If you’re like me, you’re headed into hiring season as the busiest months of the year are about to begin: Back to school! This season can be super exciting as you watch holes in teams get filled and your lower-enrollment summer classes fill back up again for the fall.

In our early years, I am pretty sure I didn’t attract a lot of great staff. Experienced coaches? Yes. Great staff, no. You see, there are two parts to being great. You have to be a great coach and you have to be a great employee. My version of a great coach and your version might be really different though.

Our members of the NG Academy hear me talk about my staff a lot. It’s probably the thing in my gym I’m the proudest of. For those in the Academy, I see this transformation often. People go from having the wrong people to the right people and suddenly they love their gyms again. (If you want to experience THAT sort of love, set up a call and we can help: nextgenowners.com/book-a-call.)

Today, I don’t look at a coach who can spot a full and say, “You must be a great coach!” They might be, but until I see how they make their athletes feel, I’m usually skeptical. For example, let’s say I have two candidates. One spends her 30-minute interview telling me all the skills she can spot and how she went to worlds and won in 2018. Another tells me she loves kids so much she’s studying to be a teacher. She did dance as a kid and spent a year learning tumbling. She loved it and always wished she could do more tumbling. 

Maybe you’d be surprised, but I wouldn’t call the first back for a second interview. I would absolutely call the second back. While the first had an impressive cheerleading resume, I’m not hiring a cheerleader. I’m hiring a coach. I am not looking for someone to live through their athletes. I’m looking for someone to develop athletes into mentally and physically strong leaders who love our sport. 

I have a few rules when it comes to hiring.

  1. If we spend more time talking about your cheer accomplishments than your experience or joy for working with children, we’re likely not moving on to the next step in the hiring process. 
  2. If you aren’t on time to the interview, how will you be on time to work every day? I don’t really care if you couldn’t find the gym either. We give at least 24 hours notice when requesting an interview. That’s plenty of time to do a quick drive by to confirm Google Maps is right.
  3. If a child comes up to our table and interrupts our conversation to ask a question, and you seem annoyed, you’re not getting hired. When my kids were little, I intentionally had them do this during an interview. Is it rude? Maybe. As a coach, I want you to deal with rude kids without feeling like it’s an injustice. If I turn back to you and say, “I’m sorry about that,” and you say, “Oh gosh, no problem” with a smile on your face, I imagine you’ll have no problem when you’re talking to a co-worker and a preschooler runs up to give you a hug. 
  4. I personally don’t care much about your experience in spotting. We’re going to re-teach you anyway. If you can spot a full, it won’t change the training plan. You’re going to learn to spot forward rolls and cartwheels the same way I do. If you’re too stubborn to do it our way and insist on doing it the way your old gym does it, you’re not a good fit for us. We don’t have a lot of injuries in my gym. I’d like to keep it that way. Even if you came from a mega-gym that’s known for XYZ, I’m not trusting you were their best coach or that you even coached the way they wanted you to. I’m looking for someone who is humble and willing to learn. If, after you’ve been around for a few months, you have some wisdom on how to improve what we’re doing, I’m all ears!
  5. On my website application, there is a spot to upload your resume. If you didn’t take the time to do that, it’s unlikely you’re getting hired. I have 16 year old athletes applying to work at our gym who take the time to write their first resume just because they know it’s the only way we’re going to call them for an interview. If a kid can do it, so can you. If you won’t go the extra mile to get a new job, will you go the extra mile when you see trash in the parking lot or you’re leaving at night and aren’t certain you latched the door properly securing my building?

So, as you’re looking for new staff this summer, don’t be 2013 Danielle who was desperate for someone who knew how to coach so I didn’t have to spend much time training you. Don’t be 2013 Danielle who trusted that your old gym known for excellent tumbling or gymnastics trained you well. Don’t be Danielle who accepted that our building was just hard to find and 10 minutes late wasn’t a big deal.

If you know me, you might be shocked I allowed those things. When you’re working a thousand hours a week, it’s amazing what you’ll compromise!