What to Do With Your Staff

Whether you’ve owned a gym for a year or a decade, this new online training model is like a new business.

You’re back in Founder Phase again. And you need assistance, so you turn to the staff that’s been so helpful with your “old” business. And maybe one or two of them do really well. But more and more gyms are coming to me with the lament: “They just don’t want to do this!”

But still—you feel an obligation to keep your staff happy and fed. And you don’t understand why they don’t see the tremendous opportunity you’re setting before them.

Now, that doesn’t make them bad people. This isn’t what they signed up for.
It’s not a values misalignment. It’s just not the job for them.

The Right People and the Wrong People

I’ve said many times that I have incredible “who luck”: that the right people always seem to show up at the right time for me. But what I don’t share is that the wrong people usually show up first. The wrong people show up all the time. And sometimes I hire them.
But I’ve learned to remove them. Because the wrong people aren’t evil. They have no ill intent. But I can’t afford to let a C student take a chair because I know that I attract A students.
Today, we’re going to talk about your staff.
We’re going to start from a blank slate. We’re going to “fire” everyone mentally and then “re-hire” those who fit. Because the first part of any solution is knowing the right answer.
But then we’re going to talk about the second part of the solution: taking action. That’s the hard part.

Step 1: Plan to Ascend

First: Get out of Founder Phase.
In the Founder Phase, it’s all you: You’re doing the coaching, running the payments, writing the programming. You’ve probably progressed beyond this stage by now (I hope). Businesses go through cycles of expansion and contraction: They expand as far as their marketing will take them, then contract back to the level of their systems. And you have no systems for this yet. So it’s all back in your lap.
To get out of Founder Phase, you have to follow the process of systemize, optimize, automate.
Draw up your roles and tasks for this “new business.”
Start by recording every little thing you do for a full day of coaching online.
Look for simple things that aren’t a great use of your time.
Hire someone else to do those things, and work on higher-value things.
Group tasks together to form roles.
What do you pay per role? Here’s my article on that topic.

Step 2: Rehire Selectively

Second: Re-hire the obvious candidates for the new roles. Note: Exceptional delivery of their past roles might not actually qualify them for the new ones.
If someone does really well at maintaining positive coaching over text, great—they have a spot in your new business.
If someone can run a group group class over video with maximum engagement, great—you have a place for them.
But if someone is a highly certified weightlifting coach, you might not.
Starting an online training business isn’t like starting a location for your gym. It’s more like starting a barbershop.

Step 3: Consult and Remove

Third, remove the easy non-candidates for your new business.
The most important question you can ask your staff is this:
“What do you want now?”
Some of your staff might prefer to stay home with their kids. Some might hate the idea of training online. Some might prefer to just do nothing. Let’s remove those folks from the equation first.
Pick up the phone and say, “We have a new business now. Do you want to be part of it?” and let them make it easy for you.

Step 4: Clean House

Fourth, remove the rest of them.
Don’t give people a job just for the sake of giving them a job.
I’m so guilty of this one that it took me a minute to write the sentence above. But as my mentor Marcy told me:
“You think you’re being tactful. You think you’re giving them every chance to succeed. But sometimes, you’re just hiding.”
Logically, I know this: Their lack of performance isn’t my fault. But it is my responsibility.
So here’s the trick I use: the hierarchy of responsibility.

– My family.

– My clients.

– My staff.

(I could put “you” at the top because you’re actually most important. If you go down, your family suffers. But let’s face it: Any time I tell a gym owner to put themselves first, they don’t listen. I don’t either. So I’ll save you that lecture.)
Your business exists to serve your family.
You recruited your clients to pay your business.
You recruited your staff to serve your clients.
And you build an audience of new clients to serve your staff.
Never sacrifice your family to pay your staff.
Never sacrifice your paying clients for your current clients.
You get it. Now, here’s the mental trick I use to take hard action with staff: If a staff person isn’t doing well, then it affects my clients and my family. I ask myself, “Am I willing to do this hard thing to benefit my clients?”
Almost every time, the answer is “yes.” The only time I say “no” is when I can move the staff person to a non-client-facing role.
Then I ask myself, “Am I willing to do this hard thing to benefit my family?”
The answer to that one is always yes.
So when a staff person isn’t serving my clients as well as they could, I totally dread the conversation. But ultimately I ask myself, “Do I care enough about my clients to do this hard thing for them?”
And the answer is always yes.
If I asked myself, “Do I care enough about my own health and stress and happiness to do this hard thing?” I’m not sure I’d always say yes. I tend toward self-martyrdom (or hiding, as Marcy says).

Legal Considerations

Contractors—Think of them as vendors paid to deliver something to your clients. The thing they were paid to deliver no longer exists. It might exist again someday. The best thing you can do is to make the decision for them.
Employees—If your employees qualify for a government assistance program and want to take it, then you pretty much have to let them. Some might turn around and act as “volunteers,” but you can’t ask them to do it or bank their pay or pay them under the table. That’s a great way to turn this acute crisis into a long-term death sentence.
There are other considerations, too. But just remember: Conversations usually solve everything. Don’t be afraid to have them.
More than ever, it’s critical to surround yourself with the right people. Not every staff person is going to take this next step with you. Nor will every client—but we’ll worry about that later.
For now, simply answer this question:
“What’s best for my family?”

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