This is a tale about The Perfect Tree and how failing to do the work before disaster strikes may be costly, backbreaking and heartbreaking. This tale is long and winding but the moral is too important not to share!
We had a beautiful China Berry Tree next to our barn. It was in the perfect location to provide the perfect shade for saddling horses and had branches at the perfect height for tying on. It WAS the perfect tree…. And then one day last year, about this time, one of our horses fell gravely ill for no apparent reason. Three months and $7,000 in vet bills later, we determined that Irish, a horse we talk about a lot here, got sick by eating China Berries! Say it Ain't So! Our perfect tree was poisoning our horses? And we determined then and there, That Tree Must Go! And we set out to gather the tools to take it down.
Of course, by the time we made the discovery, the tree was dormant for the winter and the berries had all fallen and dried up. So with no immediate danger, the China Berry Tree continued to provide the perfect place to saddle, with branches at the perfect height for tying on. And in the spring when the days got warmer and the tree leafed out we were happy for the shade and life was good.
This week we realized that a year had gone by and the Perfect Tree was FULL of berries. Panic set in; we MUST remove that tree IMMEDIATELY or risk more sick horses. And We Did!
Now if we had done our work in the winter, when the tree was dormant and the leaves and berries were gone, this would be the happy ending to this tale. Unfortunately, we failed to take care of business and waited until the situation was dire and out of our control and we suffered. As my Chef Instructor once said “ If you don’t use your head, you WILL use your back”. And use our backs we did!
I should mention, it's typically in the 60’s in the winter here. But this is late summer and it was 90 degrees with a “Real Feel” temperature of 102! Why oh Why didn’t we do this in the winter!
But we didn’t so we formulated a plan.
Plan A: Cut the tree down, berries and all and burn the berries off of the tree with a torch. This was a full day of misery but I will cut to the low points. First the chain saw would not start so we had to use an electric branch saw. To expedite the process we decided to use my wife’s truck Pepe, to “help” pull the large trunks down. The Third time the tow line broke, the metal ratchet flew through the rear window of the truck shattering the window and narrowly missing my wife’s head! And when we finally got the three trunks down, the tree, berries and all, was so green nothing would burn! Go to plan B.
Plan B; Hand pick the berries off of the branches and deal with the trunks later. China Berries grow in clusters like coffee beans so this shouldn’t take too long…… Picking the berries off of the branches went according to plan until we realized that loose clusters and individual berries were everywhere, scattered in the sand like sown seeds! Oh SNAP! These berries had to come up since this is where Irish found the berries last year, on the ground!
Add plan C.
Plan C: Get down on your knees and Sift thru the sand using a litter box cleaner. I will tell you it worked but my Chefs words of wisdom rang in my ears and in my throbbing back muscles the whole time. To say that this was an opportunity and economic mess would be an understatement! If ONLY we had taken care of our business when the perfect tree was in the perfect condition for removal; imagine the time and real cost we could have saved not to mention the pain and suffering we could have avoided.
So how does this tale relate to managing your clubs? We ALL have “things” we have been putting off. And we all know that the economic and opportunity cost is high when we procrastinate. I am certain there are clubs in Texas and Florida that had hurricane preparation projects left over from their last hurricane that came to light. Working with Clubs and reviewing their HR process I find all kinds of deferred HR projects that would enhance service, improve retention and protect the club from liability. And yet, we point to our people as our “Most Important Assets”. If you suspect you may have allowed procrastination to distract you from your HR business here are the four areas I would suggest you review for opportunity BEFORE the berries fall.
Handbooks, Job Descriptions and Org Charts – This is your first and last line of defense and provides the foundation for ALL of your team building efforts. Are your new hire documents current, up to date and do they reflect the club you are running today? Do they support the club you hope to be running tomorrow? So simple to fix and yet, so often overlooked until the process server comes knocking.
Orientation and Onboarding – Recruiting only gets tougher every day. As such, the first day on the job is CRITICAL for the success of your team building and FUTURE recruiting. Are you still relying on your accounting department to “welcome” your new hires with a compliance meeting on their first day? Do your new hires fully understand the club’s service culture and what is expected of them before they meet their first member? Do your new hires in the off season receive the same, complete orientation that your seasonal hires receive? Are you hiring a lightning speed going in to the high season and hoping the training “catches up” with the need for service before the season is over with?
