For the first time ever in many years of coaching indoor cycling classes, my sub did not show up while I was on vacation. Needless to say, the group fitness manager was unhappy and called me to inquire about what happened. I explained that another instructor at the same facility had agreed to sub my class more than 4 weeks ago and I had no idea what happened to him.
I was also upset. I examined my email exchange with the instructor and found that I had sent him two reminders a few days prior to the class, as well as a text message the night before class. Perhaps that is a bit OCD, but I had a strange feeling that something was not right. Although I did not receive a reply, I told myself that we are all professionals and he would be there to sub my class. Little I knew that your standards are not necessarily those of others.
I will admit that most of this is obvious and should not even be noted; however, here are a few strategies that will help you to avoid the above situation:
- Make sure you know the sub instructor well: this can be accomplished by attending one of their classes in order to observe their routine and drills. When you know them and they know you, you will be able to properly judge whether that instructor will be someone to call when you need to be subbed.
Mistake #1: The instructor who agreed to sub was the only one available and I had never met him or attended his classes.
- Be aware of communication issues/Murphy’s Laws: when I did not receive a reply to my reminders, I should have contacted other instructors or alerted the group fitness manager to the possibility of a problem. You need to be adamant about followup and confirmations. Use emails, text message or phone calls.
Mistake #2: When I did not hear back, I simply thought that he is too busy. I trusted that he will show up.
- Let your class know that you will be subbed: this is a controversial statement because the instructors are told not to announce that they will be subbed (at this particular facility). It stems from the fact that the facility wants people to show up regularly and want to present opportunities to other instructors.
Mistake #3: Because I never met that instructor, I should have announced the week prior that a sub instructor will be covering the class. By not doing so, many riders thought that I was the one who did not show up. I think it is good business to announce that you will be subbed and promote the instructor who will cover for you.
- Follow procedure (CYA): At this facility, we are required to fill out a form to indicate who will be subbing and when they agreed to sub. I did, but did not attach the email in which he agreed to sub my class.
Mistake #4: Be OCD about procedure.
- Followup: When I found out that the sub instructor did not show up, I immediately emailed him but never received a response. Three days later, I heard back from the group fitness manager that the sub instructor got his dates mixed up. While this is plausible, I find it unusual that this can happen with all the technology tools we have, especially since I emailed and texted him three times to remind him (with no acknowledgement). I have yet to receive an apology from him.
Mistake #5: Always followup. It is important to know the reason first hand as to why the sub did not show up.
While this is not a “big deal”, I hold myself to a set of standards that are based on good communications and proper followup (not difficult or unrealistic). Problem is, others may not and do not share these standards. Lesson learned.