The theme of my August 27th blog, entitled “Order Over Disorder,” addressed the necessity of managing your maintenance facility in an orderly manner. Because several insightful comments were received after that post was supplanted by a new one, I have decided to repeat some of these comments (in abridged form) below:
A good mechanic sets the tone for a tidy shop but that’s only the beginning…
Gordon Witteveen (retired 45-year superintendent and author, Toronto, Ontario)
“Jim: My wife and I visit more maintenance buildings than a USGA agronomist. At some I won’t even let her out of the car, never mind use the washroom! A good mechanic sets the tone for a tidy shop but that’s only the beginning… Invariably, a messy maintenance building is reflected on the golf course.”
John Cummings, CGCS (Charleston, WV)
“Jim, I’ve had the experience of working out of six maintenance facilities in my 30+ year career… You are correct, having an organized shop definitely carries over to the course… It always made me feel good when the shop was presentable for visitors whether it be a sales rep or a member”
The attitude of the employee that is forged in the maintenance facility will usually be carried onto the golf course…
Tyler Minamyer: (Cahoon Plantation, Chesapeake, VA)
“Jim: We could not agree with you more… we take our responsibility to maintain a neat and orderly shop seriously. Not only is it a reflection of the overall operation which often carries to work on the course, but we see it as proper management of our… owner’s assets.”
Tim Hiers, CGCS: (The Old Collier Golf Club, Naples, FL)
“Jim: …you could eat off the floor, the walls and the ceiling of the late Bill Wagner’s (Tequesta Country Club in Tequesta, Florida) maintenance building; (yet) he did not have a big budget but felt that cleanliness and organization in the maintenance facility would carry on to the golf course and its daily operations… The attitude of the employee that is forged in the maintenance facility will usually be carried onto the golf course. It would be interesting to compare workers comp cost with clean facilities versus unkempt facilities.”
The following photographs were taken of Tim Hiers’ maintenance facility at Old Collier:
Can there be any doubt that the commitment to organization and detail as shown in the above pictures would carry over to the care of the golf course? Yes, it is easier to organize newer and larger facilities; but – a fresh coat of paint, discipline and solid planning can accomplish a lot. Think of this as job insurance. Go for it.
It should be clear that there is an irrefutable close correlation between crew performance throughout the maintenance facility and throughout the golf course. You can be sure that employers see this in today’s difficult economy. Tighten up the ship, or you might be shipping out.
Personal appearance matters because without a consistent solid appearance you will not develop pride in who you are and what you do; and, accordingly, you will not earn the respect your God-given talents deserve. In good economic times this would be a shame. In bad economic times this is tantamount to working with one hand tied behind your back. As a golf course superintendent, the list of where your personal appearance matters is brief but vital:
Nothing delivers the message more directly that you have defaulted into a laissez-faire world than a deteriorating overweight body…
1. Your Physical Fitness: You owe it to yourself and your family to strive to be physically fit throughout your life because you will live longer; enjoy your career and life more; sustain your self-image more effectively; be a better model to your children; and continue to command the respect of those you interact with throughout your work environment. Nothing delivers the message more directly to those who you surround yourself with in life (including your employer) that you have defaulted into the laissez-faire world where the concept of excellence no longer exists than a deteriorating overweight body.
2. Your Personal Dress Code: As a general rule, superintendents spend far too little for their personal clothing and as a result often come up short appearance-wise when playing golf, or attending employer-based social and business functions – where a sport jacket and slacks are the general dress code of the day for a golf course superintendent. Nothing wrong with wearing a sport jacket and slacks most of the time, but this should not be the top of your personal dress code line.
Golf professionals learned the value of a quality dress code a long time ago…
How often do we see a superintendent wearing a good suit? Rarely. I am not suggesting that suits become the prevailing dress code; rather, that every man and woman superintendent should own and be seen at appropriate times by his/her constituents wearing a well-tailored business suit. If you want to be perceived as a professional person, dress like one. Golf professionals learned this lesson a long time ago. Spending to upgrade your clothing line is a justifiable expenditure and is money well used – even in a bad economy.
Keeping a job today is everything about commanding respect. Don’t give it away through sloppy personal and dress habits.Superintendents, want to help your assistant(s) on their career path? Print out these Career Corner posts and responses on an ongoing basis and assemble them in a hard copy binder for your assistants and crew.
To my disappointment, I continue to see that a majority of the country’s golf course superintendents are working without a job description. While neither employers nor golf course superintendents are inherently opposed to the concept of a job description, the primary reason why they are hard to find is because well defined job descriptions that will mutually and fairly identify the duties and responsibilities of both employers and superintendents in a highly technical field of employment are difficult to draft.
“Without a job description your job remains undefined…
This “excuse” works in good economies where annually escalating budgets encourage superintendents in the endless pursuit of impeccably maintained golf courses; i.e., a situation that negates the practicality of a job description. However in a bad economy, working without a job description is a high risk venture because without a job description your job remains undefined; i.e., a situation that makes it difficult for employers to fairly judge the true value of your work. Fortunately, because employers see the benefits thereof 24/7 throughout their day jobs, they generally will be receptive to your initiative to insert a job description into your employment scenario.
Job Description Guidelines
Simply stated, if you already have a job description, meet with your employer each year to upgrade its content. If you do not have a job description, draft one yourself (see the following model drafts); then, submit it to your employer for review and mutual discussion. Once the job description draft has been finalized, either incorporate it into a written contract if you have one, or into the minutes of the committee meeting where the job description was approved if you do not have a written contract.
Developing An Appropriate Job Description
The unique challenge to drafting a job description is addressing the reality that the final document must be fair to and balanced for all parties because one-sided drafts favoring the superintendent will be summarily dismissed. To help in this regard, click to the following two diverse job descriptions that have effectively served to secure superintendents’ jobs:
* A “short form” job description (PDF) prepared by Blake Halderman, CGCS in support of his application for the job he now holds at the prestigious Brae Burn Country Club, Purchase, NY. (Click here for editable Word document.)
* A “long form” totally comprehensive job description (PDF) that I prepared for a high profile client club to ensure that quality candidates would be attracted to the vacant superintendent’s job. (Click here for editable Word document.)
“Use the long form job description as a continuing educational resource to learn and borrow from throughout your career . . .
Note: (i) that this long form job description accomplishes the very difficult task of being mutually supportive of all parties; and (ii) that clearly this job description includes far more details than needed for more modest golf course maintenance operations. Accordingly, amend and/or excerpt those elements within this long form that are applicable to your job environment and incorporate them into your personal job description draft. Continue to use the long form job description as an educational resource to learn and borrow from throughout your career.
In summary, job descriptions uniquely define jobs, protect jobs and facilitate a positive determination should a superintendent have to pursue mandatory arbitration for what ever reason; i.e., the best form of job insurance available and the price is right.Superintendents, want to help your assistant(s) on their career path? Print out these Career Corner posts and responses on an ongoing basis and assemble them in a hard copy binder for your assistants and crew.