Fresh from being rated the top presenter at the EGU/GCMA Conference Programme at Harrogate Week, trainer Frank Newberry considers how leaders at all levels in organisations need to get involved in shaping the future.
In 'You Need to Lead Part 1' we considered how to 'Take Charge'. We now move from supervisory leadership to those leadership duties more commonly associated with senior managers. In these difficult times of credit crunch and economic downturn it is absolutely vital to get involved in shaping the future of your part of the organisation.
Vital for at least three reasons:
1. Your Survival
2. Your Success
3. Your Sanity
Most greenkeepers and groundsmen I have met in the past twenty years have told me that almost all of the decision makers in their organisations have not come from a grounds or a greens background. The minority tell me that their employers knew nothing about grass until they personally started to educate them.
Most greenkeepers and groundsmen I have met still want to be left alone to do a good job and, hopefully, build a career on the merits of their acquired skills and expertise. This can be a narrow and risky survival strategy at the moment when others are making friends with the boss in order to influence their own job security.
In too many cases, bosses still tend to favour people they know and like. For example, it would be easier for me, as a boss, to make someone redundant if I hardly knew that person. It would be even easier for me to let them go if that person could not even be bothered to take an interest in me and in the wider issues of the job. By the same token, if I have to make one person redundant it is unlikely to be someone of equal ability with whom I have a rapport and who seems to care about me and the job.
If you have not yet got close to your boss and his/her problems and issues then perhaps you need to think about getting started on building a rapport with them right away! If you have a good relationship with one of the management team perhaps it is time to expand your influence. After all ,they discuss you at meetings - why not see if you can help them reach a positive consensus about your future?
If we can make efforts to secure our jobs we can also try to secure our success. At difficult times like these your professional input will be vital to help your management team be successful. If your managers are successful because of you - it is in their interest to ensure your career success. They will, I suspect, want to offer you development and employment opportunities first when these arise.
Let us not be left regretting the day we ever neglected an opportunity to help senior management to make informed decisions at work. Let us never be at the mercy of someone else's uneducated guesses - like many of our colleagues have been in the past.
You may need to make a real effort to raise your profile at work. One way to do this - whether it is in your job description or not - is to seek a place at meetings and on committees where decisions about resources, work methods and budgets are made.
It might be a big effort for you because, in my experience, most greenkeepers and groundsmen did not enter the turfcare profession to get involved in strategic management decisions. But, times have changed and current economic circumstances require us all to show some personal leadership.
If your managers seem reluctant to let you in, you might suggest that you 'only want to do a better job for them' and attendance at these important meetings will help you to do that. If they still seem doubtful you might propose that you attend a few meetings for a 'trial period' after which your continued presence at these meetings can be reviewed.
Finally, in these difficult times, we need to stay calm and maintain or enhance our regular work performance. If you are determined to enter what may seem to be the scary world of strategic decision making then you might need some support.
Your family can support you emotionally if you keep them up to date with developments. Your friends in the profession and in trade can help you with ideas if you ask them. Many experienced turfcare professionals survived the recession of the early 1990s. Some of them are now in very senior positions and have the experience that you may lack. Some are even key members of your membership organisation i.e. BIGGA and the IOG. These organisations, along with Pitchcare.com have blogs and chat rooms where you can access good ideas (as well as crazy ones).
All of these organisations provide subsidised training courses (I myself run management courses for all three of them every year). I know that all the courses they run would cost two or three times as much to attend on the open market.
All three organisations are keen to help you to survive, to succeed and to save your sanity.
So, good luck showing some leadership at your level. Good luck raising your profile. May you be able to make a real difference at work this year and may it be a difference that will help your own career and, in turn, help others in the turfcare profession.