Editor’s note: This article was originally published in the June 2008 issue of SportsField Management

No matter how busy you are, summer is a great time to catch up on what is new in sports field management:

  • Many universities and some companies have summer field days to show off the latest research. Associations have summer meetings and tours. Make sure that you know what is going on in your area and take part.
  • There are a number of things that you should be able to accomplish at these events. As with any opportunity to get together with peers, there is the networking. Meet new people and renew old friendships. Visit with as many people as you can to learn what they are doing. Listen as much as possible to what others are doing, but don’t be afraid to share your experiences if asked.
  • View all the test plots and ask pertinent questions. Look for things that you might want to try at your facility. Keep in mind that no matter what the trials show, you will want to do your own tests on promising techniques or products. Talk with others about their experiences. Be open to new ideas, but be discerning.
  • When visiting other facilities as part of an association event, look around as much as possible to pick up ideas. Ask questions of the facility personnel. Don’t just talk to the manager. If possible, visit with the staff and get their input. If they express concerns about certain techniques or products, try to find out why. If you see a problem that you have found a solution to, talk to the manager privately, in a helpful way that isn’t going to make him look bad.
  • Pay attention when someone is talking to the group. Don’t hold side conversations that cause you to miss something and possibly prevent others from hearing. Make sure that your cell phone is silenced. If you feel you must take a call, move yourself as far from the group as possible and speak at a volume that only the person on the other end is going to hear.
  • Involve as much of your staff as possible in these events. Determine which events are going to provide the most to each individual and make plans to get them there. If something is scheduled that doesn’t fit your needs, take a second look to see if it might help certain members of your staff. Remember that the better your staff performs, the easier your job is going to be.
  • When you send any staff members to a class or event, ask them what they got out of it. This helps them feel that their learning and input is important. You might also pick up some unexpected insights that you hadn’t thought of. You will also know if they paid attention or just viewed the occasion as time off.
  • When you attend any of these functions, make sure that you report back to your immediate supervisor, even if they don’t request a report. This allows you to let them know you appreciate the opportunities provided. You also may be able to give them information that justifies your attendance and get them on board for trying new things or securing new equipment.