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Private Club Executive Search & Consulting:
Trusted Advisors Since 1974

Director's Guide to Peak Club Management

Search AmericaBy Harvey M. Weiner, Managing Partner
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Q.  I am probably the typical club president with my own business to run. What must I do to become less involved in every detail of managing the club?

A.  Managing the club is the manager's job. Your responsibility is to establish board consensus in setting policy and philosophy, and determining the scope of responsibility for the manager: Will s/he be a clubhouse manager or a true general manager/chief operating officer?

If you've employed a general manager/COO, communicate the club's mission and the directors' vision to the general manager. Establish priorities, provide a clear job description, and systematically at least annually evaluate performance relative to those criteria.

Expect the general manager to provide the board with a strategic plan for accomplishing the mission. Discuss implementation of that plan at scheduled intervals. Communicate through daily conversations and weekly meetings. Drop in from time-to-time while a staff meeting is underway. Let the employees know you care but do not wish to be involved in every decision. Provide management with the support, resources, and encouragement necessary to achieve established goals.

Q. What financial information does the manager need in order to do the job?

A. The effective manager can not perform effectively if s/he does not have timely access to operating statements, balance sheet, capital, and operating budgets. Accurate and timely financial information is an essential management tool in any business. It's often the difference between a hemorrhaging operation and an efficiently run club. The board can not hold a manager accountable for producing numbers about which he is uninformed. Club managers do not function efficiently in the dark.

Q. How can I get the best out of our club's management?

A. Everything we either do or want reflects the inner self the person we really are. Essentially, by penetrating the manager's own frame of reference, we gain an understanding of what makes him tick so we can get him to tick some more. Is this manipulative? No, it's reaching-out to his self-interest. We do this by empathetically tuning in to his world. How does he see things? How do situations affect him? What does he need, want, and seem willing to put in the extra effort to accomplish?

Appealing to a manager's self- interest makes him a stakeholder in the outcome. If he understands what's in it for him he is more likely to be highly productive. Appealing to a person's self-interest is far more effective than either threat or monetary reward.

A principle of human nature is the need to feel appreciated. Whether it is revealed willingly or not, praise, recognition, and encouragement bring out our best. When our self-interest is satisfied in work we ratify our sense of self.

Q. I've heard you speak about your Five Laws of Management Conduct. How can I apply them to getting along better with the management of the club?

A. Clubs are, after all, a people-to-people business. Fear, intimidation, and resentment are counterproductive. A manager, like most normal human beings, will work best for a president he respects. If he respects and likes that boss, imagine what he'll produce. Can he talk to you and know that you're actively listening? Are you available to him? Does he have good reason to trust you? Do you help him come up with solutions (thereby building self-reliance) or do you "have all the answers"?

The Five Laws of Management Conduct:

1. Respect your people. Always greet them in a friendly way even when you're not feeling friendly.
2. Learn and use employees' names. Sometimes, the only way employees know you distinguish them from any one else is by your use of their name.
3. Be accessible and available to your people. Listen to them. Learn their interests and hobbies. Refer to those interests when chatting to show they are more than just a timecard to you.
4. Commend others when appropriate. Oliver Wendell Holmes was known to say, when paid a compliment, "I'm a little hard of hearing. Would you mind repeating that a little louder?"
5. Be a good-detector, not just a faultfinder. Wouldn't you rather he judged by your successes than by your failures?

Harvey Weiner, Managing Partner of Search America private club management search & consulting, is an agenda-setting, trusted advisor to club leadership since 1974. 800.977.1784 
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