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Good Teaching, Bad teaching, personalities and a stacked deck

post #1 of 37
Thread Starter 
I got in my first few days of skiing and teaching over Christmas week, and was getting depressed at the state of instructing at my ski area, so I thought I'd stop by here for some motivation, only to find a few threads (Phantom students being the most notable) to further my dismay.

I've watched my current ski school decay over the 12 years of it's existance into a poor excuse for a learning and work environment. We started of with 3 Examiners and 2 Division Clinic Leader (DCL) members on staff. As they left, one by one, the ski area promoted the next in line into that position without back filling any of the vacancies. We are now down to a ski school director who is a DCL, but has been unable to make Dev team for each of his attempts over the past 4 or 5 years. We have no Assistant Dir, and a very part-time Tech director who has yet to make any visible attempt to train the staff. We used to be damn proud of our ski and board school, but now, we have people going to PSIA events and examiners are making blanket statements like people from my ski area don't know how to make a proper wedge christie. I watched these people try to make a few. He was right. They don't. I also watched a snowboard instructor (FYI, I also teach boarding) teach some beginners with the old point-and-shoot method. I haven't used that in over 4 years, because it doesn't work very well. When I told this to the Snowboard Supervisor, he was astonished (he wouldn't be, if he taught his instrucotrs how to teach). I watch instructors scramble and look the other way when the line-up supervisor comes near them. I watch people I consider good friends, who have been teaching for a long time, bark out bizzare orders to students. One of our better trainers is probably going to quit this year, or not come back next year, and by a season pass because he "hates teaching the public" (his words). I also watched one of our best instructors quit on the spot and go over to take a job with skier safety because the ski school wouldn't give her daugher a day pass when the instructor showed up for her first day of work for the season. The head of skier safety handed her husband and thier 2 kids full season passes on the spot. I had to pay $75 for my new SS jacket this year (paid them in September), and I still don't have a jacket because they didn't order enough of the right size. Oh yeah... and our ski school "room" is still a double wide trailer that's now 11 years old, and has no room for any storage of equipment.

The deck is stacked against us as ski instructors. The pay is dismal, the benefits suck, the training steadily declines, and attitudes worsen.

So what's my motivation????? Sure, I like teaching. I happen to think it's fun. But I have a slipped (bulging actually) disk in my lower back. I told this to my line-up supervisor, who, after giving me a 2 hr lesson with a 12 year old (lots of fun and a quick learner), he neglects to tell the person behind the ski school desk about my back, and I end up with a 6 year old spineless jellyfish for an hour. You know.... the whiney, bratty kind, who expects you to live his life for him. And to make it even more interesting, his grandmother followed us around the whole time. I don't think I've ever been more rude in a lesson in my life. But I told the grandmother that I can NOT pick this kid up, because I refuse to destroy my back for a spoiled 6 year old. She was very understanding (thank God).

So what should I do? I'd love to be the Assistant Dir or Tech dir at my ski area and fix the problems, but that's not going to happen, because I have a mortgage to pay. I could move out west, but again, how do you afford a roof and a car at $15-$25/hr for 400-500 hrs a year? I'm thinking of not teaching again next year. Maybe I'll join skier safety or buy a $150 family season pass. I can still keep my PSIA membership and attend the events that I like. Maybe I'll make a career out of teaching my daughter to ski.

Any words of encouragement (from either side)?
post #2 of 37
Hang in and keep your chin up! There is alot of it out there! Schools are so cyclical and it will have a rebirth over time. I empathize, I am watching a school I directed for 12 seasons self destruct from a distance....don't take it personally!
post #3 of 37
Wow John--your post makes me cringe--in recognition and desperation. See my related rant here.

