Stephen OliverThere are many reasons to higher employees from within your own martial arts school. This article will help you determine the best employee hires for your school.

Everyone knows that you should “grow your own” staff and instructors but often we forget the lessons that are plainly obvious. This is certainly a rule that can be broken from time to time but let me again remind you what you already know:

  1.  Martial artists as employees tend to be very “self-righteous:”

a.   Doing anything just to make money “off the students” is bad and;
b.   They never get paid enough and;
c.   They don’t want anything to do with sales or marketing – only teaching what they want to teach – to students they feel like teaching.

2.  Unfortunately martial arts is very much like a “cult”. Whoever “brainwashed” someone first about what the “True Way” is – often owns their heart and soul forever.

3.  As a teacher – often you can do no wrong to a dedicated student.

4.  As an employer – often you can do nothing right to a mediocre employee.

Take some of these tendencies and exacerbate them with non-home grown martial artists and you can easily triple your headaches and cut your results in half.

Remember a few obvious truths

  1.  If someone failed once already running their own school – why should working for you be any different?  Remember – business owners have LOTS of reasons to be much more self motivated than anyone’s employee.

(If you take a school operator – and, have a position where they can just teach – if that is something they are really strong at – and, not have to market or sell then it might work. But failed school operators usually make failed employees. I hate to admit that I’ve made this mistake a couple of times too many – just a slow learner on some things I guess.)

2.  If someone holds allegiance to another instructor or style in their heart – then their true feelings will show in all student and staff interactions. Do you want students excited about the old (read real) instructor and their old (read true) style – or do you want your students excited about you and your school. 

How do you grow your own? This is a huge subject.  Better covered in greater detail. If you are really interested – rush out and by the Kovar’s Martial Arts Career Training Manual.

A few pointers

  1.  Look for potential future employees in the introductory classes you teach.

2.  Have GREAT retention. If no one gets to Black Belt – there aren’t many Black Belts to hire.

3.  Have a huge SWAT (assistant instructor) team and special leadership training classes.
4.  Take promising candidates “under your wing” personally – and, guide them to:

a. increasing leadership
b. accelerated progress

a.  a winning personal appearance
b.  escalating responsibility
c.  a vision of a career in the martial arts

5.  Have a goal oriented career path:

a.  Master Club (or Black Belt Club)
b.  Assistant Instructor
c.  Instructor
d.  Head Instructor
e.  Program Director
f.  Branch Manager
g.  School Owner

6.  For teenagers

Create a career prospect while paying comparable or slightly better than their other opportunities.

7.  For adults

a.  Consider hiring at early stages of their training for program director or receptionist roles;
b.  Create a career vision that is exciting;
c.  Don’t transition volunteers into paid employees unless it is into full time salaried / incentives position.
d.  Do keep the door open for them to open their own school with your help – when and if they want to and are ready.

Excerpted from “Everything I Wish I Knew When I Was 22” by Stephen Oliver, MBA.

Stephen Oliver's Martial Arts Wealth Mastery on the Martial Arts Schools and Businesses Directory.
Stephen Oliver’s Martial Arts Wealth Mastery on the Martial Arts Schools and Businesses Directory.

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