Monday, May 3, 2010

Basic Training

The last few weeks, we've been training employees on new jobs, machines and responsibilities nearly every day.  There is a ladder to climb in most turf maintenance departments and for us, the bottom rung starts with filling divots and raking bunkers.  Other minor tasks include weedeating, tree work (without chainsaws), bunker edges, and so on.  When these tasks are mastered you are ready to move up.

The second round includes walk mowing on the greens and collars.  The cleanup pass around the green tends to be the most difficult part for a new operator.  A common problem is shrinking greens as the mower cuts slightly inside the collar bringing the edges of the green closer to the center by a fraction of an inch.  The staff here goes the opposite direction, (I love the aggressive attitude) widening the greens slightly each time they mow.  We periodically dot the greens with paint to get the collar back to the original position.

Once an employee can efficiently handle a tour of walking mowing greens, he/she can get off their feet and on to a riding unit.  In a perfect world, every employee would be able to perform every job we have.  Organizing the daily or weekly schedule becomes much simpler when multiple options are available. 

Today, for example, we are deep tining fairways, spraying for fairy ring in the fairways, putting in a drainage trench on #2, aerifying the remaining tees and approaches, slit seeding #13 tee, and starting the landscape installation at the snack shack.  Since we are constantly introducing the staff to new machines and cultural practices, the white board filled out very quickly this morning. 

New training assignments include Manuel on course setup, Dante on the fairways, Sal is spraying more often, Marvin on the roller, Arnold is learning some irrigation, and Teddy has been the understudy in the shop, helping out our Equipment Manager, Gary.  

Most of the above mentioned jobs were requested by the people learning them.  How can you say no to a guy that asks to learn setup almost every day?  A strong desire to learn says a lot about a person.  Either they want to broaden their horizons or they're really getting tired of bunker edges.