The benefits of a mentorship program for staff

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Jack Dillon shares his five suggestions on mentorship

As you wrap up the story of 2020 at your property, how will you label the attachment? It certainly has been the distressing year for people everywhere, while for golf and golf properties, a year of unexpected achievement and may I even say “joy.”  From June forward, rounds, ranges, and product sales were all on fire, with people looking for a way to be away from the news, the blues, and everything Covid related. Golf has been a victor in this year where losing has been the theme of the day, on most days. As you begin to close the books on this extraordinary year of challenge, it is also time to look out into the future to see how you and your managers will build a better experience for your members, your guests, and your team.

The year 2021 feels like it will be a year of mystery, surprise, and angst as we are working to put the virus in the rear view mirror, welcome a new administration, and figure out who will be coming back to play the game once again. At the same time, it will be important to retool the team, create a consistent program for all who expect to serve the members, and guests. Although I have not visited many properties in 2020, I have spoken to enough property leaders to understand some of the grand challenges of this year. In every conversation, the one area that rarely received time and attention was training. Life was a daily fire drill, so who had time for training! As you move toward the new year, I have a suggestion for you and your management team. Why not create a mentorship program for staff that can help new staffers gain hold of their role faster, as well as help keep the rest of your team working towards to same goals, the same set of standards. Here are my highfives concerning mentorship:

  1. Assign every new hire a mentor. This mentor can be a staff member or manager who understands the role and has the patience to help. Be purposeful with each assignment
  2. Create a mentorship plan. Write out a series of objectives for the program. Have one Mentorship Program leader assigned to be certain that the staff member/mentee matches are working
  3. Set goals for week one, the first 30 and then first 60 days. With these windows, all will know how the relationships are working, how the program is working
  4. You should have a short weekly meeting of all mentors to hear the stories. At the same time, you should visit individually with each mentee to check progress & listen to the other side
  5. The mentor program is not only for new staff. Look to expand the program where you see the need, based on department objectives. It comes down to people serving people well.

Before any of this is set up however, I urge you to review the hiring practices of the property. In order to develop a team of extra-ordinary performers, you must hire people from the top of the pile. Once you have a group of willing, talented candidates, you are on your way. A mentorship program is a way to help the staff member feel more comfortable faster, have a go-to person when those dozens of little questions enters their head, and provides that all important kind word, and pat on the back for jobs well done. Observing work, especially small wins of a new team member during the first day, week, and month is essential in building a culture where people feel safe & comfortable in their role. Give everyone the vision for the property in the year 2021, and let us all hope that the vaccine works, and that golfers continue to social distance, at your property. Thank you.


Jack Dillon writes the highfives series. This is the 10 year anniversary for this post. Jack is a merchant, a speaker, author, communications expert. Jack can help in operations, service standards, training, and improving the golf shop. Reach out to Jack for a better 2021 at 407-973-6136 or at Jack lives in Orlando.


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