Sat, March 02, 2024

Mondays with Rick: Nine Days of Top-Notch Workforce Development

As you are learning from this special weekly newsletter, economic development is critically important to Augusta and the CSRA, as it is to most cities and regions. As I noted in my initial column for this newsletter, the state of Georgia and this area have been particularly successful in attracting new and existing businesses in recent years. While there have been many reasons for this success, I have learned from Cal Wray, our outstanding President of the Augusta Economic Development Authority (AEDA), that as we move forward, the number one determinant for attracting business to a city/area will be workforce availability and development.

Because many cities and areas, particularly in the Southeast, are able to offer similar affordability, climate, taxes, and less “red tape,” workforce is often the “difference maker.” Also, companies are aware that no matter how affordable their initial investment may be, sustainable success is only possible if you can hire the workforce to enable your operations. The good news for Augusta and the CSRA is that we have a “secret weapon” every year that enables us to better prepare our workforce.

I was fortunate enough to spend three days on the grounds of Augusta National Golf Club (AGNC) during the past week. I was able to see some of the approximately six thousand workers hired only for a nine-day period, pull off one of the premier sporting and entertainment events in the world. While some of these workers have worked the tournament previously, many of them were working it for the first time. Despite the fact that many of the workers are inexperienced and all of them are only working at the Masters for nine days per year, they do extremely well at their jobs, with patrons of the tournament and associated events raving about their experience. Let me hypothesize why I think they do well in their jobs and why their Masters experience is an outstanding workforce development program for Augusta and CSRA.

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ANGC Core Values: Augusta National Golf Club’s core values are: continuous improvement, unparalleled service, attention to detail, teamwork, respecting tradition, and doing what is right. I think every businessperson would acknowledge that those values are ones we would like to see embraced by all of our staff, managers, and associates. Continuous improvement is needed in every business as if we do not improve, we will eventually get passed. A mindset of always doing better is key. Unparalleled service should be a goal of all businesses, particularly those in the service sector. The other values are also critically important, especially teamwork, which is required in all businesses for success and doing what is right, which is often in short supply in today’s society. The temporary workforce for the Masters and its associated events clearly embraces these values and carries them with them as they move on to their future work and careers.

Examples of Permanent Staff: While I find it remarkable that these transient workers embrace these core values so quickly, it is less surprising when you observe how permanent ANGC staff role model these core values. I am fortunate enough to know a number of full-time ANGC employees, including some who are in very senior management positions. To a person, they all live the core values listed above. When the tournament workers see how those around them “walk the walk,” not just “talk the talk,” they find it easier to embrace the values that makes the Masters as successful as it is and carry those values to future work.

Culture/Work Environment: While the tournament employees work long hours and work very hard, they mostly seem to be very satisfied with their work. I went to the Indeed website to examine the reviews the workers give their jobs. Most see that despite the long hours, they found the time rewarding due to the encouraging environment and skill sets they developed. It is clear that even though the job can be difficult at times, the culture is a supportive one. Those who have experienced a supportive culture/work environment, tend to bring that culture with them.

Soft Skill Development: As a business school educator for approximately twenty-five years, I have found that our biggest challenge has always been developing our students’ soft skills, such as oral communication, teamwork, collaboration, problem-solving, leadership, and resilience. It is clear from observing these workers and reading Indeed reviews that working Masters week develops these skills in them.

What do most businesses want or need in their workers, whether they be managers or associates? They certainly want them to embody the core values of Augusta National, particularly continuous improvement, unparalleled service, teamwork, and doing what is right. They certainly covet the soft skills such as oral communication, collaboration, problem-solving, and resilience that are developed during their time working at Augusta National.

Therefore, working at Augusta National during Masters Week is an outstanding workforce development program preparing six thousand people for future careers in Augusta and the CSRA. So, hopefully, those “Red Carpet” visitors Dana McIntyre wrote about Masters Week were paying attention to the worker, knowing this is a great place to locate their business because of its outstanding workforce and that workforce enables this area to continue to win future economic development competitions.

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