A Code of Ethics – The Gap Part 3

Frank Newberry

In Part 1 of this series, Pitchcare Trainer and Motivational Speaker Frank Newberry expressed his concerns about the gap between the minority of turfcare professionals who are fulfilling their career potential, and the vast majority who are not working to their full capacity. In part two, Frank explained how to do some simple diagnostics that could close the gap. In this third and final part, Frank looks at a code of ethics that can help us close the gap by getting our attitude and disposition at work on the right track

Codes of Conduct

Many organisations have a Code of Conduct to help their employees to understand what is expected of them. In turfcare, this can cover such things as golf etiquette, so that people playing a round of golf, for example, are not distracted by greenkeepers working nearby.

The Institute of Groundsmanship apparently makes it a condition of membership that groundsmen adhere to a code of conduct that includes not discriminating against anyone and not attempting to do work that they are not qualified to perform. Some employers even mention in job vacancy advertisements that the successful applicant will be expected to abide by the IOG Code of Conduct for groundsmen.

Codes of Ethics

Fewer organisations seem to have a Code of Ethics, but greenkeepers have had a Code of Practice and a Code of Ethics for many years. You can check out the code of ethics in the May 1997 Greenkeeper International magazine. The article can be accessed by following this link: http://archive.lib.msu.edu/tic/bigga/gki/article/1997may33.pdf

Reading through the code, I could not help but notice that adherence to it can really help close the gap between the 10% of turfcare professionals who are at the top of their profession and the 90% who are not working to their full capacity.

I like the way that both the Greenkeeping Code of Ethics and the Groundsman Code of Practice effectively commit greenkeepers and groundsmen to not only develop their own skills and abilities, but to encourage others in the profession to do the same.

Promote and maintain the highest professional standards

This might be their staff - if they are supervisors (Head Groundsmen and Head Greenkeepers) - or their colleagues at other levels in the team. Whether trainees or assistants the expectation is that, once groundsmen and greenkeepers have joined their association, they will actively 'promote and maintain the highest professional standards of service and conduct among the members of the profession'. They will also 'seek to use every opportunity to broaden their professional expertise for both personal development and the good of the profession'.

Inspired by a positive atmosphere

Hopefully, we can now look forward to turfcare supervisors doing good diagnostics and identifying their staff's training needs.

Now, what else can we do to raise the standards in greenkeeping and groundsmanship? Pitchcare and the associations are all totally committed to advancing the turfcare profession through Continuing Professional Development (CPD).

My personal view on CPD is straightforward - it should be compulsory. My wife is a lawyer and, if she does not do her sixteen hours of CPD each year, she will lose her licence and have to leave the profession or work at a lower (less well paid) level.

Because she does do her sixteen hours per year, she is bang up-to-date with precedent and practice. CPD in the legal field is actually advancing the profession. If CPD can do that for the legal profession - why not the turfcare profession?

Relaxed 'action centred' method of learning

I have enjoyed a free hand in the past eight years on the design and delivery of events for the turfcare industry.

Whether I am working with groups at Harrogate Week, or with turfcare teams in golf clubs, schools or local councils, they all seem to welcome a relaxed and informal approach where they have time to settle and time to talk. I used to think that groundsmen and greenkeepers hung onto every word I said, but I was wrong. The feedback from their peers has always had much more impact.

The other main aspect of training that turfcare people remember is what they experience in the 'games' we play. These learning exercises make them laugh a lot, but the activities also bring out their leadership and communication skills. Again, the peer feedback they get after the 'game' has a greater impact than anything I may say.

We must continue to offer the very successful and enjoyable informal approach of learning. I believe that, as an industry, we are well placed to keep this type of learning available.

I have just celebrated twenty-five years working in the turfcare profession and I hope to be permitted to run events for groundsmen and greenkeepers for another twenty-five years. I sincerely hope that these events will always be based on the three P's of learning - participation, practice and peer feedback.

If you need help right now to decide which training and development activity is best for you and your team, a good place to start could be to contact Chris Johnson, Pitchcare's Training Co-ordinator at chris@pitchcare.com. She can tell you which training programmes will help you.