Recently, I was faced with a challenge, not at work or in the gym, but rather in the apartment community I live in. This became an even larger challenge when I spoke to Management/Leadership (I usually term a Management team “leadership” instead of Management, but in this case, even Management maybe a big stretch!) and the conversation was not good. No vision, no purpose, no plan and no clue as to what people are truly saying about the community since they have taken over.
As I read the Google reviews, the Manager, took major offense to what I was reading and declared that she would go online and “address” these comments immediately! Let’s say it together folks, “BAD IDEA!”
In looking at this situation, I can’t help but to give some pointers to the costs of a poor transition and a poorer transition team. I mean, let’s face it, in the Gymnastics business we face this situation every time a key staff or popular coach leaves our program to head on to what they believe are greener pastures. I, as many of you, have seen it handled very well and I have also seen it destroy a once great business, stressing the owners and employees to the max as they tried to bounce back and regain traction.
Here are some thoughts and recommendations for transitions. They are going to happen, and when they do you need to be prepared.
- Content is KING! – Interesting first step. What do I mean? In most all businesses, transitions, setbacks, failures, and dropped balls can be easily recovered from by being honest and transparent to the issue. Spinning or utilizing the problem or tribulation to both acknowledge the elephant in the room and give a quick clear, decisive next step forward to resolve is a fantastic way to save face and begin the process of recovery. This is extremely powerful when making a transition of coaches. Acknowledge the great things that the one exiting has done and qualities they brought and then over power it with a clear short plan of what is happening now and what will be happening in the coming days. In many cases, this isn’t a sudden change. Most professionals will discuss and give amble notice. However, no matter if they do or they don’t, your consistent updates and messaging of what is yet to come, playing off the tribulation, can in most cases, save the day. Allowing you time to find the right person and work them into the program without additional turmoil.
- Offense is your best Defense – In my opinion, as a business owner/gym manager/Director, you should have a clear exit strategy for each of your key staff, including yourself. That plan would include, a clear and decisive process for exit, how any remaining compensation or benefits will be handled, and a concise strategy for how to inform the clientele. I would suggest tying the remaining compensation and a small bonus of some kind to this formal plan of exit to empower you the owner, manager, director to have all communications come from you having the exiting staff go silent for a time, deferring all comments, questions and concerns to you the owner. This can even outline how the exiting person can assist with the transition. I know, this is not always how it goes down, however, having this plan in place will speed up the process of communication to the clients and give you a clear direction and plan forward should a sudden exit take place.
- Start today in engaging your audience with highlights of programming and program/gym specials – It boggles my mind that many gym owners have little to no content or communications coming directly from them on what all is going on and is great about their gym and the programs it offers. Don’t believe me that this is a problem, have a key staff or popular coach leave and let me know who listens to you who! Go back to tip #1, Content is KING!, you, the business owner need to be consistently plugging your plan for the future, highlighting great things in your programs and the coaches that help you provide them so that in the event one of those “great coaches” up an leaves, you have the open mic, so to speak, to take your “offense” straight to the issue and the people you serve.
It sucks when thing change and people leave. It also can provide additional opportunity if it is played right by a savvy owner that has planned for the rainy day! In the case of my apartment community, these folks are at present, a lost cause. The new Property Manager has rose colored glasses on and no idea what she is doing or how to start moving the community out of chaos and into flourishing again. We will probably end up moving one more time before having our home built. Sad, this community under the right leadership is AMAZING both in cost, value and location. Those good qualities quickly drop to the bottom of the list when the perception being put out to the public is one of disorganization, under qualified management, and understaffed.
I am Bryan Kiser, I live BOLD using my expertise and experience to help as many people as I can to be better now than they were a minute ago and even better tomorrow than they are today. The sets of life’s waves of opportunity are coming in clean and big…. gotta go!