Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Why I've Fired More Trainers Than I've Hired: 10 Reasons Why I'd Probably Fire You

Many people know me as a personal trainer that does his own thing and never follows the crowd. What others don't know is that I've also served (and currently still do) as a fitness director/manager for the last 10 years. Along with being a business owner, I also manage a fitness center at a private country club weekdays. Along with wearing those hats, I am also an educator at a local community college teaching exercise to young, aspiring personal trainers. So my days and weeks are filled with more than programming single leg squats, push-up variations, and deadlifting--they also include creating member promotions, logging retention numbers, buying high-end equipment and managing a staff. Over the years, I have had countless conversations with people wishing to intern with me, work for me, and learn from me. I have had many people reveal their passion for being the "best trainer they can be" and "change as many lives as possible". Forgive me for sounding callous, but I've heard  this mess for so long that it is rarely absorbed. Why is it rarely absorbed? Because my expectations of today's workforce are grim due to societal changes over the last 5-8 years. I see too many students feeling "entitled" and having an attitude that they "deserve" a job once they finish from undergraduate or even secondary schooling. 

There is a sense that, "I finished this course, paid alot of where is my job???"

Here is what I hear during interviews: "I finished the course, paid alot of money for GIVE ME my job!!!"

Truth is...I am old school. I look people in the eye. I keep a poker face, I ask the questions, and I rarely let you know what I am thinking. I believe in hard work and putting in your time to succeed. I believe in a pecking order. There are reasons why I fire, or more politically correct, "let go", "sever" or "dissolve" employment with trainers that I've hired. Sometimes, its an error of judgement on my part; but other times, its simply because they just don't get it.

No one part is bigger than the whole. And most of today's workforce has forgotten this.

The reasons why I have fired so many trainers over the last 10 years? Many trainers don't understand that you are a representative of your direct supervisor and the business  If you are insubordinate for any reason, the club's reputation is smeared or your boss is directly affected simply by indirect involvement  Most times, when you apply for a position  you read something called an "Employee At-Will" Policy. This states that someone like me can fire you at any time presumably that you have broken the facility's policies and procedures. Most times, you are not reading the handbook that states the policies and this is why you tend to  be "offended" when fired.

Below are some reasons why I have fired trainers over the last 10 years....or conditions that would expedite your release from employment (depending on certain circumstances):

Reason #1: You are habitually late to work. Listen, maybe you are late once or twice because the babysitter was late; you got stuck in traffic, or you had a doctor's appointment. I can understand these occasions  However, habitually means you are making it a habit to not get into work on time. And if you are keeping a client waiting; you are going to get called into my office. The problem with being late consecutively is that you disregard a basic principle of professionalism---punctuality. If I let you start late with your clients, then prospective clients will think that we ("the business") do not respect the time of our patrons.

Reason #2: You are bad-mouthing fellow staff, management or members. I understand if you need to air out your opinions on certain members or clients. That's fine as long as it is done in the break room, office, or during meetings. It helps that everyone talks about their smelly client, or any rudeness dealt with during the week. But, talking trash about another staff person or management (me) will not be tolerated. If its done on the gym floor or locker-rooms in earshot of members, you will be written up---which is just the politically correct term for the "beginning of the end". If you want talk smack about those two subjects--be slick about it and do it on a Friday night at the bar.

Reason #3: You are using your personal training position as a way to sleep with your female clients. I can't think of a different way to seem like a dirt-bag. If you only prefer training young, yoga pant-wearing females in hopes that you can land a date and a lay, you can see yourself out the door. I have had trainers talk about their bedroom conquests and reveal that they were sleeping with clients. Although it becomes a fine line as to what you do on your own time, but when it involves MULTIPLE paying members and clients, it is bad for business. Technically, if you begin a relationship with a client--she or he does not remain your paying client anymore. You will be instructed to keep it discreet and professional at all times--regardless if you are "punched in". Using your title of "personal trainer" to lure young, unsuspecting females into your bedroom liar and then dump them like yesterday's pie can cause a ripple affect within the business. Word will circulate and some members will wonder why you are being kept on staff. That makes me look bad and my supervisors look bad. Want to find dates? Try plenty of fish or match.

