We wrote last month about suggestions we'd offer to young prospective job seekers. That got us thinking about our column from October 2011, "19 Rules for Dealing With Generation Y Employees." It seems that rules, advice and management checklists have become a big part of our lives as owners and managers. We accept the responsibility that we often have to teach our staff members things that we used to assume everyone knew, such as how to shake hands and look someone in the eye to say "hello."
But maybe that's been the wrong approach. As Robert Fulghum wrote in All I Really Ever Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten, "Wisdom was not at the top of the graduate-school mountain, but there in the sandpile at Sunday school."
Maybe success in the health club business — at least ours — can't come from lists of rules, trade magazines, lectures and "How to" business books. Maybe it comes from some common sense and an understanding of us, as the owners. So, with apologies to Mr. Fulghum, we present:
1. Don't stink up the building by reheating fish in the microwave.
2. Tuna fish from a can stinks just as bad. It doesn't matter that it's lean protein and good for you.
3. Health clubs generate a lot of gossip.
4. When you begin a sentence with, "Don't say anything to anyone, but...," your listener will repeat whatever follows "but."
5. If what follows "but" is about a staff person, it will make its way back to that staff person.
6. If what follows "but" is about a member, it will make its way back to that member.
7. That's why "Don't say anything to anyone, but" can get you fired.
8. There is no such thing as something on the Internet being private.
9. If you write something "private" on the Internet and it involves our business, we will find out about it. We always do.
10. That's why private things on the Internet can get you fired.
11. When we send an email that asks you to "please respond," we expect you to respond.
12. If you do not respond, we know you're not reading your email.
13. If you don't read your email, we have to have lots more meetings.
14. Everyone hates meetings.
15. There's no crying in baseball.
16. When we say "in baseball," we mean "at the gym."
17. Quoting movies is fun and it helps us communicate.
18. Don't refer to those movies as "oldies." It hurts our feelings.
19. TV shows are even better. All of life's wisdom can be found in "Seinfeld" and "M*A*S*H" (the first three years, when it was funny).
20. Do things the way we ask you to do things. Prove you can do that, then you can offer suggestions.
21. We're really not "asking." We're "telling." It just sounds nicer to say we're "asking."
22. There's no "that's not my job." Whatever "it" is, is your job.
23. Just because we don't raise our voices doesn't mean we're not angry.
24. If we raise our voices, we are very angry.
25. It takes a lot to get us angry. Respect that.
26. You own your job. Take responsibility for being good at it.
27. You own the facility when you are there. That's a bigger responsibility than you understand.
28. If you don't want that responsibility, work somewhere else.
29. We will not criticize decisions that you make when you exert your sense of ownership.
30. But that doesn't mean we won't review and evaluate those decisions.
31. Toilets clog. Know where the plunger is.
32. Medical emergencies happen. Know our emergency procedures. Know where the AED is.
33. We live in a crazy world. The news can be awful. Every day you make it home was a good day.
34. We work in a health club. How bad could life be in the first place?
35. But, if you think it's "just a gym," go work somewhere else.
36. When someone calls us "Mr. Klein" or "Mr. Bishop," we look for our fathers. But sometimes we want to make you all call us that. It would be kind of cool.
37. We pride ourselves on the service we provide.
38. But our job is not to cure the incurably miserable.
39. We don't have sales people.
40. We ask questions. We listen. We see if what we offer is a fit for what someone is looking for.
41. We don't try to be everything to everyone. We don't want to be.
42. We have no expectation of making everyone happy.
43. Life is too short to get screamed or cursed at. If a member ever treats you that way, tell them to leave. Don't ask. Tell.
44. Be comfortable at work. Just not too comfortable.
45. Our members are not your friends. One day you'll understand.
46. We see if you roll your eyes. We hear if you sigh. We're not "Tommy."
47. If you don't get the "Tommy" reference, refer to the rule on "oldies." Don't hurt our feelings.
48. But don't roll your eyes and don't sigh. You're a professional.
49. Be on time. You're a professional.
50. Come to work dressed properly, groomed properly and ready to work. You're a professional.
51. We're not curing cancer. We're not landing airplanes. It should be pretty fun. But it's a business. And it's how we pay our mortgages.
We might also add from the "Kindergarten" essay both a) "flush" and b) "warm cookies and cold milk are good for you." Now those are words to live by.