Challenge of the Week: Become a Chief Grounds Officer (CGO)
Chief Grounds Officer: The CGO
The Chief Grounds Officer? Yes, I made that up. It doesn’t exist. But in a little bit I’ll challenge you to act like it does.
Your institution may have a Chief Executive Officer (CEO), a Chief Financial Officer (CFO), or a Chief Operating Officer (COO) at the senior management level. These titles are fairly common, while others such as Chief Technology Officer, Chief Diversity Officer, and Chief Innovation Officer are used in specific sectors. Some game development companies have a Chief Gaming Officer- a different kind of CGO.
All of these high-level management titles have a few things in common; a broad scope of oversight, a high degree of accountability from shareholders or governing board, and the need to think and act strategically. They direct the daily workings of the organization toward specific goals, within a specific mission and vision.
And you should be thinking the exact same way. You need to be thinking broadly, creating a vision for whatever it is you have control over, setting goals inline with that vision, and then directing work towards achieving those goals. You need to be communicating that vision to both those who report to you and to those who you report to. Develop a strategy and work strategically.
Why Work Strategically?
You probably already do. You mow the grass because you have a strategy that it doesn’t get too high. You plant annuals at the front entrance because there is a strategy to make a good first impression. You sign timecards because your organization has a strategy to pay employees. Most of your actions are already defined by a strategy. What strategy is that? Who made it? Does it align with organizational strategy?
Your mission is where you want to go. Your vision is a picture of how you want to get there. A strategy is a framework to make decisions that will get you from where you are to where you want to go. Wouldn’t you rather set your own destination and make your own informed decisions about how to get there? If you can, you infuse purpose and meaning into each day’s work. You develop patience as you work towards long-term goals. You can rally your team to work together towards a common objective. And you can explain to others (including those you report to) exactly why you are doing what you are doing and how it will get you to where you want to be.
Is This Part of My Job?
I don’t even know your job description and I can say without a doubt, “Yes! You should be thinking strategically”.
First, you should have a grasp of the specific mission, vision, and goals of your department and organization are no matter what position you hold in an organizational chart. If you don’t know, ask. Now you can begin to align your actions and your area of control around that strategy. If you operate a mower, that strategy can influence how you run your route, how you treat your equipment, where you place your clippings, how close you get to pedestrians, how you engage guests, what you do with litter, etc. If you run a crew, your strategy will impact how you communicate and relate to your team, how you plan activities, how you evaluate work quality, etc. Think strategically and you will engage in more meaningful and rewarding work.
The CGO Challenge
Every Monday for the next many weeks, we will be exploring specific ways you can act like a CGO. We will start by exploring how to craft a Strategic Plan, including mission and vision statements, core values, and strategic goals. We will then discuss how to communicate this Strategic Plan to others and get buy-in within your team and the rest of the organization.
We will also explore specific tools to help you achieve those goals; budgeting tools, a staffing level matrix, master plans, fleet management and evaluation tools, construction specs, and others. Along the way I hope you suggest other tools and strategies that can help everyone at The Campus Green move from acting like a manager to thinking like an executive – like a Chief Grounds Officer.
Challenge of the Week
So, in preparation for the CGO Challenge ahead, your challenge this week is to gather as many organizational or departmental strategic statements as possible that might influence your own strategic plan. These could be institutional or departmental mission and vision statements, strategic goals, master plans, white papers, letters from the board or directors, etc. Ask those you report to what is relevant and what you should be considering when working through them. Allow your boss to speak into the process now and help guide your thinking. Work within the system, not against it (even if you need to influence change, you need to work within the structure given you).
Take a look at what you’ve gathered and be prepared to begin developing a Strategic Plan next Monday.