Training and Evaluating Performance – Good Feedback Drives Great Performance! Does your performance management process produce measurable results? Is your performance evaluation program paper based and “One-Size-Fits-All”? Does the evaluation process identify training opportunities and do you have follow-on training in place? Stop thinking of this as a chore and Start thinking of the opportunity a culture of conversation can create!
Engagement and Coaching – We assume everything is OK when we don’t hear any noise……Quite the contrary, parents know that when it’s quiet, you better check on the kids! Have you surveyed your staff to learn what is working for them and how to maximize their performance? Are they your BEST recruiting source because they love their jobs? Could you improve team performance by understanding who your people are and how best they can work together? Engagement surveys provide a wealth of information and DiSC coaching can transform your team and SAVE you money by improving team performance.
The cost for addressing ALL of these is minimal compared to failing miserably on ANY of these. If you have HR deficiencies and need help please call me and lets discuss a plan. The call is free and I guarantee the solutions will be cost beneficial.
Effective training, whether people or horses, takes the right personality using the right technique for the right personality. Let me say that again, it takes the RIGHT personality using the Right technique for the Right personality. In other words, the person doing the training has to be of the right frame of mind, and MUST understand, and train to, the personality of the trainee. This may be a little confusing so, as I often do, I’ll use my wife’s horse training to clarify for us humans.
A good horse trainer will always use the first lesson to get to know the horse. Horses, like people, have distinct personalities. Unlike people, horses are big and strong and can hurt you if you push the wrong buttons. Because we respect their size and our ultimate goal is to produce a good horse, we pay attention to who we are dealing with and train accordingly. Some will respond to training like second nature and some require warm up and praise to build confidence just to leave the stall. And the sooner you begin to understand the horse, the sooner the real training can begin.
When it comes to personality, horses, like people, can generally be grouped in to four categories or styles:
• Challenging; Prideful, Territorial, Strong Sense of Self.
• Social; “Official Greeter”, Interactive, Easy to train.
• Fearful; Guarded, cautious, looks to another horse or a person for strength.
• Aloof; Independent, Delayed or Dull responses, Tends to ignore commands.
Our Challenging horse was Faith. Faith would meet you head on in the round pen but once she understood you were serious, would perform better than her peers to prove her superiority. In the alternative, our Social horse Miss Fitz will go along with just about anything we ask her to do as long as she is getting the attention. We might use different adjectives to describe people personalities but you get the idea. Each personality has specific preferences and tendencies that we look for and use in our training techniques. Each has its advantages and challenges but understanding the horse allows us to set expectation and get the most we can out of a session and, ultimately, out of the horse. This applies to our people too!
So how does this change our approach to training? Regardless of personality style, you must always deal with the behavior that your horse presents: If he is distant and removed, you need to get his attention; if he is confrontational, you need to establish your authority; if he is distracted and inattentive, he needs to pay attention and respond to you; if he is worried and mistrustful, he needs to be reassured. And we adjust our approach, not our goal, by assessing our trainee before we begin.
Each personality style is unique and some horses ( and people) exhibit a combination of traits. None are bad but this IS where the personality of the trainer comes in. Not all trainers are well suited for all trainees. And, we prefer to train the horses we get along with and wish we could avoid the ones we don’t. Sound familiar? But effective training is really about bonding so it is important that we know ourselves well enough to understand what WE need to do to bond with our trainee. A good trainer understands themselves and who they are dealing with and THEY adjust accordingly. We don’t expect the horse to change color, we change color to fit the horse. Is it tough to do this, you betcha! And many good trainers fail miserably from time to time when they are working with a challenging fit. But in the end, our goal is to produce a good horse, not to prove that we are superior and if that means changing OUR approach so be it. The alternative is to risk ruining a potentially good horse, not to mention the time and aggravation we could go through for nothing. The same could be said for our “potentially” good people.
Fortunately for our people training we have some great tools that we use to clearly identify who we are, who we are working with and how to maximize our training effort with them. I use DiSC assessment in coaching and training to help individuals and teams understand how they can work most effectively with others. The assessment identifies the personality preferences and tendencies we exhibit in our interactions with team members, family members, each other. It shines light on who we are and how we are likely to interact by defining our styles as: Dominant, influencing, Steady, and Conscientious or some combination of the four.
