Like the Parisi Speed School organization, most indoor sport facility operators are in the middle of the craziest time of year-–and part of that insanity includes year-end employee evaluations, a look back on annual goals and “the discussions.”
There are times when 5 feet of snow in the parking lot, vehement arguments between parents, and the bathrooms overflowing simultaneously, would seem preferable to some of these conversations. After a lot of years, learning from excellent business behavioral psychologists, and thousands of the “end of the year, beginning of new” discussions, I finally have a good handle on the process.
1. If you don’t have exact expectations, it can get messy. I used to think I had specific enough financial goals and expectations for my employees, but ... nope. On reflection, these were really much too vague. “We want to grow the business 12% next year” seemed pretty specific to me. Unfortunately, what I considered growth wasn’t necessarily what my managers thought. Was growth 12% of revenue? 12% more people in the facility? 12% profit? To me it was profit, to my general manager- revenue. Consequently, when his annual review came around, he had met the expectations in his mind – he hadn’t come close in my thinking. You know for the ensuing conversation; you’ve had them. So, define the terms as you discuss job descriptions and your expectations.
2. Human nature being what it is, your employees believe they are worth more money than they truly are. The bottom line is that you can only afford so much. To keep the relationship a win-win, there are two steps. First, go in with the actuals-–not just what the employee sees on his pay check, but also the value of what you pay for on top of that. That’s the real dollar amount you are paying. Second, try incentives or bonuses. Determine how that particular employee can help you achieve one of your business goals, and tie specific bonuses to specific goals for his position. It gives him more of an ability to control his income, and you can effectively reward the results you wanted. There’s no reason that you can’t give different sorts of bonuses for goals relating to different aspects of your business to the same person.
3. Let’s face it, if your employee wanted the heartaches and rewards of his own business, he might not be working for you. I spent a lot of time trying to figure out how someone could complain about having to work late, compared to my own hours of sacrifice, until I had an epiphany. It is plain unrealistic to expect people to be as obsessed with your facility as you are. That doesn’t mean they shouldn’t care-–they should. That doesn’t mean that they shouldn’t be proud of the facility–-they should. What it means is that your employee is going to do his job and do it well, but it won't be his life--It will be his job. Criticisms or negativity in the yearly evaluations, based on the idea that the employee doesn’t do what you do, therefore, needs to be put aside.
4. And finally, you have to get comfortable being uncomfortable. Sometimes these are really uncomfortable conversations, but sometimes they are pleasant surprises.
Bill Parisi is the founder and CEO of Parisi Franchise Systems Inc, the parent company of Parisi Speed Schools & Parisi Media and a part owner of several other entities. He has authored numerous educational modules on the sports performance business, hundreds of articles and has just updated and re-released the Legacy DVD Series modules on the business portion of the sports business. Bill lectures for organizations such as the NFL, Nike, Reebok, IHRSA, IDEA, NSCA,, writes monthly articles on Performance Training and The Business of Sports Performance, and has been featured on Fox Sports, ESPN, CNBC, and CBI.