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.