PASS IT ON

The “science” of delegation.

There are a lot of things to do in a day when trying to run a successful facility — too many to mention here. More than any person can do by himself or herself, in fact. So why do so many try? The answer to that comes from the mysterious art of delegation. Too many times delegation often turns into dumping, leading to extra work for the management team. The reason the art of delegation escapes so many is because it is, in fact, more of a science than an art.

Set up a foundation for success

There is a process that needs to be in place for management of a company of any size to effectively delegate responsibilities, according to Bruce Carter, president of Weston, FL-based Optimal Fitness Systems International.

“Operators need to create the right environment for employees to successfully handle work delegated out to them,” Carter says. “There needs to be a plan in place that includes goals, objectives, and a job description for every employee. This way they know their job responsibilities, the goals they and the company are looking to achieve, and a plan to accomplish reaching these goals.”

But there shouldn't be too much rigidity when it comes to delegation, adapting to the needs of the staff members you are delegating responsibilities to, adds says Dave Crowley, principle at Resonating Inc. a training company based in Denver.

“Set broad direction and ask for details from your staff, so they have input in the process and truly understand the tasks at hand,” Crowley says. “Be prepared to help if needed on details. Much depends on the experience level of your staff, the more experienced your staff, the less detail needed from you.”

Know your staff

This process starts by hiring the right people — people that can grow along with expanding needs of the club — and give them tasks that fit their personalities and capabilities. In short, Crowley has learned that detailed people usually require written instructions, while enthusiastic personalities will run with the ball quickly — sometimes before you've even passed it — and social personalities dislike schedules and spend a lot of time on team morale.

“Know the personalities of your staff both talent and character,” says Crowley. “Feed the tigers meat and lambs grass. Not everyone can handle the same load. In short: know your people.”

Delegate responsibilities and accountability

When handing out new assignments and duties it is important to remember that it is important for employee to know what it is that is expected, why it is expected, and what it is in it for the club and them.

“It is important to remember that there has to be measurable performance results that are built into the original plan and then adjusted as needed for new job functions,” says Carter. “You can't just dump a new job on someone without having them feel part of the bigger picture, and knowing how this function fits into that big picture.”

Crowley agrees about this need. “Delegate responsibility and accountability. Since your people are sharing the risk they should also share in the reward and consequences,” he says. “The key word here is sharing. Never let them hang out alone if there is a foul up. It is your responsibility too.”

Train and retrain

The process readying a staff member for handling new responsibilities is one of the key, yet often overlooked, duties of the owner/operator, GM, and manager.

“Often management is believes it is too busy to train the staff, but spending a little time today will help the chain down the road and free the owner or manager up to grow the business,” Carter says “You must train your staff in the duties they are expected to carry out from day one so there is no confusion. Then they must be retrained to handle new duties that are given to them as they grow with a company.”

Give 'em a chance

It is tough to watch people struggle to learn new tasks, especially when the owner/operator is closely tied to the business. But, it is essential for the growth of the outfit and the staff to let them learn by doing it on their own.

Furthermore, Crowley adds that it is important for managers to avoid trying to “save the day” even if you can do it faster and better. “Continually stepping in undermines employees' confidence,” he says. “Support them, but don't do their work for them. Let them cut their own meat.”

Carter adds that it will be worth the little snags that will come when delegating out tasks once the staff can walk on their own.

“Being able to let go of responsibility and that idea that ‘I can do it better,’ is difficult,” he says. “But eventually it will allow the manager or owner to spend their days as growing the business, not acting as a fire fighter taking care of the problems that often occupy too much of the day.”
— J.A.

FAIR PLAY

Organizing a successful health fair at your facility.

Health and fitness go hand-in-hand, and a well-organized — and free — health fair can bring in lots of new visitors (and potential members) to your club, as well as garner much-needed publicity from the local press and media. The key, though, is to have a well-run fair. Keep the following steps in mind next time you consider organizing a health fair at your club.

Determine your fair's focus

“First figure out what the theme of the fair will be, what the focus is going to be,” advises Mirabai Holland, the director of fitness and wellness programs for the 92nd St. Y in New York, as well as author, and founder of Mirabai Holland International Inc., a consulting company for health clubs. Also, Holland continues, no matter what theme you go with, the fair will inevitably be a showcase for your facility so you'll want to make sure you show yourself in a good light by being organized.

Promote! Promote! Promote!

Without a successful marketing plan in place, your fair will be a waste of time. “The success of the health fair is determined by how its promoted,” says Terrence Diaz, president of Health Fair USA (www.healthfair.com), a Florida-based company which helps to organize health fairs for various businesses, as well as provides various medical screenings at the fairs). “So you have to be able to do the right advertisements to bring the crowd,” he continues. “If you don't do the first step correctly with the promotions, even if you do the [subsequent] steps correctly, generally the fair is considered a bust.”

According to Diaz, marketing and promotions have to start at least two months prior to the day of the event. This means you need to advertise the fair in-house in your newsletters, as well as with flyers, and with press releases sent to local radio stations, newspapers, magazines and TV stations. One useful way to get some free publicity for the fair, advises Diaz, is to invite a radio station to the event as a vendor.

Contact vendors with care

Without the vendors, the fair isn't much of a fair. However, you may want to think of the fair as like an elitist high-society dinner party where certain guests don't want to be seated next to certain other guests. In other words, don't invite competing vendors or you'll be in for a headache. “When it comes to selection of vendors, care must be taken to not repeat the same type of vendors,” says Diaz. “If three chiropractors are brought in, next thing you know they'll start screaming at you, ‘Why is my competition here?!’”

Involve your club, both staff and members

One of the purposes of a health fair is to show off the club to fair-goers, and there is no better way for people to see what belonging to the club would be like then by getting them involved with actual members and staff. From sampler classes, to a complimentary 15-minute session with a personal trainer, to nutritional counseling from your staff nutritionist, the fair is an ideal time to “soft-sell” your club (never hard-sell your club at a fair). “We also set up a stage and we have these small ‘samplers’ throughout the day,” Holland says. These samplers are a performance by both instructors and members (i.e. your belly dance group class could put on a show, or you could have a spin class on stage). “It's kind of a cool thing that health clubs can do to demonstrate their facility.”

You'll also want to make sure your staff is involved in the initial preparations for the fair so that everyone is on the same page and knows what is expected from them. “You don't want [the fair] to be unorganized, because as wonderful as it can be, it can also be a big mess,” adds Holland.
— L.S.