The DiSC assessment is inexpensive and easy to perform. The results clearly outline the trainees strengths and challenges and provide direction for improving performance. Managers who use DiSC assessments, understand how to maximize training for each team member. And, because it is internet based, it is a great tool for remote learning and self-paced training. DiSC assessment provides a solid foundation upon which to build a great training program and ultimately a great team.
If you are not familiar with DiSC assessments I would like to encourage you to learn more on my web site at www.paisanoperformance.com/DiSC. I am a believer in the validity of this tool. We don’t train horses without assessing their personality first and, with a great tool like DiSC, there is no reason we should try to train our people in the dark for all the right reasons.
If you are building your team and need help with assessment, coaching, or performance evaluation, call me and lets discuss a plan. Summer is a great time to assess your training needs and schedule your fall and winter team training.
The King Ranch
The King Ranch in South Texas is arguably the most famous cattle ranch in the world. It is the largest ranch in Texas with over 825,000 acres under management and spans 6 counties. The sheer size is impressive enough but the King Ranch is recognized in the industry for their success through foundational breeding programs. The Santa Gertrudis breed of cattle originated on the King Ranch. And Old Sorrell, a Quarter Horse stallion born in 1915 and sold to the King Ranch that year, was the foundation stud for every horse on the ranch and almost every quarter horse registered by the King Ranch from 1940 to 1960. The success of the King Ranch was built upon a firm foundation of good breeding followed by great management.
At Paisano we adhere to a similar foundational breeding philosophy. Our ponies come predominantly from the Fitzgerald line going back to Jean Chance, a World Champion Quarter Horse. Our horses carry all of her good traits including athleticism, a good work ethic and a trainable attitude. Irish, our “problem child” that you may remember from a previous post, is a fourth generation Fitz horse descending from Jean Chance.
In the club business, like the horse business, we benefit from good family lines on our team. I think I employed the entire Avila family, three generations, at Prestonwood! They were hard working, attentive and understood how to treat our members. But the best of the bunch was not born knowing how to take a food order, carry a tray or deliver a drink. They ALL had to be trained to deliver excellent service to our members. Good genes provide the potential but good training produces results. This is true in horse blood lines and it is true in people.
Generational Staffing in Clubs
Times have changed since my hey-day at PCC and multi-generational staffing has waned with each subsequent generation. And where we once relied upon family referrals to fill our staffing needs and family pressure to ensure longevity, we are now competing with a variety of industries for new team members with a whole new set of rules. To do this successfully, we better be stepping up our game because the old ways of attracting and retaining good staff are gone! Your success will be determined by the foundation you are building upon.
How Firm is YOUR Staffing Foundation
For a quick check of your staffing foundation answer YES or NO to the following:
If you answered No or “Not Really” to any of these you have some work to do and we can help. Very few clubs can answer yes to all of the above and most lack the staff and resources to do this alone. In the horse business we can buy talent or grow our own. Neither option is viable in club management. Frankly, neither is necessary! When it comes to recruiting and building a winning team, success begets success but it all starts with a firm foundation.
We Build Firm Foundations
Whether starting from scratch or somewhere in the middle, we can help you with your foundation needs from job descriptions and opportunity profiles to on-boarding and performance management. Our client list continues to grow as clubs recognize the need to strengthen their HR process. Paisano Performance Partners is ready to help you make 2017 a Successful Year from the ground up!
Here at Paisano, the training never stops. Every day, we talk about horses that are making progress and, unfortunately training set-backs, or as I call it, backsliding. Backsliding is a term you Southern Baptists will probably recognize but if not, backsliding is when someone, or something, reverts to their old way of doing things and all their training goes right out the window. Horses are masters at backsliding.
But horses, like people, are happier, more confident and more productive when they are well trained. Yes, training takes time and resources, two things we often run short of. But the short and long-term benefits far outweigh the effort it takes to “finish” a horse, or a person for that matter.
In horse training, it seems as though progress is measured in minutes (the amount of time since the last training session) and we spend a fair amount of time re-training on something we thought we had already mastered. And frustration rules the day. Sound familiar?
