Former BIGGA Chairman, Paul Worster, offers some advice on gaining more recognition of your skills and importance to your facility
Have you ever wondered what groundsmen and greenkeepers can do to gain more recognition for their efforts, and more respect for their positions and experience?
Like me, you put in your forty hours (and often more), get on with the job, don't cause waves and everyone likes you; but you, somehow, get taken for granted, as players don't always notice what a good job is being done until something actually goes wrong. And, when you consider that, as managers, we are setting and controlling budget, responsible for site safety and security, coordinating the movements of others and taking responsibility for their output and standards, suddenly this becomes a very serious proposition.
I hear all too often from greenkeepers and groundsmen that their requests never quite seem to be realised; better work equipment somehow never quite materialises, work conditions never seem to improve, career steps are difficult to make ... yet, we plough on doing our best.
How then to change this? How then to raise your profile within your organisation so that it becomes commensurate with the responsibilities?
Let's take a look at what successful people do to ensure they continue to move forwards. Take business people and entrepreneurs - say, Richard Branson as an example. He keeps a high profile by involving himself in public life. He watches what is happening and he ensures pieces of information and carefully worded statements about his business are released in a timely and appropriate fashion. He thinks about PR and probably regards it as a major component of his business (and no doubt has a handsome PR budget!). In short, he works on raising his profile because that is good for his company, and he does it through positive and precise communication.
Bear witness to how negative and careless communication can adversely affect reputation and opportunity. Take Gerald Ratner of 1980s cheap jewellery fame. He had a flourishing chain of stores selling cheap jewellery - all it took was one ill-advised comment when he laughed at someone who had just bought a necklace from one of the stores, describing it as "cheap crap"; the inference being that all his products were of a similar dubious stature. Unsurprisingly, the bottom dropped out of his stock exchange value because people stopped buying almost overnight and, eventually, he lost a fortune.
So, take every opportunity to communicate positively with those around you. Whether it's your Bursar, your Greens Chairman, General Manager, your staff, customers or whoever, keep the communication going. It's got to be useful and valuable; the information you pass on saves them time, helps them enjoy what you're doing, and, eventually, brings the realisation that you are the main man on the job.
You probably won't change the world overnight but, eventually, the people around you will come to look to you for leadership; to solve problems; to save them time and money.
Use industry blogs, emails, memos and any other type of media you can access for positive communication. But, a word of warning. Ensure you keep your professional life entirely separate from your personal life. You are well advised not to put into print anywhere, no matter how secure you might think it is, any personal feelings which may be, in any way, misconstrued as detrimental to your employer, or anyone else come to that. This is defamation and libel and you can be held liable in law - even if it is your Facebook page, your friends, your family etc. The internet is so diverse that your comments can easily leak out and you will be held to account.
Take Sally Bercow. I had to read her Twitter post two or three times (and still didn't fully get it), but Lord McAlpine got it alright, and sued for thousands of pounds.
So, positive communication is the modern tool which we must all use. Personal visibility is all-important; ensure your details are on your company website page so people can "see" you and know how to find you. Make sure you contribute positively to the business objectives of your company as a team-leader, as well as a team-player. This makes it easier for others to buy into your work which, after all, is to prepare great pitches and golf courses! This way you really do become the "Main Man".
About the author: Paul Worster is Course Manager at Minchinhampton Golf Club and a former BIGGA Chairman. He is now a director of FEGGA and believes in strong Greenkeeper Associations preparing and equipping their greenkeeper members for management.