Things at The Gym were changing—new corporate policies were being rolled out and sadly, that meant Kent, the beloved "do whatever he wanted" general manager, would have to adapt and become a corporate asshole. Not wanting to risk damaging his reputation, he took a promotion as district manager—instead of enforcing the rules, all he'd have to do is make sure managers were performing their onerous tasks. This increase in job responsibility came with more money, but if you asked Kent, he was being demoted, leaving his beloved gym to schlep all over the tri-state area, screaming at managers for not enforcing policies. Better, he thought, than ruining the culture he'd cultivated over many years.
But first, he needed to hire replacements—a general manager and a fitness manager. He virtually lived at The Gym, which meant he did both jobs. But a new manager wouldn't be able to handle all that responsibility.
He told me about the upcoming changes: rules, policies, procedures. And worse, it was likely that an unqualified moron would be at the helm, someone so terrified to stand up to corporate mandates for fear of losing their job. We wouldn't have a leader, we'd have a follower.
The field of new managers provided slim pickings. He read the following cover letter to me:
"I comprise a diverse background in project management, sport marketing, event planning, office administration, and young athletes. I am devoted to working hard, determined to thrive, proficient in paying attention, am opening-minded to direction, and am very, very patient among many other zealous qualities."
That person was not hired. Instead, we got Frank. Kent hated him from the jump—said he was a coward and a pushover.
Just like that, Kent was gone and the rumors of new policies were already spreading like wildfire. The first new rule was the removal of the chair from the front desk. But there was more to the rumor: We weren't able to use quiet time to read, write, or study, which was odd, because those three things are what forged so many friendships between members and employees.
Under Corporate's new vision, we were required to be friendly, warm and welcoming. We'd have to "forge lasting relationships" with members by handing them a freshly folded towel upon entering the gym. We were instructed to give them a great big smile and say, "Have a great workout!"
These things are what corporate believed would create "lasting relationships" with our members. I think otherwise. I think breaking away from a novel, journal, or textbook causes more conversations and friendships than tossing someone a towel and reading off a script.
But that's what corporations do. They arrive with grandiose plans that end up chasing away the good employees and replacing them with morons.