Golf Course Management

APR 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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28 GOLF COURSE MANAGEMENT 04.18 (business) Grant Murphy Email: gmurphy@nationalgolf.ca Twitter: @GMurphNat We've all had an experience where we've gone into a place of business or perhaps vis - ited a neighboring golf course and were im- mediately impressed by the environment, the atmosphere and the attitude of the employees. The people there were friendly and focused, and seemed invested in what they were doing. If you've had that experience, did you think that atmosphere just happened? Did you think that just by some streak of good fortune, that business got all the good people? And that if you could just get better people, that you would have a superior operation too? Do you really think strong workplace cultures happen by accident? I would suggest that if you really thought about it, you would agree luck has little to do with it. It doesn't make sense that all those people would just accidentally choose to act in a similar way. I submit that these cultures were created intentionally, by a driven leader who places an intense focus on culture and defines what that culture is supposed to be and the role employees are invited to play in creating it. Culture — a stated or unstated, generally accepted collection of norms — will either be created by intention or momentum, but be as - sured that all environments or workplaces will develop some kind of a culture. The output of a culture always matches its inputs. In a damaged culture, you can look at the inputs, and those will help you define why the culture is the way it is and answer questions such as "Why are my staff not polite to members?" "Why does my staff gossip?" or "Why does my staff speak negatively of the other departments?" If you don't know what your culture is, how do you find out? There are a couple of ways to do this. To gain an objective perspec - tive, you could ask an outsider to visit your operation and give honest feedback on their impression of your culture. If you trust this kind of feedback, it can reveal things that per - haps you are not able to see. A more subjective analysis of your culture comes from your own observations, by paying close attention to your team's habits, what is allowed, and what peo - ple can get away with. A good way to look at culture is by study - ing a library. There, the culture is one of si- lence. It is what we have grown to accept as the defining characteristic of a library. If you were to go into a library and see a group of peo - ple talking and laughing a bit too loudly, you would immediately think that they were being louder than you thought was appropriate in this environment. But if that behavior is not corrected, then those acting out of order will not know they're pushing the boundaries, or, worse yet, will realize they can get away with it. As an observer, you might think, "Maybe that is allowed here. Perhaps I was misin - formed." Habits, when they are affirmed — either intentionally or unintentionally — lead to the creation of a culture, and a quick look at which habits are affirmed at your facility is a great way to take the pulse of your culture. After you've assessed your own culture, how do you move toward developing a more positive, thriving environment? First, I think you must put some work into defining your culture. For instance, you may say you want your department to be hardworking, innova - tive, friendly, customer-focused, or one that strives for greatness daily. Once you've defined that culture goal, you must support it. You must publicize it, and your employees must know it is non- negotiable. This, you might say, is who you are, and everyone on the team plays a role in achieving that. As a leader, one of the most important re - sponsibilities in establishing a strong culture is consistency. You must not confuse people. You must support what you say with your actions, but that doesn't mean you can't change course along the way. If you reach a point where you think you can improve your culture based on some new insight or knowledge, you should not hesitate to do that. And so, it comes to this: If you're still de - bating whether strong workplace cultures are created by intent or by accident, take my ad - vice and be intentional. Be aware of which habits and activities are being championed in your environment, and make sure they align with your vision. Lead with consistency. It is these ingredients that together help create a strong workplace culture. Grant Murphy is the associate superintendent at the National Golf Club of Canada in Woodbridge, Ontario, and a 15-year member of GCSAA. Murphy and Carlos Arraya, CGCS, from Bellerive Country Club in St. Louis, presented "Workplace Culture: Why It Matters and What You Can Do to Improve It" at the 2018 Golf Industry Show in San Antonio. A cultured leader I submit that these cultures were created intentionally by a driven leader who places an intense focus on culture and defines what that culture is supposed to be and the role employees are invited to play in creating it.

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