We’re experiencing a rare moment in the fitness industry when everything is wrapped in a question mark. What is the best way forward? How do you approach strategic programming and services? How do you improve communication among staff? As a fitness leader, it’s essential to look at how you’ll coach, engage and develop your team as we emerge from stay-at-home orders. If you’re ready to be a hybrid leader, which means you’re ready to support your team both virtually and in person, you’ll position yourself and your crew for instant success and exponential long-term growth. You’ll also be a stronger leader for it.
The digital world isn’t going away anytime soon, and your position within it will be limitless if you’re open to adapting your processes, embracing change and trying new things, especially when it comes to engaging your team. Thrive—don’t just survive—with the following best practices for navigating a hybrid fitness world that’s powered by technology and enhanced when you’re face-to-face with staff.
Stay Positive and Encouraging
Whether you’re a personal training director, a group fitness manager or the head of your club’s sales team, you’re no doubt eager to get everyone back in the club or studio as soon as your state’s regulations allow. You may already be well into this process, paving the way for the industry. Wherever you are in the various steps, as a leader you get to set the tone. It’s mission critical to be positive, motivated and encouraging as you reengage with your team and help your people see the upside of serving members in new ways. From virtual platforms for one-on-one training to outdoor and digital-based classes for group fitness, the possibilities are endless.
Your challenge is to be a thought leader who can help your team get excited about the vast possibilities. A little extra energy and optimism go a long way as you return to business with a fresh, innovative perspective.
Be Flexible and Understanding
Today, everyone is operating in a different comfort zone. Many of your team members have likely been texting you daily throughout the shutdown period and are just as excited as you are to get back to work. Others will be taking a more calculated approach and may be feeling more hesitant or even fearful of what it means to be back. All of these thoughts and feelings are very real. It’s more important than ever to embrace the full spectrum of your team’s emotions and be willing to support your employees.
Listen actively to everyone’s individual voice. Make your team’s thoughts, needs, questions and concerns a priority while showing how much you care. As a leader, you’re a relationship builder, and your thoughtfulness and understanding will go a long way during this uncertain time.
Engage in New and Regular Communication Rhythms
Once you’re back in business, it’s likely going to look quite different from the way it did earlier this year. Capacity restrictions and reductions in operating hours (to facilitate extra sanitization procedures) may mean you don’t have as many team members in the building at one time. It will therefore be more important than ever that you reach out and communicate on a regular basis. Set expectations for how often you’ll be in touch, and plan your communication rhythms so that you’re connecting regularly, whether remotely or face-to-face. Leverage software platforms to facilitate communication and scheduling; this will help you stay efficient and organized.
New procedures may include more one-on-one and virtual touch points, such as quick video chats, to ensure that everyone is accurately informed. Virtual team meetings are a game-changer, as you’ll be able to see expressions, make eye contact, gauge comfort levels and connect more personally than you can by email, text or phone call. More face time is better when it comes to working as a cohesive unit.
By paving the way as an understanding and thoughtful leader, you will model for your team how they should be communicating with members. Leading by example is one of the most impactful and service-focused things you can do.
(Editor’s note: See “Upgrade Your Virtual Communication Leadership” for more on how to communicate effectively in an online world.)
Provide Digital Education Opportunities
Keeping your team up to speed with current industry education is always a top priority. Since the blend of being remote and in person will likely be greater than ever going forward, providing digital continuing education is ideal. From formal certifications and workshops to informal micro-scale learning opportunities that you record and distribute, all options are on the table.
In the new environment, gathering a large group of trainers, instructors or sales staff for an in-person seminar or speaker may be quite challenging, so help your team consume virtual learning modules instead. Most accredited education providers offer excellent online primary certification and continuing education courses. Many providers are streaming outstanding, complimentary video content as well.
As the fitness community comes together globally, everyone is contributing in some way to support growth and development. Make sure your team is part of the action and taking advantage of every available opportunity.
Facilitate Virtual Interviews and Auditions
In addition to helping your team adapt to online learning, it’s important that you become comfortable using virtual channels to keep recruiting top talent. You still want to build your bench of new fitness professionals on an ongoing basis. To be more efficient in the hiring process, try interviewing and auditioning trainers, instructors and sales team members virtually. Collect items such as certification documentation digitally.
Consider having your first round of interviews and movement auditions through video chat as well, as this will enable you to connect quickly with more applicants. You can effectively power through the pool and then narrow down your selections.
As our industry continues to move forward and evolve, a willingness to adapt and try new approaches to leading and engaging your team is more crucial than ever. Embracing both digital and in-person strategies is the key to sustained success. Use this hybrid model to coach, grow, recruit and engage your team every day.
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