GSI Executive Search Blog

Five Ways to Position Talent as Your Private Club’s Engine of Success

According to recent research from the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), more than a third of today’s employers are experiencing a decrease in applicant quality, as well as a widening skills gap across the board. In its findings, SHRM also found that, while demand is high for talented leaders, more than two-thirds of companies (68 percent, to be exact) find it difficult to recruit candidates for full time positions. Private clubs are no different in this regard.

Without a talented and dedicated staff firmly in place, your private club will struggle to provide the club experience that your membership expects and deserves. I’ve been fortunate to lead human resource organizations for more than 30 years. Through varied and rewarding career experiences in this field, I’ve learned many important lessons about attracting and retaining strong human capital in  organizations. I believe five lessons in particular can help your private club in this most critical area:

  1. Encourage creative thinking. Success begins by empowering private club leaders – be they General Managers, COOs, CFOs, Directors of Food and Beverage, Directors of Golf and Tennis and others – to be creative, think outside the box and communicate their ideas constructively and freely. In many respects, the world is a different place than it was just a few short years ago. People’s lifestyles have evolved, priorities have shifted, and outside forces have compelled clubs to think and act differently in order to serve diverse and evolving member needs. Your leaders are smart, experienced and on the front lines of service every day; encourage them to devise creative solutions to pressing needs.
  2. Empower execution on ideas. Creative thinking is only as valuable as the actions that emanate from it. In this regard, private club leaders must also be empowered to implement ideas and create change opportunities that lead to exceptional member experiences. We at GSI Executive Search hear too many stories about stagnation at today’s private clubs. This invariably leads to membership decreases and reduced profit margins. The time to take action is now—not next week, next month or next year.
  3. Train and teach. Your private club’s board and executive leadership should provide thorough and ongoing training – and especially teaching – for employees and staff at every level of the club. And they themselves should also undergo training to help them thrive in their respective roles. Private clubs are built on a foundation of service—and service is built on training. Yet, for service delivery to meet and exceed the expectations of members, guests and visitors alike, you must teach your staff—and enable them to become teachers as well. Doing so boosts employee engagement, builds essential skills and ultimately works to make yours a club of choice in your community.
  4. Build powerful teams. While individual acts of kindness and service, however small, can mean a world of difference in delivering extraordinary member experiences, teamwork in a private club environment really is key to streamlining operations, building a strong, nurturing culture among the employee ranks and providing a consistent level of service in all areas of the club. We recommend that private club boards and executive leaders seek out best practice advice and counsel that can help them develop and deploy team-building initiatives for strategic and essential club functions.
  5. Keep competitive human capital assets updated. Finally, your club demands top leadership, so you must have the necessary human capital management assets and infrastructure in place to retain them over time. That includes many responsibilities, and chief among them is staying current on compensation and benefits. Without a competitive compensation and benefit package, it is difficult to attract the best job candidates, much less retain top talent that currently works in your club. Compensation must be updated yearly and benefit packages should be updated at least every three years.

As part of the Ethos Club & Leisure Alliance, GSI is uniquely positioned to help clubs like yours address each of these five priorities. Our core specialty – executive search – has earned us respect and repeat business from private clubs across the country which rely on our Search Consultants as true partners and trusted advisors. Additionally, we provide extensive private club training programs for executives, staff and boards that can help spur creative thinking and tactical execution and build teams of high-performing individuals. And finally, working together with Alliance companies Ethos Club & Leisure and Addison Law, we now offer single-source access to top operational consulting, human capital management and legal advisory services that otherwise would only be available through separate engagements. It’s a fully integrated approach to optimizing club operations at every level, and one that we believe offers unprecedented value.

In the end, private clubs are all about people. When the people you hire to serve your club’s valued members are engaged, well-trained, made to feel part of something larger than just a job and incentivized to stay on over the long haul, you have the essential ingredients for private club success, today and tomorrow.

Jay Salem brings over 40 years of senior management experience to GSI Executive Search. Currently, he serves a dual role as Chief Operating Officer of GSI Executive Search, as well as Principal and Director of the Human Capital Practice for its parent company, Ethos Club & Leisure LLC. In this capacity he provides HR administration and compliance services to the private club and real estate development community. You can reach Jay by email or at 972-341-8143.

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