Club Story: Change IS Going to Happen, How Do You Manage It?

Today’s guest post is from Gavin Gill, Director of Operations for Boys & Girls Clubs of West Alabama. He has seen a lot of change while working with Clubs, and is passionate about helping staff manage it well! 

As Directors or Managers of Boys & Girls Clubs, we know change is going to happen. There is no escaping it most times. Sometimes it comes gradually, and sometimes it comes all at once in a big crashing tidal wave. Change. A word that can bring the best out of people and the worst out of people.

Throughout my professional tenure with the Boys & Girls Club, change has been something that just keeps happening. I have been with the Movement for 5 years, working my way from a summer intern to Director of Operations. When I finally made the step to manage others, CHANGE was afoot for myself and the people I managed. Boys & Girls Clubs are run uniquely, with management styles matching the manager. If you have a very artsy and creative Unit Director, the Club is going to be decorated with super sweet bulletin boards and hallways that match. If you have a Unit Director that is more laid back and not creative or innovative, you’re going to have a Club that screams, “WE NEED SOME SPICE IN OUR LIFE!” The list goes on, but you understand my point. Clubs match the person who is running or managing it in many ways, so that is where CHANGE comes in.Gavin 2.jpg

With new leadership comes change, but the big question is how do you MANAGE that? How do you manage staff that have been used to one way, but now have to get used to this new way? What do you do? Well I’ve got two quick but easy points for you:


Have you ever been in a game of dodgeball, and was looking one way but not the other, then BANG, IN THE FACE!! That is what change is like when it becomes non-relational. Non-relational change is when the change is happening but there is no communication about it or through it. Change brings different things out of different people, and if change is not communicated or broken down then you may only see the worst side of people.

At Clubs, I’ve both seen and brought a lot of change. But very early in my career I found out how hard change can be for some individuals, and that is where being RELATIONAL with my staff kicked in. The best thing a manager can do for their staff when change is happening is  ask open-ended questions that get them to voice frustrations or concerns with the change. This will bring concerns and the questions to the table that will help you help with answering the WHY of what is changing. These conversations tend to help both parties understand each other and the process that is being taken.

Now I know what you all are thinking, change IS managerial on occasions, and you are correct.  You will have those situations when it does become managerial, when staff do not want to change, so they make life hard on everyone. In those situations, it is our job as a manager to make sure that they understand who the change is for, and hopefully they will start respecting the process more and more.

  • Change is for the BETTER of who?

When change is announced or taking place, managers need to speak about it as a betterment, but for who?  It has to be for these reasons:

  • For the KIDS
  • To Better Serve at a Higher Quality

Everything a Club does should be for who? The kids. This is something my mentor taught me that at a very early stage of my career. Nothing is about us or the staff, it is all for the kids that the Club serves on a regular basis. Preach change in a way where the spotlight is off of the CHANGE and onto the kids or the community that is being served. And if your changes aren’t for the kids or to heighten quality? Then they probably shouldn’t have taken place. Respect for change is hard to get, but if the change WORKS and it is for THE RIGHT REASON then respect is given more often than not.

In closing what I would like to say is this….

“When you are finished changing, you are finished”

~Ben Franklin~

Reread that quote. Okay, one more time. That quote echoes what is happening every time a Club gets a new Program Director, Unit Director, Director of Operations, or a CEO or Executive Director. But it is also happening all over the world in every business and every organization. When receiving change, how are you going to handle it? More importantly if you are the one IMPLEMENTING the change, how are YOU going to manage it? Who are you going to make it about?

Let change be for the BETTERMENT of the serving of your community and for the KIDS that you serve. Let that be the focus and everything else will take shape.


Gavin has been in the Movement for over 5 years. When he isn’t at the Club, he loves to longboard, watch the LA Rams win, and hang out with his dog, Navy. He’s also a HUGE Star Wars nerd! 

What advice do you have for Youth Development Professionals? Write us at to share with the Movement!


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