Ensuring a Return on Investment on Staff Education, Training and Development – Part 2

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This blog post follows on from part 1 and aims to explore [briefly] how to: develop facility staff that; enhance the facility culture, drive the unique facility experience forward, enhancing the facility’s reputation and driving exerciser behaviour, ensuring a return on investment for the facility. This short piece will focus on the development of the facility team, whether that be the studio team, gym instructors, or Personal Trainers. 

In the book ‘Disney U’ by Doug Lipp, it states that one of Disney’s first appointments was a gentleman called Van France. Van France was head of would become known as ‘Disney U’, an in-house ‘training and development’ department that trained and developed staff in the Disney experience [happiness], and he [van france] had the responsibility of being a ‘human architect’. He [van france], and his team trained and developed staff in the correct behaviours required to stage the Disney experience, which in turn drove guest behaviour back to Disney [1]. Disney knew that the rides and attractions themselves would not drive guests back to his parks, rather Disney realised the emotions created by both the content and context brings them back for more, and in-house staff training was key to its success, as well as a good mixture of staff development, evaluation and self-reflection.

Education around safe and effective use of product, ‘the WHAT’, is still massively important for the exerciser experience: this education should focus on ‘reasoning’ with the information and not just reproducing content that has been delivered. It’s in the ‘reasoning’ that staff will develop a deeper understanding of when exercises, set, reps, time can be used to move an individual from point ‘A’ towards point ‘B’ safely and effectively. However, it’s the in-house staff training that will clearly define the different in any facility. Training is based around the ‘HOW’, the context in which the facility delivers their experience, which is directly related to the ‘WHY’, the missions, values, and the target group.

Staff training needs to focus on the positive emotions that a facility wishes to deliver to an exerciser at any point in the journey around a facility. At the gym entrance, the emotions could be ‘TRUST’, WARMTH’. In the free weight area, the emotion could be ‘ENJOYMENT’ through the acquisitions of skill development; in the gym induction, the prime emotion could be ‘PRIDE’, or ’JOY’ in the breaking down of barriers within an individual that have existed for a long time. These emotions drive behaviour, which in turn drive adherence, which is a major factor in retention and secondary spend for a facility. If you cannot get exercisers coming back, they will not stay or spend money on other experiences within the facility. The experience drives an improved facility economy. This understanding and delivery of staged experiences need to be evaluated, and continually reflected upon to ensure constancy and development of the facility offering, and the avoidance of negative emotions within the exerciser journey.

There are many factors to consider when aiming to develop an in-house education and learning team that builds on the exerciser experience that reflects the values of the facility.

Education and learning will always be a work in progress, and that’s part of the enjoyment; there will be ups and downs, and there will be plenty of learning opportunities to reflect upon, but ‘success is in the journey, not the destination’ - there is always learning in the journey. What follows is a by no means complete list of factors to consider.

‘Only when the emotions work in terms of values can the individual feel pure joy’ [Frankl]

  1. What is the facility’s story? How does the facility’s fitness offering reflect the values of the facility and the individuals that work within it? Exercisers who join and use a facility are driven by their emotions, they buy into experiences that reinforce who they believe they are. The ‘function of fitness’ is not enough to draw and retain exercisers: there must be a ‘WHY’, and ‘HOW’. The facility must be able to define their fitness offering and allow the education team to educate and develop the staff effectively, consistently and appropriately.
  1. Who is the facility targeting? It’s impossible to please everyone - all of the most successful and profitable experience providers do not aim to please everyone, it’s unattainable. Think of Apple, CrossFit, Netflix, or any number of hoteliers: not everyone likes them, but those that do are loyal, and continue to spend their money to continually repeat the experience offered, or develop the experience through learning and/or the acquisition of skills, or continued improvement in personal on-demand entertainment. Knowing who the facility is targeting also supports the education team in delivering outstanding education and training.    
  1. What does the target market want? Understand the values of the target group and focus on meeting these values in a positive way. This will then lead to being able to define your experience offering. CrossFit is not just ‘functional training’: they have defined it! ‘Forging Elite Fitness’: this strapline not only starts to define the experience, but it also makes a personal connection with individuals whose goals and values match up. It also gives direction of the programming, education and marketing. Knowing what the target market wants also supports the education team in delivering outstanding education and training.   
  1. Ensure the education and training team understand adult education and training. For in-house education and training to be successful, it must have direction, meaning and purpose. The education and training team must fully understand the wants and needs of the adult learner, as well as having quality learning resources and a verification system that ensures standardisation of delivery. There are some fantastic courses that can teach facility staff to be educators and trainers and lead the in-house training department. 
  1. Getting someone to think differently and getting someone to act differently are two very different things. The education and training aspect will be about 40% to 45% of the in-house education and training team’s role. The major part will be in the staff development, and ensuring consistency in the experience offering. This is where an in-house education and training team can be so very different, and have a major impact on a business, over external education. An in-house team can nurture staff, build the confidence within the team, highlight the aspects of the exerciser experience that creates positive emotions, and evaluate some parts of the experience offering that require development. It’s in the staff development that return on investment starts to demonstrate a real impact on the business: confident, motivated staff that understand the business and their roles and responsibilities, staff that have the skills to ‘reason’ within a situation to maintain the positive emotions of the exercisers. The beauty of staff development is that it does not take staff away from their job role: development is achieved while in a live situation - whether talking one-to-one or in a group session, delivering an induction, or providing PT – with feedback given soon after to ensure maximum effectiveness. Practice NOT talent is the key to success [M. Syed-Bounce] [2]. Embedding the business DNA into everyday staff actions strengthens the facility culture and supports the exerciser experience.

The aim of this article has been to explore [briefly] how to develop facility staff that; enhance the facility culture, drive the unique facility experience forward, enhancing the facility’s reputation and driving exerciser behaviour, ensuring a return on investment for the facility. This short piece will focus on the development of the facility team, whether that be the studio team, gym instructors, or Personal Trainers.

An in-house training and development team is a major ingredient supporting facility DIFFERENT, and ensuring a return on investment.

References
Disney U – Doug Lipp [1] Bounce - M. Syed [2]

staff training
professional development
fitness industry training
 

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