Again, I ask the skiers among the Barking Bears--those who would love to take a lesson if they could be assured that it would be a rewarding, valuable experience--for help. It is you, with your wallets and credit cards, who have the power to make things better. There are MANY talented ski teachers out there, some working, many who have moved on, and many who wouldn't even consider "wasting" their talents in a career that compensates so dismally. But as John points out, because the resort executives seem to think that it is THEMSELVES who are entitled to reap the benefits of your hard-earned money, there is is little incentive left for good instructors to teach skiing. As I mentioned in the other thread (see link above, and reported on the front page of the Summit Daily News), Vail CEO Adam Aaron this season instituted a company-wide wage freeze for all resort employees (Vail, Beaver Creek, Keystone, Breckenridge). Not even a cost of living increase! But not before he accepted a four-and-a-half million-dollar bonus for himself (stocks and stock options). Vail reported a record season last year, and still, Vail stock prices have dropped to new lows! Yet he and other industry "leaders" continue to whine about the sad state of the industry, continue to blame their own ski schools for the lack of excitement among skiers and the lack of repeat business, continue to cut back on services and amenities, continue to pocket your money while devaluing your experience.... Tell them they must EARN your money!

I know that you ARE speaking with your wallets. You (unfortunately, the "you" I am speaking of is probably not reading this) are speaking by not going skiing, and by not taking lessons. But the industry icons must have thousand-dollar-bills stuffed in their ears, and stock certificates covering their eyes, so you must speak even more loudly!

OK, I'll take a deep breath and go out and make a few turns now....

JohnH--it's good to hear from you, even if I'm sorry to hear what you're saying. Keep at it!

Happy New Year! Maybe things will improve....

Best regards,
Bob Barnes
post #4 of 37
John H

I know how you feel, but since you know what was, and were part of it, you can resurrect it, not an identical model, but a similar one for the people of today.

People are hungry for good training. Even when they seem to resist. They need some leaders. One cannot do it alone, but where one will go, others will follow. It will take some time.

Over the last couple of seasons I got reinvolved with a ski school I used to work for. The training had become non-existent. The new directors are knowledgeable and skilled people, but still there was no clear vision for people to follow, no clear mission.

I wrote a vision statement and action plan over the summer, sent it in to the management and procured a position as Training Coordinator, overseeing Alpine, Snowboard and Telemark Training. It is a hard line to tow, but it is working. With constant attention to the vision, changes are happening. People are very responsive to good direction. Even the resistant ones come around when they see other staff members realize succesful growth and change.

Sometimes I look around and see our product as abysmal. But then I look at what it has been and understand that it can't change all-at-once. The place in which I was trained and taught for the first decade of my ski- teaching-life was a tight, effective program with a high degree of commitment from it's staff members. That commitment didn't come easy, it was diligently developed and maintained by the director, assistant, and training directors.

The deck was stacked against them. We couldn't make ends meet. We were low paid. But the benefits of learning and growth were so evident, the program roped in and trained a large number of people over a period of years. The parameters of involvement were clear, and people found ways to be there. Lots of people didn't stay around, but our leaders had a vision, toed the line and strove to reach that vision with the resources at hand and it was a beautiful thing. Our ski school was actually a target on the professional development ladder for many people. More than one went on to the National Team

I didn't know then, as a youngster, how hard it was. The constant, unabating work it was for the leaders. The attention it took to draw the lines, ride the herd and lay down the law for those who wandered. It seemed so easy, just like a student watching an instructor ski. Without someone with the vision and commitments to do that work, it just won't happen.

It truly is a labor of love. And it is extremely exciting to see the inklings of a teaching and training powerhouse snowsports program developing, even if it is in the first babysteps of life.

So take your dissatisfaction with the situation, consider the instructors at your school as "newbie" students, and Teach them what it is to be snowsports professionals. remember how rudimentary it is that we begin with new skiers. And remember that we do have a path we lead them along in their development. Make one for your instructors.

<FONT COLOR="#800080" SIZE="1">[ January 02, 2002 11:57 AM: Message edited 1 time, by Roto ]</font>
post #5 of 37
Make some good turns and keep smiling, Bob.

We no longer live in the era when folks who ski decide to use a wealthy background to let them build/operate a ski area for the sake of having a good time skiing.

