You may recall a telecommunication company’s commercial where a 30- to 40-year-old gentleman is sitting in a circle with several children in a school classroom. His question to them was, “Which is better? More or less?” As each child responded, the resounding answer was “More!” One child responded, “If you really like it, you want more.” And yet another said, “because more is better.”
Our culture is driven by quantity, which, as just demonstrated, begins at a young age. “Quality” is not consistently at the forefront of our thoughts; however, “quantity” is neither just about materialism. Think about this: companies reorganize their staff structure to streamline processes, businesses strive to find ways to do more with less, and in our attempts to keep up with the competition, our work demands are ever-increasing. Day in and day out, we are stretched to do more. This is about quantity, isn’t it?
How do we transform our thinking to put quality at the forefront?
The purpose of this article is to identify areas that assist us as organizations, leaders, and team members in maintaining a focus on quality. What I’ll be sharing herein is not groundbreaking news. Our culture is consumed with trying to make information fresh and innovative. The fitness industry demonstrates this perfectly. Just look at the “latest workout trends”; that is, pushing, pulling, rotating, and other functional movement patterns. What exercises are these? You guessed it, good old-fashioned squats and pushups, among others! Let’s take a look then at some areas that have stood the test of time, building a strong foundation for quality.
It behooves each organization to have a clear understanding of this balance: quality over quantity. A focus on quality contributes to developing a good reputation, service/product loyalty, and ultimate sustainability. In the workplace, the driving force for quality is best defined by a company’s vision, mission, and core values. Regardless of position or job title, you should know and embrace these because they provide the direction and purpose for the work we/you do each day. Refer to Table 1 definitions (1).
In the health and fitness industry, whether commercial, corporate, community, or medical, our organization’s mission is typically centered on helping people become healthier. Our programs, services, and work-related tasks should align with the mission and strive for the desired outcome. Do you, honestly, know your company’s vision, mission, and core values?
There are many important “behavioral” skills that make a leader successful. Fitness leaders are known to be highly engaged, energized, and driven, but there is a significant difference between providing motivation to push people to exercise more and being a leader that can empower his or her team. A great leader shares and models their organization’s vision, mission, and core values. This builds respect and trust. As a leader, two additional skills to acquire are quality-focused communication and training.
Leaders need to set and communicate expectations clearly, that is, “spell it out.” Avoid the assumption that team members understand the quality of work/service you envision. Frequently, we use too many words and overwhelm our team. Carefully review Table 2 (2) and Figure 1 to begin working to improve the quality of your verbal and nonverbal communication(s).
Training can be broken down into two segments: 1) onboarding for the new employee and 2) ongoing for current team members. Be quality-focused in the delivery of training.
Onboarding a new team member is a strategic and well-thought-out plan. Too often, we leaders cram three months’ worth of training into a two- to three- day “blitz.” Upon completion of training, we say, “Okay, you’ve got the basics, the rest will come, don’t worry. I’m here to support you. Reach out if you need assistance.” Onboarding, executed correctly, greatly improves employee retention. This means leaders will spend less time onboarding in the future by retaining current talent. Below is a good example of onboarding versus orientation. Let’s slow down our training delivery and be quality-focused with onboarding (see Figure 2) (3).
Ongoing training is essential for all team members. It needs to be mapped out in your annual business/program plan and include a review of your organization’s vision, mission, and core values. Additional training on industry trends, quality service improvement, dealing with difficult people, and time management, for example, may be necessary to improve team dynamics. Developing an ongoing training plan requires leaders to invest time into knowing and understanding their team. Subsequently, a successful team has the resources and training necessary to execute their daily tasks. Make sure your team is trained up!
A “QUALITY” TEAM MEMBER
When we think of a “quality-focused” team member, our minds go directly to quality of work. A few common sayings might be, “slow down, take your time, do it right.” We focus year-end performance reviews on work quality, numbers, and outcomes, the majority of the time. But how do you balance numbers with less tangible aspects? In this segment, instead of focusing on the quality of work, we will discuss a couple quality team member characteristics. Besides modeling the organization’s values, the two traits I believe make a team member stand out most are being engaged and flexible.
Engaged team members have a better attitude, are more productive, and passionate about what they do; it’s not just a job. This circles back around to organizations and leaders investing time to engage themselves with their employees. The simple fact is that engaged team members are an organization’s largest asset and share the traits in Table 3 (4). Are you engaged?
Flexible team members adapt to change more quickly. Yes, I said it, change! Change is inevitable and the only thing we can be certain of. A team member who can commit to change and forward thinking will out-perform the competition! A flexible team member is not “I” focused, but thinks about what is best for the team, the organization, and its leaders. The flexible team member can quickly change their course of action to align with the new direction.
Bradley B. Christian put it best, “Much of success in life is determined by the graceful execution of plan B.”
Staying quality-focused is a challenge given our fast-paced “need things done yesterday” culture. And we are all faced with quantity demands on a daily basis. What differentiates great organizations and leaders from competitors is their ability to remain quality-focused despite the multitude of demands. It’s imperative to know your organization’s vision, mission, and values as they ultimately provide the direction for the work we do on a daily basis. Leaders need to share and model those values, build respect and trust within their teams, and be quality focused with their communication and training. Engaged and flexible team members demonstrating their organization’s values are an asset. Investing time and energy into leaders and team members will only aid in remaining quality-focused each day.© 2019 American College of Sports Medicine.