Your Loss, Not Ours

By | February 23rd, 2017

As one GM who had done nothing but distinguish himself (and his club) in his career wrote in letting me know about his sudden resignation: “As you might surmise, this is a political reaction on my part having to do with my current President, who feels so strongly he can run the club that I intend to give him every opportunity to do so.”

An open letter to any new club presidents who are thinking seriously about canning their club’s General Manager as one of their first “executive actions”:

Please let me know if you would like me to send you a supply of back issues of C&RB, to help you get up to speed with the club business.

I think you’re going to need them, and I’ll even be glad to give you a discount off our usual $3/copy charge.

Every year around this time (or during other periods of transitions in club governance), I hear surprising news from, or about, GMs who are taking, or looking for, new jobs after many years at a club where it appeared they would—and should—stay forever.

And quite often, the only reason proves to be a conflict with a new President who has decided that a change at the top of the club-management ladder is priority one on his or her agenda.

This has even come up, in several cases, in the careers of winners of the Excellence in Club Management Awards (“Four with More”)—sometimes, in fact, right after they’ve been honored with that distinction or have found other ways to demonstrate their value through indisputably positive contributions to a club’s reputation and success. (We’ll have more about some of these cases in articles later this year.)

Occasionally, after I look more deeply into these situations, I can see why a change may have been warranted. More often, though, it is apparent that the new President either thinks the GM is being paid too much and/or that he or she doesn’t properly understand or appreciate all that the job entails.

As one GM who had done nothing but distinguish himself (and his club) in his career wrote in letting me know about his sudden resignation: “As you might surmise, this is a political reaction on my part having to do with my current President, who feels so strongly that he can run the club that I intend to give him every opportunity to do so.”

In many cases, I hear from GMs who have made a preemptive strike and moved on to another club, in advance of having a new President come on board that they know is going to be trouble.

And most of these are top-of-the-line managers whose success has been built largely around being experts at finding a way to handle every situation and get along with everyone.

In many ways, I see these situations as actually being good for the industry. New clubs end up getting great GMs, and there’s plenty of new business for executive recruiters, as the industry experiences an endless game of musical chairs.

And while there’s some unfortunate and unnecessary pain and disruption for the GMs who weren’t able to see it coming, they inevitably land on their feet in fulfilling new ways, whether it’s as another club GM, in an entirely different business or role as part of a new career path, or in just settling comfortably into an earlier retirement than planned.

The only losers I’ve really seen, in fact, are the clubs that have hit the reset button, when all that was really needed was to select “save” and keep on operating in the same way.

2 Responses to Your Loss, Not Ours

  1. Christopher Boettcher says:

    Required reading for new presidents

  2. Ryan Doerr says:

    This goes back to the fundamental challenge clubs face when resisting a Strategic Plan. First off, Mr. President it is not about you… It is about the future success of the club. It is bigger than you, and you have a responsibility to serve your club, not manage it. A plan, is critical for Leadership, Governance, Management and Legacy to all unite, regardless of who is in the seat(s). Don’t get me wrong, there are managers in a wrong fit situation, but you don’t know that until you actually have a plan, know who you are and where you are going. Short of a plan, you are letting emotion, hearsay and popular opinion rule your club. I assure you no one wins that game. If you want examples, I have dozens. Feel free to contact me and ask for them. I also have hundreds of examples of clubs who invested in a plan, and process to unite all legs of the stool in a common focus, plan and vision… and execute on it. You know those really successful cubs you hear about. Every one of them has one of these, and empowers their manager to manage to it. Stop the anecdotal status quo. Work together. Need the formula, give us a call.

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