On April 26th I posted a blog on The Proper Role of General Managers in Private Clubs and asked for feedback from other club managers. The following response came from Rob Duckett, General Manager of The Mountaintop Lake and Golf Club in Cashiers, NC.
“Below is a list for what I focus on and believe to be the most important roles of the General Manager:
- The General Manager fosters the Culture and overall Vision of the Club. Every effort and every decision that is made by the General Manager will aid in the execution of the Club’s Culture and Vision.
- The General Manager is responsible for defining the Culture and Vision so that they can be easily communicated to others to ensure that they can foster them as well. The General Manager is constantly looking for anything that might detract from the Club’s Culture and seize opportunities to add to the Culture so that the Vision can be realized.
- From an organizational standpoint the General Manager should provide leadership by acting as a business partner for each department head, running each department as its own business within the whole of the club.
- Together the General Manager and the Department Head will create a Vision for the department, establish goals, short term and long term, and create and regularly update Standards of Operation that act as an agreed upon system for successful operation of the department. Once the General Manager and Department Head are in agreement on the Vision and Standards of Operation, the General Manager will assist the Department Head with Leadership, execution of the standards, staff training and accountability to a degree dependent upon the experience and level of expertise of the Department Head. Acting as Mentor and Coach, the General Manager is responsible for maximizing the development and professional growth of the Club’s management staff.
- The General Manager is also responsible for establishing systems of accountability for financial and service performance. (These systems are most effective with the input of staff involved). For Example: Department Heads use a checkbook system to assist in tracking expenditures for their department which is monitored by the General Manager to help them stay within budget.
- Each time a problem arises, we evaluate the systems that support the operation to determine if a system needs to be altered or a new system needs to be created to eliminate the problem in the future.
- The General Manager is a steward of the facilities, ensuring all is maintained up to standard and there is a continuous search to improve the facility to support operations.
- A good General Manager is responsible for the Club’s public persona, how the club is viewed as an employer, community partner and goodwill ambassador. It is important whenever someone ‘touches’ the club or its staff that the experience is a positive one. This awareness will pay dividends in areas of member attraction, business relationships, employee recruitment etc.
- The General Manager role is one of communicator. As the Club’s #1 ambassador, the General Manager sells the Vision, Culture and Standards to all who will listen. This especially includes members and staff, as well as business partners and folks in the community. The General Manager is the one person who ties everything together and is the most knowledgeable in all things associated with the Club. The better the communicator the General Manager happens to be, the more confidence the Board, members and staff will have in the General Manager as their leader.
- As the Club’s business manager, the General Manager ensures the Club is in compliance with all regulatory agencies and holds the proper licenses to operate the business.
“There are many duties the General Manager must perform and you have outlined most of them. I believe most General Managers do understand what their role should be, but I feel they have trouble overcoming all the issues that will allow them to be most effective. Roadblocks in the form of uncooperative board members, ‘Sacred Cow’ employees and financial restraints keep them from being successful. I see many managers who just don’t know how to overcome these challenges. I personally feel these challenges are what make what we do fun and challenging.
“Many General Managers do focus on putting out the fires and from time to time we all do, but if the General Manager is focused on the principles you outline there will be less frequent fires to put out.”
Thanks, Rob, for your input and insights. Anybody else have any thoughts on the matter?
This weekly blog comments on and discusses the club industry and its challenges. From time to time, we will feature guest bloggers — those managers and industry experts who have something of interest to say to all of us. We also welcome feedback and comment upon the blog, hoping that it will become a useful sounding board for what’s on the minds of hardworking club managers throughout the country and around the world.
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