When I think about training I think of Meryl Haggard’s rendition of the country song One Day at a Time and the line when he sings “Lord for my sake, teach me to take, one day at a time...”
Know Your Target
Because we train a lot and we repeat a lot, it is critical that we adhere to a training process. If not, we would be dizzy from chasing our proverbial tales!
Our training approach is this:
A Classic “horse” Story
We see horses in trailers all the time and likely assume that horses love going for a ride and that loading in a trailer is second nature to a horse. Nothing could be further from the truth and in fact, horses are flight animals and VERY claustrophobic! But trailering a horse is unavoidable and a horse that won’t load is a danger to themselves and everyone around them! So this fundamental training is central to our life and our horses must load easily and safely.
So here is our process for teaching a horse to load properly.
First, our goal is to have our horse step up into the trailer and move to the front, facing forward on their own. Simple enough!
Second, our training plan requires getting our horse comfortable and confident around and in the trailer. Our training plan includes teaching our horse to move forward on command, pass through a doorway, and feel comfortable in a confined space.
Step Three; We follow our plan:
Effective training is the life-blood of a well-run operation. But it takes time and resources. Whether it’s something as simple as teaching your staff to load or perhaps something more advanced like learning to side-pass or open and close gates, someone has to do it! If you need help designing and implementing an effective training process at your club we can help with training guides, on-site Train-the-trainers and internet based training courses.
Before you reach the end of your rope, call me and let’s discuss your needs. And remember that song, One Day at a Time!
"Irish is funny, popular, smart, and inquisitive, shows leadership inclinations and can be a real pain in the butt!"
Sound like anyone on your staff? We all have them or have had them. And unfortunately, we have all reached our limit at some point and pondered the inevitable, “Is it time for Irish to go?". The fact that Irish is a horse is inconsequential to this story. Horses, like people, exhibit the full range of personality traits with a similar effect on their peers. When a horse is acting up, the ripple it creates can wreak havoc on the productivity of the entire herd. And the problem is, if Irish were always bad it would be a simple decision to send him packing. But the reality is, Irish has the potential to be our best Pony, if only we could tame that mean streak and keep him from derailing the entire train!
When you are dealing with an “Irish” you have to leave your emotions on the curb and assess the Pros and Cons. Setting your emotions aside is sometimes difficult to do but absolutely necessary to objectively deal with the poor performance. And doing nothing is not an option.
So here is how we assess Irish:
We pay attention to what is REALLY going on; this keeps us from being distracted by miss-direction and allows us to apply the appropriate response.
We give immediate, clear, behavioral feedback; this way things don’t escalate and the trouble maker knows exactly why they are in trouble.
We keep notes, document behavior; in our optimism that things are going to turn around we sometimes lose track of just how bad things really are. Having on-going documentation keeps us focused and is a huge benefit if the process ends in termination.
We set consequences and let them be known; even horses learn non-negotiables and come to expect our response when they act out. This includes positive consequences for good behavior.
We are consistent in our expectation; and hold our horses to that standard. Like good parenting, consistency is critical to succeed in managing behavior. Remember the WHOLE TEAM is watching how you treat unacceptable behavior and will ACT accordingly.
Finally, We are steadfast in our final decision; it is never easy to say good-bye to a “good” horse but sometimes, the negatives are insurmountable and for the good of the herd we have to let a horse go. And while this is difficult, the pain is short lived and the relief is almost always immediate. You will know you made the right decision by the feedback (verbal and non-verbal) you receive from your staff.
Irish is still with us for now and as long as he continues to respond favorably to our routine, he will be treated as one of the herd. And while we have high expectations for Irish, we will not let his behavior keep us from achieving our goals with the other horses.
If you have an “Irish” on your staff, start by differentiating the annoyances from the real trouble. Having an effective performance appraisal process like Performance++ will help. Having the ability to easily make notations to an employee file and to set goals tied to mid-year performance evaluations is key to managing UP the Irish’s on your team.
If your club is suffering from an Irish on your staff or you would like help with other staff issues including low engagement, high turnover or simply want to raise the service culture bar write or call me and let’s talk about it.
Spring at Paisano means the emergence of green grass and introducing new horses into the heard. We have two (now one) mares in foal and the excitement of these new babies is really building. With the addition of these two new babies and possibly a new project horse, we are also mindful of introducing them to the heard.