Reason #4: You are using unexplained irrational methods in your programs with your clients. I don't run a Crossfit facility; therefore I don't want to see 250 pound clients trying to perform kipping pull-ups, or overhead snatches. I like burpees, but it doesn't mean you start a client on them in the second training session. I trust your judgment...but I trust mine a little more. If I wanted to run a Crossfit facility, I would simply lease the name and open one up. I hired you because you led me to believe you have the ability to think on your own and understand how to progress clients through exercise. This is not a reason for me to fire you, we would definitely talk first. But if you kept it up, I'd have to let you go because I don't want to keep you from doing what you really want...which may be Crossfit.

Reason #5: I am discovering that most of your clients are becoming injured. To go along with reason #4, I am finding out that many of your clients are becoming injured. Or worse, they are contacting me to tell me that they are not happy with level of attention you are giving them during a session. If you have client(s) complaining of shoulder pain, maybe we should sit and discuss your rationale for many of the  exercise choices you are making. You see...its simply bad for business. If the goal is to build a sense of community around the gym,  that means people talk to one another. If they talk, word gets out that you are hurting--not helping--your clients. if you are having trouble designing programs around the injuries of clients, we may need to sit and discuss during staff meetings or shoot around some ideas. My job is to help you prosper. If you are not open to input from others,  then this may not work.

Reason #6: You are unproductive on the gym floor (i.e. your sales numbers are falling). I understand you are passionate. You love what you do and you love helping clients. But no one will know about your "passion" unless you MARKET it. Marketing is not a bad thing. Simply walking up to members while they are busy on the hamster wheels is a form of marketing. Every month, I give you a target of clients you should obtain. The number of client that purchase packages or classes determine the amount of money that we (the facility) makes and can use towards monies for next year. Those monies will determine salary increases, educational materials, staff apparel, insurance, and operational costs. I know it sounds like I am your "john" and you are my "whore", but the truth is, this fancy facility with the bright colors, heat and awesome equipment is not free. If you are not productive, you will be given a month to turn things around. If you are still having trouble or not "catching on"...we will have to part ways.

Reason #7: You refuse to attend paid continuing education seminars or conferences  When I develop the budget every year I allocate or put aside money for you and the staff  That money is approved by my bosses and it is to be used for trainers to attend seminars or conferences  Why do I do this? Because I want my staff to know the latest exercise research, techniques, and school of thought. It will enable you to provide the latest and most advanced programming schemes to your clients, and hopefully, make you lots of money. But if you refuse to go...bail out last minute after the payments have been processed...or don't see a reason to attend...I got to let you go. 

Reason #8: You are creeping out the members and fellow staff. I can understand if something happened recently in your private life that may have changed you a bit. Maybe you have become depressed, anxious, or becoming a stalker. However, staff congruency is important. We don't need to be alike, but we need to "click". If you are going "goth" or retracting into your shell--you should open up to someone and let it out. This is a people-position. When we get out onto the gym floor, we turn on our "professional" suit and we don't wear our hearts on our sleeves. We are here for the clients. if you have problems that are negatively affecting your job performance, attitude or demeanor--please be open about it. If the staff or members become uncomfortable around will lead to severing ties. And by that time, I cannot help you anymore.

Reason #9: You are busy texting or checking your fantasy football stats on your cell phone while training your client. Seriously...this goes along with reason #1. If you take the phone out during a session it is the surest form of disrespect and disregard. If your mother was in the doctor's office for a serious condition and was looking for answers from her physician  would you mind if he took out his phone to check a Facebook status? Professionalism is professionalism. There are no levels to it.

Reason #10: You simply have the wrong attitude. I've had trainers work for me that simply didn't work out. Attitude is a global term for a bunch of different discrepancies  Trainers that were terminated for a bad attitude may have been lazy, not team-oriented, not client focused, not "getting it" (money-making part of the career); or simply didn't respond well to my management style. Passionate trainers cannot be compensated on passion alone. You have to work hard to achieve greatness in your chosen profession. You don't become a great plumber because you like to be around faucets or water. You don't become a great auto-mechanic because you like to play with grease. Working hard to achieve greatness is a sure sign that a trainer will be successful. And it starts with the right attitude. That is a trainer I want on my staff.

I hope you enjoyed this post. There is always a little laxity in first-time subordinate offenses. Management style should always offer "growth" over "suppression" or "conformity". having the right type of mentors and bosses is the key to learning the in's and out's of the trade...and with a little searching, you can find them!

1 comment:

  1. I'm going to save this one for reference - it's great advice for professionals in any field. Thanks for blogging and sharing your experience and expertise.


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