Club Managers - General Planning
When we look at the various tasks that are necessary for the routine operation of a bridge club, we see a laundry list of administrative steps. It is therefore easy to view that list as the definition of the duties and responsibilities of a Club Manager.
Actually those administrative tasks are not managerial in nature. A manager must also deal with the big-picture issues. Let’s look at some of those areas, so that the really important managerial functions can be fully supported.
The establishment of goals and direction for the club.
Measurement of progress toward meeting those goals.
Adequate funding to meet tomorrows’ needs.
Coordination of the club goals with the Director’s behavior.
Development of directors and bridge teachers.
Development of management successors.
Let's take a look at how we can move from the concept level to an action plan.
We need to routinely assess our roster of players to see what our overall mix of experience, achievement and growth progress has been.
We need to review the recent game results and see what portion of our active players are non-life masters. While a LM designation is not always a meaningful measurement of proficiency, the mix of LM’s to non-LM’s is one of the measures that assess club growth.
New players are the life blood of any club. Review your club roster and highlight those players who began playing at your club in the past year. How did they come to join your club? Are they new in town? New to Duplicate? Returning players? You might want to get together with them away from the game site and find out how they like the club and if anything should be done to stimulate growth in membership.
At the very least, this will help to make our newer players feel good and create a sense of ‘ownership’ toward the club (i.e., so that they feel empowered to contribute).
The role of manager is special in that it involves setting goals and objectives for the organization. While it is nice to have formal goals and objectives, many times we feel that achieving the desired outcome is beyond our control. Rather than just throwing in the towel, we should look deeper and see what components are truly within our grasp.
Keeping track of year-over-year table counts is a good way to assess membership growth. Doing this on a quarterly basis gives us a very good view of whether our club is growing or shrinking. It is easy to see that if a club is shrinking by half a table a year, that in a few years the club will cease to exist.
Understanding our source of new players is only one factor in managing a club. If we are complacent, we might dismiss club growth as being beyond our control. In that case, new players might show up or they might not.
We know that the number of bridge players is growing. For the ACBL, the average age is 67 and the average number of years of membership is 19. That points to an aging population group. However the growth of bridge is occurring in two age groups; those ages 55 to 62 and those ages 19 to 25.
For the 55 to 62 age band, these players typically played bridge when they were younger and are returning to the game.
The younger group is of course new to bridge and they typically play online.
The older group likes a ‘welcoming committee’ and is seeking friendship in their bridge play. They may be competitive or not, but they do fear embarrassment, so be very sensitive to that during their first games at your club.
The younger group is more competitive and is eager to try new conventions. They seek a mentor; either as a playing partner or as someone who encourages them onward. Embarrassment is less of an issue with the younger players.
If we view the role of the Club Manager as a facilitator of the events, then we may not be meeting the needs of our newer player. The Club Manager must recognize that integrating the newer players into the club means meeting the news of those newer players. While the CM does not have to personally handle these issues, the continued growth of the club requires that the CM ensure that the ‘hot buttons’ of newer players are satisfied.
Where do these players come from? The returning players will seek out a game. The younger players need to be attracted. You can identify them by asking the ACBL for a list of players who have earned Online Master Points in your area. These people are already ACBL members, they play bridge online and they need to be invited to attend your game.
Developing Directors and Bridge Teachers
Encourage players to become certified directors and accredited teachers.
Developing Management Team Members
Have a governing board. Meet regularly. Assign tasks to the members of the board.
Have a finance committee and a membership committee.
The more that players are aware of the managerial activities, the easier it will be to transition to successor Club Managers, Treasurers. etc.
If you are not sure where to begin, try to succeed at being a failure. Here is how to fail:
Don't encourage newer players to:
Join the ACBL
Learn new Conventions or Systems
Don't publish a club calendar - keep everyone in the dark
Don't do an income/expense projection.
Don't participate in any District events.
Don't support Junior Bridge.
Pretend that reporting bridge results to the local newspaper is "advertising".
So how many of the failure steps is your club already doing?
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