We approach this introduction with care and for good reason. If you know horses, you know they establish a very structured pecking order for feeding and playing. The Boss Mare, Faith, rules the roost and no one challenges the boss. Generally that means the remaining horses vie for position until a fairly stable order emerges.
However, introduce a new horse into the heard and its Katy-Bar-The-Door as the heard jostles for dominant position (all except the boss). Sometimes to the peril of one or all of the horses. This is a rough and tumble process and good horses can suffer injury.
To reduce the risk of injury and to acclimate the new horse, we have a process, call it an orientation that we use every time. This reduces the friction in the heard, and hopefully acclimate the new horse without injury. Orientation gives the established horses an opportunity to show off on the other side of the fence and for the new horse, time learn the culture of the place. In essence, to figure out who is who without suffering a bite or kick to drive home a point. Orientation is not an option!
And so it goes with our new additions in clubs. Haven’t we all been guilty of “turning out” a new employee without the benefit of a structured orientation process with less than optimal results? When we do this to a new hire, we relegate the culture training, the stuff that has the greatest potential to raise the bar, to the big mouth on the floor. And then we put on our track shoes to try and get back in front of the process through write-ups and re-training. Wouldn’t it make sense to start out ahead and stay ahead?
Just like the process we use to introduce a new horse into the heard, our club on-boarding should be structured and intentional. It starts with stated goals and a well-designed process to ensure achieving the desired outcomes. The benefits are too many to list but here are three you can count on:
You can improve the service culture of your club dramatically in one hiring cycle just by starting your colts off properly from day one!
There is a reason, successful service companies like Disney, Starbucks and Google have Raving Fans for customers. They front load their success quotient by starting EVERY new employee off the same way -with a well thought out on-boarding process designed to deliver their culture message their way. The do not leave this to chance and their success is underscored in their performance!
At Paisano Performance Partners we are passionate about proper on-boarding because we know it works. But we understand the challenges clubs face with limited time and resources, not to mention inconsistencies in the number of new hires we are dealing with at any time. The solution must deliver the message efficiently and it must be scalable. And with Millennials, it must be personalized, visually engaging and current. This would be a tall order for most clubs without the benefit of appropriate resources.
Follow this link to see a demo of our Team Builder Orientation programs. Our orientations deliver your message utilizing a multimedia presentation and a personalized workbook with follow on training. And it works!
If your club is suffering from low engagement, high turnover or simply want to raise the service culture bar write or call me and let’s talk about it.
If you are like me, you see the year as a circle ending and beginning on December 31/January 1. And each year at this time, my horse sense is to take stock of the herd to see what we have and where they might take us in the coming year. In years past, with a full barn and limited tools in my tool shed, this process occupied most of my down time in December and January. And, in all honesty, our tools, check-box evaluation forms and limited training resources, made assessing needs and producing real change in our “herd”, incredibly challenging and time consuming. With this experience ingrained, the seed was planted to develop tools for clubs to change the dynamic and turn this exercise into a process that produced real results – Paisano Performance Partners or PPP.
And speaking of taking stock, is anyone besides me in awe of the potential but keenly aware of the challenges presented by this next generation of “stars” coming into the workforce? The task of attracting and developing these folks into the club environment has never been bigger. But the crux of the issue is this, the old way of doing things is not going to cut it with Millennials. Their expectations and visual upbringing will require new tools and a different kind of coaching to produce results.
These new Ponies are a well-educated bunch, many with a knot in their tail, so we hope we can offer you some tools to add to your tool shed. Thankfully, vision and technology converge to allow us to offer incredible, cloud-based resources for managing this new staff to be bigger and better than ever! Cloud-based so that our tools are available 24/7/365, wherever they happen to be AND to take advantage of technology to deliver the message in a language they understand.
If your year has come full circle and it’s time to take stock of your herd, I hope this edition of Horse Sense – our quarterly newsletter offering tools and tips from industry experts, can plant some seeds for future success. Now the question is, what kind of ground are we trying to sew these seeds in? You’ll have to be the judge of that.
As a convenience I am also including links to all of our resources with an invitation to explore at your leisure and call us if we can help you pursue your goals this year.