5.4 Staff Performance and Development

Hold the Staff Accountable for Performance

You have surely heard the statement “what doesn’t get measured doesn’t get done.” This statement could not be truer and more relevant when it comes to Parisi staff performance. If you don’t hold your staff accountable for successful completion of tasks, it is guaranteed that those tasks will not get done!


Rely on Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s)

One of the primary responsibilities of leadership is daily management of the business. This involves using the task list you already created and setting goals or Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s) for each task (either on a daily, weekly or monthly basis). Many of the KPI’s may already be known based on your sales funnel, class schedule, number of athletes in the program, etc. The key is to make sure that every staff member knows what is expected and that YOU ARE GOING TO FOLLOW-­‐UP to ensure each goal is met – every day, every week, and every month!

While not rocket science, daily management of staff is critical. If employees don’t think YOU believe their tasks are important (especially the ones that are not training-­‐focused), then they simply will not do them.  If the tasks are not done and you do not follow up to inquire why, it becomes a vicious downward cycle leading to the demise of the program. Remember to use BOTH motivational feedback for tasks completed and done well AND developmental feedback for those not completed or performed ineffectively.

In addition to ongoing feedback, you should invest time at least once or twice per year in having a discussion that is a more formal evaluation of each employee.

While this discussion should cover strengths and weaknesses in performance, the focus of it should also be on position growth and long-­‐term career goals.

Documented evaluations that are designed to run parallel to employee job descriptions will also restate responsibilities and ensure staff is meeting expectations. Keeping these reports on file to monitor progress over time will ensure you are on the right path to supporting employee growth.

Ensure Effective Staff Communication

Communication is a critical tool for holding your staff accountable. To ensure success, there are four types of staff communication that should take place consistently.

  1. Weekly Staff Meetings – Keeping your staff tied into the business through weekly staff meetings is significant not only in ensuring the staff feels valued, but also in ensuring the staff values the business. This is a time when sharing ideas and discussing issues as a group leads to higher morale and a sense of “team.” Holding your staff accountable for attending these sessions is necessary, as well as documenting attendance and the notes from each meeting.
  2. Staff Training Sessions – These sessions are used to ensure the staff is continuing their education in training methodology and adherence to the Parisi protocol. They also assist with calibrating their delivery and learning best practices from one another. In addition, many Program Directors successfully use this time once a month to cover a non-­‐training topic, such as sales, fan-­‐mail effectiveness, parent rapport, etc. Utilizing the Parisi educational courses and modules are not only an effective way to develop your staff, using them to bring staff together by learning is killing two birds with one stone.
  3. Informal Everyday Contact – These occurrences are short touch points that build rapport with your team.  The topics can vary from personal life-­‐events, feedback, exchange of ideas, etc. While the content itself can vary, the consistency and frequency of these interactions is critical.
  4. Team Building – These gatherings generally take place off site and are intended to build rapport and relationships within your team. They often focus on some type of skill building activity, such as better team communications, improved teamwork, etc. However, don’t discount “fun” events too, as these can result in better team cohesiveness and cooperation.

Develop Your Staff on an Ongoing Basis

Qualified and talented employees are your business’s most treasured resource – and retaining these individuals should be your highest priority. Providing your team with the opportunity to grow both professionally and personally will have a tremendous effect on staff retention.

When employees believe they are in a “dead end” job, they often feel less motivated and look for other opportunities. Having career discussions with employees to determine what they see as their next steps can not only energize the employees, but also gives you the insight you need to help them grow their skills and experience toward achieving those goals.

The greatest and most respected leaders within any industry are those who grow their employees’ skills and act as an advocate toward their goals. These leaders are the ones every employee wants to work for – and may even recruit their colleagues and friends to work for them as well!


Provide Opportunities to Grow

Employee development and growth experiences do not always involve funding. Actually, many of the experiences you can provide for your employees are within your own building or community. These include:

  • The Parisi Levels of Distinction is a structured plan to help engage staff while giving them the opportunity for growth
  • Projects with another part of the business, especially if you are associated with a health club, physical therapy practice, or hospital
  • Special projects that include new revenue streams, community awareness and/or leadership that you don’t have time to complete
  • Cross-training for another position (such as adult personal training, weight loss programming, membership sales, etc.)
  • Volunteer leadership or coaching for community-based sports teams (such as little league, intramural sports, etc.)

The possibilities for these types of growth opportunities are endless. In addition, Parisi provides several opportunities such as the Parisi Summit, Continuing Education Workshops, etc. that you can take advantage of to ensure employee development.


Terminate Non-Performing Staff

You’re probably familiar with the song lyrics, “You’ve got to know when to hold ‘em. Know when to fold ‘em.” Unfortunately, when it comes to staff members that are unwilling to perform, many Program Directors “hold ‘em” much longer than they should.

As a rule, firing someone for egregious offenses (such as stealing, misconduct, untruthfulness, etc.) is easily and swiftly done. However, when it comes to employee non‐performance, it’s not so cut-and-dried and often drags on mu c h longer than it should.

A non-performing employee is like a rotten apple in the bunch.  The employee can affect other staff members in terms of their productivity, attitude, and motivation.  In this case, a non‐performing employee is stealing from you in terms of your other staff.

So, what should you do? If you have defined your staff’s positions and are holding them accountable on a daily basis like recommended earlier in this lesson, then you can spot non-performance in an individual staff member almost immediately. When this happens, provide developmental feedback to the employee, then watch carefully to see if performance improves. If not, attempt to provide developmental feedback again, but this time make it more formal by documenting it in writing. Based on your conversations with the employee, you might attempt documented developmental feedback a couple more times, but only if you feel that progress is being made.

It is important to note that after the first documentation of non-performance, it is critical to document EVERYTHING from that point forward until the situation is resolved or the employee is terminated. The documented attempts to improve performance will be invaluable if there are any follow-up legal or unemployment proceedings.

An employee’s attitude is critical when dealing with a non-performance issue.  If his/her attitude is visibly negative to you as the PD, imagine what might be said to others on your staff. Therefore, the attitude is the first milestone in deciding whether to “hold ’em or fold ’em.” If an employee has a good attitude and is willing to improve, then work with him/her to provide the opportunity. If the employee’s attitude is negative or bad, then document the situation and terminate the employee swiftly. You will be glad you did!

There are situations when even non-performing employees with the right attitude need to be terminated. In these cases, it is usually a bad job fit.  A perfect example of this in the PSS is a Performance Coach who told you he/she loved working with kids, when in reality, he/she has no talent in relating to kids at all. This can also happen in other aspects of the PSS business such as sales, community outreach, parent rapport, and so on.

When this is the case, someone might improve marginally, but they cannot fundamentally change their personality and probably will never be successful in meeting your expectations. In these situations, there are really only two possible options:

1) re-allocate tasks (when feasible) to match the employee’s personality and strengths or, 2) terminate the employee due to a bad job fit.

Terminating an employee is rarely pleasant for a leader, but it is a necessary evil. You will benefit as a Program Director if you meet this challenge head‐on, with swiftness and determination. The more your reputation grows as a fair, but demanding Program Director, the more you will attract people who see these attributes as signs of greatness and will want to be a part of your successful team!