Godsend or Nightmare
By Marietta Mehanni and Ange La Scala
Did you choose well? Did you hire the right instructor for the class? How do they fit in with the rest of the team? Are you having regrets and now your hands are tied because they have a following of members? Or are they the best thing since sliced bread?
Hiring instructors to ensure a successful integration into your group exercise team is one of the most important aspects of a program coordinators role.
The following steps outline the process in building a successful team.
How does a coordinator go about assessing whether an instructor will fit into the club’s culture?
What to look for initially:
- Preliminary contact – phone conversation
- Initial presentation – are they dressed appropriately?
- Communication skills – are they good listeners, or do they just want to talk about themselves?
- Body language and eye contact
What would raise a red flag in the initial stage?
- If they are hard to get in contact with, then you will probably always have this issue in the future
- If they are late for an interview or audition, then they will be more likely to be late for their classes – exceptions do apply
- If they are dressed inappropriately, what image are they then going to portray in their classes
- If their communication, eye contact and body language skills are poor, then they will not be effective instructors
The first step is to have a face to face meeting. Hiring someone over the internet, or phone is problematic as you will have no indication of potential issues. So what are the first steps that should be taken to arrange an interview with a new instructor?
- Firstly have a phone conversation – not an email! You need to hear their voice, their enthusiasm and their ability to converse. From this, you can begin to make a decision whether this person will be suitable for your needs.
- Secondly, set up a time and place for the interview. If they have not already supplied you with a resume and relevant copies of their qualifications, ensure that they bring them along to the interview.
- Meet with the instructor and have a professional casual conversation about your expectations – professionalism, teaching standard and customer service.
If you are satisfied that they might be suitable for your group exercise team, based on your general discussions, the next step is to arrange an audition.
Auditions are necessary in order to access the abilities of an instructor. An instructor’s skill levels should not be based on their resume because good instruction cannot be seen on paper. An audition can be conducted in several ways depending on the circumstances.
- In your class – This is the best scenario as you will see for yourself what their teaching ability is like under pressure. Ideally they will teach a class similar to what they will be instructing for you in the future.
- In another experienced instructor’s class – This is when you unable to attend, have someone on your team that you trust and value their opinion to conduct the audition.
- Ask them to teach a one off class – This is only suitable after the first phone call has been positive or they have been recommended by another coordinator or instructor. This is still necessary especially as you still need to find out if they will fit into your club’s culture and team environment.
The induction is the MOST important part of setting up an instructor to join your team. When your instructors know how to fill out pay and number sheets, check communication procedures, sound system operation and how to store equipment, then it is likely that they will fulfill your expectations and conduct themselves as part of a team. Thus, it is imperative that the induction procedure is thoroughly completed prior to an instructor’s first class. Allow adequate time to be able to complete the induction with your new instructor and the minimum recommended time slot would be 30 minutes to allow for questions and clarifications.
Induction packs are unique to each facility as some may require time to sit down and read documents and contracts prior to signing and others would allow the instructor to take documents home to be completed and returned at a later date.
An induction pack may include documentation of:
- Personal details
- Bank details
- Tax forms (if required)
- Group fitness checklist – will ensure they have been shown around the facility and aware of where equipment, communication and where emergency exits are located.
- Current timetable
- Contact phone list
- Letter of appointment
- Policies and procedures (or group fitness guidelines)
- Meet and greet and ensure that you establish a warm and inviting atmosphere
- Collect details for their staff file e.g. qualifications, resumes and certificates
- Sit down and spend time going through the induction pack
- A tour of the facility including introduction of other staff members
Spending time with the instructor in the induction is invaluable. It is the first impression that can create a positive and energetic atmosphere that will ensure that the instructor is excited about working for your organisation. This is when you can instill your core values and expectations. If it is not emphasised at this point then it is much harder to do at a later date.
After the induction
- Follow up with a phone call or email after their first class to see how they went and if there were any questions or concerns that they would like to address.
- Make sure at this point that they feel welcomed and an important part of the team.
This is the first impression of you that they will make. Remember, we need instructors more than they need us. Even if they are new to the industry, they will soon learn that there are more classes than instructors, and that they are able to leave whenever they wish. So ensuring that they are made to feel special and important is imperative for staff retention.