July 2, 2019

Gil Russell: Build a Culture of Empowerment

Gil Russell, the Vice President of the PGA Nebraska Section, is the PGA General Manager at Norfolk Country Club, in Norfolk, Nebraska.

Gil Russell on the importance of building a culture of empowerment:
Service has always been a vital part of my managerial goals. Successfully achieving such an endeavor takes effective training and teamwork across your facility, as well as staff commitment to that mission and service philosophy. Empowering staff to take care of members is an important aspect of the success of our business. At Norfolk Country Club, we have built from scratch a service-first employee mentality, and have experienced many positive results in a short period of time, as we strive for complete success across all departments. Ensuring all facility units are on the same page and working toward one goal makes us stronger. At our 2018 Annual Meeting, I addressed our membership about “The Energy Bus” and how we control the destination of our “Bus”. Through continued positivity and leading by example, we extended this concept to our staff and continue to reinforce the notion that they have the opportunity to steer our “Bus” in the right direction. Our organization is successful because we work as a team and build each other up – no individual can do it alone. I ensure staff is rewarded when deserved, praised for a job well done, and challenged every day, so they get better, ultimately making us a stronger organization. There are bumps and bruises in the process of course, but adopting this positive outlook is contagious; the more we share this philosophy across our team, the more it will become second nature. I have found that empowering our staff to correct mistakes allows us to resolve issues that would otherwise turn into big problems. This unifying culture is changing the way we do business.

Gil Russell on the business impact of building a culture of empowerment:
When you empower staff to take care of the customer without fear of failure, you create confidence in them. That reassurance will have a long-term impact because it becomes infectious and grows throughout the organization. Through staff-empowerment, continued positivity, and a streamlined communication process that combines golf shop, clubhouse, and grounds updates and information in one convenient newsletter, we have changed the culture at Norfolk Country Club. Emulating many of the training and service philosophies from large corporations like Ritz-Carlton, we have built a staff that is here to serve the members and their guests, leading to a happy and satisfied clientele, as well as a team of employees with common goals and a unified work ethic.


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