August 2017

SportsTurf provides current, practical and technical content on issues relevant to sports turf managers, including facilities managers. Most readers are athletic field managers from the professional level through parks and recreation, universities.

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Page 19 of 51

www.spor 20 // August 2017 Advice on being successful in your first turf job YOU'VE JUST GRADUATED and landed a great job with great opportunities in front of you. Be aware that you "don't know what you don't know." An important communi- cation skill is the ability to listen. You will meet great people in this green industry that have many, many years of experience and have seen and done it all. You can learn a lot from these folks if you listen and ask good questions. Information is not the same thing as knowledge, because not ev- erything you need to know is on Google. Also, share what you know and help oth- ers. The late Stan Zontek, an USGA Green Section staffer, would always say that this green industry is a "people business." Stan is absolutely right! — Mike Fidanza, PhD, Dept. of Plant Sci- ence, Penn State FOR THE YOUNG PEOPLE just getting an introductory-level position, there are a couple things that stand out to me as im- portant fi rst steps. One is understanding the new mindset you must have in regards to the overall operation of where you are working. You are no longer a seasonal or intern punching a clock, this is now your career. You must remain aware of what is going on at your fi eld or complex even when you are not there and how your job responsibilities are directly tied into others', even in different departments. This is also a red fl ag for those of us in this business be- cause you also must guard against the job consuming your entire existence. It takes a few years of experience to learn the balance (if you ever do!) but it is something to be aware of from the start. Another common mistake is trying too hard to show how much you know. I personally look for effort and the ability to learn. I don't look for turf graduates in their fi rst job to display a vast knowledge of the business or to have been exposed to the var- ious "real world" problems that cannot be manufactured in a classroom. Show me in- stead how well you can learn, be coachable, and eventually work independently. I tell all my interns, "You are going to make mis- takes" and that is ok. That is what intern- ships are for. So don't stress yourself out by trying to show me you are a genius. Show me you have good listening skills, an ability to adapt and willingness to give 100 per- cent. This mindset translates to the fi rst full time position as well. — Patrick Coakley, CSFM, Ripken Baseball MY FIRST SPORTS TURF JOB out of college was at Virginia Tech. I think com- munication plays the biggest role in being successful at your job, be it your fi rst or any job. Communicate well with your employ- ees, supervisors, coaches and athletic direc- tors. A lot of the time mis-communication or not communicating at all leads to personnel issues, with supervisors or coaches getting upset because you mis-communicated with them; that was the biggest thing for me at Tech. I started going to the coaches and talking with them, asking them what they might need, or sharing what I was going to do to the fi elds. You can never tell someone too much information. The better they un- derstand what's happening, the better work- ing relationship you will have with everyone. Another thing is to treat your employees the way you want to be treated. Give them advance notice if there is overtime work coming, not 24 hours or less but a week or more. Listen to their needs or wants. Ev- eryone has issues, be it family or work, and if an employee is struggling, pull them aside and have a one on one talk, and mostly listen. You want respect, which you gain by treating them the way you want to be treated. Thank them for the work they do and take them to STMA or local chapter seminars. Give them ownership in the fi elds they work on. You will be surprised the out- put you can receive from an employee. Don't "micromanage!" That is the worst. Give your employees some rope, let them make decisions about things, and let them take that rope and just be there so they don't hang themselves with it. If they start doing something you know is wrong or could damage the fi eld, start a conversa- tion with them, asking why would you do something that way and listen to the expla- nation, and talk to them and tell them or show them what could happen if they do it that way. Don't be just a boss; be a leader, a listener, and communicator, and a friend when you need to be! The one thing I wish I had done dif- ferently is being patient. I wish I had been more patient with my supervisor and my co-workers. That is the one thing I am doing now. — Jason Bowers, CSFM, Glenstone Foun- dation TODAY AND HOPEFULLY well into the future I still maintain contact with many of the individuals I worked with at my fi rst job. I feel it is important to establish good relationships both personally and profes- sionally. That way when you are no longer working together you can still call and get advice or meet at the bar or get your kids down onto the fi eld after a game. I think it's imperative to be open- minded and present yourself in a receiving manner no matter your level of expertise. It is important to be receptive and try to get along with everyone. Once relationships and work ethics are established, you can begin to provide more input and ideas. I TELL ALL MY INTERNS, "YOU ARE GOING TO MAKE MISTAKES" AND THAT IS OK. SO DON'T STRESS YOURSELF OUT BY TRYING TO SHOW ME YOU ARE A GENIUS.

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