"You need to sometimes take a step back, slow down and look at how you got to this point. Study all the variables involved and take a long term look at the issues"
I am not going to mention the weather, apart from I never want to see a winter, spring and summer like that again. Whatever section of the turf industry you work in, you will have suffered at some point.
When things have settled down weather-wise, at whatever time of year, the world of turf maintenance tends to get hectic for most of us. Some of us have a tendency to get stressed and rush through things that need doing. I know, for me, most of my work related mistakes are caused by rushing to get one job done before moving on to the next.
In an industry where much of our work is dependent on weather conditions, it is sometimes difficult not to go up a gear when you have three hours mowing to do and you can see storm clouds on the horizon.
So, when we add to this the problem of a mower not running correctly, stress levels tend to rise. This is where your problem solving ability comes in, and that will decide the extent of the impact on your day's work. For me, you do not become a good groundsman unless you excel at this trait.
You need to sometimes take a step back, slow down and look at how you got to this point. Study all the variables involved and take a long term look at the issues.
So, in the scenario mentioned above, do you take the mower into the workshop and get it running correctly? Check the weather forecast and see it's dry and sunny tomorrow, write the day off and come in early next day?
Back in the seventies, as a keen young apprentice on my first work placement prior to going to college, I was always out to impress my elders and supervisors. I would expect a lush, well grown sward just days after a topdressing of fertiliser and would be chaffing at the bit to get out on the mower to cut it. The fact I was checking the grass three times a day for signs of growth did not help!
My boss at the time, noting my eagerness, would always say to me; "Sometimes, the best thing you can do is nothing" which, at the time, did not sound right to me. But he had seen most things in life, and another of his favourite sayings was; "Good things come to those who wait". I took those two sayings on board and am not ashamed to say I use them on a regular basis.
For me, I would like to think my motto is "Patience is a virtue". It's far better to wait until the entire situation becomes clear in your mind before taking any action. That way, you are more likely to take the correct action, and that is a strength.
Another aspect of rushing at your work is the safety angle. We have all been there; end of the day in sight, half an hour's cutting left to do, dew coming down and your cutting reel blocks with wet grass. You jump off your seat to unblock the machine and the safety switch cuts in and kills the engine. Now, we all know that, sometimes, these switches are overridden to save time, but please do not do this. You may wish to put your fingers at risk, but think of others, especially those younger members of staff.
We do get comfortable around the equipment we use and I am sure we forget that they can cause serious damage when we do not respect it.
On one of those frosty mornings, or the next time it rains and you are stuck in your machinery shed, why not do some safety training with your staff? It is not always the apprentice or the casual summer help that need educating on safety - the older members of staff can always use that reminder. In fact, this section of the workforce are the ones that tend to take risks where safety is involved.
For those of you who are responsible for the machinery in your workplace, I would suggest you look at your fleet a little closer. Is your equipment up to specification? Have you ever done an audit of your fleet's safety features? Do you have any records to back up your safety reviews? Everyone has had to keep equipment for more seasons than they originally planned, and we all get caught up in the day to day grind and take some things for granted. Hopefully, a major accident never happens but, if it did, are you and your club protected? In today's contentious world, you cannot just hope that everything will be okay.
In the end, it is about the safety of your workforce that works so hard for you day in day out.
Keep the faith; and keep cutting the grass, after all that's all you do.