Great turf is something you cultivate and grow. But now, in many cases, talent isn’t something you develop over time – it’s something you find. According to Superintendent Magazine’s Super Survey, 31% of superintendents agreed that finding reliable help was their biggest challenge when it came to their course. Not green speed. Not drought. Talent. So why is that?
Labor is the biggest expense a superintendent has to manage – that’s why proper hiring practices are so important. You need to know you’re getting the right value for your money. When the right team is brought together, less time and effort are required to manage staff, maintain team dynamics, deal with high turnover or co-ordinate your team’s tasks. When the wrong team is brought together, well, you can probably guess what the outcome is.
So, let’s ask the question. What should you be looking for in your next hire?
A Trusted Reference
When you know a position is opening up, it’s best to start by putting out some feelers with reliable staff members that you really trust. Candidates who are referred by these types of connections often resemble the employee who referenced them. You can find comfort in knowing that someone who truly understands your needs and goals believes this candidate can help you achieve them. This is one way you can accelerate the process and narrow down your search. However, don’t go easy in the interview just because they are a friend of a colleague. Ask the right questions so you can make an informed decision that you feel comfortable with.
Personality and Fit
What types of personalities are already on your team? Who might be a complementary fit, and who might clash with the personalities you’re already working with? Considering team dynamics is an important and often underestimated consideration when seeking a new hire. Your team needs to be able to communicate effectively and find inspiration, motivation and leadership from one another. By effectively working together you will be able to find efficiencies and streamline workloads that will ultimately get you that much closer to your goals.
Part of this is recognizing the gaps within your team’s existing dynamic. Perhaps you need more leadership, more member-friendly faces or more technical expertise. Knowing which personality types your team will benefit from ahead of time can help you stay on track as you begin the interview process.
Action Oriented, Results Driven
Employees who take action cultivate environments that promote learning opportunities for your team, from both successes and failures. While there is always a certain amount of risk involved with a team of self-starters, this is one of the best ways to build new ideas and continue improving your practices. Stagnant employees won’t be able to effectively contribute to the results you’re looking for and the goals you want to achieve. And we know that you can’t be everywhere all the time, so employees who can look at a problem and determine a solution independently give you the freedom to look at the big picture, continue developing your strategy and fulfill your larger duties as a leader in the organization.
Attitude over Experience
As you know, course maintenance requires a mix of both seasoned professionals and seasonal employees. This brings in a combination of all levels of experience and knowledge. A candidate who is motivated, willing to learn and open minded has the potential to flourish on your team with the right guidance and support. This makes for a much better long-term investment than a candidate who knows their stuff, but might not have the dedication, enthusiasm or willingness to help out. It’s much easier to teach a new skill than instill a new attitude – so pick your next employee with their full potential for growth in mind.
Success in Turf Management will be Recognized by your Talented Team
When you work in this industry, the days are long and vacations are rare. The people you surround yourself with are the ones who will influence how well – or how not so well – the experience goes. So try to remember, just as cultivating strong and healthy turf is important, so is building a strong and healthy team.