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Whistles and Pom-Poms

What is a parking manager’s greatest resource? You guessed it: the workers. The trick for managers is molding frontline workers and office staff into a productive, well oiled, customer service machine. So how exactly is that done? Retaining good employees and weeding out bad seeds can be a never-ending task, but beyond that, how do you turn a staff into a team? I believe it takes a two pronged approach that I call “Whistles and Pom-poms.”

Now, don’t worry. I’m not suggesting that you turn your next staff meeting into some sort of pep rally. But I do believe managers should be able to assume the roles of both coach and cheerleader. The sports world recognizes that both roles are needed to build a good team and it’s time that we in management realize the same thing.

The role of a coach (the whistle) comes into play when we lay out the game plan. A good manager should make sure that team members are clear about what their responsibilities are and that they are trained and equipped to handle them. The coach also promotes accountability, getting team members back on track when they do not carry out their responsibilities.

The role of cheerleader (the pom-poms) has more to do with the morale and focus of the team, but is just as important as the role of coach. A cheerleader praises success and even anticipates it. A good cheerleader does not wait until the first touchdown is made to break out the pom-poms. A good cheerleader supports the team, the team’s goal and, most importantly, consistently verbalizes support.

Where do you stand as a manager? Are you more coach than cheerleader? Or have you mastered both roles equally? Let us know in the comments below. And when you grab your keys and coffee tomorrow morning and head off to work, don’t forget your whistle and pom-poms!

About Frank L. Giles

Frank L. Giles is senior project manager at Lanier Parking Solutions and serves on the IPI Advisory Council, Conference Program Committee, and Safety/Security Committee.


  1. Zandra Carmichael says:

    Mr. Giles- Thanks for your article “Whistles and Pom-poms”. I enjoyed it and was hungry for more!
    As the Training supervisor of our team, I equip the employees to get on the ‘playing field’ of the operation.
    My boss often calls me the ‘cheerleader’ at our workplace. Even with the right equipment and training the players (employees) will sometimes ‘fumble’ and grow weary of the repetition of the job.
    It is important to pull out the “pom-poms’ to pump up the team to move from position; push “harder and go higher” to be successful and win the game!
    Thanks again- love to see more of your artices!

  2. Wanda Brown says:

    You are so right with your approach. I am just wondering what more will we need to know as the next generation of parking professionals (now in their 30′s) will need motivation. I am certain this is a different breed of workers who require motivation as never before. Their work ethics are different and they are not the workaholics we are. They enjoy the time with their families and that comes before work. When I paid a great deal of money to have a babysitter for my children, I am discovering that they are the babysitters and they enjoy being a part of the baby appointments with their wives, etc. I get it. This just lets me know that those of us who are a “tad bit older” must re-establish a new perspective about the new generation of workers. I am experiencing more of the role of mentor but it all falls into the categories that you’ve mentioned. If nothing else, your blog inspired me to “blow my whistle and shake my pom poms.

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