How to be a HR Star

Do you sometimes feel that all you do is deal with staff issues? Well, there’s good news for readers with a staffing responsibility. Putting in preventative systems can help you to achieve streamlined team management, freeing you up to make more effective use of your time explains CMAE’s Michael Braidwood.

Humans are individuals with their own aspirations, ideas and motivations. And while it’s important to encourage that zest for the business, it’s equally important to know how to manage it to the best effect – for the club, the management, the team and (as always) the members. So how can you ensure a smooth running operation? The following pointers will help.

Job descriptions

A job description can be as detailed or as simple as you choose to make it, but it really forms the backbone of the positions you manage and by having them in place it leaves nothing to doubt. They are easy to create and templates can be found online. They should, however, be tailor made and reviewed and updated every year. Start off by simply listing all the things you need your team members to do, then add in the standard stuff that you expect them to do (code of conduct, for example). When recruiting to fill these positions the job descriptions will help you identify the skills sets you are looking for and these can then be listed at the end of the description as requirements. Once you’ve developed the job description write a brief introduction / overview.

Recruitment search process

This is generally the area where most of us fall down. If you cut corners in your recruitment search process then you often make the wrong hire and that is when most of your staff problems begin. Be sure to give enough time to the process – however time-critical the appointment may seem. This will ensure that you don’t end up recruiting the most available person as opposed to the most suitable person.

There are a few simple steps to follow…

  • Understand the position you are trying to fill, create a job description and a job requirements list. From this point you can start to build up an ideal candidate profile of the type of person you are looking for.
  • Once you have your candidate profile you then need to think carefully as to where you might find such a person. There are options for seeking candidates and almost all of them come at a cost, however the investment might be worth it.
  • Run an advert in a trade publication to ensure you’re being read by those already in the club business; Clubhouse Europe is one such example of course!
  • Depending on your location and the level of entrant required, local press is an option (your readers will be in the area and will probably have a knowledge of your club already).
  • Engage a recruitment agency – particularly when recruiting a senior position.
  • Engage a specialist industry company or consultant– this can lead to a targeted/head-hunting thanks to their specific industry knowledge and network.
  • Consult specialist and or local colleges.
  • Use your own network to find suitable candidates.
  • And of course make use of the CMAE.
  • Whichever one you choose make sure your chosen option throws up a good choice of suitable candidates.
  • Have a method of screening applications. If you sense you’re going to get a lot of applicants you could create your own application form. In this way the candidate fills out in advance some answers to the key criteria you are looking for. This will save you going through their CV in great detail trying to find the salient information you’re looking for.
  • Prepare for the interview and have pre-prepared questions. Remember the interview is for you to hear about the candidate’s experience and what they are going to do for you, rather than you telling them about yourself and your facility.
  • At the end of the interview, always ask them if they have any questions; this is a good indicator of how well they’ve prepared for the interview and how genuinely interested they are in working for you. You can often measure the intent of the candidate by the types of questions they ask. Avoid recruiting ones who ask about how much time off they get!

Once you’ve made your decision, always seek references on your preferred candidate and follow up on their qualifications. Some interviewees are excellent at blagging it – both with their CV and at interviews.

Employee induction

The employee induction is a great tool to really inform your new recruit about the business and what is expected of them. The more detail you can put in the better.

It should be at a minimum one day and should include the following:

  • Vision, Mission, values of your organisation.
  • A history of your organisation.
  • An organisation structure (who’s who).
  • The purpose of the business.
  • The purpose of the various positions within the organisation.
  • Employee code of conduct or rules and regulations of the work place.
  • A comprehensive tour of the facility.
  • Some rudimentary training – H&S, Customer care, service standards and sales.
  • FAQ – “what do I do if …….”
  • Quiz.

Standard operating procedures

For staff to operate in an appropriate and consistent manner you need to have a core of standard operating procedures. The more the better, but at least start with the basic ones that your feel are important. Present them in a way that is simple to follow and which can be signed off as understood by your new recruit. This means that you always have a follow up with them if things don’t go to plan! Start with a few and then add more as time permits, soon you will have an operating manual for your business.

Code of conduct

By having a code of conduct in place, nothing is left to chance. Things which might seem obvious to you may not be to a new recruit which is why you need to S P E L L it out! This code of conduct needs to be included in your induction, but should also be refreshed in team meetings/internal training and also posted on employee notice boards. It should also be updated regularly with examples of contraventions – again a tool for clarification.


Make sure you have simple processes in place for the everyday things that can crop up. Some of these things will form standard operating procedures where as others such as holiday forms, sick leave forms, expenses claims and so on, all need a process. If you don’t have a process then staff will have to make them up for themselves and assume they are doing the right thing. Leave nothing to chance.


Appraisals are key to ongoing good employee performance and communication. Have the following in place:

  • A three-month review for all new recruits. This is the time when you can let them go without any recourse if they are not to your satisfaction.
  • Mid-season review – this could be a simple (but formal) discussion to chart progress on the year’s objectives.
  • Annual appraisal – this needs to be prepared for by both parties and gives you a great opportunity to review the previous year and set targets for the year ahead.

Employee feedback system

If you are to be viewed as a progressive employer and an employer of choice it’s a good idea to seek feedback from your staff. You’ll be surprised with the ideas and insights they’ll come forward with. The interview can be created online (Survey Monkey) and can be filled out anonymously. Focus on questions about how they feel they could improve as an employee and you as an employer. The answers should have the fields of strongly agree, agree, neither, disagree, strongly disagree for example:

Question – I feel I am fairly paid for the work I do.
Question – I feel management keep me informed of what is going on at the club.
Question – I am provided with the adequate tools / equipment to do my job effectively.

And so on. Each question should also have a comment box to allow the employee to elaborate further.

Training and development budget

This is usually the first budget line to be cut; and that’s if you’re lucky enough to have an organisation who has a training and development budget in the first place! Do recommend to your Board or committee that they set a policy of a set percentage of either turnover or payroll should be allocated to training and development. (A good argument for your case could be that in some countries the government actually collects a percentage of your payroll to go into a government training fund; it’s a tried and tested means.) If for example your business turns over £500,000 1 per cent of this gives £5K to work with. Once secured, develop a plan to use this fund to further enhance your organisation. Also check out from your local government what grants are available.

Other ideas to make your money go further or to ensure that it is well invested:

  • You could ask staff to contribute 50 per cent of the training costs. It shows how committed they are and the investment not only benefits the club but it makes them more desirable employees.
  • Have a “brain drain” policy in place where if an employee who has benefitted from training and development leaves within one year of the training taking place, they reimburse to the club a percentage of the training costs.
  • Work with suppliers to see if they can support some training through sponsorship / scholarships or actually deliver some training for you.

Once you get your training and development fund up and running I am sure you will develop many good ideas and initiatives to develop your staff into better employees who in turn will help grow your business. The old adage “take care of your people and your people will take care of your business” never rings truer.


MWR – Moral, Welfare and Recreation – is a term I picked up from the United States Military who have a whole department dedicated to MWR for their troops. It is a great concept and one that all businesses should advocate. MWR can come in many formats and again will need some budget, however most employees are happy to contribute to positive activity. Some ideas for MWR can be:

  • Staff golf day or staff golf outing (you can reciprocate with another club).
  • Staff golf lessons.
  • Discounted gym / sports club membership (you can reciprocate with a local gym/sport club); this also ensures your staff are taking care of themselves.
  • Staff BBQ – invite suppliers to contribute.

Article published in Clubhouse Europe issue 6