Your members and your staff want direction. After all, COVID had already caused a great deal of uncertainty. Brett Morris, General Manager/COO at The Club at Admirals Cove in Jupiter, Fla., made sure to regularly update the team and the membership on everything that was going on.
By Brett Morris, General Manager/COO, The Club at Admirals Cove in Jupiter, Fla.
With every adversity, there is a lesson to learn. In the past year and a half, we have all faced the challenge of dealing with COVID-19, a worldwide pandemic that shut down operations, created employee uncertainty, and put our management teams to the test.
While we hope the worst is behind us, here are ten lessons that have served me well as a leader during this crisis.
1. We knew it already, but the pandemic reinforced our team’s value and importance. We were already appreciative of everyone on our staff, but their hard work and dedication amazed me every day. Keep your employees happy, and they will make you proud.
2. The value of loyalty. One of the first things I fought for at Admirals Cove was keeping our full-time employees whole, not laying anyone off, and ensuring they continued to receive their regular pay. We knew that many employees had young families, so we offered flexible hours and additional financial incentives. That boosted their morale and increased productivity. It’s paying dividends now, as many have recommended our club to their peers during this current workforce challenge.
3. Listen. This was unfamiliar territory for everyone. Like you, everyone on your staff has loved ones and handles stress differently. Be their boss, but also be a leader. Leaders listen, are understanding, and are solution-oriented. Sometimes an employee or department leader needs to blow off steam—so give them that space and give them their moment.
4. Cross-training. We made sure to teach our employees numerous skills and get them up to speed on different jobs. First, it taught them something new, and it helped us fill in gaps when someone was out sick or needed to be with family. Cross-training improves efficiency, helps employees appreciate their colleague’s job, and it’s a win for all.
5. Communicate. During a crisis, the first inclination for most people is to bury their heads in the sand and hope the problem goes away. That is the wrong approach. There was no room for speculation or gossip.
Leaders know communication is everything. Your members and your staff want direction. After all, COVID had already caused a great deal of uncertainty. We made sure to regularly update the team and the membership on everything that was going on. This included our installation of on-site COVID testing, the deep cleanings we conducted, and our approach to social distancing and masks. Everyone knew what was expected of them. Remember, communication builds trust.
6. Creativity. While creativity is something we deliver regularly, COVID kept us on our toes. Our restaurants were shut down at times, as were our kitchens, but we knew our duty was to continue to deliver the best member experience.
We came up with several new F & B concepts and offered takeout options, pre-packaged meals, and delivery and drive-up services. We created outdoor venues with socially distanced tables to allow members to come to the club and feel safe. And while COVID impacted the season, that didn’t mean we couldn’t hold events. We again had to be creative with those as well, while making sure everyone felt safe and comfortable. Creativity takes courage.
7. Speak with one voice. For me, this has meant talking with my club President daily, and often three or four times a day. My goal from the start has been to make sure the Board and I were delivering the same message, that they have known what my goals were, and that they have supported our approach. This has strengthened our relationship and created a deeper bond. Your President and Board are your partners and the keys to your success.
8. Invest in technology. Remote work was not an option for our team, but technology played a pivotal role in our success. We have a dedicated IT department at our club that made sure our connectivity was at its peak.
We put redundancies in place and enhanced our firewalls. We were set up to host large Zoom town-hall meetings and small Zoom chats. This allowed me to give members face time, listen, and learn what their needs were. We prerecorded our messaging in several cases, so people with poor connections could see a replay following the meeting. We used our text-messaging service a great deal, which allowed us to inform members immediately. We also put together a video tutorial to educate members on using Zoom, so they could be more comfortable with the platform.
9. Be nimble. In the words of legendary basketball coach John Wooden, “Be quick, but don’t hurry.” Be ready to adapt, make decisions, and follow through on them right away. There is no time during a crisis to hem and haw. You need to take action immediately.
10. Lastly, the tenth thing I learned, or should I say I am reminded of, is the importance of a smile. Yes, there have been hard times, but nothing cuts through the despair like friendly, heartfelt smiles. The staff appreciates them, as do the members. As the saying goes, “A smile is a curve that sets everything straight.”