I’m back with another slow struggle. Our gym runs classes that are 30 mins, 45 mins, or 60 mins long. However, I am encountering that hardly any of the instructors follow the posted schedule or the time outlines for their classes.
Without being too harsh, each instructor is in it for themselves but play this off as “well I can’t do a proper class within that time”.
I am frustrated as I have taken many classes and it seems these instructors just want to do what THEY want instead of following the guidelines of their jobs. Another reason this is frustrating as then instructors also complain they can’t start on time because a class ahead of them is still going. The last reason is because the classes are posted this way which I feel can be confusing to members.
I love the passion and commitment to offering high caliber classes. How do I communicate this to instructors who insist on continue to argue with me and still teach beyond their class time?
Alicia I sympathize with you. Have you sat down with your instructors one on one and determined who is willing and able to follow the timelines? You may need to let some of these instructors go and give more classes to the ones that will follow the schedule. That might be hard to do at first. Can you cover some of the classes if necessary? Can you cut back the schedule as you find new instructors? I don’t like to fire potentially good instructors, but you may have no choice. These people might do irrepairable harm to your brand. And they are “employees” as well as instructors. If they can’t handle the class, they need to either get the skills required or move on.
I don’t have all the facts, but that is my impression of your situation. I have had clashes like this as an instructor and a fitness manager. For me it was usually a matter of poor communication on both sides. I stated my case to my manager and to my instructors. If I wasn’t comfortable with either scenario, I came right out and said so. In both types of situations the bottom line was could myself or the instructor follow the manager’s direction. It was either yes and teach. Or no, and part ways at least for that class if not entirely.
A great many years ago I was a library tech. I worked my way from the lowest position to the head of the department. It was, however, a position that had a lot of authority, but little teeth in terms of enforcement, just because of the nature of the organization. I found that one had to develop a range of strategies to motivate, to enforce, and to create coherence in the team.
I have a question about the power structure within your organization. I take it that you are the coordinator of the group ex program, and are responsible for setting a schedule and so on. The instructors are directly under you. Who is your superior? That is the first thing to consider…. if you wish to take action to hire or to reward or warn or punish or fire will the people over you have your back. It is also probably helpful to keep them in the general loop on things…. such as ‘I am working on a plan to streamline the schedule and help the staff keep to it better. I am getting great feedback from the members on this’. That way if someone is upset by something you do and they take it over you the powers that be will already feel that they are part of your team and will not be surprised and will likely be supportive.
Second, if you haven’t you probably should do a membership survey. In a lot of clubs the members will talk to the instructors, but don’t always know the coordinator. So if a favored instructor gripes members baseline is to take their side. Be present, and respond. Remember a good response does not always have to be ‘yes’, but it is vital to seek out someone who has a question or comment and let them have follow up. I found that when trying to find a misplaced book for someone it mattered less to them whether I found the thing than that I made it clear that I respected and valued their work and would do my best to solve their problem.
Third, you could consider before working on fixing what is broken working on creating group cohesion. Provide training, have meetings, have coffee and snacks in your office so you can break bread with people when they come to you with questions. Visit the classes. Identify which teachers seem to be team players and reward them by offering them first opportunities for coveted workshops and so on. Not in an in your face, us and them, kind of thing, but in a way that invites all instructors a sense of purpose and belonging.
Then you could announce that you will be revamping the schedule and meet with each person individually. You can let them know what the expectations are and offer them the chance to drop the class if they cannot fulfill what is needed. If they say…. oh, I can’t do that in an hour, then you might say, well, I could offer an hour and a half on such and such a day and time if you would prefer. Having choices helps people to feel less like they have to get their backs up about something. I understand about the timing thing. It is hard to teach yoga in an hour block. But if a club is paying me to do a specific thing that is what I have implicitly agreed to…. if I feel I can only do it in an hour and 15 minutes I figure I am always free to start my own club.
And if you are going to warn or fire someone have everything meticulously documented…. Are their class attendences properly documented, are they ending on time after being spoken to, etc.
YIKES, that sounds like one for the management. I would write a letter to the manager/director. That will give you an opportunity to edit 🙂
I’ve worked in a number of places and have never seen classes handled in that manner. Each place has ALWAYS been very direct about us respecting peoples time, start and stop on time 🙂
Since you are the management, you have some decisions and options.
One manager we had had a “one warning” process. If a person was warned about a problem with their class, they got a written warning. If they didn’t fix the problem (it could be safety, lateness, customer concern, etc.) within a month, that class was gone. If the person had two classes, they only lost the class that was the problem.
I took a management session with Sherri McMillan (great presenter!) a few years ago. Her motto was, “hire slowly, fire quickly.”
It sounds harsh, but if you are the person in control, you might have to take disciplinary action. Call a staff meeting and set down the policies. Or if you can’t have a staff meeting, send out an email document that they must sign and return.
I can understand your frustration to the situation. I agree with a lot of other responses to your question. If members are complaining that their class isn’t starting on time because the previous class doesn’t end on time, then you have to address the instructors involved. Why are the instructors running over into the next class? Are the instructors not arriving on time to begin class on time? Are members coming up to the instructor after class and asking questions or just carrying on a personal conversation with the instructor? Let them know that you appreciate their efforts to provide their class the proper amount of time slotted for the class format but also explain the importance of adhering to the class schedule. It’s common courtesy to start & end your class on time not only for your fellow instructors but also for the members. After all, the members are the very ones who provide instructors with a pay check.
At one of the clubs I taught at, there was no buffer time from my class to the class right after mine. I always made it a point to let my members know that class would end 5 minutes early to allow the following class time to come in and set up. None of the members ever had an issue with it or complained about my class ending a few minutes early. Also, if I had members approach me to ask questions or talk to me personally, I always asked the member to step outside of the fitness room so we can talk & let the other class begin.