If the child you once were could speak to the adult you are today, what would that child say about who you have become? Would she ask you why you did not become the ballerina or firefighter she always wanted to be? Would she say that you look happy in the career you chose instead? Would she say, “I want to be just like you when I grow up?”
Recently, the new CEO of our company asked that everyone create a career development plan for themselves that supervisors were then to review. I discovered that before I could review any of my staff’s career plans, I first had to re-evaluate my vision for the magazine and my vision for my own career. Even though this process was daunting, its value was great. It created a clearer and renewed path for the magazine’s future and better defined everyone’s desired career path so each could take on roles that would assist them in their career journey.
You can do the same in your fitness facility. You may have a vision for your facility and for your career, but have you communicated that vision with your staff? More importantly, do you know what their vision is for their career?
Often, we forget to ask others where they want to go. Unless you ask, you are working with assumptions that, if incorrect, could throw your vision into chaos. You may assume that Joe, your top personal trainer, wants to become general manager. However, Joe may have no desire to do so. Instead, he may want to start a sports performance training business. If you push him into the GM role because you do not know his career plan, he will be unhappy and may leave. If you discover Joe’s vision, you may find that his business idea is something you could partner on and incorporate into your business, leading you to a whole new source of revenue—and leading Joe to the business opportunity he wants.
When you ask staff about their career aspirations, you force them to think about their future, create their plan for it and help you factor them into your broader plan.
Be honest with your staff about whether they currently possess the skills to reach their career goal. If Sarah lacks rapport with children, she should not expect to head the children’s camp program at your facility. If a staff member does not have the skills they need, let them know and offer suggestions for how to gain those skills. Suggest classes, books, additional training, a mentor or perhaps shadowing another employee. Make sure they take the initiative to find help on their own, too.
During this process, you may learn that some of your staff ’s goals do not coincide with your vision. Perhaps they want to own their own club, or perhaps they see their job as transitional. That might upset you, but it shouldn’t. Be supportive of their goals. Accept them where they are, and see how you can put their skills to work for you while helping them attain the skills they need to move toward their vision—even if their plans take them away from you.
You likely will supervise many people in your career. At some point, most will move on. So make sure that their time with you benefits your company and benefits them, too. But first, you have to ask them what their inner child wants to be when they grow up.