0 Ten Ground rules for the Turfcare Team

Trainer and Motivational Speaker Frank Newberry keeps the promise he made in his last article and gives us ten ground rules (ways of working) for teams of groundsmen and greenkeepers. He suggests how we can devise our own ground rules


FrankNewberry2015 2In my line of work, it can help to have some 'ground rules'. My clients want seminars and workshops to be short and sweet these days. Ground rules help us to keep the training on track when time is tight. We especially do not have the time, as we did in the past, to come up with an original set of ground rules or an 'event etiquette' for each separate training course.

Standard set of ground rules

To save time, I just take a vote on a standard set of ground rules and ask everyone to adhere to them for the duration of the seminar. My standard set of ground rules (in no particular order) is as follows:

To get the most from this training:

1. Listen actively
2. Speak one at a time
3. Maintain confidentiality
4. Respect each other's views
5. Keep an open mind
6. Discuss openly
7. Keep to time
8. Have fun

To help get some ownership and commitment, I always ask people on my courses to keep the ground rules under review. Then I check, part way through the event, if people are still happy with the ground rules and whether we need to alter them. People are usually happy and 'living' the ground rules - so we can press on.

Some ground rules in the workplace might not be a bad thing

It occurred to me last year that some ground rules in the workplace might not be a bad thing. My clients have always raised problems of work standards and work habits that could be addressed and perhaps resolved if everyone signed up to some ground rules.

Until earlier this year, I only had my own set of ground rules for training events, but it did not take me long recently to get some groundsmen and greenkeepers very interested in the idea of 'workplace ground rules'.

We already have strict rules for things like safe working which we can enforce, so why not extend this concept to other key areas of the work?

Accordingly, these turfcare professionals were very happy to suggest some rules for their teams. Here are their first thoughts:

Ten ground rules for the Turfcare Team

1. Good timekeeping
2. Encourage each other
3. Greet colleagues - every day
4. Be positive - show enthusiasm
5. Learn the job - get the rewards
6. Have a friendly manner - all day
7. Be proactive, don't wait to be told
8. Always review, always give feedback*
9. Use your initiative - check if necessary
10.Pick up litter … have an 'owner's eye for detail'

*Have ground rules for feedback.

The list above is unchanged from the original and the first thing I noticed was that more than half of the ground rules were about our attitude at work. The rules stress the need for people to be encouraging, greet colleagues every day, be proactive, show enthusiasm, have a friendly manner and use their initiative.

Very real and very specific attitude problems

I suspect that this list may reflect the working realities of the guys who compiled it, i.e. British Head Groundsmen, Deputies and Head Greenkeepers. There are probably some very real and very specific attitude problems at their workplaces. So much so that some really specific ground rules have been produced, along with the more predictable call for greater professionalism contained in the other rules they suggest.

My view is that there should be room in our ground rules for the general and the specific. In the case of number 10, we have the specific desired behaviour 'pick up litter' and the general and more conceptual 'have an owner's eye for detail'. I would say that both reflect the type of professionalism we are looking for in the turfcare sector.

It is also my view that the work group should be invited to suggest their own (sensible) ground rules once they have a few examples to be going on with. The list of ten above are genuine and some of them could be a useful starting point for people beginning from scratch.

Just imposing them could defeat the object of having them

We are also much more likely to get the work team's commitment to individual ground rules if they have been consulted about them. Just imposing them could defeat the object of having them - particularly when we ask them to 'sign up' to them and then enforce them for a trial period. A good work team will operate its own group discipline.

Trusting the work team to enforce its own ground rules may sound like a radical step to some, but we are only doing it for a trial period (of say a month), after which we will all sit down and review their effectiveness.

After a review, we can make alterations to suit. In my experience, group discipline has always been more effective than having management chase people around to get them to stay in line. We can schedule regular reviews and people can be invited to let management know if they have any concerns that the ground rules are becoming unfair or ineffective.

So good luck with introducing ground rules for the turfcare team. May you be able to use them to enhance the professionalism and maturity of your team.

If you would like to know more about ground rules in the workplace, or you would like to attend a brief seminar that covers the creation, implementation and enforcement of ground rules at work, please contact Chris Johnson, Pitchcare's Training Development Manager at chris.johnson@pitchcare.com

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