Chantal : Kate Golden is the director of people and fitness operations for the Newtown Athletic Club, a 250000 square foot individually owned lifestyle facility. She oversees all fitness and wellness operations for the club. Kate was named as one of the 2017 IHRSA Rising Stars, so I started the interview by asking her what that recognition means to her.
Kate: You know, when I got that email, I was pretty excited, to be honest. I have no idea how many were even nominated, but just getting the email saying I was a Rising Star, I’ve been working probably since I could walk, so to be recognised by the industry, trade was quite an accomplishment that I’m proud of. The industry is filled with passionate, talented people and everyone has a common goal to help people lead a healthier life, so we’re super lucky to have IHRSA and to have that trade organisation that they’d really go over the top to ensure that we have all the knowledge we need to do better and that we stay up on trends, so I’m really proud to be a part of IHRSA, as a whole.
Chantal : Being one of the IHRSA Rising Stars for 2017, what does that mean for your team at Newtown Athletic Club?
Kate: Yeah. To be honest, it’s a testament to who the NAC is. I mean, our club is filled with rising stars, if you ask me, and some bright shiny experience stars, too, so we continuously try to be better and to bring the best programming to better our club, but we’re also trying to better ourselves and our club invest in our team members, so as much as I was nominated as the Rising Star, I’m pretty sure it represents my entire team.
Chantal : Now you’re the director of people and fitness operations at Newtown Athletic Club. Do you want to just give us an overview of what your role is responsible for?
Kate: Sure. It’s a mix of fitness and people because when I was first hired, I was hired to do HR, and I think HR is a boring title, so I created the title of Director of People Operations.
Chantal : I love that you created your own title.
Kate: Yeah. Our owner said I can call myself anything I want and I could be the Queen of the Fitness or Queen of the People if I wanted to.
Chantal : You should have just gone with that.
Kate: I know. I should have. We only have one queen at the NAC, and it’s Linda Mitchell, so I think she’s earned that right.
Chantal : Right, right.
Kate: Then for people, about one year or two years into overseeing HR, I was handed the personal training teams or our owner asked me to take the 12000 square foot fitness centre, throw it down the road, and act like it was mine. So, on a daily basis, I oversee 25 personal trainers and they do everything from one-on-one training to team. We have a large group training called Spartan. We have a six-zone circuit training that’s included in your membership, and we have a pretty easy sports performance team. So I oversee all of that aspect of training and then I also oversee our group fitness programming, and we have over 200 classes a week. We have 60 instructors, our nutrition, our wellness programmes that we have, and then I do the HR as needed as well.
I conduct quarterly trainings for our managers, I do a monthly new employee orientation, and then I help create the job descriptions and interview processes and handle any employee issues as needed.
Chantal : Wow, that’s a huge role, Kate.
Kate: Well, I’m super lucky that I have such an amazing team who really does manage a lot of that day to day operations. So I’m really lucky in that sense.
Chantal : Yeah, and I should just mention to everyone now, you did mention your boss, Jim Worthington, and for anyone that didn’t already catch that show, Jim was actually one of our guests back in Show 34, so that was in our early days, about in the first six months or so of the show. So you can go back and check that out, and he talked about how a health club can make a difference when you focus on wellness, which was great, having Jim on the show.
You just mentioned then, Kate, about your team and how important they are. Talk to me about leadership behaviours. What would you say, what leadership behaviours do you feel are needed in order to lead such a large team?
Kate: I believe that you shouldn’t ask your team to do anything you wouldn’t do, and that goes for anything, from re-racking weights to cleaning up the turf to putting in the extra time to help members out. I believe that you have to lead by example, so a lot of times, I won’t ask a team member to go re-rack weights. I will ask them if they would help me, so I pick up the weights and call somebody over to help me start re-racking, and I think that when you lead by example, then your team tends to follow and eventually, you don’t need to ask them to help you and they just do it. So I think that’s one of the main things that has helped me lead our fitness team.
All the teams, when I first started and I oversaw housekeeping and front desk, I did their job with them. For our housekeeping team, I worked with them from 8 to 12, till midnight, and sometimes till 1 in the morning, and I cleaned right beside them, and it really helped to build relationships and see what it really does take to do their job, and we went from thinking that we had to cut some of our housekeeping staff to actually just putting in some better processes and hiring more, but I think that when you work right next to them, front desk, same thing, and with our personal trainers, a lot of times when you’re doing the job with them, you can see what they need, and they respect you for that.
