  • taken that job.”
  • gone out with that person!”

At the time, you made a decision based on the information you had available to you.  You thought you knew what you were doing and you thought you were making a wise decision.  But later, you discovered that there were some things you didn’t know and, had you known them, you would have made a different decision.

This is called the Law of Unintended Consequences.  You made a decision, thinking it was the right decision, only later to learn that it was not the right choice.  As a result, you suffered an unintended consequence.  In fact, most problems you encounter as a Club Leader are the result of the Law of Unintended Consequences.

Now, sometimes unintended consequences are unavoidable.  But too often, they could have been avoided if you would have had the desire to learn things you did not know.

You see, studies show that most people would rather talk about what they know, rather than pursue what they don’t know.  Do you know anyone like that?  Someone who is always talking about what they know, or telling you why something cannot be done.  They make excuses as to why something cannot be done, when it may be they don’t know anything about it.

In fact, through his research at the University of Georgia, Paul Schempp has found that most people think they know much more than they really do.  In his book 5 Steps to Expert, Schempp identified 5 steps to becoming an expert in your field.  The 5 steps are:

  1. Beginner
  2. Capable
  3. Competent
  4. Proficient
  5. Expert

Experts are the highest skilled professional in their field with exceptional amounts of both experience and education.  Shempp’s research found something interesting.  He asked the participants, “How much of what you need to know to be successful in your profession, do you know?”

  • The average response from Beginners and Capables…90%.
  • The average response from true Experts…60%.

Here’s the point, most of us know much less than we think, and the more you know, the more you realize you don’t know.

You don’t know what you don’t know.  Your board members don’t know what they don’t know.  The only way you, as a Club Leader, can achieve success is to realize you don’t know what you don’t know and actively seek out what you do not know.

You cannot eliminate the law of unintended consequences, but you can minimize it.  This is why research is so important.  Data is just information.  Information when it is understood in its context becomes knowledge.  Knowledge that becomes actionable is wisdom.  When you have wisdom, you make wise choices, and wise choices lead to success.

Blake Ashdown, CEO Club Insights by SureVista.  See Blake’s insightful video blogs here.

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: Crabgrass Control

Monday, May 2nd, 2011

Note:  This week’s guest blog is from Global Turf Network – an initiative to provide scientifically-based educational information and expertise to the turfgrass industry globally in native languages.  You can learn more about their services by clicking on the link at the end of the blog.

Crabgrass (Digitaria spp) is a major problem in both cool-season and warm-season turfgrasses.   As a general rule, crabgrass tends to be more of a problem in temperate climates and less of a problem in tropical regions.  In temperate regions the most important and likely the first weed control practice of the year is the proper timing of a pre-emergent herbicide application for crabgrass.

The ideal situation is to apply a pre-emergent herbicide just prior to crabgrass germination.  At this point in time your herbicide will prevent germination and last longer through the growing season.  Besides the traditional calendar date for application, soil temperatures and flowering ornamentals can be used to predict crabgrass germination.  Below are some of those keys. It should be noted factors like turf cover, and soil moisture for example can influence crabgrass germination and emergence.

  • Soil Temperature (pre-emergent herbicide applications should be made prior to these occurrences (~ 3 C below the threshold))
  1. Minimum soil temperatures of ~13 – 15 C) at the 2.5 cm depth at daybreak for 4-5 days are required for germination.
  2. Mean soil temperature of ~16 – 19 C at the 2.5 cm soil depth are required for germination.
  3. Soil temperatures greater than 23 C are required for significant crabgrass emergence
  • Phenotypic Keys for crabgrass germination (pre-emergent herbicide applications should be made 14-days prior to these events:
  1. Forsythia bloom withering (more applicable in northern temperate regions)
  2. Daffodil (Narcissus spp.) bloom withering
  3. Dogwood (Cornus spp.) bloom withering (more applicable in warmer regions)

Dr. Karl Danneberger, Turfgrass Science Professor, and Ed Nangle, PhD Candidate.  They can be reached through the Global Turf Network website – www.globalturfnetwork.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!

Add                   to Technorati Favorites