Profaizer: Busy Times Need More Communication
Linda Profaizer, a Colorado resident and immediate past-president of ARVC, can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org. Having stepped away from her association duties at the end of 2010, she welcomes input on topics of importance to campground owners for upcoming columns.
For many of you, this is your busiest time of the year. Hopefully, your parks are experiencing high occupancy and when you get busy, communicating with your staff can become neglected. Busy times are the very times that communication is most important to assure that you are meeting the expectations of your guests and that everyone is providing the best in customer service.
If you’ve been in the business for a few years, you can usually predict how your days go during the season. Of course, there is always variation in the day-to-day and often unexpected happenings, but for the most part though, you can anticipate events and communicate with your staff (even if the “staff” is only you and your spouse).
Here are a few tips on how to effectively communicate with your staff so that things don’t get missed and any issues get resolved in a timely manner.
Meet with your manager(s) at least weekly or even better, twice a week during busy times. When things occur to you that you want to talk about, it is important to write them down when you think about them. Make a list or record notes into your phone. If you don’t keep some notes as they occur to you, it is likely that you will forget something important when you do meet with members of your staff.
You know what you want and need to communicate to your staff, but a few general ideas would include:
- Everyone on your staff should know your priorities and expectations. It is important that everyone has the same focus. Those priorities can change depending on the activities at the park.
- Make sure your staff knows what to do and how to prepare for any type of emergency. For example, fires are a huge danger in the West with tinder-dry conditions and staff should be trained and reminded of evacuation procedures, safety precautions, enforcing fire restrictions with the campers.
- Review both positive and negative happenings since your last meeting. Talk to your staff about what they can expect in the coming weeks regarding activity at the park. If you have an upcoming special event, talk about what this means in terms of what, if any, additional work the staff will be facing and make sure your plans to handle the event are in place and understood by all of your staff members.
- Keep the staff advised about special events in the surrounding area that your guests might be interested in attending. If you are having a food event, for example, at your park that requires an additional fee, tell your staff to make sure that everyone coming in is aware of the event, the time of the event, what the fee is and what is being served.
- Your meetings are always time to recognize noteworthy achievements of your staff before their peers. Take the time to celebrate your successes. Maybe after a particularly busy week at your park, invite the staff to a cookout. I know one park owner who did this every Sunday night during their season. They had some very happy staffers.
It might not be possible to have two meetings a week with your staff (though I know several park owners/managers who hold brief meetings with staff prior to the start of each day), so if you have a place for posting employee news, you can put information there. As much as I hate texting, that could even be a communication avenue though not everyone on your staff will text or look at their texts in a timely manner.
Obviously there are times when communication can’t wait. If you see something going wrong, solve it on the spot. Learning is most effective and successful when it is offered at the time the staff person needs it. One of the best methods to use is one-on-one “just-in-time” coaching. Info Line, a publication of the American Society for Training & Development (ASTD), provided a great illustration of just-in-time coaching comparing it to a doctor visit designed to quickly diagnose and solve a minor health problem. They wrote: “While these as-needed visits also support longer-term health goals, they focus more strongly on addressing specific, current needs. Just-in-time coaching conversations are similarly quick and focused. The goal is to get a particular task or project on track for success and to improve performance.”
Whatever you do during your busy season, remember to communicate with your staff. No one is a mind reader. They don’t necessarily know when you aren’t happy with their performance or when they’ve done something great. If they haven’t worked at your park before, then keep them apprised of what they should expect. Also remember that communication is a two-way street, so take the time to listen as well. You’ll have a less stressful season and it will help you provide the experience your guests expect.