Knowing how to lead – and trusting managers to make the right call

By - Last modified: August 26, 2014 at 2:29 PM

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Bear Creek’s Robert Singer says one goal is to create a positive, fun, encouraging and empowered environment.
Bear Creek’s Robert Singer says one goal is to create a positive, fun, encouraging and empowered environment. - (Photo By Betty Cauler)

Creating a solid team that allows managers to work with staff for training and guidance will help everyone meets the company’s goals.

That’s part of the game plan for Bear Creek Mountain Resort & Conference Center in Macungie, said Robert Singer, director of its hospitality division.

“An effective manager knows how to lead and to bring a team member from where they are to where they want that team member to be,” Singer said.

Bear Creek is just one of the top entertainment companies in the Greater Lehigh Valley, based on 2013 revenue.

Another is Pocono Raceway in Long Pond, where president and CEO Brandon Igdalsky is staunchly against micromanaging.

“We hire and train our folks to think on their own and trust them to make the right calls,” he said.

At Skirmish USA in Jim Thorpe, staff is invested in the company’s offerings, such as those who enjoy the outdoors and love playing paintball on-site.

“The best quality that any coach can have is the ability to know when to listen to and when to instruct your team,” said Sky Fogal, Skirmish chief financial officer.

BEAR CREEK MOUNTAIN RESORT & CONFERENCE CENTER

ROBERT SINGER, DIRECTOR, HOSPITALITY DIVISION

MACUNGIE

• What is your team philosophy?

The foundation of Bear Creek is its team members. Our team philosophy is built on our core values of teamwork, visionary leadership, empowerment, integrity and organizational and personal Learning.

We understand that the heart of everything we do, the key to efficient operations and the core of delivering guest satisfaction is our team members.

Each member of the team is expected to understand that no one player is bigger than the team, yet know that every team member has a profound impact on the success of our company.

• What are the keys to being a great coach?

The key to being a great coach is to be a coach. What I mean is that some managers focus on just being a good manager … trying to manage their team. An effective manager knows how to lead and to bring a team member from where they are to where they want that team member to be, which also results in a more engaged and productive team member.

We educate our managers to instruct, train and guide their teams to accomplish the goals of the team, as well as improving their individual professional goals. This includes being aware of how the team is doing: being timely, providing one-one-one attention, giving immediate, specific feedback – and then giving personal and public attention and recognition for achievement.

This approach ultimately creates a positive, fun, encouraging and empowered environment.

• How do you encourage team members through tough times?

During tough times, I encourage team members by having open, two-way communication. During these discussions, we talk about the problems, road blocks, performance gaps and weaknesses of the current situation.

Then as a team, or one-on-one, we work through solutions, strategic efforts and improvements that will assist with addressing the “tough time” and removing the road blocks and problems. We develop an action plan and then take action, where we can.

• What do you look for in hiring team members?

I basically look for someone whose beliefs, work ethic, past work experience, personality, skills, etc. are similarly aligned with our culture.

In essence, I look for the things that are either difficult or actually not possible to train.

• How do you define success for your team?

Success for our team is continuously improving. We may not always “wow” every guest or always meet the deadlines, but as long as we are learning from our mistakes and taking action to eliminate and prevent those same mistakes in the future, then that is success.

We understand that we are not perfect, but if we are continuously trying to reach perfection, then that is success.

SKIRMISH USA

SKY FOGAL, CHIEF FINANCIAL OFFICER

JIM THORPE

• What is your team philosophy?

Our team philosophy is to make sure that every guest has the best possible experience. If we can do that, everything else will fall into place.

• What are the keys to being a great coach?

The best quality that any coach can have is the ability to know when to listen to and when to instruct your team.

• How do you encourage team members through tough times?

In this industry when the team needs a good pick-me-up, we do what brought all of us together in the first place. We play paintball.

I’m a firm believer that there is no greater stress relief on this planet then a few rounds of paintball. I try to play once a month at least and encourage our staff to do the same, as it really does recharge your capacity for empathy and excitement for the guests.

• What do you look for in hiring team members?

A love of the outdoors and a very social person are what we look for in all of our staff.

Because we deal with the public every day, it’s very important that our judges and other team members can carry a conversation, and because 99 percent of the time, we are out in the woods with our guests.

A general love of nature and all things outdoors is truly important to being a happy and successful team member.

• How do you define success for your team?

Customer feedback is how we determine the success of our team members. We gather this feedback by making sure that every group knows that if they had a problem or something that they really liked that we want to hear about it whether it’s on Twitter, Facebook, Yelp, email or even a comment card.

We collect and read these things constantly and use the guests’ feedback to score how we are doing as a company. We also collect and analyze team member comments on the same platforms, or in informal meetings.

POCONO RACEWAY

BRANDON IGDALSKY, PRESIDENT AND CEO

LONG POND

• What is your team philosophy?

We are in the sports and entertainment business and through that a commitment for fun for our guests. If our team is not having fun, then the guest’s experience will lack.

As a family owned business, we treat all of our team members as family, which trickles down to the guest experiences as well.

• What are the keys to being a great coach?

Do not micromanage. We hire and train our folks to think on their own and trust them to make the right calls. Major changes to the system are obviously worked through a process with management to make sure that they will work or not.

There is no fear if a new idea fails because at least we tried something new and we can learn from that experience. In addition, that failure will make the system better through learning and growing.

• How do you encourage team members through tough times?

Our team members are like family and [we] treat them as such. When someone is struggling, we rally around them and show support in numbers.

We have a great team that will step up and help others out when needed, even without being asked.

• What do you look for in hiring team members?

Enthusiastic, fun people with a commitment to hard work and growth. Someone that wants to see success from their work, and the results are satisfying. People that are willing to take a chance on a crazy idea and think outside the box.

• How do you define success for your team?

The look on the first-time fan’s face and the look on the fan that has been coming here for 30 years should be the same. The excitement that one feels should be equal to the others.

And also packed grandstands and [an] infield full of campers.

 

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