No one ever said on his deathbed, "Gee, if only I'd spent more time at the office."
In January’s column (“Are You a Healthy Manager?”) I chal-lenged you to think about six questions:
1. What kind of message are you sending members if you’re constantly running around solving crises at your club, or if you’re always maximally stressed with the day-to-day operational concerns?
2. Do you think these clients admire you?
3. Do you think that’s an acceptable example for a fitness practitioner to set?
4. Are you being who you want to be as you do what is necessary to run your business?
5. Have you accepted old ways of thinking in running your business?
6. What are your short-term and long-range visions of your industry, career and self?
I hope you thought about these questions. If you were “too busy” to think about them or thought, “Yeah, I’d like to get to that but I’ll have to put it off until later when I have some time,” then stop reading now. You’re beyond help, hope or health—at least as a manager of a business and a leader of people.
If you did think about these questions, this month’s column should help you begin setting your course for more effective management—and a more balanced life. Remember that my goal for this year’s column is to introduce you to the practices of living effective management; of taking care of yourself in the process of running your facility; and of contributing to wellness in a really meaningful way. Today, we’re going to discuss living effective management.
If you are a crisis solver or a fire-putter-outer, then the message you’re sending to members (and more unfortunately, to your staff) is that you don’t know how to manage, you just look for crises and fires. Your job is that of tedious police officer, waiting for the next disaster. You live in the past, and as Michael E. Gerber, author of The E-Myth Revisited: Why Most Small Businesses Don’t Work and What to Do About It, says, you “compulsively cling to the status quo” and “invariably see [only] the problems [not the opportunities].”
Your well-being barely exists if this is how you manage. And your members definitely don’t admire you. Some may feel sorry for you (that and a dollar will get you a cup of coffee). Your employees probably think you’re nuts and certainly don’t want your job! If people in your organization don’t want your job, what kind of example are you setting? If this is the case, you’re not managing, you’re protecting—yourself. That’s a good way to stop a business dead in its tracks.
Your character as a manager will have a greater effect on your business than anything you can think, do, say, plan or decide. Regretfully, most managers don’t think about their management persona; instead they think about their management position. If you pay attention to your management character—who you are day to day with each person you manage, with each member you encounter and in each situation you face—you will take a giant step towards living more effective management, making your organization into something you are truly proud of, and generally improving your quality of life.
Are your management practices predictable and patterned? Do you think the same way every time, address each situation or each person in a very similar way? If so, your employees will avoid addressing important issues with you, because they know what and how you think anyway! In days past, this management style was considered “consistent.” Today it’s considered archaic, stale and out-of-date. These managers don’t get promoted or get better jobs. They wither on the vine like old grapes.
If, however, you attempt to “think outside the box” whenever possible, you’ll be considered a real human being who is vibrant, forward-thinking, receptive and available. It will do wonders for your staff, for the vitality of your club and for you. Wouldn’t it be nice to wake up every day thinking that you can’t wait to get to work, rather than grousing about what the first problem will be when you walk through the front door?
Your short-term and long-range visions determine how you view yourself in your job, and what you really think about yourself and your situation. Thus you establish, often unconsciously, the blueprint for your behavior as a manager. If you have no vision, you probably have no realizable goals. If your vision is limited to, and dictated by, the circumstances around you, then you are likely a reactionary manager and not a foresighted business leader.
Just like a champion athlete, a top-quality manager needs a vision. You have to anticipate outcomes; your vision will guide the company. Your lack of vision also will guide the company, but usually it will be down a dead-end street.
As Michael Gerber so fittingly states, “The purpose of going into business is to expand your existing horizons. So you can invent something that satisfies a need in the marketplace that has never been satisfied before. So you can live an expanded, stimulating new life.” Without vision, this is almost impossible to accomplish.
Above all, your vision, however simple or detailed, needs to be shared. This is often the sticking point for most managers, because they don’t want to feel stupid or embarrassed or vulnerable. In reality, shared vision is what makes dreams come true and businesses become enormously successful.
- Your vision needs to include dreams, wishes and "what-ifs."
- It needs to be based around one-year, three-year and five-year results for you and the business. It needs to include previously unthought-of perks for you and your staff.
- It needs to embrace a big-picture scenario, wherein you contribute something important to your community.
- It needs to incorporate personal plans (that great vacation, less time working in the business and more time invested on the business).
I can’t teach you how to “envision.” But I can remind you that you know how to dream. Start there. The rest will fall into place!
In the next column, we’ll work on simple ways to take better care of yourself in everyday management. I also will introduce the philosophy that your well-being determines the well-being of your entire business. In the meantime, get thinking!