Thursday, December 6, 2007

Communication, Communication, Communication

I've been frustrated with my salon manager lately. We arranged her schedule so she would spend less time behind the chair and have a big chunk of time every afternoon for management duties. Things should have been getting better, but instead I felt like less was being accomplished. We had an employee quit but her schedule was still in the appointment book. Employees had volunteered to pick up some extra hours but those weren't in the appointment book. We needed to hire but recent applicants had not been contacted for interviews. What the heck was she doing?

My frustration built. I vented to my husband who was shocked to hear anything but glowing praise about her. Frustration is a dangerous thing--sometimes it leads us to do very stupid things! I was tempted to call her out on this--why isn't this done, why isn't that done? I knew that was the wrong approach but I wasn't sure what to do to fix the situation.

After much thought, I decided if she wasn't working on what I want her to work on maybe it's because I never made clear what her priorities should be. She did not have a job description and we never sat down and identified the absolutely most important parts of her job. I asked her to think about it and write down the five things she thinks are most important for her as manager. Then I asked her to write down five things she currently does that she thinks she should not be doing. I did the same. We met the next day for lunch outside the salon where we would not be interrupted.

Our Top Five lists were actually very similar. We agreed that her priorities should be:
  1. Scheduling - proactively managing the schedule to maximize productivity
  2. Recruiting
  3. Staff management, employee reviews
  4. Motivate, coach, energize the team
  5. Oversee technical training
  6. Handling complaints of a technical nature (ie. cut or color)
OK, I know that's six, but that's what our two lists of five morphed into.

Things she should not do:
  1. Vendor management, salon improvements, maintenance issues
  2. Complaints of a non-technical nature (ie. basic client service)
  3. Development of retail program (a project she had taken on)
We left the meeting with a great to do list (for each of us), a standing weekly meeting out of the salon, and feeling of relief that we're on the right track. As it turns out, she had been feeling ineffective, and was frustrated at the lack of direction she was getting from me. We had not been communicating and we were paying the price.

That was one week ago today and I'm happy to say we are both energized and we're making things happen!

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