What Does Your Staff Really Want?

A coach smiling with arms crossed - what does your staff really want?

Your staff members: What drives them and what do they need?

It’s usually not more money.

It’s usually not customized Nanos (though those are nice).

More and more often, industry surveys show that staff members aren’t primarily motivated by money. In fact, most fitness pros rank money third on their list of motivators.

Think about what brought you into the fitness industry.

For me, it was the promise of changing lives the way mine had been changed. I found the weight room as an awkward, introverted teenager. I was dragged into lifting by an athletic friend. I didn’t want to do it. But within a year, everything had changed: I looked people in the eye, I talked to girls, I applied for jobs, I wasn’t terrified of adults, I signed up for gym classes, I chose a different career path in college, I grew into myself.

And I wanted to give that same gift to as many people as I could. I just didn’t want to starve while I did it.

You’re probably the same way. And so are your coaches. To keep them around long term, you don’t need to give them raises every year or create a complicated commission structure.

You do need to give them these two things:

  1. The sense they’re making a difference.
  2. The sense they’re progressing in their careers.


Here’s how to do it:

1. Set up Goal Review Sessions with their clients. Let them measure their clients’ progress and gauge their success. This process isn’t just good for client retention; it also allows the trainers to see the results of their coaching on a daily basis. You want to be motivated? Coach a winning team.

2. Let your staff identify opportunities for growth at your Career Roadmap sessions (which I wrote about in the previous post in this series). Let them take the courses they need to increase the value of your service to your clients. Sell that service to your clients and let the coach benefit.
The step-by-step guide to this strategy of “growing the pie” is in our “Intrapreneurialism 101” handbook. Download it for free here.

3. Bonus: Your coaches actually make more money by doing these things. Because while cash isn’t their primary motivator, a bit of money doesn’t hurt, either. You’ll read about how they can earn more in the handbook linked above.

You’re not really motivated by money. Neither are they. The key to long-term staff retention is to constantly ask “what do you want now?” and then mentor them to get it.


Other Media in This Series


“How to Maximize Staff Retention”
“The Dream Manager”
“Stellar Staffing: Owner Gets COVID, Gym Marches On”

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