4 Ways AP's Can Stay On Top of the Issues

by Brian Dobak
May 31, 2010

"So, if you're sitting up in your office somewhere, how did people think you or others would know? When we didn't know." - MLB Commissioner Bud Selig on his administrations ignorance to steroids in baseball

Whether you’re an Assistant Professional or a Head Professional, you owe it to yourself and your club to be on top of issues. You can do this by being present and available to the employees and members wherever and whenever they are needed. That begins by mastering the issues not just through closed-door meetings and clandestine conversations, but by getting out into the field and talking to people, both your fellow employees and the members and guests you serve. Here are four ways even you as an Assistant Professional can stay on top of the issues:

Study Up

Know the issues facing your club. In most instances this is pretty easy for most HP’s, DOG’s, or GM’s because they are huddled in meetings. As an Assistant Professional, your challenge is being “in the know”. Ask them for a historical background of the club and its membership. Even ask a few members about their own personal history at the club. Let your HP know that you care about the issues and want in on the loop. Make it clear how issues affect you and the rest of the professional staff and what you can learn from being in on the loop. Understand though, that sometimes there are some issues that just can’t be shared with front-line employees. As we speak, your HP is probably sifting through information and putting it into a form that will enable him/her to frame issues, ask questions, and make decisions. Study up and let your HP know that you care, that you want to know what is going on, how you can learn from it, and that you are there to help in any way.

Listen

Once you know the background of your club, clarity will come from visiting with key staff members, committee members and general members. Members and guests will tell you in an instant how well, even better how poorly your service is performing for them. Employees, too, when granted permission will talk about what they see and hear. And if they feel safe they may even venture a few suggestions.

Inspect

When Franklin Roosevelt was as an assistant secretary of the Navy in the Woodrow Wilson administration, one of his many responsibilities was to personally inspect ships and ship building facilities. After being crippled by polio, he was not physically able to make the inspections. So, as he moved up the latter as Governor of New York and later President, Roosevelt asked his wife Eleanor to do the dirty work for him by going past the glad-handing and looking behind the fa├žade. It meant visiting factories, inspecting kitchens, and examining the living quarters of workers. For Head Professionals and even Assistant Professionals, it may mean visiting the cart barn, the maintenance facility, the kitchen, the employee break room, talking to members and guests, and personally executing “menial” tasks so you can uncover possible truths about the tasks and the golf operation.

Follow up

There is no use doing your homework if you will not hold people accountable. A former boss of mine is a great leader and a master at following up on details and getting answers from staff to questions he had asked them previously. It is important to act on that information to make certain people follow through on initiatives you have delegated and to which they have committed. As an assistant professional, if you’re responsible for the supervision of the outside services staff, starters, rangers, etc., hold yourself and the team accountable for results and be sure to follow up on a consistent basis because the ones actually doing the tasks will be able to keep you abreast of the issues of that particular oeprational area.

As an Assistant Professional you may not have what you could call a desk, but it still pays to realize this, especially when you’re a HP. "A desk is a dangerous place from which to view the world," wrote novelist John Le Carre. It is important to make the effort to know your people and their issues so that you are aware of what is going on. You cannot know everything, but a leader must know much about important things all of the time. The truth is, if you cling to your desk, you won’t know much. Take it from Bud Selig.