0 The Gap Part 1 - Problem Identification

FrankNewberry2012In Part 1 of this series, Pitchcare Trainer and Motivational Speaker, Frank Newberry, expresses his concerns about the gap between the minority of turfcare professionals who are fulfilling their career potential and the vast majority who are not working to their full potential, and probably never will


If you are a highly paid turfcare manager with perfect staff who deliver great playing surfaces week in and week out - well done! This article may not be for you. It might, however, be for people who supervise, or aspire to supervise, a mixed ability work team with limited resources.

Three recurrent themes

It was good to have groundsmen in amongst the greenkeepers on the eighth 'Moving into Management' workshop that I ran for BIGGA at Harrogate Week in January. Good, too, that the reaction to the event was very positive with delegates describing the training as:

- Confidence building
- Very informative, interactive and energising

It was good, also, to have greenkeepers amongst the groundsmen on the 'Enhanced Communication Skills' seminar I ran for Pitchcare recently.

Again, attendee comments (including the following) were gratifying:

- Go on it (the seminar) and learn - it's not just simply talking
- Frank is a constantly entertaining, informative source of knowledge and encouragement
- Excellent

Excellent indeed, until I reflected on the main issues that delegates wanted to tackle on these events and, in the case of BTME, have wanted to tackle for twenty-five years!

The three recurrent themes were:

- managing upwards - bosses and committees
- underperforming staff
- my confidence - in getting my ideas and needs across to others

Those who can manage upwards get to the top

My concern is not that these challenges are still with us, but that so few turfcare people turn up for training courses that tackle these topics.

It's great that a record number of people attended BIGGA's 'Continue to Learn' programme this year - 2,764 - but I suspect that only 10% of that number got help with, for example, managing upwards.

It perhaps goes without saying that those who can manage upwards get to the top of their profession or are on their way to fulfilling their career potential.

Please don't get me wrong. The success of Continue to Learn this year was, in part, down to it being the most comprehensive ever with lots more short duration events, many of them free of charge to BIGGA members.

The gap between the haves and the have nots

Continue to Learn at Harrogate Week might still cater mainly for an elite group of turfcare employers and professionals with generous training budgets, but more people attended more seminars this year.

It was humbling for me to discover that, once again, a few turfcare professionals paid their own way to get the training they needed. Some paid fees and fares and one guy from the Channel Islands paid for his flights and his transfers. Inspiring.

So, we still have the problem of the gap between the haves and the have nots. Those who have a training budget and can get the training and development they need to fulfil their potential, and those that do not and, as a consequence, may never fulfil their potential as turfcare professionals. A potential we need our people to reach.

The stakes are high for us

I fear that head groundsmen and head greenkeepers will eventually grow tired of me saying that we supervisors are judged by the performance of our staff and it is in our interest to get them to work to their full potential.

The stakes are high for us and, in this series, I will look at what we can do to:

1. Raise the game of our people for their benefit and ours
2. Utilise simple job descriptions in our quest for better staff performance
3. Utilise a code of ethics to engage the staff and get key decision makers on our side

Read Part 2 Here: The Gap Part 2 - Problem Investigation
Read Part 3 Here: The Gap Part 3 - A Code of Ethics

If you need help to decide which training and development activity is best for you and your team, a good place to start might be to contact Chris Johnson, Pitchcare's Training Development Manager at chris@pitchcare.com. She can tell you which training programmes will help

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