Chantal : Yeah, that’s a great piece of advice, and I think sometimes when we get caught up in being in a management role, there can be a lapse into just sitting behind the computer or going to meetings and stuff like that, but actually being on the ground and working side by side with your team, as you say, “… gives you such a great insight into what’s happening in your facility.”
Kate: Right, yeah. I think leading by example is one of the most basic things that you can do, and really listening to what they want or to what they need, so I think that spending that time with them is the other key to leading them.
Chantal : Kate, given that when we look at that team of personal trainers that you are overseeing, do you find any challenges with working with that many PTs?
Kate: Well, there are 25 people and 25 different personalities, so of course there can be, but to be honest, I think the biggest challenge is time. When I first started, I was doing one on ones with every one of them every single week, and the first one was a half hour and then after that, it was 15 minutes, but once I got to know them, I could kind of put in a structure and figure out who I needed to spend the most time with and who could stand on their own two feet and do their job with their eyes closed, and they needed to be a little bit more challenged, but not on a weekly basis.
So I think my biggest challenge was time, and really, that people aspect of it. Sometimes you get into working and you’re going from task to task and getting things done and you kind of need to stop and listen and realise that all 25 of those people have families and personal lives, that they want you to care. I think from remembering their kids’ names to what their kids activities do, or that they don’t have any children and they like not having children and they go out with their friends, and what they do or what their favourite drink is or favourite workout.
In my phone, I have all my team members in there and in the note section, I try to track little notes about them, so from their favourite snack to their favourite lunch to what high school or college they went to, what sports they played. So I try to keep little notes on them just so I can remember everything about them.
Chantal : Do you keep that in Evernote?
Kate: No, I keep that in my cell phone under their name, so [crosstalk 00:08:13]-
Chantal : Right, right.
Kate: So I can access it a little bit.
Chantal : Right, okay. It’s a great tip. I mean, it’s something that we can all do certainly in our client relationships, but as you say, it’s great to do for our team members as well to keep up to date with what’s going on in their lives, and create that point of connection.
So, given the amount of experience that you’ve had managing personal trainers, what advice would you give to any new managers who are maybe just starting out managing PTs?
Kate: I was actually still overseeing the pool complex when I took over the personal training team. So I was outside and I scheduled interviews for them, not that they were interviewing for their job, but I really interviewed each one of them and let them interview me so that got to know me and my background and things that I was passionate about, and the interview process was more about how I could help them, so I learned a lot more about them, and I think that’s important for any new manager, to go into it as how you’re gonna help this team and how you’re gonna help each one individually. So when I sat down to get to know them, I was 29 at the time, and some of the people on my team had 15, 20 years of experience and they know a lot, so I really took that opportunity to learn from them, learn their experience ’cause they’ve been at the club for over 10 years, and they kinda told me stories and I learned a lot, and a changed a lot of things based on their feedback. I think that when you’re a new manager in a position, that learning from your team is key.
Chantal : Next up, I ask Kate to share one important, non-negotiable aspect of team management. Here’s what she had to say.
Kate: I think I would have concentrated a little bit on goal setting, so that is one of the keys to our secret sauce when it came to increasing our personal training revenue over the past couple years, I think having team goals and then individual goals was key to getting everyone on the same page. Our whole club runs an open book, so we know all of the financial of our club, but our lion level employees didn’t know at the time, so I really shared all that with our personal trainers and then showed them how they impact that number, and that’s the revenue goals, but then we also have goals for our net promoter score.
So we use a tool called Medallia and we get a net promoter for our personal dream team and our friendliness, so I really think that sharing we were, setting a goal together as a team on where we wanted to go, and then creating that action plan to get there was one of the most important things, and it was really important to not do it just on revenue and to really focus on our client interactions and our net promoter score were huge keys in that success.
Chantal : When you think about goal setting in relation then to the PTs that you work with, Kate, how do you work with them in order to help them set goals for their individual performances?
Kate: When they first start out, I have it kind of a little bit more detailed, but when they first start out, we do agreements, so you try and get the monthly contracts, and in their first six weeks, once they’re finished training, their goal is to get four contracts in six weeks, and then every month after that, it’s to get four. That’s kind of where we start out with the goal setting, and once they get one, you just need them to get that one contract, you high five them and you celebrate that goal, and that’s for when they first start, and then everybody that kind of had the starting point, I normally increase depending on where they are. So it can be anywhere from a 5% increase to a 10% increase, but it’s really asking them to set their own goal.
