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So, you want to be a Certified Club Manager.

The 80/20 Rule

Also known as the Pareto Principle, the 80/20 rule is a concept that first originated when the 17th-century Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto noted that 80 per cent of a country’s wealth was owned by 20 per cent of the population. From this initial observation, Pareto looked to apply his observation of ‘predictable imbalance’ to other areas of life. While tending to his garden, he concluded that around 80 per cent of the peas his vines produced came from about 20 per cent of the peapods.

From these beginnings, the Pareto Principle has been applied to a vast array of economic, production, project management, work and life situations as an effective model to prioritise tasks and manage commitments. Some of the more general applications of the Pareto Principle are: -

  • 20% of the employees produce 80% of the output

  • 20% of the clients pay 80% of the revenue

  • 20% of bugs caused 80% of crashes (reported by Microsoft)

Or to put it another way.

80% of the output or results will come from 20% of the input or action.”

So, ideally, as a club manager, you want to concentrate on the 20 per cent that matters!

Working on what Matters

With the principle in mind, a starting point is to reflect on your club’s current situation and your working day. Then, like Pareto, observe your environment to consider how the imbalance may sit. The following are indicators of where you’re spending your time.

Spending time in the 80 per cent that doesn’t matter

  • You complete tasks that others impose on you, but you don’t really believe they are worthwhile

  • The majority of your tasks seem urgent

  • You’re not really good at some of the tasks you’re doing

  • Tasks take longer than you thought they would

  • You’re not enjoying your tasks (maybe even complaining about them)

Spending time in the 20 per cent that does matter

  • Tasks are aligned to your work or life purpose

  • Completing tasks makes you feel good about yourself

  • You can comfortably delegate tasks that you’re not good at doing

  • You smile a lot

Using the 80/20 Rule

The 80/20 rule can be used to improve your own productivity or that of your club. Consideration of the following areas may assist you in applying the 80/20 rule.


A good starting point is to look closely at your to-do-list. It’s possible that only a handful of items are important issues that will progress the club and assist it in achieving its goals. Others may be maintenance tasks that may or may not have to be done. It can be satisfying to review a long list of completed tasks, but as the principle maintains, your focus should be on the smaller number of important items that will result in the most worthwhile outcomes.

Taking a step back and undertaking this analysis may not reduce the size of the list, but it will help to prioritise your efforts. Instead of starting at the top and moving down, the 80/20 rule asks you to work on the most appropriate tasks first. This can be difficult when the tasks are challenging, large or need co-ordination with others.

Risk Analysis

In project management, risk assessment recognises that not all risks are of equal significance. Again, the 80/20 rule asks us to choose the risks that present the greatest chance of harm and to then focus your risk mitigation on them. The other identified risks are not ignored; they are just not given as high a priority.

20% of the Members

One of the 20th-century adaptations of the 80/20 rule was that business sales come from a small portion of the paying customers. In a club, this means that 20% of your member base is generating the majority of club revenue. If you can identify these members, you can focus on further understanding them, keeping them engaged and qualifying other members or potential members who are similar.

In addition, by evaluating the 80 per cent of members that only account for 20 per cent of club revenue, you may come up with ways to improve their visitations and expenditures in your club.

80% of Complaints

The 80/20 rule can also be applied to customer service. If 20 per cent of your services are responsible for 80 per cent of complaints, you can do some cause and effect analysis to help solve quality issues and put corrective measures in place.

As you can see, the 80/20 rule has many applications in a club environment. It is also a useful tool to use in our personal lives and can be a driver in achieving a better work-life balance. For club managers, it is valuable for prioritising tasks, solving problems and goal setting. However, care must be taken. When managing team members, it doesn’t mean just focusing on the top performers. You also need to spend time to improve the others, raising the overall standard of your team and the club.

The Club Managers Association of Australia (CMAA) has been supporting and developing club managers to achieve high levels of leadership and management ability for many years. The training and development of knowledgeable and motivated leaders that are capable of achieving greatness on behalf of their clubs is a passion of the CMAA. To this end, they offer the professional certification - the Active Certified Club Managers Award (ACCM).

Individuals who hold the ACCM, have demonstrated that they possess the skills, have the range of knowledge and can model behaviours that drive premium results for their club.

The foundation stone of the ACCM is the Club Managers Leadership and Management program, an online, training course, delivered by elevateB (a specialist training company) and independently endorsed by Australis College (a Registered Training Organisation)

The Club Managers Leadership and Management program has been modelled on the Diploma of Leadership and Management, ensuring it covers a full gambit of management and leadership topics. Importantly, it has been tailored and contextualised for club environments and day to day club management situations. To successfully complete the program, participants are required to demonstrate required knowledge, skills and abilities through application and activity submissions.

For more information on the Club Managers Leadership and Management program, click here.


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