Use staff meetings to advance professionalism

From the June SFMA News Online newsletter:

Every sports turf manager has meetings with his or her crew. Take a few minutes at each to impress upon your staff the importance of professionalism, on and off the job.

Here are seven points to make; consider using one per weekly meeting over the next two months. Give examples of times when you have seen these in action and have your staff discuss. You probably know many instances that can be made into additional scenarios.

  1. Be certain every staff member knows the goals/mission of the facility. It will be tough to achieve a cohesive, professionalism-driven environment if everyone is operating under a different set of perceptions. Spending a few minutes on the mission and vision of the overall facility should be a regular part of staff meetings.

Have staff break down the mission/vision/goals and provide them in their own words with examples.

  1. Discuss the adage: You never have another chance to make a first impression. This is a good reminder on why it is important to seize the opportunity to positively interact with coaches, players, parents and others when going about field maintenance practices. Stopping mowers or blowers when someone is walking by, acknowledging them with a Good Morning, offering to briefly explain what maintenance process that is being conducted and why can position your staff as competent and professional. Encourage them to make themselves approachable. Communication is the cornerstone of professionalism, and it is the single most important skill they can possess to advance in all areas of their lives.

Have staff discuss “opening questions” they can use to interact with various constituencies. Reiterate your department policies on safety when people are nearby.

  1. Discuss appropriate attire. Are there meetings that you may have staff involved with that will have others outside of the department in attendance? Setting an expectation for appropriate attire for these meetings will help you communicate the importance of attire in advancing the professionalism of your department. Remember to impart: Dress for the job that you want, not the one you have.

Have staff discuss the image that ball caps, torn and dirty work clothes could have on those outside of the department, and how they can address that perception.

  1. Discuss social media, voice mail and email etiquette. Right or wrong, how your staff communicates in their professional AND personal lives is a direct reflection on your department and the profession. A simple question to pose as a “send/post” or ”not send/post” decision-making process: Would you want this communication to be on the national or local news with your name and photo attached?

Review your facility’s policy on social media and set up a calendar of strong, positive instructional communications your staff can send to display their credibility as a professional in the sports turf management industry.

  1. Encourage participation in the community, local chapter and across your organization. Your staff sees you involved in the local community and chapter and throughout your organization. Promote the importance of these activities to your staff.

Together with your staff develop a list of organizations that could benefit from the expertise of your staff and begin the process to communicate the availability of your department as a resource. Place a schedule of your chapter’s local meetings and provide funding and the time off for your team to attend. Are there cross-departmental teams in your organization? Suggest that your staff become involved on one, such as the ‘Green Team’.

  1. Promote the benefits of being a continuous learner. As the manager you provide continuing education opportunities for your staff. Take this further to be certain you are providing opportunities that not only advance their technical expertise, but also their communication and management skills. Encourage their exploration of the SFMA Sports Field Manager certification program. Those with a four-year turf degree who have been an assistant for six years qualify to test for the CSFM designation.

Discuss with your employees the value of certification and how it has advanced your career or others in the profession. If you are not certified, set the example and become a CSFM.

  1. Adopt a “no surprises” culture. Everyone makes mistakes. As the manager you do need to be the first informed of any issues that might affect the field’s performance and athlete safety or impact the image of your facility. As their leader, keeping the lines of communication open and being accessible sets a culture of professionalism. Taking responsibility for your own mistakes and not blaming others sets the tone for leadership that your staff will want to emulate, now and in the future.

Discuss a “crisis” and how the team should respond. For example, what if a staff member accidentally used the wrong chemical on the field, how does the team take action to solve the problem?

These are just a few topics that when discussed in a staff environment can help your team raise their level of professionalism for greater success.