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How do you keep your team motivated?

How do you motivate and inspire your team? What are your strategies to keep them engaged? We speak with Owner of Sense of Power Pilates, Alisha Porter, about how she keeps her staff engaged and how this also sets her studio up for continued success.

I have a small team of three instructors who are incredibly capable humans. I deeply value each of them and I am committed to their growth. It’s rewarding to see them develop, and I take pride in supporting their journey.

Having worked as a full-time instructor since 2016 and now running my own studio, I’ve learned a lot from some of the best in our field. These experiences have been invaluable, and today, I get to share this wealth of knowledge as a mentor of Students undertaking their Matwork Pathway, Reformer Pathway and/or Diploma for Pilates ITC.

I’m going to share with you some ways that I go about inspiring my team in the hope that it inspires you. I understand we’re all busy but this investment pays off greatly for me, and for my longstanding clients too.

Identify and Cater to Their Niche Interests

Retaining great team members is always a challenge. By providing opportunities for ongoing education and self-mastery, we not only keep our instructors motivated and engaged, but they also become more valuable members of our team and better instructors for our clients.

It all begins with understanding each of my team member’s goals and their niche interests. Once I understand what they are most interested in I can guide them towards continuing education opportunities that align with their interests. This also helps with matching new clients up with Instructors in order to create better client retention.

Provide Ongoing Education Opportunities

I’m always on the lookout for upcoming training opportunities that are appropriate for each of my instructor’s needs, however, I believe that our biggest learnings always come in the implementation, the doing, the self-mastery. You can do all of the continuing education available, but if you are not implementing it in your own practice and into your programming for clients, then what is the point?

One way I go about this is by allocating my team members Team Packages so that they have the opportunity to book in and dedicate time for their own practice. This is dedicated time with me as the Studio Owner to work with my team on their progression as instructors and as Pilates professionals. I’m very open to “play” during these sessions. We could apply some of the information and concepts from a workshop, look at repertoire variations or I can assist to help make an exercise more appropriate for a particular client, or play with something I have learnt recently. There are usually lots of questions or discussions while moving.

Additionally, my team has the opportunity to have sessions with Guest Teachers. I love having Instructors from other states come to our studio. Depending on the time available, it could consist of a few privates/duets, a guest teaching a matwork or reformer class, or running a workshop on a particular topic or skill. These are often opportunities that are in intimate settings with few participants, which means a high level of individual interaction and attention.

I also get ideas from other Pilates and Allied Health business owners because of the Business Coaching Group I am a part of called The Clinic Project. This is a great way of getting support and ideas from others on what’s worked or what more I could be doing.

I have been fortunate to have some fantastic and capable new graduate Instructors come to work with me. They are passionate and keen to move forward quickly. However professional and skills development is something that takes time to gain. I think sometimes, that becomes a new concept once people get into a studio setting after graduation. That there is more to learn and that it takes practice to get proficient in all aspects of being an Instructor.

At the moment there seems to be a trend of wanting to get to the top of the field swiftly. This in and of itself is not a bad ambition! However, building your skill set and experience takes time. Starting with a good foundation like high-quality training is an excellent place to begin, but after that, you have to put in the time.

To grow takes time, and you just have to DO the time. Just like starting any new job role or change in career, you have to start at the beginning. There is a period of refining your skills of communication (verbal, tactile cueing, handovers), and implementation of repertoire while managing client contraindications. Reflection and self-assessment are all part of this. It’s ok to not know something and to seek guidance from a Senior Instructor or Mentor. This process can’t be rushed or fast-tracked, you just have to continue to put in the time.

Celebrate Growth and Milestones

We also like to celebrate the growth of Instructors and also financially recognise their skill sets and development. We celebrate these milestones with our clients so that it is an educational opportunity for the community on what we do and how we value experience and knowledge in the Pilates field as a whole.

Team Building Outside the Studio

We make time twice a year for some team building outside of Pilates – usually around the studio birthday and just before the Christmas break. It is important that we get together just as people and develop a good rapport. When we know each other better as people that supports us professionally too.

Thinking Creatively

Some other key initiatives for our team this year include:
— Our studio participates in community engagement events, which offer a chance for new clients to discover us while creating a sense of excitement and buzz. We have two planned through the local council that we will be involved in for 2024. This is also usually a really fun way to get everyone together on the same day.
— Continuing education remains a key focus; I’ve booked myself into a two-day Leadership training to expand my skills in this domain. While not specifically Pilates, this is still continuing education and will have actionable implementation into my business and flow into me being a better leader for my team.
— Throughout the year, we engage in creative projects such as photoshoots, filming, and blogging, allowing our team to express and develop their skills in creative and stimulating ways. It is also a great way for them to build new skills and also have some ownership in the output of the studio.

Regular, Personalised Feedback

I also make sure we have regular informal catch-ups throughout the year and we do a yearly vision and goal-setting discussion in preparation for the year ahead. This could be a walk-and-talk when there is a gap in the schedule or a specifically pre-planned time. It’s also a great time to have conversation around pay rates and remuneration. This is always a balancing act, and there are now so many different Pilates business models around that sometimes it is like comparing lemons with bananas! They can’t be compared side by side as they are so dissimilar. A boutique studio Pilates business is a very different model than a Group Reformer studio. They both have their merits, but are intrinsically different business models. This also shows up in the level of qualifications that we seek for our instructors – it relates to what we are teaching, namely individualised programs, which are specific to each client’s needs. We need a base level of knowledge in order to provide that to clients.

In summary, if you are struggling to get your team motivated, my biggest advice whether you are running a team, coaching clients, or being a mentor is this:

The easiest way to get stuck, plateau and decline in business is to not seek and respond to feedback. A takeaway from my time working for Lululemon Athletica was that feedback always comes from a place of love. Whether it is a pat on the back, constructive feedback or a complaint, the person has taken the time to give it to you in the hope that some positive change will result. We always ask for feedback; in the studio, via our newsletters and in reviews. It is our best way of continuing to grow and making our clients the focus of our business – it is why we are there in the first place!

It’s also important that we are mindful of the trickle-down effect. If you are not filling your own cup, then you are depleting your resources and may be left with nothing to give to those around you, including your family.

Some questions I ask myself and my team are:
— Are you doing your own self-mastery with someone that inspires you? This might be someone on your team or someone completely external.
— Do you have a business coach or a business accountability group? Look for options outside of the Pilates industry too. I am involved in three development programs: one for business coaching which also includes other allied health businesses, one for marketing accountability, and one specifically for Pilates mentoring.

Make time for yourself and your self-development and your team will follow suit too!