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Understanding Club Culture: Zapped – By Gregg Patterson

POSTED ON November 15, 2021 @ 2:04 pm

gregg patterssonThe President speaks.  “We’re going in a different direction——–and it’s time for a change.”

And with that the manager is ZAPPED, given their walking papers, paid off and pushed out.

The Fall.  Brutal.  Wrenching.  Painful.  Ego-destroying.  The Big Ugh.  And the G.M. is left asking—WHY ME, WHY NOW???

You’ve heard the screams from the One-Who-Got-ZAPPED.  “It ain’t FAIR!!! Is this my reward for balancing the budget, renovating the golf course and refurbishing the dining room!”  Grizzle.  Choke.  “What an ungrateful group of know nothing pruneheads!”  Rage and riot!

And The-Manager-Who-Got-ZAPPED will seek answers that’ll balm the wounds, heal the soul and affirm their victimhood.  “The new President didn’t like me.” “The Board don’t know nothin’ about nothin’.”    “That worthless-bartender-who-everyone-loves poisoned the waters and laughed as I left.”

No G.M. wants to be ambushed by the Board and told that “it’s time to go”.  Managers need to anticipate the behaviors and attitudes that’ll get ‘em sacked, avoid the potholes, prepare their defense and prime their psyches.

Reading the Signals

Even long-time G.M.’s who are delivering The Numbers get told by the-powers-that-be that it’s time for a change.  So why would a board want to disrupt the apple cart, toss out a winner and go rooting around in the “unknown” for a Newbie replacement?  Why indeed?

You ask—Was the G.M. blind to the signals?  Were they indifferent to the vibes?  Didn’t they suspect that The ZAP was coming before The ZAP got delivered?

They should have noticed that something had changed.  In the culture?  In governance? In themselves?  In “the alignment” between manager and staff, or manager and board or manager and members?   The signals were there—but they were blind to the messaging. Here are a few of the less-obvious potholes The ZAPPED should have seen.

Forgot that “Love ain’t enough”: Was the G.M. lulled into believing that “the warm embrace” would compensate for their operational shortcomings?

Lost The Buzz:  Did Manager X lose their enthusiasm for the business?  Did too many good years make the daily routine a “ho hum” experience?

Stopped Pursuing the Next New Thing:  Did Manager X lose their curiosity for uncovering the new “stuff” emerging from the Cutting Edge of clubdom?  Did “what is” become “good enough” for The-One-Who-Got-ZAPPED?

Became a No Mamma:  Did Manager X begin saying NO more than YES to new ideas from the staff, the committees and the board? Did they amplify the negatives and downplay the positives?  Did they become more No Mamma than Yes Mamma?

Too Aligned with the Old Politics:  Did the new generation of club leadership resent Manager X’s open and obvious alignment with The Old Politics and The Ancient Regime?  Did they resent the G.M.’s open and obvious condescension toward the New Generation and their vision of The Good?

Lost the Inspirational Edge: Did Manager X lose the “divine spark” that all leaders need to get things bubbling, to get the sedentary moving and to make the comfortable itchy?  Did they lose his ability to inspire the club and its people to The Next Plateau of Performance?

Lost Focus:  Did the manager forgot that operational  performance needs focus, that operational focus is diluted by “peripheral interests” and that members resent a manager’s pursuit of “other enthusiasms” when operational performance begins to slide?

Didn’t Communicate: Did the G.M. fail to communicate what the Board needed to know?  Did their silence or misinformation lose them the trust that they needed to make CLUB happen?

The Board Wanted to Drive the Bus:  Did the board and committees tire of having the manager tell them what should be done, who should do it, when it should it be done, and how much it should cost?  Did they resent the G.M. driving The Bus and reaping the glory?

The Board Wanted to Save the Bucks:  Did the board decide that they could replace Manager X with an enthusiastic upwardly mobile neophyte who would give them three good years and be gone, someone hungry, young and cheap?

The Lieutenants Were Enough:  Did the board decide that they didn’t need a “Major League Manager” because they had “Major League Lieutenants” who could lick boots, kick butt and do what they were told when told what to do directly by the board and its committees?  Maybe they felt that they didn’t need a high priced intermediary to muck up their message?

Too Much Moaning and Groaning:  Did Manager X become a whiner, always moaning and groaning about aberrant members, unproductive staff, club politics, the weather, the cost of college, and the state of the universe?  Did they become a negative, hard edged bore, a sucker of energy, a whiner who made the happy sad and the sad depressed?

Lost Their Protector Director:  Did Manager X lose their Board Room Defender, the director who was there to protect them against the accelerating downward spiral of negative comments and commentary?  Was there no-one left to sing the G.M.’s praises, list their virtues, recall their glory days and dramatize the good the G.M. was still capable of doing?

AND—-Became Blind to the Signals:  Did Manager X lose their ability to “read the signals”, hear “the unspoken” and do something about it?  Did the G.M. become blissfully self-absorbed and oblivious to the subtleties conveyed by the big sigh, the rolling eyes, the upturned eye brow?  Did they become all talk and “no listen?”

Who was at fault?  What could be done?

Time to look in the mirror, read the signals, go deep, ask WHY and do something about it.

Time for a Change

Members ponder these negatives every day and are evaluating the G.M.—at home over dinner, in the locker room with their buddies, on the seventeenth fairway and in the card room at 11:00 p.m.   Unchecked, these yammerings can turn negative and ugly, spiraling downward into cynicism and anger, out of control until all who are listening leave convinced that “it’s time for a change.”

If the wait list is long, the financials are good, the turnover is low, the dining room is booming, and the buzz is on—these manager “maybes” are interesting asides that should cause no-one alarm.  But if the opposite is true and the staff are grumbling, the members are leaving, the losses are mounting and the dining room is empty, these “maybes” can become a whirlwind of dissent and the grumbling will spread and the board will agree that “it’s time for a change.”

Listen for the whispers.  Read the signals.  Feel the fear.  Avoid The Fall by anticipating The Fall.

And enjoy the journey———————-

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