We're on the crest of a wave of BIG BUCK resorts (that's the same as expensive for the client and rewarding for the CEO) that's about to run aground, I think.

Sorry to hear about your experiences, John H, but I've been seeing/going through the same things here in the Midwest for years.

Most of the resort properties have been resold sufficiently that they carry a big load of debt that had nothing to do with their development, and the CEO's want to let the peons carry the load for them.

No raises or cost-of-living for the hourly wage-earners, but the management has to get a big "gift" or it's members will go elsewhere. Most of their "success" is based on circumstance and cost-cutting at the bottom. Record years usually mean they raised prices so guests will give smaller tips.

We have a bunch of restaurateurs trying to run ski resorts the same way they run their dining rooms. Trouble is, the perishible foods suppliers are happy to do COD deliveries on a daily basis. They're geared up for it. The guys who supply parts for lifts and groomers are different. You don't pay your bills from them and they have no interest in servicing you. So, your lift won't run or you have to break out the "parts" groomer to completely cover your runs and wonder why the customer wants to go elsewhere.

So enjoy turning 'em while you can.

Oh, and John, to me your ski teaching should be fun. If you can't find sufficient joy in your work with students, you'd probably do better just recreating. You might look into volunteering: School ski team help, Adaptive programs, service club outings for kids, etc.
post #6 of 37
I feel for you bud, it all sounds way too familier! And I found that even becoming the SSD didn't put me in a position to change the root problems, because the owners were apathetic to the real needs of the SS. Any other mountains nearby for you to flee to?
post #7 of 37
This is a sad and depressing tale, which could be echoed by thousands of instructors throughout the US.

Mr. Barnes has suggested that ski area customers complain to the areas about the poor pay of instructors. I would do so if I thought it would do any good. But my impression is that they are more interested in selling overpriced condos, $10 dogburgers, and awarding their CEOs big bonuses for exploiting their downtrodden workers that they are in having a top-notch ski school.

The overwhelming majority of skiers do not take lessons. If that does not make any impression on the areas I doubt if one guy bitching would make an impression.

Tuesday while I was eating lunch at Copper Station I was asked to fill out a survey. There was nothing on it about my impression of the ski school. I asked what they did with the results. The lady responded that if anything negative was expressed, that they would try to do something about it. The areas seem to be satisfied with things as they are. They display the usual corporate short-sightedness for which they are paid far too much.

<FONT COLOR="#800080" SIZE="1">[ January 02, 2002 01:11 PM: Message edited 1 time, by crudmeister ]</font>
post #8 of 37
A cafeteria worker shows up for his eight hours, or so, workday and can count on being paid for those hours, whether anyone is in the cafeteria or not, the same with the cashier who sells tickets, s/he sits there all afternoon without anyone buying tickets and S/HE GETS PAID for bing there.

An instructor shows up at eight in the morning and is in gear by the opening of the chairs. The roads are bad and there are not many lesson takers and he gets one lesson for an hour or two and after this one is finished he has to hang around until closing just in case he is needed.

So why in tarnation does he not get paid for the hours he is required to spend there, just like the cafeteria worker and the cashier???

If Vail ski school, or any other one, would approach the teamster union in the Summer and ask for an organizer to come in and the instructors would join they would have negotiating power, non of this "independent contractor" business.

post #9 of 37
John, I sure am glad to see you back in here, but I'm really sorry about your story of woe. While working as an insturctor may be rewarding for you, it cannot be at its best if those in the system at W----- are unskilled, underskilled, or apathetic. I'm sure the last thing you need with a new baby at home is more stress during your weekend "fun job." Man, I'm really sorry.

Hope all's well with you and the family otherwise. I'll be back East in the Spring. You and Gill and I will have to do some mtb riding.
post #10 of 37
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the replies comrades.

Kneale, I do see teaching as the reward and fun. That's what has kept me coming back year after year. I can't really go to another local resort, because I left the other one to go where I am, and the terrain is much better where I am. And considering both places are owned by the same people, it would not be any better back there.

