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Is Your Leadership a Thermometer or a Thermostat?

The success of any salon is absolutely predicated on the role played by the manager and their abilities to lead, as well as their attitude towards leading. We all know this. As managers, it may be easy to tell others what to do, but it’s rarely the most effective way to get things done quickly or well.
Those who flourish as managers, especially in today’s climate, where the younger generation is so questioning, are the ones who aim to be an influencer rather than a boss.

They can read the temperature of the room, like a thermometer, but they go further, clicking into the role of boss when needed, like a thermostat. Rather than take the micromanaging approach of making certain tasks ‘required’, they, instead, make certain their teams are ‘inspired’, and that’s when things get done. The team chooses to deliver, because they want to. They have buy-in because they have chosen that path; they have ownership of the process and they want to complete it competently.

But how do we pass that message down the line to our district, regional and in-store managers? Getting a team to cooperate, at least temporarily, is as easy as ABC. On the other hand, long-term failure is often due to CBAs: lack of Clarity, lack of Belief and lack of Action, which can include your managers on the ground as much as the teams they manage.

The best way to surmount those obstacles is to coach rather than dictate, to show by example how to be effective managers. We need, as an industry, and as managers, to pivot how we approach our people, and much of that comes down to the language we use and the situations we create to communicate with our team.

At easihair pro we jettisoned those tedious and much-maligned monthly meetings. Too many important items can shift, change and occur when you allow things to build up over a month. We now have daily huddles, just 15 minutes. People thrive in environments where are they celebrated instead of tolerated. So we first make it a priority to call out the successes, give our successful people a spot in the sunshine, a platform to explain how they got that particular win. They feel good about themselves; they enlighten others about how they could possibly get a similar win. After that, we move on to a fast-paced, standing share: what you’re doing today, where you are stuck and need help, support or offline meetings needed to move forward.

It’s a culture that now permeates our business, one that is passed around the various strata of management. A manager needs to communicate and lead: to empower people.

We start with motivation and go from there, tasking our managers to:

  • Make sure everyone on the team clearly understands exactly what they get out of performing their allotted tasks fully; what wins it brings for the salon but also how it will affect them beyond the salon. So they are encouraged to be explicit in how much better off the individual will be or how much time bonuses they are winning for themselves.
  • Be ready to explain exactly why something needs to be done, using positive language. For Millennials, constantly asking ‘why’ isn’t a conscious effort to create unnecessary obstacles as much as it is their desire to know, as it gives them a sense of ownership.
  • Show gap-to-goal figures rather than blind their people with huge numbers. If the goal is 10,000 while the daily projection is 7,000, then they focus on the 3,000 gap needed to close the target.
  • Forget the golden rule of treating others how you’d want to be treated. They aim for the platinum rule: treating others how they want to be treated.

We also constantly think about the language we use and the roles we adopt. We have worked hard to avoid the DDTs – the Dreaded Drama Triangle, where there is a victim, a persecutor and a rescuer. The rescuer merely makes it permissible for the victim to act the victim while entrenching the persecutor in a negative role. Instead we aim for the Empowerment Dynamic. The persecutor becomes the challenger, the rescuer, the coach, with solutions discussed rather than suggested, allowing the victim to become the creator.

We back it all up with positive reinforcement language. For example, we coach our managers to stop using ‘Yes, but…’, changing it up for ‘Yes, and…’. This validates what the person says while still allowing an opportunity to make further suggestions for them to consider. If there is an area in need of improvement, it should be first couched in positive terms by pointing to something done well, before addressing the problem. The conversation should conclude with more positive reinforcement.

Most of the time, a good manager should be simply overseeing the business, looking after the logistics. Like a thermostat, they set the temperature, acting when necessary but mostly leaving the team to do what they do best. A bad manager is like a thermometer that is constantly swayed and engaged in the role of attempting to control the environment, but without the means to actually do so, and no one likes to be managed like that any more, especially Millennials.

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