How to Fix Poor Staff Performance in your Health Club

We recently took on a new health club client and the first words to me were “these people aren’t getting the job done and I want you to train them.”  I was reminded of one of my favorite quotes, “sometimes the followers aren’t following because the leaders aren’t leading.”  If it was as simple as saying go do it, there would be no need for management.  Of course, the key job of health club management is to create an atmosphere that allows a motivated person to act.  It started me thinking about some of the key things a health club owner can do in order to improve on poor staff performance.  Here you go:

  1. Communication

This must be the number one issue I hear from health club staff.  Lack of communication and follow up from the boss. What would your employees say about you when it comes to communication and follow up? Do they feel that their voice is heard and their opinion matters? When I go in to conduct an operational analysis of a facility (typically a struggling facility), I will do an interview with all key people…one of my first questions is to have them give me their job description.  I then go back to the club owner as ask for that same person’s job description…it’s rare that I hear the same job description.  I would add that communication can come in many forms and you should use them all (email, text, phone, meetings, one-on-one, employee newsletters, awards and the like.)

Here’s something I use….at the beginning of any training session, I start off asking each staffer in attendance, what’s working and what’s not working? It gives everyone an opportunity to voice their thoughts, plus you may get some ideas that you can implement…and now they own it.

  1. Take a step back and review your expectations

What do you expect of your employees? Are your employees clear of what is expected? We see this frequently when doing health club turnarounds.  The health club owner has a specific expectation, but has failed to properly communicate it to the front line. How about you? Have you communicated your expectations clearly? How do you know? As mentioned, it’s never as simple as just saying it. You have to train it.  You must follow up.

Don’t fall into the trap of focusing on the trivial detail at the expense of what really matters in your health club.  Get in the habit of celebrating achievement of health club goals, production and performance.

When evaluating staff expectations….ask yourself this question…am I setting them up for success or failure?  High expectations should not be a distant goal held over their heads, but instead a belief in their ability to get the job done.

  1. Reevaluate your health club systems

The key to a successful health club is installing proven systems that make it near impossible you’re your front line staff to fail. Does your health club system meet this criteria? Over time it’s easy to start cutting corners or missing steps in the process.

Don’t let the natural skills and abilities of top performers convince you that proven systems aren’t important.  The idea is manage the system.  Perfect this idea and you can have new employees producing much quicker…and longer.

  1. Take a good look at your compensation plan.

Do you reward outstanding performance in your health club so that the best producers get the most benefit? Are you offering daily, weekly and monthly contests and bonus opportunities to entice better performance?  Do support staff like front desk, administrative and others participate in bonus and incentive opportunities?

When it comes to compensation, there are many health club owners who look at their employees as an expense and they are always looking for ways to cut expenses, right? Given that your staff is really your most valuable asset, you would be well advised to treat them like any valuable asset.

  1. Do you trust your health club staff?

This is one is always near the top of the list of things I hear when we get involved in a health club turnaround…ownership and management doing some finger-pointing about staff (of course, it go both ways).  Here’s the truth, if you want them to trust you, you better trust them.  If you can’t do this, it’s time to move on and find someone new.  The best way to establish trust is your consistency of behavior and staff training.

Now with that said, there may be genuine issues that are causing problems…and you must continue to work through them, but don’t allow this to get you off course and cause to adjust the system or lower production standards.

Never give a poor producer in your health club preferential treatment. If you do you’re giving permission for everyone else in your health club to act this way.

Now, let’s start performing!

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