Let employees have the freedom to make mistakes. According to a Gallup survey of 1,200 employees, 66 percent of respondents say their managers asked them to get involved in decision making, but only 14 percent felt they had the authority to make decisions. They were afraid to exercise their judgment because they didn’t have the freedom to make a mistake. When employees are encouraged to think, and are given the tools and training they need, good decisions will be forthcoming.

Support staff decisions. The motto, “The customer is always right,” is a good rule to live by, especially in a service business. But if the goal is to keep members happy, staff members need to know that their judgment is respected, and that they have the authority to resolve disputes with members. Employees should know that while the No. 1 goal is to please members, there’s no pleasing some people. Occasionally there will be a member who is unhappy. In those cases, refer the member to a competitor rather than risk destroying morale by taking a malcontent member’s side over a good employee’s.

Give people the benefit of the doubt. Evaluate employee decisions in the context of the information they had at the time. In hindsight, ways to avoid a problem are always more obvious.


Albert Einstein said, “In an age of large-scale events and organizations, the greatest single issue of importance, apart from the question of peace or war, is for every individual to count.” Demonstrate respect for employees by giving them authority equal to their responsibility, listening to their ideas, showing concern for their needs, and giving them the resources they need to make their jobs easier.


Employees usually want to make a contribution to something larger than themselves. Inspire staff by imbuing them with a sense of mission.

The key to lifelong wellness and functionality is a healthy lifestyle, and that’s the business you are in. It’s not just weight machines and treadmills: It’s changing lives for the better.


The club environment provides ample opportunity to challenge staff members. Allow employees to solve pressing problems, plan promotional events.

Write press releases, recommend equipment and programs, and interact with outside consultants.

The challenge for managers is to create challenges for employees.

Empowerment is just a modern, shorthand way of restating the words of Goethe: “Treat people as though they were what they ought to be, and you help them become what they are capable of being.”

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