Maybe I'll write a long letter to my SSD. I consider him a close friend, and have worked with him for 11 years now. I'm considering volunteering my services to the ski school as a trainer so that they might use me as a resource, and could train the staff without cost to the SS. In return I'd ask for some storage facilities in our double-wide and a pass for me and my wife. It's not like I do it for the money, and I'd feel like I'd be contributing more, while at the same time, getting more personal gratification.
post #11 of 37
Ott failed to mention that when we are "not working" we are still asked to act as "mountain ambassadors", sorting out students for appropriate levels, directing traffic, looking for lost kids/parents/gear, complaint department ....... etc.

Then the SS director comes out to line up and hawks "optional" hats and vests $$$$$$

My jacket was $120 ..... Fleece $65
post #12 of 37
Robin. What school would that be? (nudge, nudge) Sounds like things are going pretty icky down that way. I'm glad I bolted when I did.

As for the subject, my only advice is "Keep on keepin' on." Never know what might fall in your lap. That doesn't necessarily mean that you need to stay where you are, either. I just flat out left a bad situation in one place and walked right into a great opportunity at another. I'd rather be lucky than good any day. Point is, just keep enjoying what you do and where you do it. Hopefully (with some tenacity and a little luck) things can turn around. We're with you JohnH!

post #13 of 37
JohnH-Go west young man! Several years ago my wife and I packed up and made the move. It's seems like a leap, however......take the plunge.

If it makes you feel any better you made me realize I work at a great place. Lot's of work, good training (high exam pass rate/examiner for a boss) decent pay, and free uniforms!

I hope things improve for you.
post #14 of 37
I am shocked and dismayed reading this (and Bob's post in the other thread). Maybe this is an expression of my own naievity, since I very recenlty started skiing, but I had no idea things were this bad.
At a minimum, I would expect a ski instructor would get a free uniform (which they would get to keep!), a limited no. of free season passes for friends and family, as well as day passes, subsidised equipment and training, along with guaranteed pay and overtime. This is based on what a professional would get in any other service industry. And there's no way you can equate the job function of, like Ott said, a cafetria worker, who after all is dispensable (no offence!), with a ski instructor, which has a very human element to it and forms the heart of the ski experience.
Do these mega-gazillion dollar resorts really expect top notch instructors to subsist on meagre wages and at the same time bring in business and repeat customers?

I can see parallels to the music industry, where record companies grow fat on sales of artificially price-inflated cd's, while artists get a fraction of the proceeds, even after signing away their souls in contracts.

I also don't understand why so many newbies either never bother to take lessons, and in fact make no attempt to actually learn the sport. A cynical point of view may be that most people are morons who couldn't care less as long as they get to slide around in snow all day long and go home with limbs intact. I see it all the time in my job - efficiency and excellence are being forgotten, and just being 'good enough' is all that matters. I don't doubt the fact that skiing is an expensive hobby, and the cost of taking lessons is prohibitive for many, but I do question that many don't even feel the need for it.
Snowboarding is rising fast in popularity, it doesn't need as many lessons to get good at it, and its mostly a self or friend-taught thing with its own subculture. Hate to even think about it, but I don't know what will cause a revival of ski instruction.

I should stop before this becomes a rant of my own :
post #15 of 37
You guys don't get it -- you're the ones in control.

If things are so bad, why don't you all get together and form a union? Or, if you'd all quit showing up for work, maybe somebody would listen to you.

Instead, all the complaining. Hey. You don't like the direction the wheel is turning? Turn it the other way. You don't like your gig? Quit.

How about getting together and picketing? Flooding the mail with letters? Wearing arm bands? Forming a web site? You guys want change, but you're not willing to do anything for it. Hey. Somebody's got to be a hero. That's what entrepreneurism is all about. Step up to the plate and make something happen.

As far as the CEO of Vail Resorts goes, if he made the shareholders/company money, than he deserves every penny of that $4.5M.
post #16 of 37
SCSA--Your point is not invalid, but remember that Vail's stock price has dropped fairly steadily since the initial offering several years ago. I'm not even sure the SHAREHOLDERS are paying attention!

