How my gym teachers got me thinking about my management style

I’m not sure if you’ve experienced this too, but I am a fitness fanatic and I have all sorts of gym instructors with different teaching styles, that can affect my motivation and results in their classes.

And this got me does my management style affect my employees’ motivation, results and ultimately success for the business?

My body pump teacher Alison is really hard and so strict she is scary! No one is allowed to join the class after the allotted start time and we are told off if we chat in between sessions! But you know where you stand with her and when she says jump, you say how high?

She looks good, she knows what she’s doing and you can always expect a tough class and you can be sure you’ll be corrected on your technique where you needed, be prepared to be shouted at if you get distracted, and god forbid you get caught putting weights away before the end! Scary? Yes. But I know I get the results from Alison – she knows how to make me get them – she is super fit and up to date with the latest techniques for maximum results.

With a little more personal engagement and fun, there would be a bigger following and more loyalty here. But you can’t get away from the fact that Alison is a talented fitness machine that takes no prisoners – you will get results here – and that is why I continue to go back every Friday without fail!

Do you recognise your own management style here? Are you a tough, strict manager who gets results but might not have the loyalty from your staff that you hope for? Perhaps my advice would be a little more personal engagement and you might find you get the best of both worlds!

My body combat teacher Jill is just lovely! She is interested in us as people and she adds personality, energy and passion to the class. She is a fantastic teacher without the need to be autocratic – we all like her and she is good at what she does, so she always gets a full class of eager students that want to get fit! And we all like the fact that we can have fun while we do it!

Jill is super fit and highly respected, I never dread this class, in fact I look forward to it as it’s a great work out and we have such a laugh at the same time! I would follow Jill to another gym if she left – it’s lots of fun as well as a brilliant work out.

Are you a manager who everyone is eager to impress? Are your employees able to have a laugh while doing a good job? I’ve often heard candidates say how much they appreciate being able to have a joke with the boss whilst working hard -it makes you appear more approachable and human and it seems to motivate the team!

In between the 2 classes I’ve mentioned, I go to a body conditioning class with Hayley.

Now Hayley is a teacher everyone likes – she really looks out for everyone’s individual needs – she’s especially popular with the older in the class or those with injuries.

She takes the time to learn the names of her regulars and she always gives alternative moves so the whole class can be involved, whatever their age, sex, body weight or ability – totally inclusive!

Hayley plays great music that she changes weekly and the sessions are never the same so you don’t get bored and at the same time you’re always challenging new muscle groups.

Do you have a varied workforce? Do you try and make sure you are inclusive of everyone’s individual needs and play to their strengths? 

When the whole team feel included and find “their place” in the company, it works wonders for employee motivation and results and those staff that don’t just feel like a number will be loyal to you wherever you go.

Then we move onto Tom’s gym class...avoid these classes at all costs!

Tom leads the circuits class and we could pretty much do it without him even being there! He lays out the same circuits every single week, with the same intervals and instructions. His idea of mixing things up is to go round the circuits anti-clockwise instead of clockwise...I mean, really???

Even our suggestions for making it more interesting fall on deaf ears and he doesn’t seem to care that people come once and don’t return - it’s rubbish! The students here aren’t challenged and barely have any direction. He might as well sit and read a book in the corner whilst we just get on with it.

I would be delighted if this class was replaced with a more motivated instructor and if I ever find out that Tom has been asked to take over one of my other classes, I will politely decline and take myself off for a run instead!

Do you recognise yourself here? Are you that manager that everyone is waiting for to leave? Do you find your employees are de-motivated, don’t produce the results you expect and can’t wait for 5pm every day when they can officially clock off? 

Don’t be a Tom – people don’t want to work for a Tom – they want a more exciting, stimulating work environment where they feel listened to and where they can expect a bit of variety! They want to learn; they don’t want to feel like they could do a better job than Tom with just a little bit of effort.

A bored, stagnant workforce won’t achieve results and definitely isn’t the kind of team new, vibrant employees want to join! Toms will go around in circles here, they will lose staff quickly and will struggle to hire the best because they just aren’t dynamic enough! Eventually Toms will be demoted.

Every day I speak to people who just want a bit more out of life, and out of their jobs. They want to work for a manager they like, who knows how to get the best results out of their employees and that has high standards and expectations.

Believe it or not employees want to be stretched and challenged! They don’t want “just a job”, they have to spend the vast majority of their weeks in work – they want to be able to have some fun and work for someone who not only recognises and values them but someone that pushes them to be the best they can be!

My top tips for being a manager everyone wants to work for?

1. Engage

Have high standards, yes, and make them clear to your employees.

But engage with them on a personal level too so they feel like a valued member of staff as well as someone producing numbers for you.

2. Be passionate about what you do

It’s contagious. No one wants to work for someone who hates their job.

Be enthusiastic and motivating as well as friendly. You’ll find your staff have fun, work harder and you’ll see the benefits in your results.

3. Value your employees 

You’ve no doubt worked hard to train them to do a good job. You don’t want to lose them! Play to their strengths, support them in their weaknesses and please, make sure you know their names!

If you can make everyone feel included in the team then you’ve reached a goal most managers can only dream of!

4. Find out what motivates your employees 

Don’t sit in the corner and wait for their work/figures to roll in.

Be involved, find out what motivates them and, well, motivate them! Be it an early finish on a Friday if they meet their weekly targets or a bottle of wine at the end of a record breaking month, make sure you’re the manager everyone remembers for going the extra mile!

5. It’s not all about numbers

A great, motivating manager + high standards = happy staff + results + loyalty = successful company and happy managers/owners/directors.

Remember these 5 points and you’ll go a long way to being the manager everyone remembers, who everyone wants to work for and what’s more, nobody (well nobody worth their weight in gold) wants to leave!

Oh...and don’t be a “Tom”!!

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