Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Millennials in a Solitary Position


Over the years a lot has been learned about the way Millennials work. Like every generation, there are very positive characteristics that shape Millennials, as well as some less desirable characteristics. For a generation that is accustomed to multitasking and always being engaged somewhere other than where they physically are, it can be very difficult for a Millennial to focus on one solitary task at a time without chatting with friends or using a phone. The constant need for connection makes Millennials adept for teamwork, but solitary tasks - such as being on duty on a lifeguard stand - can be challenging for such a social generation. Equally challenging is the task managers face on how to train staff to maintain focus during a solitary job such as lifeguarding.

Tina Kessler, a manager from the Bath & Racquet Club in Sarasota, FL, reported in SAI’s weekly Client Connection discussion that her method for helping employees stay on task while on duty is to not only do frequent walkabouts to evaluate employee performance, but to also engage employees about why they may not be performing to standard. The time Kessler spends with employees to determine what is hindering them from performing their best is valuable to Millennials. Instead of simply reminding her staff what to do while on duty, Kessler collaborates with her employees to figure out how to solve the problem.

As a generalization, Millennials like to be involved in finding creative solutions, and tend to dismiss prescribed methods of accomplishing goals. A way to motivate Millennials to change behavior is to incorporate them in the process of finding the best solution. For example, if an employee is having a hard time staying focused on scanning, and is often engaging in side conversation while on duty, instead of simply telling the employee that he needs to scan properly, try troubleshooting with the him to determine what would help him not be as distracted while on duty and establish any personalized methods to encourage him to stay focused.

Millennials are known to appreciate frequent feedback, but more important than the feedback is the collaboration on how to change the situation. Overall, managing Millennials tends to look more like working alongside them. This generation typically responds with a lot of enthusiasm and energy when they feel like they are part of the process, so the time it may take to adjust management styles to meet the need of Millennials will pay off.    

Monday, April 13, 2015

Fostering Manager Motivation and Engagement

The managerial staff at your facility sets the tone for the work environment that affects the entire staff. Even the most gifted managers can fall into complacency, negativity, or frustration. Here are some ideas collected from various aquatics facilities for fostering managerial growth and success:

Reiterate values. Don’t assume your managers have the same workplace values as you. If you want managers to be focused on the values you think are most important, remind them regularly. Make your values a mantra for your managers.

Give them a voice. People who become managers have an understanding of how things work, and most likely have ideas about how things could be done differently. Provide a forum for managers to freely express their ideas. Not every idea has to be taken, but giving managers the opportunity to contribute ideas is a certain way to keep them engaged. If it seems like some managers are hesitant to contribute ideas, one tactic used during meetings could be the round-robin approach that encourages everyone to speak during a meeting.  

Stay technologically relevant. Not every facility is going to have the resources to be completely up-to-date on technology, but it’s helpful to be as up-to-date as possible. For a generation who is accustomed to using technology wherever and whenever possible, it can make tasks that don’t use technology seem less important or unnecessarily time-consuming. Implementing tasks that seem out of date quickly lead to a lack of interest and motivation. If you’re unfamiliar with ways your systems could be improved with technology, as your staff for suggestions. Someone is likely to be eager to provide a technological upgrade.

Stay in the habit of learning from others. To help bridge generational gaps, and promote the value of everyone’s ideas, a facility director noted that she pairs off her staff by partnering someone of a younger generation with someone of an older generation. Depending on your facility, the gap in age among these pairs may be larger or smaller, but either way, this sort of pairing can foster mentorship and mutual respect among the generations. Managers and staff who better understand each other are more likely to work together effectively as a team.  

Be consistent. Consistency is key in everything. In this situation, having consistent communication is very valuable. Without consistent communication it is impossible to get a sense of your facility’s pulse and morale. Having consistent meetings is an effective way to determine the mood and perspective of managers.

Circle the wagon. A facility director reported that she sends nightly emails to communicate with staff. These emails could be used to not only provide a positive outlook for what is to come at your facility, but could also be used to debrief about anything that may have occurred. If written in the right tone, emails can be an excellent way of communicating information, goals, and values.

Keep in fresh. Redundancy breeds boredom and complacency. Keep your trainings fresh and as innovative as possible. Something as simple as using alternating locations for seasonal training can help keep perspectives fresh. Allow your managers some autonomy in determining how to keep things interesting.

If you have any additional ideas for keeping managers motivated and positive, please share your comments. Additionally, an interesting article about keeping employees engaged can be found here.  

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Defining Drowning

It's almost that time of year when we start to hear a lot about "dry drowning," "secondary drowning," "near drowning," and "delayed drowning." What do these terms actually mean? Are these terms accurate? SAI founder, Jill White, collaborated with the SAI Medical Directors, Dr. Justin Sempsrott and Dr. Seth C. Hawkins to articulate clear and accurate terminology for drowning. Here is the complete SAI Position Statement on the definition of drowning.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Tips For Seasonal Staffing

It can be difficult to find and retain quality employees, especially for seasonal positions. It can be even more difficult to keep a consistent level of employment when the majority of employees work around an academic calendar.  A recent discussion among program managers provided some good tips and strategies for attracting and hiring employees.

  • Use social media. Keep your Facebook page, Twitter account, and blog active and attractive.
  • Don’t underestimate local contacts. Hiring quality seasonal staff isn’t something that should be a priority only a few months a year. Instead, throughout the year time should be spent networking with local schools, workforce centers, and job placement agencies. It is very helpful to have a direct contact within agencies and schools who will promote your available positions and who will be able to refer quality applicants directly to you.
  • Use the training course as the first interview. The longer you spend with an employee candidate, the more you get to see his/her skills, and the easier it is to know if the candidate has the maturity and fit you are looking for.
  • Ensure your wages are competitive. You get what you pay for.
  • Provide incentives to continue working through the season. Seasonal work can be extremely challenging at the end of the season. The staff pool tends to thin out and managers are left to fill in for the missing employees. Gift cards and bonuses are popular incentives to encourage employees to stay for the entire season.
  • Plant seeds through your workplace culture. Remember to encourage your staff and foster an enjoyable work environment. A positive work atmosphere is contagious and attracts positive employees.  
  • Think outside the box. Don't be afraid to hire someone outside the norm. A program manager noted that her facility has had great success with employing empty-nesters to teach swim lessons. These somewhat untraditional hires have been very reliable, enthusiastic, and flexible. Additionally, their schedules are not dependent on an academic schedule.
  • Document what works and what doesn’t. Seasonal staffing can be extremely hectic and it is easy to forget from one season to the next what worked and what didn't. Keep record of your strengths and weaknesses in hiring so that they can be modified and improved in seasons to come.