But even so--if a company and its executives get rich by exploiting its employees and customers, are we not justified in exposing these practices? It was the cover story of the Summit Daily News yesterday (or was it the day before?) that highlighted the refusal of Vail Resorts to negotiate with its patrollers (who are unionized) after denying them raises and reneging on some implied "promises" (equipment allowances and so on)--as Adam Aaron sits fat and happy in his luxury home, enjoying his multi-million dollar bonus.

I have no problem with executives benefitting royally when they lead their companies with competence. But that does not appear to be the case here, does it? Vail has hardly thrived under Aaron's leadership, as its stock value clearly reflects.

You are right that perhaps an instructors' union could raise awareness more effectively than a few individual complaints. But unions have their own costs, and come with their own problems and frustrations. I'm not necessarily against them--as some here know--but I am aware that it would be in any company's best interest to treat its employees with the respect and consideration they deserve, rather than having a union FORCE them to do it. The best, most savvy company executives know well that they can afford to pay better and provide better benefits to their employees WITHOUT a union than WITH one--so they do!

It is said that any company that gets a union...deserves it!

I'd like to see the industry come around on its own, but I'm not against forcing its hand if it becomes necessary. It seems to me like a pretty simple equation: if you don't demonstrate that you value your employees as much as your customers, you will very quickly end up with a lot of not very valuable employees--and even fewer valuable customers!

As I have said, union or not, the only REAL power belongs to the customer, speaking with the almighty dollar. Demand a better product, and those who can will deliver. Demonstrate that it will pay off if they do a better job--and cost them if they don't--and eventually they will get it. Accept mediocrity, though, and that's all you'll ever see!

Best regards,
Bob Barnes

<FONT COLOR="#800080" SIZE="1">[ January 02, 2002 08:05 PM: Message edited 1 time, by Bob Barnes/Colorado ]</font>
post #17 of 37
SCSA, it basically comes down to this: for every instructor that quits or is canned because of standing up for his rights (insubordination) there are three waiting to take his place, even for this meager pay or even for free so they can brag with their uniform and pin.

I'm not kidding when I say that almost all part timers who hold down another day job do not make expenses in a season, much less a profit, and full timers aren't much better off.

It's the love of skiing and teaching that keeps them doing it.

Vail could fire their whole ski school in the Spring and fill every position with new talent by advertising before the snow flies in the Winter without raising the pay.

post #18 of 37
I'll tell you what needs to happen.

You guys need to get together, get some of your pals that are lawyers, and challenge that forest service rule that says there can only be 1 ski school at a ski area.

That rule is anti-competitive. It goes against everything that America stands for, like free enterprise. I bet the only reason why it still stands is because no one has challenged it. So get together and challenge it. What do you have to lose? Nothing! You can only win.

When that rule is changed, consumers will have a choice, ski instruction will improve, and ski instructors will get the money they so deserve.

Until then, it's bad news for all.
post #19 of 37
SCSA--I'm in complete agreement with you on this one! EVERYONE (except the incompetent instructor) would benefit, ultimately, if ski schools had to compete for customers. And the industry would benefit, in spite of itself!

Best regards,
Bob Barnes
post #20 of 37
<BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by Ott Gangl:
Vail could fire their whole ski school in the Spring and fill every position with new talent by advertising before the snow flies in the Winter without raising the pay.


Would they !!! This is the same line of thought that keeps the instructors in thier place. Instructors as workers have no balls when it comes to organised labour. No balls. Lots of complaints but NO BALLS. We are our own worst enemies and this is reinforced by the reply posts here ... hang in there mate ... bullshit. We give our power away everyday. Have a look at organisations like PSIA and APSI. What is their answer. WE ARE A CERTIFICATION BODY ONLY. Pay your dues dude and run away. Weak spineless egostical bunch of poor hard done by workers. Makes me sick. Raise the question of workers rights in the locker room and watch the people cringe. Calls of leper ring out. Ha ... every man for himself is the ski instructors moto. We wrote it, we support it everyday. Shut up, put up or act up. Make your choice. I got burnt organising SS labour many years ago and now I cut my own deal.

