The No. 1 reason people leave companies typically isn’t money— It’s that they don’t feel treated as valuable contributors, says Tom Everett, President of Landscapes Golf Management. He offers valuable tips to cultivate culture at your club.
By Tom Everett
Believe it or not, what prompts people to leave companies typically isn’t money. The No. 1 reason is people don’t feel treated as valuable contributors. That happened to me.
I started my career in the golf industry knowing I was neither the smartest guy in the room nor a silver tongue communicator. But I also knew I would outwork the person next to me, be a good judge of character and display the highest integrity. Early on with another company, I developed a strong record of success. Not to be egotistical, I was confident that any company should be happy to have me on (or leading) their team.
I promised myself on that day nearly 25 years ago that treatment of my team would become the cornerstone of my leadership style. If I ever ran my own golf course management company, I would never let a Tom Everett leave because he didn’t feel valued or because the culture was rife with negativity.
Today I am fortunate to run such a company. From Landscapes Golf Management’s humble beginnings in Nebraska, I’ve had the opportunity to watch our company grow into one of the largest in the world. It is truly my pleasure to lead a team of more than 1,000 individuals at more than 50 golf courses and private clubs. I could have never imagined leading courses in my hometown of Omaha and across oceans to China.
The reason for growth: You don’t have to look any further than our company logo that includes “Culture First” in its design to see that I never wavered from my promise more than two decades ago. Don’t get me wrong, focusing on a positive culture does not mean we are soft or unsophisticated; I have the utmost confidence that our systems, processes, resources and technology make us one of the finest golf management companies in the world.
Tips to cultivate culture:
• Establish core values that bind teams together and live by them daily. In our case, it’s (1) do the right thing; (2) take care of each other; (3) find a way; (4) lead; and (5) be the best.
• Accept all ides as good ideas until qualitatively and quantitatively proven otherwise. There’s a tale that “Air Jordan” was conceived by a secretary taking notes in a room of sports marketing executives. While we may have a hierarchy on paper, no one person comes before another – we are equals.
• Show respect by taking the time to listen and guide without lecturing and finger pointing. Leadership is the ability to achieve results through people, and patience, compliments, encouragements and please and thank you go a long way. Remember, leaders work for others, not vice versa, and we all work with one another toward common goals. Direct people and let them fly, assuming the role as safety net in the process to avert major mistakes.
• Care for and empathize with people beyond the workplace. They’re human and “family,” and we’re all in this together.
• Set expectations which are clear and realistic yet “ambitiously” achievable and offer positive and constructive feedback as well as guidance along the way.
• Continuously educate employees and transparently expose them to several aspects of the business to keep them interested and progressing, help them become even higher performers and guard against churn.
Following these suggestions are essential to attract and develop top professionals in the industry. And they stay because of positive, engaging “help-one-another” environments which consistently foster high performance.
Culture, as we say, comes first. I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Tom Everett is President of Landscapes Golf Management.