Golf Course Management

NOV 2018

Golf Course Management magazine is dedicated to advancing the golf course superintendent profession and helping GCSAA members achieve career success.

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Page 59 of 99

58 GOLF COURSE MANAGEMENT 11.18 from year to year? Do you have enough influ- ence to keep good people coming back on a yearly basis? I've worked at places where the amount of turnover was astounding. ere's no doubt this can cause a tremendous drain on the superintendent and the crew in many ways: Lost hours of training, scheduling and keeping the team focused on the overall pro - cess is a challenge when the personnel is con- stantly in flux. Turnover can have many causes — one of which is that the work culture needs to change. Change starts with those of us at the top, and our attitude, approach and demeanor are directly related to the performance of the staff we manage. Who are you? Really e next part of this journey is a bit more personal, yet again taking place at the South Dakota Golf Course Superintendents Associa - tion Conference a few years ago. I was sitting in the same old room, in the same old hotel, drinking the same cup of cof - fee as last year, about to listen to John Jenson, an author and corporate speaker specializing in influence, change and perspective. "Huh," I thought, "this is different. No mention of any turf-related jargon in there. I wonder what this could be about?" Well, it turns out it was one of the best seminars I'd ever sat through at any golf conference for exactly that reason: It had nothing to do with turf. What was it about? You. Who are you? What kind of boss are you? How do you lead your team? How do you handle adversity? ese questions asked by John (and very re - luctantly answered by a suddenly uncomfort- able group of men) gave me a promising feel- ing that we were about to get real. It was also clear that most of us had never been asked any of these questions. Let me give you an example. At one point, Jenson asked us to write down the answer to this question: "Who are you, and what do you do?" We then were to share the answers with the class. Many answers were exactly what you'd expect: "I'm a superintendent, and I take care of the golf course," or some variation of that. A few responses were unique and used words like "father" or "boss" or "leader," but I had no idea what to write down. All I had written on the paper was, "I am … " Ultimately, I discovered that might be the answer. I didn't answer that way on pur - pose, and when it came time for my audible response, I blacked out and winged it. Who knows what I said? But the struggle I had to define myself with a few words hit me at the core. Afterward, I tried to share my awakened curiosity with the other guys in the group, but my feelings about the class were not recipro - cated. A few classmates seemed to be terrified by the experience, and I noticed that some people had not returned after the break. I later realized that many of us were ill-prepared to be asked who we really were, to be challenged to look inward and to dare to engage in a pro - cess of self-discovery. In the aftermath of this seminar, I returned home with a slight shift in attitude, not only toward my career, but toward my personal life as well. Books on spirituality, leadership and conscious living kept landing in front of me. I found myself slowly absorbing the ideals of leadership, self-awareness and spirituality, spe - cifically how they all relate to the workplace environment. Yet, as great as all this sounds, I also began to realize that humans, myself included, live most of our lives not knowing who we are. When we begin to deconstruct our condition - ing from societal institutions that guide us unconsciously through life, it can get scary, really fast! So, I'll back off that for now and settle back in a happier place, a place where all of us are capable of creating a better work environment. Questions with no wrong answers Unfortunately, after all this, I don't have the answer for you. Your journey is yours. is is mine. But, I can share a few simple ques - tions that I ask myself every so often. e an- swers are never wrong, and they keep me on this path. How do I respond when things don't go as planned? Whether it be an irrigation break on championship morning, a no-show employee or a broken hydraulic line that leaked across three greens before Tommy finally looked up from his "Sunday Beatz" playlist, many things can send the day into a tailspin. How we react to different situations is a choice with an infinite ripple of consequences, so make it a good one. How do I handle criticism? Staying calm under verbal duress of any kind is challenging. Arming yourself with the tools to remain calm and deflect criticism takes a lot of practice, study and patience. Many of us tend either to reciprocate or elevate the verbal attack. Or we The canyon rim looms over Polo Creek and the par-5 No. 14 hole at Elkhorn Ridge.

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