Oz :

<FONT COLOR="#800080" SIZE="1">[ January 02, 2002 09:19 PM: Message edited 1 time, by man from oz ]</font>
post #21 of 37
Boards of directors like f---ing their shareholders almost as much as they like f---ing their employees.
post #22 of 37

I used to think it was sort of bad. As a new first year instructor I now know really how bad it could be. I am lucky that at Sugar Bowl where I am PT for weekends, we do get our uniforms for free (not to keep) as long as we keep them in reasonably good condition. I do get to ski for free and I do get 1 comp to give to friends or family every 2 pay periods (1 half price voucher each pay period that can be combined)
The pay of course does not cover equipment, gas, lodging or food so it is going to be a labor of love. Thank goodness I still have enough contract work (computers) and a wife that is allowing me to do this for a year.
Pay of course is like every where else. But our training director and several other higher up instructors are constantly taking us on "training runs" and small clinics so we are getting some training.

I think part of what SugarBowl has done however is very good. At the resort, SB is now doing a "fast track program" to try to bring in more customers/guests. The program for a set price of 70.00 allows the customer to ski or snowboard, with equipment, 2 hour lesson and limited lifts (beginner/lower intermediate) for the full day. If they return for a second "fast track" lesson and present their previous lift ticket(fast track stamped) they get 20.00 off of their next fast track lesson/package. So their second day is only 50.00 (lesson and equipment included) and so on until they are ready to "graduate" from the fast track program. From what I can gather this is not going to be a cash cow for the resort but I hope it is going to be a good trend and maybe start bringing more new students/skiers/boarders to the slopes and just maybe they will take more lessons at the "normal" fees or even privates. The other thing about the fast track program is it is limited to 5 students per class so no huge classes and only 1 instructor.

To SCSA's comment however, I agree with you about the thrust of your post, but Ott's words ring true. I suspect many of the instructors at our school are there for the free pass and nothing else and for every one of the instructors that leave because they can't stand the conditions, there are several in the wings that will do it for the "free pass". It especially shows when our trainer comes out and says after a line-up, "let's take a few runs to work on ...." and several people just want to change out of their uniform and go free ski/board.
post #23 of 37
Do these mega-gazillion dollar resorts really expect top notch instructors to subsist on meagre wages and at the same time bring in business and repeat customers?

Sadly, Defcon, past threads related to this subject have shown that the resorts do indeed expect that... and have expected that for a long time.

Yesterday, I rode the chair with my coach Jim Weiss, and he told me that unless you are a big name in skiing, you don't get paid diddly and can't really make much doing it, and that's why the average instructor duration is about 5 years... get through college, get past "ski bumming," etc., and it's quitting time. Sucks, eh?

If it paid better, I'd have gone into it back while in college. Sad world we live in, where decisions often are made based upon $$ rather than passion. It's an awfully hard choice.
post #24 of 37
Listen to me. All it takes is for somebody to step up and be a hero. Heroism is infectious. First they'd be one, then there'd be 5, then an army.

Yeah, Ott has a point -- but in theory only. Because, this is America. Land of the free, home of the brave. Where there's a will, there's a way. We're all born naked and ANYBODY, can accomplish ANYTHING they set their mind on and don't you ever think different.

This ain't no Tony Robbins BS -- it's real. I live it everyday, and so do millions of other Americans. What about all those shop owners in NY around the WTC? Look at the challenges they're facing? You think they're giving up? Hell, friggin, No! They're stepping up and they're going to land right back on their feet - I guarantee you.