I learned a long time ago that you want that person to have the buy-in and you want them to set their own goal, and then you want to kind of lead them in the right direction to make sure that they’re gonna accomplish it. So you don’t want them to shoot over too high either, ’cause then if they don’t hit it, then it’s a failure, so you want it to have that stretch that it’s not too easy and it’s not impossible.
We really focus on that, on the smart goals, but I will tell you that one of the first things I did was, when we set the team goal, when we accomplished it, the first month, I got everyone kid-sized smoothies and we all cheered with our smoothie. I made everyone high five and cheers each other with their smoothies, and we celebrate it together, and the amount of team members who came up to me afterwards saying, “Wow, we’ve never celebrated, and it was a smoothie, and I’ve never been so excited for a smoothie,” was … You know, and they looked forward to that then, which was funny ’cause it was just a smoothie. It costs nothing, and they think I’m crazy ’cause I am all about the high fives. I will stalk you out looking for you when I get the contract in my folder, and then if it’s your first one, then I will run up to you and celebrate you right on the fitness floor, but it gets them excited, too, so I do think it makes a lot of difference.
Chantal : Thank you so much to Kate Golden for that great advice. I love her passion for celebrating success and I think that it’s a really good reminder that something as simple as a high five, or her example of buying smoothies for the team, goes such a long way to make your team feel really appreciated.
Now, let’s get straight into our second interview with guest, Steve Jensen. That’s right, it’s my pleasure to be welcoming back today’s guest. He is a friend of the show. It is Steve Jensen, the CEO and founder of the Impact Training Corporation and The National Sales Academy. Welcome back, Steve.
Steve: Hey, great to be here Chantal.
Chantal : Really excited to have you here today because this is a topic that I know that many people do struggle with, and what we’re wanting to talk to you about today is we all attend conferences as part of our learning as a fitness professional. We all attend training. We’re encouraged to upscale and personally, I find I go along to these conferences and I learn the most incredible information, but then you get back into everyday life and sometimes it’s hard to know how to take that information and implement it and make sure that we actually utilise what it is that we have learnt. Do you reckon you can talk to us about how can we ensure that we take that information and implement it into our businesses?
Steve: Well, that’s a great question, and it’s interesting. Back many, many years ago when I started with Impact and so forth, prior to that, I was a bit of a seminar junkie and used to go to all these seminars, read all these books, and one of the big things that I’m a little bit different to a lot of people, I implement things straight away, and with my businesses and so forth, I was doing training, but we were finding that the managers and so forth weren’t implementing as well as, let’s say, I’d do, and we just used to get frustrated.
So, we’ve now embarked on some of the processes that we were using, and it really came down to having knowledge on not just the information. You should have a plan of action on how you are going to implement it before you go to your training. Let me give you an example. I’m going to a convention and I’m going to learn X. After you’re finished, you’re gonna say, “Well, how are we going to implement it?” The problem is usually just one person goes to that session. You should have two, and the reason you should have two is that you can then hold each other accountable, but also have another person with the IP. Nothing’s worse than having one person’s, let’s say, interpretation of the training, so you have two people that understand it and then you have an action plan afterwards, and then you’ll then just go into implementing it.
Now the challenge here is did the person learn the material at a convention? Usually not. The challenge here is actually to then actually implement it yourself, so you become a champion of the process. Nothing is worse than someone getting up in front of you and trying to teach you something they heard an expert talk about, and you have no idea how to do it, so you need to use a process called the six plus one process. It’s called the rule of six plus one, which means you have to actually say, do, and actually hear the material, and the do is so important. Show, tell, do six times, relax for a little bit, and then regurgitate it to make sure that you’ve learnt it, and that’s when you then impart the information to someone else. They have to see, hear, and do the activity six times and then they’ll be able to actually implement it. It’s a 62% retention after that.
Chantal : Okay, so let’s put this into a practical example. Let’s say I’ve come along to one of your sessions at FILEX, you’ve presented on sales, I’m a club owner, and I’ve come along with my club manager. We are now gonna go back to our club a couple of days after the conference and so what you’re saying is one of us needs to take charge and be the champion? Then you mentioned the see, show, and tell, was it?
Steve: Yeah, show, tell, do.
Chantal : Show, tell, do, okay. What are three examples of walking into the club and how do we do that with our team?
