How do you react when the unplanned happens? Can you keep a lid on your anger when things don’t go the way you want them to? We asked the esteemed members of our Editorial Advisory board: “How do you stay calm during adverse situations at your facility? As a leader, why is it important to keep a level head when things go bad?” Here’s what they had to say:
It’s old, corny and cliché, but I was told by my first general manager in Minor League Baseball that one of the biggest things you can do is “never let them see you sweat.” I always remembered that every time we had a problem. Also, it’s crucial to keep a level head, move on and keep climbing the mountain. Whether it was in the presence of my crew before a game, in a weather situation with umpires or even dealing with administration/front office staff and players, I always tried to keep a level head. During adverse times, your behavior dictates the mood of everyone else around you. Maybe it’s a busted hydraulic hose on the Fourth of July. Maybe it’s a busted sprinkler head that ran all night before a huge crowd. How about an inexperienced crew member causing $2,500 worth of damage to your most important piece of equipment? No matter what, make the best of the situation — repair, replace, fix and move on.
Sales, Carolinas/Georgia, Southern Athletic Fields
Experience is the best ally I have for dealing with problems. You tend to learn that there’s always a way and it’s never as bad as it seems in the heat of the moment. But until you gather that experience, proper planning is the best way to go. Plan for the worst and hope for the best. It’s not sufficient to have a Plan B — you need a Plan C, D, E and maybe even F. Go through “what-if” scenarios so you don’t have to wonder what you’ll do if it rains, if someone is sick, etc. You’ll have a general plan in place for any contingency. This eventually builds confidence in you and your team, knowing you can deal with any situation. Understand that panic and emotion don’t help. Teach yourself how to put the emotion away and think rationally and clearly.
PATRICK COAKLEY, CSFM
Sports turf superintendent, Ripken Stadium (Aberdeen, Maryland)
The easiest way to remain calm and collected during times of trouble is through planning . My years of experience in professional baseball have put me in nearly any set of circumstances that could arise. Along those lines, we often plan for what we want to happen. The key is to have a plan in place for when that initial plan is forced to change. If everyone on the staff already knows the backup plan, or even a secondary backup plan for any given situation, it keeps everything going smoothly and allows people to go directly into those changes without the need for spur-of-the-moment descriptions or explanations.
Head groundskeeper, Huntington Park (Columbus, Ohio)
I try to stay positive. Employees and other staff members are always watching my actions, behavior and reactions when dealing with adversity. During the most difficult of times, I try to maintain a positive attitude and manage a narrative that helps keep my staff relaxed and positive, too. Having many years of leadership experience has helped me figure out that the best way to set a good example is by staying strong, smiling and showing a sense of calmness. As leaders, we set the tone for our organization. A positive attitude can neutralize chaos and allow us to fight through any negativity. I’ve learned that when you begin to fear adversity, you not only put yourself in a position of vulnerability, but it becomes extremely difficult to act rationally and objectively. By maintaining a positive attitude, it helps me remain calm, cool and in control.
BRIAN WINKA, CSFM
Parks supervisor for the city of Chesterfield, Missouri & president of the Gateway Chapter of the STMA
Having the ability to think and communicate clearly during adversity is a tremendous attribute to possess. We’ve all been a part of tough situations, when it becomes a must to think on your feet in order to have success. Something that helps me to think clearly during adverse situations is considering different scenarios that could play out and putting a plan in place to handle them. This carries much importance as a leader, as everyone draws their cues from you. Whether or not you have all the right answers becomes a little less important if your demeanor is such that it enhances everyone else’s performance around you.
Superintendent, Camelback Ranch (Phoenix, Arizona)