When Mike Gash, former Head Greenkeeper at Moseley Golf Club, was made redundant in November last year, he suffered a range of emotions, none of which would have actually helped him find a job. Here he talks about those emotions and how networking soon found him a new opportunity
I have had first hand knowledge of being made redundant, I was in that unfortunate position last November.
Losing a job is traumatic. For many people, work is a big piece of who they are. We may feel that the position we hold at work affects the perception with which others view us. Our job can determine our social circle. Our work often provides us with a measure of meaning for our lives. And, of course, the salary that we earn provides us with the means to support ourselves and our family.
If you are out of work due to an involuntary termination, downsizing, or layoff situation, you may be frustrated and feel as if you have lost some control over your life. It's common to feel angry, frustrated, bewildered, isolated, you may find other people or your friends treat you differently, they may avoid you as they don't know what to say, so avoidance is easier for them and just worse for you.
When you have lost a job it's not unusual to experience a sense of grief, gnawing anxiety or feelings of desperation. Self-confidence may be shaken and faith in the future may be lost. These feelings can disrupt sleep and eating patterns and may trigger emotional outbursts without warning.
Your mind is trying to think of jobs you could do but, with all the above emotions running wild, you get nowhere fast. Some things that do go through your mind are:
Why - Did it happen to me?
What - Am I going to do next?
Where - Will I find work?
When - Will I get a job?
How - Will I survive until I get the job?
It is best to confront these feelings and move past them. Once you have put this emotional experience behind you, you can start to think about beginning a job search - within greenkeeping and, I would suspect the same applies to the groundsman industry; but I am mainly speaking from a greenkeeping prospective "as I was one".
I feel quite fortunate to have networked quite a bit within my eleven years in greenkeeping, as well volunteering for major golf tournaments here and abroad.
I foolishly thought I could get a job anywhere with all my contacts here and across the pond, but what I did not anticipate was a worldwide recession all but completely scuppering my chances of getting a head greenkeepers job anywhere around the world.
During my eleven years I have supported all types of education, from regional training to higher education from college HNC etc., and I've done my fair share of networking,
So, I sat down and looked at my CV and thought about my qualifications and soon realised what a diverse bunch we are, from the grass roots level of actually cutting grass to managing a team of people - anywhere from four to forty, depending upon your facility.
I found the smaller the group the more diversified you have to be, as when anything brakes down, whether this is a machine, irrigation, computer etc., all repairs have to be paid for if you have to call for someone to fix the problems, it all costs money and we have tighter and tighter budgets, so fixing the problem yourself can save money, as well as being a learning curve.
When it came to looking for another job outside of greenkeeping, but still wanting to be involved, I looked at becoming a mechanic, rep, teacher, etc.
I was very fortunate to have a very good friend, David Tullett, one of the partners of Parks & Grounds Machinery Ltd., a John Deere dealership in Bidford-on-Avon, Warwickshire - the other partner is Andrew Perkins, and they are celebrating their company's 20th anniversary this year. Dave kindly asked if I could help out, I jumped at the chance, especially as it was something new and I enjoy learning different things.
Now, I do pre-delivery inspections (PDI) on all new machinery prior to delivery to the customer, servicing, dealing with booking in machinery, dealing with the general public, whether that be sorting problems or selling, it's all good and I love it, and it always helps when the crew you work with are a great bunch.
Although losing a job can be a painful experience, it does not have to be completely devastating. Often, these situations turn out to be a blessing in disguise. Perseverance, creativity and keeping an open mind will aid in finding a new position that may be better suited to your needs than the one that you had.