He was known simply as “Mr. Sam” and the business principles that Sam Walton enshrined at his chain of five-and-dime stores that became today’s retail giant were simple too. They’re known as the Ten Rules, and the company’s 2.2 million employees are expected to adhere to them in Walmart’s more than 10,000 stores in 24 countries on a daily basis.
Superintendents and club leaders can draw from those same principles, confident in the knowledge that while these are not ordinary times, the rules for delivering exemplary value and service are timeless. As you finalize plans for 2023, consider Mr. Sam’s advice:
Commit to your business. Believe in it more than anybody else, Mr. Sam always said. Annual agronomic and business plans give you the opportunity to restate your commitment. Now’s the time to update those plans to make sure new labor- and expense-management tactics are in place, as well as safeguards for unpredictable supply-chain challenges.
Share your profits with your associates. Money matters. But most employees put “being treated with respect” and “playing on a winning team” on equal footing with financial compensation. Generosity can take many forms, many of which carry a small price tag. Be generous and your associates will reciprocate in kind. “In turn, they will treat you as a partner, and together you will all perform beyond your wildest expectations,” Mr. Sam said.
Motivate your partners. Mr. Sam knew that motivating employees took more than money and even ownership. He advocated setting ambitious goals, encouraging competition and keeping score. Make sure your team knows what’s expected and how they’re performing. Let them see your dedication to a job well done.
Communicate everything you possibly can to your partners. Mr. Sam believed that “The more they know, the more they’ll understand. The more they understand, the more they’ll care. Once they care, there’s no stopping them.” Make sure everyone understands how their performance will be evaluated. Explain how the overall business of the club and facility is judged by your managers and owners — and how they fit into the bigger picture.
Appreciate everything your associates do for the business. Showing appreciation for accomplishments is a demonstration of leadership values. “Nothing else can quite substitute for a few well-chosen, well-timed, sincere words of praise,” Mr. Sam said, noting that they are “absolutely free — and worth a fortune.”
Celebrate success. Most hardworking people and organizations don’t take time to celebrate the accomplishments — large and small — that constitute a day. Mr. Sam believed in having fun and showing enthusiasm, which he said were “more important than you think.” Remember that recognizing birthdays and work anniversaries remind people that you care about them on a personal level.
Listen to everyone in your company. How often do you schedule listening sessions with your crew? How about one-on-one interviews? These are opportunities to uncover morale issues, suggestions for improved practices and to learn how team members are doing in their personal lives. Listening is a leader’s most valuable skill, and as Mr. Sam knew, it’s also the best way to get people talking.
Exceed your customers’ expectations. “Give them what they want — and a little more,” Mr. Sam said. Your customers and stakeholders have hopes and dreams of their own. Be sure you know what they are and then do everything in your power to meet and exceed them.
Control your expenses better than your competition. Mr. Sam knew that this was where true competitive advantage was found. Labor and petroleum-based supplies are at record highs. Updating your peer network to know what comparable clubs and courses are spending and what they consider priorities is also a smart tactic.
Swim upstream. Mr. Sam would not have become one of the world’s most successful business leaders if he had followed the crowd. Our teams should be encouraged to suggest new and unconventional ways of doing things. They get everyone thinking about what’s possible while empowering your teams to think in non-traditional and strategic ways.