Maybe Your Staff Isn’t the Problem: 5 Ways to Lead

A group hike - maybe your staff isn't the problem

By Dr. Brian Strump, Certified Two-Brain Fitness Business Mentor

Most gym owners I’ve met said they opened a gym because they enjoy coaching others and wanted to help people get healthy. Not one said, “I love leading people, growing staff, managing personalities and dealing with all the intricacies of running a business.” 

It makes sense then, that most gym owners struggle to build a team or create an environment conducive to long-term careers for their staff members. 

People don’t leave companies over money. They leave over management. If you’re a gym owner and you struggle to keep and grow staff, there’s a good chance that you are the problem. The good news? You can change that.

The great news? I’m going to give you five ways to do it. 

Create a Shared Vision

If you want staff to stick around, they need to know what they are working for beyond their paycheck. Sharing the short- and long-term visions for your company will keep the right people with you and encourage others to leave if they do not align with the company’s direction. You need to create an exciting future that others will want to be part of, and you must inspire them so they are confident in you and willing to struggle through the difficult times.

Focus on Growth and Opportunity

I think many gym owners unwittingly stunt the growth of their staff members because they are scared. They’re worried that members will prefer the coach to the owner or, worse, that the knowledge they share will allow a coach to leave and start a new gym. Avoid becoming the “icon” in your business. Allow team members to shine as well. “What if I train my staff and they decide to leave?”—if this sounds like you, you might want to ask yourself this question next: “What if I don’t train them and they decide to stay?”

Offer the Opportunity to Create

Most people experience work as a cog in a machine. They punch a clock with the expectation that they can do little to control outcomes. As the owner, you have the ability to prevent staff members from developing this mentality. You might need to admit to yourself that others will often have great ideas to grow your business. At the start, your business might be your “baby”; however, if you want your business and your team to grow, you need to loosen the reins on your best staff members and allow them to have a hand in creating the future of your business.

Exemplify Your Culture

The culture of your gym starts with you, the gym owner. How you treat your staff is how your staff will treat your members. Are you mad that staff members walk over a piece of paper towel on the floor instead of picking it up and putting it in the trash? They likely watched you do the same thing. Are you frustrated that your staff members aren’t excited when coaching? Chances are they learned that from you. If you want your staff to show more empathy to members, follow through on what they say they will do and give you more than you expect, you must show them how that’s done. Lead, and they’ll follow.

Remember That You’re Driving the Bus

You’re in charge of the direction of your business. You need to fill your bus with the right people and get them in the right seats. Don’t try to force a good staff person into the wrong role. He or she will get frustrated and you’ll end up resenting the person for a job done poorly. Find roles in which staff members will flourish and then put the right people in those roles. That’s a win for them, a win for the clients and a win for the business. Most importantly, if you find that a person doesn’t or shouldn’t have a seat on the bus anymore, remove the person swiftly before others reduce their performance to the same level.  

These strategies will help you develop a team that’s eager to work hard, help others and produce a positive long-term effect on your business. 

Good luck!

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