When Hiring a Gym Manager…

gym manager

Mark Lin oversees three locations of his gym, CrossFit 858 in San Diego, California.

However, he doesn’t do it alone. He has two gym managers — one for the southern location and one for the middle location. But it didn’t come easily. Lin said he had to go through a couple of bad hires and wrong people in the wrong seats.

“I realized to really move forward and manage the locations I needed to create a roll that’s a little beyond that, that encompasses all that but then also has to do with business development in addition to daily stuff,” said Lin.

He explained a general manager has directed work, but also comes to the table with ideas for moving the business forward. And that’s what he needed for each of his gyms.

Both managers came from very different backgrounds. One entered from the corporate world, emailing Lin about opportunities at the Box. Another was grown up from the membership, into the coaching staff, and finally becoming a manager.

Especially with both managers coming from two different places, Lin said you can’t take a cookie cutter approach to training someone. For example, while the one from the corporate world understands when he asks for a SWOT analysis on the kids program, the other would need more direction. Ultimately, he explained it’s his job to cultivate his managers, helping them succeed in the position he gave them.

When looking for a manger, he noted three important characteristics, ones he said are shared with Ben Bergeron:

  1. Humble — They can look at themselves, accept feedback, identify their weaknesses, play to their strengths, apologize when wrong, etc.
  2. Hungry — They don’t just show up and do the bare minimum. They go above and beyond.
  3. Smart — They need to be emotionally smart, knowing when what they are saying offends someone or when something isn’t aligned with the gym’s mission.

Lin said it wasn’t fun having the wrong people in the positions. So, it’s essential to get the right staff in the right seats. But it doesn’t stop there — the owner also needs to make sure he or she is being cultivated right alongside the manager. Because if your managers don’t’ stick around, you won’t be able to move from working in the business to working on it.

“I think to run a business successfully and not only find the right people and put them in the right spots, but keep them happy, you’ve got to do a lot of self introspective awareness and growth as well,” said Lin. “I’ve made a lot of changes for myself over the past couple years with how I deal with people in situations and really having a little self reflection.”

Bonus Tip
Lin has each of his staff read “The Ideal Team Player” by Patrick Lencioni. “The idea is that anybody that’s successful in anything, whether it’s an athlete, business, whatever it is, nobody has ever just shown up,” said Lin. “You have to be able to come and realize and recognize what’s the bare minimum and have the ability to say I am going to do more than that.”

Heather is the editor for Box Pro Magazine. Contact her at heather@peakemedia.com.

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