One question that seems to come up frequently on the StrengthCoach.com forum is the "what certification do I need?" question.
I seem to answer this one over and over. People ask about NSCA, ACE, NASM, etc. as if the certification matters. I can tell you two things with relative certainty.
1- Clients only care that you are certified. They have no idea what the letters mean.
2- Potential employers only care if you are certified to protect them from liability.
The other day I suggested to one reader that if they really want to get hired they need a CNP certification. CNP stands for Certified Nice Person. I said it as a joke but, realized that in so many cases we miss the boat when looking for employees. Hiring is simple. Hire nice, motivated people. The best way to find these people is get them when they are young or when they are changing careers. This is where we have had the best luck.
Once you hire them, train them in your philosophy. If you are successful as a trainer or coach and you hire nice people, you should be able to duplicate your success. This is the essence of what we do at MBSC. CNP's have a service mentality. It is not all about them. In fact, it is rarely about them.
You can usually tell a CNP right away. In the fitness field CNP's:
- Wear clothes that fit.
- They don't carry their food in Tupperware.
- They generally do not look like bodybuilders or powerlifters.
- CNP's hopefully are not covered in tatoo's and have earrings only in their ears (yes, I know there can be exceptions).
If you don't like the person the first time you meet them, chances are they are not CNP material. One thing I have realized is that I can make my coaches and trainers smarter but I can't make them nicer. Believe me, I've tried. It is much easier to impart knowledge than it is to try to change personal qualities.
How do you find a CNP? The number one route is the internship route. This is like tryouts. The best thing about interns is that they don't expect to be hired. You can simply keep the ones you like. It's perfect. Most of our staff was "hired" this way. Those who fail the CNP and work ethic tests simply move on. Work ethic tests? Yes, work ethic tests.
- During the internship, pay attention.
- Do these potential employees arrive early?
- Do they stay late?
- When you ask for volunteers are they the first to volunteer?
- Do they ever ask for time off?
- Are they frequently sick?
- Do they have any "family emergencies" during their internship?
These are all signs of poor work ethic. I know, things do really come up but if you are twenty-one, life shouldn't get in the way that much.
CNP tests? Simple.
Watch them. How do they interact with their peers? With clients? With delivery people and service people? I want someone who is nice to everyone, all the time. I want someone who cares. I can teach that person and help them to succeed.
One of the first things I suggest to interns to is to read Dale Carnegie's How to Win Friends and Influence People. This self-help classic is step one to becoming a CNP. Add a little Steven Covey and some John Maxwell and you are well on your way.
What about in an interview? Some of you don't have the luxury of having interns. I think hiring through interviews is tough. First thing, check references. The best reference is from someone that you know and trust. The worst is from the current boss. A current boss will lie to rid him or herself of a bad employee. I always ask the current boss something like "what will I say to you next time I speak to you?" This often pulls out the truth. The thought of you calling them back a few weeks after the hire is a bit scary if they are lying. Their great reference sometimes gets a little lukewarm. After references, think first impressions.
I only hire people who want to work at Mike Boyle Strength and Conditioning. If they ask too many questions about benefits, time off etc., I know we will not get along. I need people that are excited to come to work and help people every day. How are they dressed? I love a tie, I can't resist. A little old school respect goes a long way. It may be a job in a gym, but it's a job interview. We've had people show up in sweatpants with untied shoes? No thanks. In our gym I also want to see someone who has networked. Ideally they have already visited the facility, taken a tour, met some staff. If they live near Boston and have never been in our gym, why would I want to hire them?
Becoming a CNP is probably more about upbringing than anything else. We just need to find the right people. If we look for certifications, degrees, experience etc. we miss the boat. Look for personality and work ethic. Knowledge is easy to provide but personality and work habits are tough to instill after the fact. Get CNP's, they'll make you look smart and help create a successful business.