Steve: Let’s say you’ve learned yourself to close and you say, “That’s gonna be our baby. That’s gonna be so good.” So what you’ll do with your buddy that went to the convention, you’ll say, “Let’s practise this together.” So I would then show and tell you this. In other words, I will participate in doing that and I’ll explain it to you and then actually do it. In other words, you do it six times with each other. When we do training, when we have a full day’s training, we do roleplays where we get someone to do it three times with each other so that we know that they’ve heard and done it six times. We then have a little bit of feedback and then say, “Do it one more time.”
So when the two people come back from a convention, they need to roleplay this themselves and then what happens is it’ll go into their subconscious, which means they’ll say, “Gee, that was a lot easier.” Instead of going to your team and just saying, “This is what we learned at FILEX,” they actually can do it, and that’s why it’s really important to actually practise this, but everyone hates role play, so I say, “It’s not role-serious, it’s role play. It’s real play. Just actually play. Just have some fun, laugh. When you laugh, you’re learning.”
If these two people do this well, the great thing about this is they become the champions of the process. Let’s say we have a full day’s training with Impact Training, go into a club, we have a really great day, tonnes of role play, a lot of laughing. What then takes place is we need a champion in that room that says, “Yeah, I love this. I just actually love it,” and I say, “What’s your action plan?” So they need to go back and do an implementation of it, and then when they are teaching these champions, they will learn five times faster. So when you actually are doing it and you learn it and then you’re teaching somebody else, your subconscious is learning the modalities much, much faster and they become champions.
Chantal : Let’s say, for example, we work in a business with a number of different staff members. Is there a particular role that you find makes a better champion? Does it depend on what they’re passionate about, what they’re interested in? How do you identify or choose which person should be the one to champion a particular topic and then spread the word to the rest of the team?
Steve: That’s a great question. Look, there are some people that go to a training, they’re maybe not passionate or really interested. You hit the nail on the head, Chantal, where they have to really like it. They say, “Wow, I’d love to be able to do that!” I have people in training these days and you see that our heart goes on in their eyes, and they laugh and say, “That is so great. It’s so different to what we’ve done,” and they just can’t wait to go and do it, and so I’ve actually had people at lunchtime kind of walk in, come in, or whatever the case may be, and instantly, from the training they’ve done, gone and done the process or the activity and come back saying, “Oh, my goodness, it worked.”
Now, this is the type of person you want to champion it. It’s not the person sitting in the room that’s sort of reluctantly in a training. So that champion usually is the manager, the sales manager, or the receptions manager, that person with that energy and can do, and they must be able to follow through with a plan, but it is so important that they have an interest and actually are excited, and that’s why in sales and in leadership and in training, it’s really communication skills, and when we do our training, it’s really important that people can take it outside into the real world, so to speak, with family and at home and friends and so forth, where they can really benefit from being a better communicator and getting what they want, but that is a win-win, and I continually get feedback on people saying, “Oh, I use this at home with dad,” or, “I do this with my girlfriend and it just makes life so much easier,” but they’re champions and they have to have that interest, so you actually hit the nail on the head.
Chantal : Talking about communication, which you just mentioned there, are there any other skills that you would recommend would be useful in this situation?
Steve: Many, many years ago, I introduced the model of DISC into the fitness industry and everyone says they understand the process of DISC. The challenge is they don’t actually use it. The primary behavioural style and the secondary is critical, but also below behavioural style. So when you actually are teaching somebody, you do need to know what their behavioural style is because let’s just say, for instance, someone’s a dominant, direct person that’s influential. They’ll want things very quickly and upbeat, where a person that is maybe a little bit more steady and cautious won’t want to have that trained to them that way, so it’s quite important that managers and people that are implementers actually understand their own behaviour and modify their teaching and their language, really, to suit the person they’re training.
The other thing that is a good skill to get your head around is to understand that in NLP, there’s a thing called visual, auditory, and kinesthetic. To actually learn something, you have to have at least two of those components in your training. You either have to see it and hear it or you might have to kinda see it and feel it. Now, most people learn from an experience, so show, tell, do does all that, so understand that. Make sure you avoid at all costs, and this is a really important takeaway for today, is don’t be a tell-fest manager inspirator.
