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Idea Fair

DAC Excellence Team (DET)

How has this idea enhanced your club's operation, etc.?

Over the course of the past two years a unique group of 12 emerging managers and long-time department leaders came together to form a team devoted to enhancing and reinforcing the DAC’s staff culture and its focus on service excellence to club members. The group began with an intense 2-day workshop led by an outside consultant who helped the members understand how best to function as a working team. The group then worked to develop a name, a mission, pick its leaders (a facilitator, a team leader, etc) and a focus for both maintaining and improving the staff’s focus on quality services while enhancing all employee’s understanding of what was expected of them. Ultimately, DET set up a series of long-term goals (over a two-year cycle) to do two things: 1) get “it” in them and 2) keep “it” in them. The “it” in both cases means the DAC’s culture, core values, personality and dedication to award-winning service at all levels, making sure departments know what is expected, how to do their jobs and get and maintain the resources they need. Meeting on a monthly basis (often times more), and utilizing smaller groups from DET, as well as the strength of individual departments that could help implement ideas, DET ultimately achieved more than was ever envisioned as originally conceived by the DAC’s executive manager who first set up the parameters and direction for what he wanted the group to do and accomplish.

How was this idea implemented, and what have been the club members' reactions?

The beauty of DET is that is evolved from the group of leaders with a wide range of professional experience and was thus more grass roots than if it was just directed from top down from the executive manager. While the EM selected the individuals to come together at the beginning, and acted as the team’s “sponsor” he then allowed the group complete freedom to decide what they wanted to do and how they were going to go about doing it. What makes DET unique is that the group develops ideas, works with all the DAC’s various departments and acts as liaisons and mentors to other managers. DET ideas are vetted and then presented to the executive manager for potential buy-in. Some of the accomplishments for the group include: reinventing the employee newsletter, developing quarterly all-staff celebrations, helping all departments to refine and update operational manual already in existence, hosting a series of cultural workshop to train over 400 employees on what it means “to be” the DAC. These 90-minute workshops, utilizing interactive exercises as well as lecture form, were developed from an extensive new employee “brand” guide, or handbook, called “Everything Is: Being the Detroit Athletic Club.” This book used employee ideas and images of the staff to help explain complex ideas and systems for achieving and maintaining the highest standards of excellence, while also being very approachable and easy to follow through a unique identity and look (and writing) quite different than a more traditional employee handbook. DET continues the function and most of its original members are still on the team; new members have been added and new goals are developed on an annual basis.

About the author

Charles Johnson

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