Sunday, October 28, 2007

Communication is Key

At our last team meeting it was brought up that our employees felt that we (my manager Liz and I) had not effectively communicated upcoming changes to them. The result, they said, was a lot of worry and rumors about what would happen. I've tried to take that to heart and communicate more often and more openly. We had a great opportunity to practice that this week.

We have a stylist who has been with us for about six months. She has decided to quit and go back to college. When she told me this, she said she could stay until Thanksgiving or Christmas - either was ok with her. Of course, we want her to stay through Christmas because we'll need all hands on deck. The kicker was that she wants the Saturday after Thanksgiving off. Well no one in our salon gets that Saturday off so it had the potential to become a big deal. Liz and I totally diagreed on how to handle this.

My view: The clients come first. And what's best for them is that we are fully staffed through the holidays. I said give her the day off and explain to the rest of the staff why we made that decision.

Manager's View: Other employees will think she is getting preferential treatment. It will affect morale. She would rather let the stylist quit effective Thanksgiving.

So there we stood in the office, both of us feeling very strongly about our positions. I was prepared to back down because I don't believe in tying my manager's hands. If she felt that strongly about it (and she knows the team well) I would support her. We decided to think on it and get together later.

Then it hit me - communication is the key. And not just telling them what we're doing and why, why not let them help make the decision. Liz and I discussed it and decided to take it to the team. She started by approaching the toughest nut to crack. She explained that Ashley was leaving and if she left at T'Giving we would be short-handed which would make it harder for us to take care of clients and meet our goals. The response caught us off guard. She said "First of all, I don't care if she takes the Saturday off. That's no big deal. But if you're worried about December, I'll pick up her Monday hours." Another stylist offered to take her Wednesday hours.

With one simple conversation we showed that we trust our team and respect their opinions, and we covered half the deaprting employees hours!

If we hadn't taken this to the team we would have been forcing our decision on them instead of letting them own it. And even if we explained our logic, the decision would never have the same level of support that we have now.

These little triumphs fire us up so much!

1 comment:

  1. We just used this same tactic with the recent loss of an employee and we're pleasantly surprised at our remaining staff's willingness to cover hours and help out until we find someone new. Hooray for small surprises.