Be a Coach: Learn to Inspire Commitment. Part 1

Unless you’re influenced by my uniqueness, I’m not going to be influenced by your advice. — Stephen Covey

Fitness professionals spend a lot of time thinking and talking about motivation. For example, what would motivate sedentary people to change their lifestyles, and what inspires those who consistently workout to exercise? Fitness professionals should realize that motivation springs from commitment to objectives that have deeply felt personal meaning. In other words, people do their best when they have an internal sense of purpose.

Managers can use this same line of thinking to help motivate their employees. Some employees only “go through the motions.” These staff members don’t see obvious tasks that need to be done to serve members and improve the appearance of the club. What’s missing is commitment. Having managers act as coaches to staff members can build employees’ sense of commitment to the facility and to their jobs, resulting in happier, more motivated employees.


Think about the inactive people who you’d like to enroll as members. You know that, if you or your staff could interact with them, you could plant the seed that is the wellspring of motivation: commitment. The same interaction accounts for the success of personal training. Personal trainers encourage clients to continue even when the clients might want to give up. Trainers are able to remind clients that failure isn’t fatal, and might even provide an opportunity for progress. Trainers speak their clients’ language, and listen in a way that inspires trust. They tell clients the truth, even when it might not be what the client wants to hear, and they do so in a respectful, constructive way. Basically, a personal trainer is a coach.

For employees to be their best, managers need to assume the role of coaches to inspire personal commitment in each employee. As Dennis Kinlaw points out in his book, Coaching for Commitment: Interpersonal strategies for obtaining superior performance from individuals and teams, “People may do satisfactory work because they are forced to do so by a variety of controls, but they will only do superior work because they want to, that is, because they are personally committed to doing it.”

To build commitment in your staff, Kinlaw recommends ensuring that your staff members are clear about core values and performance goals, have influence over what they do, have competencies to perform the jobs expected of them and are appreciated for their performance.

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