What questions to ask and where to find the honest feedback.
It’s just as important that the person mentoring the whole salon or spa team receives coaching and feedback as it is for the stylist, therapist and concierge employees. Our experience and our track records give us the sense of whether “it’s working” or not. As leaders or managers, we often feel like we must have all the answers while at the same time preparing to take the heat for tough decisions. Sometimes we do so with our fingers crossed under our desks, hoping for the best. However, our growth and inspiration can stall without constructive and honest feedback. In relationship to checks and balances, it’s understood that every boss needs a boss or at the very least a steering committee or an advisory board to give guidance and regulate accountability.
But, we can’t ignore the importance of the direct benefit of evaluation to our leaders and managers, either.
People are happy to hear the affirming “good job!” We also want to hear what we could do better, too. Ideally, the owners or executive committee can provide examples and overall performance appraisals for the Spa/Salon leaders. While it is great to hear from your peers and your employers, this does not provide the full range of feedback needed to improve management skills. Unfortunately, it is missing the stylist, therapist and concierge employees staff feedback and perspective.
Most passionate leaders want to be the best they can. We want our staff to be the best they can be and our businesses to thrive to its fullest. If you are like me, you go over every angle of a situation before you make a decision and beat yourself up over the fact that not everyone will be happy. It’s hard to make tough calls, when you know it will affect someone negatively or even personally, but you do it because there is the possibility that they will stretch and develop from the feedback. It doesn’t always happen, and that is our opportunity for improvement. Perhaps you could have taken a different approach, perhaps you could have chosen a different time or place to deliver the information, perhaps the employee could have been more involved in the decision-making process itself and perhaps the employee in question, simply couldn’t hear the feedback you shared at that stage in their career. This happens a lot, too.
So, again, how and where do we get the feedback to become the best leaders and managers? There are many different ways out there I’ll share a couple easy ones here.
1) You can use an anonymous format in the form of a survey or performance appraisal is completed by your staff. Perhaps you recruit feedback from employees once or twice a year with a deadline of when to turn it in. You can count on a lot of interesting and specific feedback here. However, you will not be able to dialogue for clear understanding, as it is one-dimensional.
2) Another way you can do this is to conduct performance reviews of your work from select staff, preferably those who work in a leadership capacity themselves, like your assistant managers or your lead therapists. This allows room for their feedback as well as that of the rest of the staff through second hand sharing to lessen the vulnerability. This provides more structure and ensures a dialogue. The goal in doing this is to hear what is and is not working, so keeping avenues open and creative is necessary.
Whatever way you choose to do it, your questions should be both specific and open-ended. Avoid questions like “do you think I’m doing a good job?” Try to ask both broad questions while tuning into preferences on leadership styles. For example, here are two specific questions that should be on your survey or questionnaire.
1) Do you think all employees are treated fairly and with respect?
2) Does your manager use leadership styles that motivate and inspire you?
If so, give an example. If not, share a situation that was de-motivating and how you would have preferred it to be handled?
3) Do you feel your Manager is invested in your success? Please give an example.
4) Do you feel comfortable going to your manager with challenges, even if they relate to her/his performance?
It is important to remember that most people desire to avoid conflict. Even if you have made it clear that you are open and receptive to what they have to say. If your day-to-day role is to give and receive criticism, you have experience that will guide you. Otherwise, you are really putting things out there and hoping for the best outcome. It is important to keep this in mind when asking your team or less experienced support roles to provide this feedback.
It can be a terrifying prospect to ask your team whether you are doing a good job or what you could do to become a better manager. You can hear things you don’t like, that hurt your feelings, and possibly that you didn’t even know. Also, you might hear one-sided opinions from a disgruntled employee, or conversely you could hear only positive things since some employees may be concerned with being disliked if they have any feedback other than positive.
Once you are able to get information from your team, the “challenging” part begins. The next step is to receive it and take note. You have to be able to sift through each point and make sense of it. I think taking time on this part is very important. Reflection is key to really understanding what changes or conversations need to take place. At the end of the day, leaders and managers are accountable to several groups of people. Owners, staff, and guests… you have to make choices that will keep all three groups happy. Consider all three perspectives before acting upon the feedback you receive.
If you can, try to take the feedback to a trusted colleague or to your owners and bounce it off them as a way of sort through it. It is helpful to have a trusted outside perspective sometimes, as well as a sounding board, to air out the validity of the feedback. A great gauge is to put yourself in the shoes of those providing feedback and determine if the concern resonates with you. Even if the feedback is positive, try to make time for reflection. What are you doing right? Can you spread that success into other areas or into your personal life? Though it’s hard to argue with that “feel good” feeling, be sure you have asked the right people for feedback. If you receive tough criticism, reflect on its validity or truth. If it does ring true with examples of your behavior, consider why and what you reacted to in those situations.
Just remember it is a process. Gathering the feedback, receiving the information and processing how to become better takes time and patience. Remember to treat yourself with the same fairness, compassion and support you provide to your staff. Nothing happens overnight, it takes time. It’s not about having all the right answers, in fact, that is impossible. However, it is about having the right intention.
“Nothing will work unless you do.”