“How do you deal with former trainers who not only try to steal your clients – but also spread slander & negativity about you?”
Great question, and we experienced something like this very recently.
First, we have to understand WHY this happens in the first place. If we don’t, then we’re doomed to repeat the same experience and react every time (instead of respond consciously).
There can be a few reasons why a team member would quit, dishonour their commitments, and then attempt to steal & defame you.
A lot of those reasons will be on their side… personal issues in life. A general lack of self-awareness. A scarcity mindset, among other things. This is common place and not your responsibility to ‘change’ in them.All we can ultimately control – and take responsibility for – is how we conduct our business day to day.
And how we respond after the fact, when this type of scenario actually occurs.
Internally, ensure you’re paying your team members fairly. Either through financial means, or else via an exchange of value & experience agreed upon (in writing) by both sides.
This leaves nothing to the subjective.
What happens is that most agreements (lets call them relationships) begin this way.
But as time goes on, one or either side change and expand their definitions of value, as well as evolving into new needs for themselves.
And this is where things can get ‘icky’ with your team members.
Once the definitions value and needs required change on either party, this must be addressed through a culture of open and honest communication.
So there’s your first question – does your business culture create an environment where every team member feels they can come to you to talk openly about their changing needs?
Do they feel you’ll respond helpfully and professionally?Or, are they scared they’ll be shut down or even cast out for ‘rocking the boat’?
(Don’t just ask this question in your head and nod along… go ASK some people in your company for their honest thoughts).
If there is a change in needs or in definition of those needs by someone on your team, you must then assume leadership by re-evaluating if your business vision is still in alignment with helping that person meet their needs & reach their goals.
Ultimately a business relationship only works when the team member knows that helping you get what you want will also help them get what they want. Everybody wins.Your company vision and their personal vision are in alignment and we can all succeed together.
Upon a declared change in needs or vision, either side must revisit the agreement and have a new consultative conversation.
Does the relationship still ‘work’?
As in, does it still provide ongoing value for each party?
Or, would either side’s needs be better met by parting ways, or transitioning into a newly defined relationship state?
(I.e. they move into a new job role or position that better serves both you and they)
Now, lets’ move onto the next part of this…
How do you conduct yourself AFTER a team member has dishonoured their agreement even after you’ve taken these steps with them to keep things clear and honourable?
It can be tough not to want to be aggressive. But fighting fire with fire rarely works.
You have to understand that a person who steals or lies feels entitled.
They believe they are owed something.
Maybe they feel society owes them something (financial security, significance etc.)
Or they feel YOU owe them something
Or the ‘system’ of capitalism owes them something.
Whatever their worldview, you’re unlikely to change it.Yet you must NOT take it personally. <<
If YOU become aggressive, you’re taking it personally.
And its hard not to do, when you feel someone has disrespected you, and not appreciated what you’ve attempted to give them.
But this is what being a Leader is all about.
Its about embodying a level of self-awareness so much that you can clearly, and unbiasedly see things from their point of view as well as your own perspective.
(This doesn’t mean you AGREE or CONDONE their point of view… but you SEE it, and understand why or how their societal imprinting could have led them to such belief patterns)
So, enough about what not to do… how DO you respond in such a circumstance?
You’ll want to address 3 parties about the situation in the appropriate manner:
1. Your team
2. Your clientbase
3. The team member in question
1. Your Team
Let your team know about whats happening and how it is…. but don’t make it sound WORSE than it is.Show compassion for the individual whose perpetrating and let your team know that they are still in your thoughts. If anything you feel empathy towards them, not anger.
Because, I see a lot of fitness companies brag about “Family feel” being one of their “Core Values”…. oh, until someone does something out of line.
Then they’re “dead to them”. Is that really a core value? If you truly have a core value and culture of family-first in your business, then a team member who loses their way wouldn’t be simply “done and dusted” .
Don’t get me wrong, their employment status with your company can be terminated swiftly – sure! But as a person… don’t you still care even a little?
If you don’t care at all about that person after this is perpetrated then you likely didn’t give a fuck about them before it happened either.
(And if thats the case why do you THINK they ended up acting maliciously toward you…?)
So the point here is not to start a reactive smear campaign against them.
You need to bring your team together even closer. Learn from the experience. How can this help your team get closer, more honest, more productive as a result of this?
How will you turn this negative into a positive?
How will you ASSUME RESPONSIBILITY?
Pull your team together. Let them know whats occurred. But also let them know you aren’t focusing on the problem and you aren’t launching a ‘counter attack’. You’re simply focusing MORE on your vision, your culture and your goals as a team, stronger than ever thanks to this experience.
Next, make a statement to your clients…
2. Your Clients
Your clients have likely been affected by this instance. If that person had tried to poach or goad them into leaving with them (or even if slander and lies have been spread), this is in no way comfortable for your clients.
So don’t make the mistake of creating ultimatums and an “Its them or US” kind of situation.
Instead, apologise to the clients that they may have been inconvenienced or affected by such a person’s actions (keep the perpetrator nameless out of professionalism) .
Let them know you wish the person well in the future. And that you are to focusing on retort, but more so on creating an even stronger culture with your team and clients. This is true as you addressed it in your team meeting already.
Just don’t point fingers. Don’t accuse. Don’t even let it show that you’re angry or reactive to this person’s actions. ANY sign of you doing that will immediately position you as a victim in the minds of your clients.And you’re bigger than that.
(By the way, the only way YOU’D be reactive is ultimately because you perceive this former team member as a ‘threat’ to your business and vision. So if thats the case you may need to do some inner work on that aspect)
For your clients, let them know its business as usual. If you make it a big deal, they’ll make it a big deal. Resist that urge at all costs.
Finally, time to address the former team member in question…
3. The team member
This may be the hardest to keep your cool in such a situation.
And its exactly why Emotional Intelligence is the quintessential quality of any Leader in life and business.Unfortunately, so few fitness entrepreneurs actively develop their EQ.
(I teach a course specifically on this, called the LEADERS program, if you’re interested. Reach out and I’ll let you know about when our next Leaders Mentorship opens up and the details)
So, I’d advise you reach out to the person in question, and give them your honest feedback (but consciously and professionally – don’t just call them a “F*cking c*ck”)
You could let them know you’re surprised by their actions and that your team are disappointed by it (as long as this is authentic).
But not in an accusational manner. Simply an observational description. Also let them know you’re taking responsibility as a leader to learn more from this experience about conducting your business and bringing the team together tighter as a team. You’re not exactly ‘thanking’ them for this, but you’re just letting them know that you are focused on progressively moving forward and benefiting from any instance.
If anything this may cause them to reflect on their own actions, and they’ll learn a thing or two from you.This actually happened recently, and the company responded in the manner I taught exactly above.
Within a week the person in question sent back a letter apologizing for their actions and they since parted ways mutually.
Now there are those who will probably argue my points here, and say things like:”Screw those guys, you gotta be tough and ruthless and fuck them over!”
And you’re more than entitled to your opinion, based on your worldview.
But to me?
The older I get and the more I do, the less I have tolerance for ego, aggression, cock-fights and general aggression.
I choose assertiveness over aggression.
I choose leadership over lambasting.
I choose ultimate victory over being a victim of circumstance.
Doing what’s right (in my definition) is far more important than being right.
Because if someone’s negative energy triggers the same in YOU…
Then they didn’t put it there. You already had it… and you’re holding onto it.
It does get tough sometimes to remain present, calm and not to take things personally in these instances, I totally agree.
But thats what a leader does anyway.
If you’re finding that you’re unable to do that,That could be the biggest takeaway for you at this point in your business life.
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