Level Up Your Staff (and Fire Them Up Instead of Firing Them)

Leveling up your staff - a missing puzzle piece revealing idea lightbulb

If you want to climb higher, you have to assemble a team.

You’ve done the hard labor of leadership. You’ve taken big risks. You’ve missed your paycheck. You’ve read a book every two weeks for the last five years. You’ve been at work before the sun rose and after the sun set too many times to count.

But they haven’t.

You’ve fired clients. You’ve fired friends. You’ve interviewed people and said “no” to opportunities. You’ve set your rates and stuck by them. You wrote a playbook and made rules for a reason, then enforced them.

But they haven’t.

When you hire people to replace you in any roles, you have to remember that they’re beginners. They’ll learn faster than you did—because you’ll teach them!—but they still have to learn.

It’s a hard lesson to remember. But if you fail to leave deep tracks for your staff to follow, you’ll always be their supervisor. They won’t like it and neither will you.


Mentor and Grow


Here’s how to mentor your staff to grow your business without you there:

A. Give them a paint-by-numbers picture, not a blank canvas. It’s not their job to reinvent everything. Give them a staff playbook, a set of standard operating procedures (SOPs), a sales binder, a dress code, etc. In other words, give them guidelines.

B. Give them a North Star. Write out your vision for the gym. When staff encounter a new challenge for which there is no SOP, they can look to this document and say, “Here’s what the owner would do.”

Now you have Point A (your SOPs) and Point B (your vision). Your job is to mentor them to get from Point A to Point B.

Here are the steps to mentorship:

1. Teach. “Here’s why we do it this way.”

2. Isolate problems. Dig deep and get to the root of each barrier to growth.

3. Ask your staff how they’d solve the problem. Ask for three alternatives. If all three are different from your way, gently steer them toward the “right answer”—but make sure you’re encouraging them enough to make suggestions next time.

4. Role-play the solution if it’s a people problem (it’s almost always a people problem).

5. Give them a deadline and ask for a report.

6. Run through an after-action report. If the problem was solved well, record the solution in your playbook for next time. If it wasn’t, ask how it could have been approached better.

Now, mentorship isn’t all about solving problems. It’s really about growth. But it almost always starts with solving some current problems. Eventually, every good mentor moves clients from fighting fires to feeling on fire. Here’s how to light the match:

1. Issue one growth challenge. For example, “Get five new clients in August.”

2. Isolate solutions. Ask your staff for three ways they could get five clients in August.

3. Role-play the solution if it’s a people solution (it’s almost always a people solution).

4. Give them the tools they need to be successful, and a deadline, as well as a clear metric for success. “Five clients” is a great metric. “Grow the gym” is not.

5. Create an after-action report. If the strategy worked, celebrate. Then record the solution in your playbook and plan to repeat it monthly, quarterly or annually. Put it on the calendar to start slowly building a plan for growth.


Lead and Ascend


Mentoring your staff is a lot like mentoring gym owners: You have to start with triage. But as they gain confidence, move quickly to growth strategies. Gather little wins together, set clear targets, and hold them accountable. Celebrate wins every time you meet, and record lessons, too. Watch your metrics improve.

Reaching the Tinker Phase requires delegation. It doesn’t mean abdication. Your gym still exists. Someone else can run it autonomously, but only with mentorship. The GM of my gym has a Two-Brain mentor (not me). My staff is in the Two-Brain Team Training Program—they all have mentors! Because when they grow, so does my gym.

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