Transitions are crucial because the majority of what occurs at a club continues beyond the term of one board member…

Smooth Transitions

The Nominating Committee is one of the most important committees at the club. Tasked with identifying and selecting members to be nominated for board elections, the committee chooses members with the qualities and traits needed in board members today and in the future. Kurt Kuebler of the executive search firm Kopplin, Kuebler and Wallace, recommends clubs have Nominating Committees who employ well thought out plans to actively cultivate and carefully select qualified members to serve on the board of directors. “I like to remind people that just because someone volunteers to serve on the board, does not mean he or she is qualified for service. All too often these kinds of volunteers have personal agendas and do not exhibit the qualities of an ideal board candidate,” Kuebler explained.

Some club Nominating Committees are appointed one to three months prior to the club’s annual meeting. Committee members search through the membership roster for good candidates and make their recommendations. The committee is dissolved once the election has been completed. John Kinner of the consulting firm Private Club Governance believes a committee this important should operate year-round, collaborating with the board to support and promote the understanding and application of sound governance principles and practices in current and future board members. “What if the Nominating Committee provided opportunities for all members to learn how their club’s governance system operates and what board members’ roles are within it?” Kinner asked. He thinks it would strengthen the club’s governance overall and ensure smoother transitions between boards.

According to Kuebler, some clubs have restructured the Nominating Committee and even changed the name to the Leadership Development Committee to engage the group on a year-round basis. The intent is for this committee to identify future leaders and create a process that any potential future committee or board member must go through before being considered for election or appointment. This committee outlines how the club does business, lists expectations of conduct and the priorities that one should have in order to be considered.

Ensuring a smooth transition of board members starts with the nominating process. “Transitions are crucial because the majority of what occurs at a club continues beyond the term of one board member,” Kuebler said. “More clubs need to define the hand-off process and how the transition should work, rather than operate with a stop and restart mentality. Transitioning between board members is essential to the long-term health and well-being of the club.”

Kuebler and Kinner are strong advocates for holding mandatory orientation and ongoing education for all board members to ensure roles and responsibilities are extremely clear. Providing ongoing education to board members increases the likelihood of an informed and effective board where members roll on and off seamlessly. “Smooth transitions start with the Nominating Committee and play a significant role in the overall success of the club,” concluded Kuebler.

Confident Authority

For anyone who has worked in the club industry it’s no surprise that some members believe they are experts in certain areas of the club. Although a few committee or board members may think they are experts, the department head or senior staff member should usually be the authority on topics in each respective department. According to Kurt Kuebler of the executive search firm Kopplin, Kuebler and Wallace, the golf pro should be the expert on golf operations and the superintendent the authority on the grounds and so on, but always seeking input, vision and guidance from committee members.

“Department heads must be set up for success and have the education and confidence to lead their department,” he said. “Part of leading that department is working closely with the committee chairperson to actively lead that committee. Step into the role of the expert, even if you feel intimidated or nervous.”

Kuebler urges GMs/COOs to educate, prepare and build the confidence of department heads to effectively fill the expert role, especially during committee meetings when certain members may display their opinions and act as authorities on a specific subject. “Seek resources and ask for help but do not allow a committee member to outweigh your expertise,” he advised.

The Private Club Advisor – November 2020
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