There is a time to “hunker down” and a time not to. The challenge is to know “when” to do either one. Human nature is such that most people will tend to hunker down when in doubt, or in pressurized situations based on the old tried and true (but certainly fallible) axiom, “A bird in the hand is worth whatever in the bush.”
This axiom, however, misdirects golf course superintendents more than it will help them keep their jobs because hunkering down will likely prove to be a mistake for the reason that . . .
“ . . . selectively chosen and properly negotiated target jobs can/will always be more secure than present jobs in both good and bad economies.”
The logic of this premise is readily defensible because the following issues would have been mutually agreed to before a superintendent accepts a new job:
- The superintendent’s year-to-year salary would have been defined within a multi-year rollover agreement that would be tied to future year’s budget authorizations.
- Present and future years’ operating and capital budget levels would have been preliminarily identified through a multi-year plan of action.
- The superintendent’s Job Description would have been updated and agreed to be kept current on a year-to-year basis – ending all speculation re: what the superintendent can and can not be held accountable for, etc.
- In light of anticipated ongoing budget reductions, the acceptable quality level of golf course maintenance would have been identified and circulated to the member/player community.
A superintendent should not accept a new job unless the above listed benefits are put into a mutually agreed to written agreement that included a binding arbitration clause. (See my June 18 2009 blog entitled: “Binding Arbitration Wins.”)
“It may surprise some but access to written contracts might be easier to obtain in a bad economy than a good economy because…”
…proven quality superintendents with career web sites and pre-negotiated affordable salary packages in hand are in more demand than ever.
Following are the three defined circumstances that suggest why superintendents might not want to pursue a new job at this time; i.e., those with: (i) children in critical school years; (ii) a legally binding written contract in hand; and (iii) vested retirement plans that would be adversely impacted by a job change.
Caution Re: Confidentiality
Because confidentiality cannot be assumed when applying for a job (See my May 24, 2010 blog entitled, “Never Assume Confidentiality.”), superintendents applying for a new job in today’s market must balance the risks between staying on a job and facing the possibility of getting fired by the economy vis-à-vis seeking a new job where the confidentiality of the new job application may likely be breached.
History, however, clearly indicates that well-performing superintendents who have earned on the job respect through a period of time will more than likely find ways to seek – not routinely but from time to time – more secure employment opportunities with the understanding of their employers.
Simply by “constructively engaging” employers on this subject, veteran superintendents could find that their somewhat anxious present employers would be willing to match the better job security (as defined by the above four listed criteria) offered by a new job to keep their superintendents in their present jobs. Trust me on this.
I noted with interest that GCSAA has recently joined in the campaign to encourage its members to draft tighter operating budgets and to manage these budgets more efficiently than in the past – as this economy requires; i.e., a concept TurfNet and this blog have been championing for some time. Good for GCSAA.
See GCSSA’s “Turf Wars Battle of the Budgets” contest on GCSAA TV at: http://www.gcsaa.tv/turfwars/.
While the deadline to submit entries is now past, the contest did invite GCSAA members to prepare and submit 3-minute videos that depict how specific clubs are trying to reduce spending and manage their budgets more efficiently in this economy. The contest further invites viewers to link on and cast votes for the best cost-savings ideas submitted.
I encourage my readers after reading the blog message below to look into this contest’s submissions for note worthy ideas.
The list of initiatives that superintendents should consider to better secure their jobs in this economy has been championed within several blog messages through the past year; for example by “voluntarily” presenting budgets that will ensure that club/course operations stay ahead of the declining economic curve; managing authorized budgets more efficiently then ever; tying superintendents’ salaries to anticipated annually declining budgets; circulating yearly updated multi-year “plans of action” throughout course hierarchies; converting from well-established CEO roles to more visible hands-on roles – and more. My immediate concerns regarding the above initiatives are twofold:
First: Evidence shows that the majority of superintendents are not voluntarily assuming lead budget-saving roles in an effort to keep their course operations ahead of the declining economic curve. Rather, too many are waiting for their employers to set budget parameters, which inevitably puts superintendents on the defensive and makes them job-vulnerable. This translates into a “lost opportunity” for golf course superintendents at a time when they need to take advantage of every occasion to enhance job security.
One of the more effective ways for superintendents to set the early “tone” for the coming years’ budget considerations, before their employers tell them what to do, is through the process of preparing annually updated multi-year fiscally oriented “plans of action” that anticipate coming years’ economic pressures and presenting them to their course administrations on a timely basis.
Nothing builds job security more effectively than when “visionary” superintendents demonstrate that they can better protect employer interests than the employers can themselves by getting out front with appropriate fiscally enhancing policy and supporting data.
Second: When superintendents do commit to tightening the fiscal belt, more times than not they “cherry pick” from or only partially implement the above list of initiatives. The problem with this approach is that . . .
…these superintendents are failing to recognize that the more “across the board adaptable” they become when implementing cost saving initiatives – the more secure their jobs will be.
The “Achilles’ heal” throughout all of this is the well-established surmise that golf course superintendents may be the most “procrastinating” professional group known to man (see my September 9, 2010 blog entitled, “Procrastination Kills Careers…”) – a culture that encourages a “wait and see” defeatist attitude on job-vulnerable superintendents at the worst possible time.
In this day and age, superintendents who wait to take the fiscal initiative do so at their own peril.