The problem here is that people say, “You should do this,” and, “You should do that,” and, “You need to do this,” and this is called a tell-fest. A tell-fest teaches nothing. Everyone nods their head because they understand what people are saying, but they have no idea how to do it. You’ve got to actually do it six to seven times to learn it, so please, for the guys out there, please don’t get lazy with implementation. Make sure that you spend the time, and it does take time, to make sure that you’re practically doing it, and we’ve said for 100 years now, they need to continually role play. Well, it should be fun and it should be putting it into that subconscious, so if someone does this, it instantly happens there. So you need to understand the DISC, put it on file, and you could just get a nice report, but that does that, doesn’t cost much money.
Now the last thing is their values. You need to know what drives a person to implement those things. Is it money? Is it harmony? Is it something like unity? Is it security? These are another thing that you then will then train that person to be able to implement the reasons we’ll link to their values, not just their behaviour. So there are three things that you can get simple reports done and be able to use them.
Chantal : I think that’s so interesting what you were talking about, the tell-fest. I haven’t heard that term before, but as you were talking about it, I was thinking to myself yep, I know people that are like that and I’ve been in that situation before where it’s just been about the talking and the telling as opposed to your suggestion of the showing and the doing as well. So I’m sure that will resonate with a number of people out there.
Steve, look, there’s one last thing I’m hoping you can maybe leave us with. You did talk about having an action plan. Do you want to just run us through the steps that you think are absolutely necessary in that action plan?
Steve: Okay, well the first thing is, make sure that you have absolute clarity on what you want to learn, okay? So, “I want to take this away.” Get the activity or the skill and then go back to your business and practise it with somebody else. That’s the first part of it. Make sure you don’t just do it once or twice. Make sure you really get it.
The next thing is, what you actually are then teaching your team, make sure you understand their behaviours and their values and spend the time firstly, showing them how it is and when you actually do the demonstration, they go, “Wow!” They’ll be in awe of you. Then you need to then say, “Right, break it up into chunks,” and by the way, always break it up into small chunks and then build on those chunks, “and then do it six to seven times.”
Now, one little trick that we do when we do training is once they’ve done it these six times, I then get them to do it three times after that in a row, without making a mistake, and sometimes they make a [inaudible 00:26:31] drill, on the second one, I go, “Start from scratch,” but you know what? We laugh about it afterwards and they say, “Wow, I really took it away.”
Last but not least, always, always make sure that you do a thing called a followup, and this is a process called implementation coaching. Firstly, reinforce is number one. Check that they’re doing it. Even if they’re doing it correctly, coach them. Inspect it again. Reinforce. Check it again, coach, and acknowledge. People respond really well to positive reinforcement, so when I hear someone do something really well, I’ll say, “Wow, I really love the way you did that assumptive close or you overcome the objection. Outstanding!” That’s gonna motivate somebody far, far more than saying, “You need to do this and you need to do that.” Positive reinforcement is a phenomenal tool to actually get it done again. People like to please people, and I can assure you, everybody responds to kindness and also to positive reinforcement.
Chantal : Great advice. Once we’ve implemented all of that, those recommendations, are there any final things that we should do?
Steve: One of the big things is once people are actually doing things well, you know how people like to be acknowledged? One of the big things I get feedback on is that people work really hard and get a great result and sometimes, management or the seniors in the company just take it for granted, and find out how they like to be acknowledged. Now, I made a big mistake many, many years ago. I kept giving one of my team members movie tickets to go to the movies, and I said, “Ah, well done, Debbie!” And I gave her these movie tickets, and she’s such a bubbly excited girl, and she absolutely took them with a big smile on her face. We used to do little challenges and I’d give her another movie ticket. Anyway, long story short, I found out that she absolutely detests the movies, but she was so excited about doing a good job. What she actually did like was books, so I then took the movie tickets back and I gave her some books.
Now, some people like presents. Some people just like to be told. This is a VAK model. Some people like to receive. Other people like to actually be told, publicly or privately, by somebody that they respect, or the other person might need to feel important, and it’s very interesting, many staff members and team members, even managers and CEOs, sometimes are never told how important they are.
Find out, and the way to do this is ask your team member, “When was the last time you really felt appreciated and acknowledged at work? Was it when you were given something?” Give them an example. “Was it when you were told something, public or privately, or was it when you were made to feel special?” They will tell you that, and that is their trigger for you to say, “Well, what sort of things would you like me to give you? How would you like me to tell you, privately or publicly? How would you like to be made to feel important?” Put it on their file and acknowledge good performance and implementation. I promise you, I promise you, they will continue to do it.
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