Stop recruiting good people… and get the right ones instead

Following some keys techniques to populate your business with the right people will make your role as manager or leader that much easier.

In the classic book Good to Great, Jim Collins wrote ‘to build a successful organisation and team you must get the right people on the bus.’ His research showed that great companies do this – and then they put them in the right seats.

Populating your business with the right people goes hand-in-hand with recruiting for cultural fit (search fitnessnetwork.com.au/resource-library for previous article on this topic). If you have inherited a team and have the wrong people on the bus or the right people in the wrong seats, then you have to address this as the first order of business. Virgin Active has a key philosophy of ‘people first’, and it works. For example, a driven individual who is single-mindedly focused on their goals and not much of a team player may not be a great fit for the group fitness team, but they could have just the traits that the club’s sales manager is looking for – so they could still be the right fit for the business.

There are a few key ways to get the right people onboard in your fitness business.

1. Define who you are and what you want

First, you must have a clear idea of what you and your business/club stand for, who you are, where you are going, and who you need to help you achieve those goals. To know who the right people are for your team, you must have complete clarity about what qualities the ideal person will have. Ensure you have a process that allows you to identify, recruit and retain these ‘right people’. Create a benchmark or standard by which you measure the candidates you are considering.

Someone who is the right fit for one company may be the wrong fit for another one. When I recruit for my Virgin Active Group Exercise team I make sure that people understand that for me there is no ‘I’ in team. A team is a group of people working together towards a common goal. I have no room on my team for anyone who is playing for themselves, who wants to be the star of the show or who prefers to work as an individual rather than a team player. When you recruit with very clear objectives you can get the right mix of talents, skillsets, personalities, backgrounds and styles to enable you to get the right people in the right seats on the bus.

2. Hire hard and manage easy

Getting the wrong people off the bus, or moving the right people from a wrong seat to the right seat, can be a very difficult process. Finding the right people can be laborious and time-consuming, but it pays to stick to your guns and wait until you find someone with the right cultural fit. By doing so, you’ll save headaches later on by setting yourself up for easier team management. With the right team in place you’ll have less dissent, fewer problems, and will achieve your goals more quickly and easily.

3. Demand the passion for constant improvement

A quality I look for when recruiting is the desire on the part of the individual to be the best they can be. ‘Good enough’ is not good enough. I make it clear that I’m building a high performance team and I want fired-up instructors who are keen to upskill regularly in order to become even greater than they already are.

A quality I look for when recruiting is the desire on the part of the individual to be the best they can be. ‘Good enough’ is not good enough. I make it clear that I’m building a high performance team and I want fired-up instructors who are keen to upskill regularly in order to become even greater than they already are.

Once each passenger is sitting in the right seat, driving your bus is a dream. Driving with passengers who are in conflict with you or each other, or questioning the direction or the destination, however, is no leader’s idea of a good time.

Managing a team of the ‘right people’ also means that you don’t need to worry too much about motivating them because they are self-motivated. The right people will make your job as leader or manager easy. The right people will reach goals seemingly effortlessly by pulling together.

Make the hard calls early on and sort out who is on your bus and where they are sitting: failing to do so will not only decrease everyone’s enjoyment of the journey, but also jeopardise your likelihood of reaching your destination.


Leisl Klaebe is Group Exercise Coordinator at Virgin Active Norwest, where she coordinates over 220 classes a week and a team of 70 group exercise instructors. Leisl is also a Group Fitness Coach and can be contacted at leislk@me.com