It’s summer time, and you know what that means: training, training, training! Many of us at Counsilman-Hunsaker are former Aquatics Managers, and in our experience, we found ourselves most concerned with training lifeguards and guest services team members. Ensuring that these often seasonal staff members received proper training was always a primary focus. You tend to assume that head lifeguards, pool managers, and supervisors have more experience, know what they are doing, and have all arrived ready to work. However, this is not always the case.
Supervisors who are not properly trained can cause more of a headache for Aquatics Managers than one might think. Because they have a wider range of responsibilities than most other pool staff members, they tend to have more complex questions and requests that can prevent you from fulfilling your own responsibilities. After spending significant portions of our summer days answering questions from supervisors regarding things they should have already known, we realized there had to be a better way.
This involves listening to your staff and paying close attention to the types of questions they ask. Consider even writing down every question you receive from your management staff over the course of a summer. Use this information to determine the steps necessary to better train your staff. For instance, you could spend your off-season developing a training curriculum that addresses any questions or concerns received from pool staff. This ensures your future staff will have the answers to common questions. You could even consider providing a physical 'frequently asked questions document' to your staff so they won't have to pull you from your responsibilities to answer standard questions.
These frequently asked questions can also serve as the foundation of a large-scale team manual that outlines expectations in regards to performance, behaviors, policies and procedures. Requiring your staff to read the manual as part of training provides supervisors with the knowledge they need to effectively run a safe, clean, friendly and fun aquatic facility. Another option is to review the manual with your staff in a presentation format. From here, the possibilities are endless. The manual can serve as inspiration for a weekend training session to build camaraderie and excitement within your management team. Here, you could go more in-depth and discuss big picture topics like leadership, risk management, safety and communication.
While these options all require additional work on your part, it ultimately saves you time during operational hours. In our experience, we had our best summers after implementing this type of structured training. The staff is more competent and confident, and it was nothing but smooth sailing. The most important step to helping prepare your management staff is listening to their questions and concerns, and ensuring you are able to efficiently address them.