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Communication is Key to Effective Fitness Facility Operation

Facility managers must know how to communiate effectively as part of a team, and teach employees to do the same.

Similar to sports, a team within the workplace is another name for a group of individuals who are interacting in pursuit of a common goal. Building a well-functioning team of employees is one of the most important tasks that a fitness center operator can undertake. In that regard, ensuring that employees possess the core attributes and features of a successful team is essential, including the ability of individual team members to communicate effectively with one another.

Interpersonal communication

Members of a team communicate at a personal level on a daily basis. These interpersonal communications are important to the overall fabric of a team. Therefore, each member of a team has an obligation to know how to properly and effectively communicate with other members of the team. These individual communications can involve supervisor-with-subordinate communication or peer-to-peer communication. Following are some important factors to keep in mind whenever an individual is communicating one-on-one with other team members:

Be respectful at all times. Each member of a team must respect the attributes, skills and values of other team members. Whenever an individual approaches another person on the team, the person should start by showing respect.

Always extend trust. High-performing teams are built on trust. When a team member communicates with another team member, the trust should be mutual.

Always be honest. Team members must always be clear and open with the facts. In addition, people should know the difference between honesty and brutal honesty.

Leave damaging emotion out, but keep the feelings in. Personal communication in a business environment has to filter out the expression of damaging emotion (e.g., anger, hostility). This does not imply that communication can't involve emotion; but, the individual has to filter out the outward expression of dangerous emotions, and express his or her feelings in a non-offending fashion.

Never attack. Personal communication should never attack or belittle a person. An individual can address expectations and behavior from a business perspective, and shouldn't make the discussion a personal issue.

Build bridges, don't burn them. Communication with other members of the team should strengthen relationships and never alienate the other person.

Be careful with email. When the communication is important, it should occur face-to-face. If the person can't be seen, then the communication should occur over the phone. Email communication on a personal level almost always leads to misunderstandings.

Listen more than talk. Robert Dedman, the founder and former chairman of ClubCorp, a Dallas, Texas, operator of private clubs, used to say that personal communication was all about listening, and then listening some more. He would always refer to the fact that people have two ears and two eyes but only one mouth. As a result, individuals should be listening and observing more than talking when they communicate.

Summarize what is said. Never assume that you heard what the other person was saying. When the other person is finished talking, summarize what you heard. In addition, individuals should never assume that what they communicated was heard.

Address difficult issues. Issues will arise that need to be resolved. All too often, employees avoid these difficult issues and, as a result, they escalate. When individuals are part of a team, they need to address these issues with their teammates face-to-face.

Demonstrate empathy. Empathy is the ability of a person to put themselves in someone else's shoes. In personal communication, this involves being sensitive to the circumstances of the other individual, so that the individual's communication is easily heard, easily accepted and utterly respected.

Leading a group

Effective leaders are aware of the positive effect that a "team" can have on making the vision of their organization a reality. They must, therefore, know how to maximize the contribution of the team to the organization, including communicating effectively, and teaching team members how to communicate.
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