At this point in our series for new fitness managers, you have learned how to make the best impression possible on your staff, managers and members. You have also learned your club’s essential business practices and worked hard to determine the needs of your department. Finally, you have been shown exercises to narrow your broad focus so that you can concentrate on the top 10 priorities you have identified to set up yourself and your club for long-term success. Keep in mind that these goals will evolve as you grow and continue to learn the club. Having them in mind will allow you to focus your energy and detail the tasks you must address in order to be successful and productive. You have taken all these actions to ensure that your time is spent doing the things that matter most and will have the greatest impact for you, your staff and your club.

Sounds like a lot to digest all at once, no? The truth is that achieving such lofty goals is easier when the goals are dissected and ingested in bite-sized portions. The following exercises are designed to break down each of your top 10 priorities into smaller tasks that you can get done even in light of your busy schedule. Before completing these exercises, take a moment to review your priorities to ensure that each one is specific, measurable, achievable and realistic—and that each can be accomplished, or at least begun, in your first year.

Exercise 1: List Your Action Items

Each priority will require you to complete specific tasks in order to move closer to achieving the main goal. Take time to look at each priority and sequentially plan what you need to do—or to delegate—in order to make your goal a reality. Think through the procedures and policies that must be followed, and record them under the item on your priority list. See “How
to Plan Action Items” on page 21 for some real-world examples of fitness-related tasks.

Before moving to the next exercise, ask yourself if these action items can be simplified or condensed to make each step as small and easy to complete as possible.

Exercise 2: Create a Calendar

This is the commitment stage of your goal setting, when you actually start scheduling times to address your action items. The easiest way to move action items from your list to your calendar is to pick the first action step from each priority and mark it down for the first week of your calendar. Step two from each of your 10 priorities would fill the second week, and so on. Another option is to complete all the action items for a specific priority during the first and second weeks of your calendar. But remember to be realistic about what you can accomplish in your limited time each week. Make sure you list action items in the order they will need to be completed and in a timely sequence. This way you can be sure to finish the action items ahead of schedule.

Exercise 3: Keep Yourself Accountable

Sounds easy, huh? But if it really was that easy to police ourselves, none of us would have a problem setting and achieving our goals in a timely manner—yet we all do! Here is a suggestion for busy fitness managers who spend the majority of their time putting out fires instead of working proactively and productively. Set aside time on your calendar each week to actively work on your business plan goals and priorities! The trick is that this must be “closed-door time,” when you do not answer the phone or get distracted with other work.

Some managers prefer to take this time on Monday morning before beginning the busy workday. Others prefer to do this during evenings or weekends when the club is slower. Some find it more helpful to break out their weekly action items over the course of each workday, which means doing just one or two small things each day instead of an hour of tasks. If for any reason you are not able to accomplish all of the weekly action items you had scheduled for yourself, move the leftover tasks to the following week along with the work you had already planned. Keep your business plan visible as a motivator and reminder of your achievements; you may even want to post your plan above your desk so you see it each morning.

Exercise 4: Keep Others Accountable

Some of your action items are bound to require the assistance of other people. If those people fail to perform their own tasks well or on time, it can delay your progress. To get a prompt response from colleagues and employees, you need to be clear and specific.

Give each person specific instruction and clarify exactly what you expect to
be done and when the task needs to be completed. Always get the person to commit to a hard deadline and ask if he or she would like periodic reminders from you. Be courteous and respectful of everyone’s time; this will help make each person feel part of a team.

Behold Your Business Plan

Congratulations: Your business plan is now complete. You have identified where your focus is needed to reach the goals you deem most valuable. You know what is necessary to move you and your team closer to those goals. You have listed specific, measurable, achievable, realistic goals based on your top priorities and have allotted the time necessary to accomplish them. Finally, you have some tools to guide you when you lose focus or direction as to your role as a fitness manager.

Fitness managers get pulled in many directions each day. Having good intentions is worthy, but intentions alone will not propel you to success. Your business plan will reel you in when you get sidetracked on tasks or projects that are consuming too much time. It will motivate and challenge you to learn and grow as a manager, a leader and a person. Most importantly, you will become a successful manager.

In the next column, we will explore how to get the most profit from your people and your programs. Learn how to be more effective at getting results from your team without compromising your values.