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Smart Does Not Make a Good Employee

It's not so much education, as it is the qualities and determination, that make a good employee.

I believe in education. But, I don't believe that education makes a good employee. I'm not talking about loyalty to a company. You can't run a business if employees don't show up to work on time and know how to perform their jobs. I'm talking about having the ability to really excel in a position and profession.
Many would argue that post-secondary education lays the groundwork for analytical skills. In many ways, that is true. As it's been said, the aim of education is to teach us how to think, not what to think. But, I know a few individuals without anything higher than a high school education who have better reasoning than some Ph.D.s. To succeed at something is not necessarily as much about education as it is about having the qualities and determination that it takes to succeed. And, those qualities don't necessarily require college. Especially in the fitness profession, success depends as much on how members and clients are served, as on how we can impart our knowledge to help them get what they want out of their memberships. From my experience, college doesn't teach the art of service.

What makes a good employee

Here is what I believe makes a good fitness facility employee: 1. Training. You have to have the training necessary to work in a particular job. Depending on whether you are a trainer, instructor, front-desk employee, salesperson, manager, etc., that can mean a certification, a degree or just plain experience. And, you have to be willing to continually expand on that training to ensure you have the most current knowledge that relates to your job. 2. Passion. You have to have passion for what you do. You have to have a love of fitness and a sincere desire to help members and clients. To do that, you have to walk the talk and set a positive example. 3. Communication. You have to be able to communicate. No, I don't just mean, "Hi, Bob, good to see you at the club today. It sure is a nice day, isn't it?" I mean, "Hey, Bob, how's that job you were telling me about? What are your plans today at the club?" Or, "Hey, Bob, we got a couple new machines in over the weekend that you might want to check out. I can show them to you, if you want." 4. Connection. You have to be able to connect with members. Meaning, you have to build relationships (read, friends). And, not all people are capable of making friends easily. That takes being genuinely interested in others and making them feel important. If you get the same in return, you'll know you've succeeded. And those connections have to span far greater than from one employee to the masses. You need to understand how to accommodate situations through which members can make friends with other staff and members.

We can disagree

My opinions may not necessarily jibe with everything that is printed in the pages of this, or any, issue. Just because I believe one thing, doesn't necessarily mean that you or others in the profession don't see it a different way. That's why this is my page, and the rest of the pages in every issue are devoted to the perspectives of those who have spent years making this industry their profession. You may particularly note some discrepancy between what I'm saying here and our first article in the Special Report titled Certifications, Education and Staffing. While I may not believe that education is what makes a great professional, as author Matt Kutz does, he certainly makes an excellent point about how degreed and non-degreed fitness professionals put themselves on a non-level playing field when it comes to trying to raise the standards to the level of other healthcare professions. The education debate is indeed a hot topic these days. I'm always curious to know the perspectives of others. So, please don't hesitate to email yours ( If you give us permission, we'll print it in our Letters column. Agreed or disagreed, our goals are the same: to have excellent employees in fitness facilities.
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