I can't start it. I just don't have the all important burning desire. But if it gets started, count me in to help.
post #25 of 37
For exactly the reason expressed above, I have long thought we could benefit by having the PSIA, by virtue of being the only large organization of US Instructors, be an advocate for instructors rather than simply a certification entity.
post #26 of 37
Our hill has just had it's latest crop of "imports" arrive. These kids are from a few varied spots in South America and are skiing at someplace between level 4 and 5. It's been hard to assess their actual skiing since they mostly hang in the lounge and I have only seen them one time as a group free skiing.

They are given room and board and who knows what in wages. It's a pretty sad statement that they import such mediocrity.

I guess the message from the top is that if we brought in eight this winter we can bring in eighty next winter.
post #27 of 37
Thread Starter 
I don't doubt that I have the ability to change my ski school. The training and benefits have been much better in the past. The problem (SCSA) is that to change it, I would have to take on the job of Tech Dir or Asst Dir, for about 1/4 of what I now make. That's not a sacrafice I'm willing to make. I used to work out west (Breckenridge), and the benefits were great; a 5 piece uniform for a signature and dependent passes. Even where I am now, we have always had to pay for uniforms (just jackets), but the cost this year went down from $150 to buy a jacket that you would use for 4 years, to a $75 deposit for a jacket, which will be refunded at the end of the year. The dependent passes still exist, but are based solely on the number of hours you worked the prior year, not on how many years you have been there, or avg hrs over the past X # of years. Most ski schools also have a decent place to store equipment and change their clothes. We have been getting empty promises of a new space to replace our double-wide for 8+ years.

The only way the training will get better at my area is if some people were to volunteer their time, because area mgt is unwilling to pay for more training, or for higher priced trainers or a legit tech director. Until 2 years ago, our training was fairly good because we had a talented individual who plays for a coulpe of well know orchestras (percussionist), who had lots of free time, lived in the area, and didn't need the money, who enjoyed training the staff. But he got a better (full time) seat with one of his orchestras, so he quit as tech dir and rarely teaches any more.

Ski area mgt is more than willing to let the ski school fall into decay. If most of the instructors walked off the job, it would have some effect. I know, for a fact, that we do not have the ability to replace a large portion of our staff. But the only consequence would be that they would limit the number of lessons to match the available staff, and/or they would stack lessons with 30+ students (don't laugh, it's happened more than a few times). That would make area mgt even happier, because they would make more profit.

The guy who is our current SSD is a good guy, and he wants to make things better, but he knows that if he makes too many waves, he'll just get pushed out, the same way his 3 predessors did. Sad but true. If you're not a "Yes" man, then you stop getting invited to mgt meeting and decisions about your department start getting made for you without your input.
post #28 of 37
Yep - in spite of the wonderful Ayn Rand-like fever that overtakes some folks on this subject ("YOU can do anything!"), in this case the only way to truly assure change is to be in charge . . . of the whole ski area. And unless you are already a multi-millionare, or your family owns a ski area. The deck is definately stacked against you, pretty unlikely that one can take over a ski area. And even more unlikely that *anybody* can start a new one now.

<FONT COLOR="#800080" SIZE="1">[ January 03, 2002 03:20 PM: Message edited 1 time, by Todd Murchison ]</font>
post #29 of 37
I thought I knew everything about the pain, but this thread is a real screamer.

I think this is a situation that calls for something special, not the same old approaches--union, strike, lawsuit--which don't address the basic problem, which is a lack of TEAM SPIRIT. A resort area functions as a result of the efforts of a TEAM of dedicated people. Their product is FUN, right? How can the FUN be conveyed by unhappy employees? Does anyone think the customer doesn't get the short end of this stick? Does anyone think the customer doesn't notice?

The employees might improve the situation in the short term by suing, unionizing, sit-downs or strikes, but the organization will not be improved. The fundamental problems will rise again and again.

Better to roll up our sleeves and fix the problem at the level of the problem.
post #30 of 37
Good point nolobolono, when I was a SSD I always felt that happier instructors are going to result in happier students. Seems pretty obvious and clear doesn't it? Unfortunately many owners are looking only for the short-term return, not realizing that they could in the long run make even more $ by creating an environment that everybody wants to be in . . . including customers.
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