By Ingrid Owen, AFS Community Expert

It is a well-known fact that one of the biggest challenges facing businesses today is building an engaged and dynamic team.  In my experience working in this industry, it’s the power of engaged teams that have proven to facilitate long-term business growth more than any other factor.  In my years of leading teams from smaller spans of 6-8 people up to larger spans of over 50 people, I have discovered a few universal truths that I believe are the cornerstone of success.

Like any good strategic plan, the answers serve as a North Star of sorts.  And although fairly simple, they are not always easy to keep top of mind inside the grind of our daily business.  However, if these simple rules are integrated into our regular leadership activity, there is massive reward in terms of engagement and retention of superstar players.

These high level strategies come in the form of 5 questions:

  1. WHY do we want to win?  This is the most important step.   Define and declare your aspirational vision.  Why are you in business? This will help you find like minded people who want to serve a higher purpose than just taking home their paycheck.
  2. WHEN do we win? This relates to the one or two key success metrics you define as part of your vision.  Very likely these are financial metrics like revenue growth, or active client penetration or maybe even customer satisfaction/retention.
  3. HOW do I win?  The infamous WIIFM (What’s In It For Me).  Most employees today want to be part of something big (point number 1) but also have a sense of personal winning.  To accomplish this, look at your compensation p and reward/recognition plans.  There should be clear line of sight for your team on how they personally win and it should line up clearly with your vision above.
  4. WHO does what?  Clearly define roles and responsibilities and then ensure that everyone understands their role.  This includes small things like who’s responsible for administrative duties and all the “little” things that make the business run smoothly.  It also includes larger responsibilities like how often a supervisor coaches their team, who schedules team meetings etc..
  5. WHAT is my career path?  In today’s world, employees are looking for places that offer a fulfilling space to work and to grow. Regardless of title, every employee is seeking development to perform their job better and in many cases they are also looking at how to grow into a future more expanded role.  Take the time to invest in your employees.  Ask questions and find out what they want to do in the future and then make sure you revisit it regularly (quarterly or annually typically).  Helping employees find their path isn’t just good business practice, its highly rewarding as well.

These 5 simple questions inevitably define the crux of how you will hire, train, develop and retain your highly engaged team.  They define the culture you will create.  It takes a little time to set up the foundation of a clearly defined WHY, but that one step helps you defining a positive, successful experience for your team.

Ingrid Owen has been in the fitness industry for the past 25 years including 18 years with 24 Hour Fitness where she served in various capacities as the Vice President of Fitness, Group Fitness, Learning and Development as well as corporate Operations. She started her career as a GX instructor as well as a personal trainer. Eventually she entered the club management track and was elevated to Vice President of Operations before moving into a corporate role.


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