One way spa managers sabotage their team’s performance

spa managers sabotage their teams' performance

How spa managers sabotage their team’s performance. Micromanagers destroy teams from within, eroding self confidence and negatively affecting everything from the top down. 

If you’re managing a spa or wellness business and want to provide a top tier guest experience, you need to keep your employees performing at their best. But sometimes leaders unwittingly get in the way of this and even sabotage their own team members’ performance.

Micromanaging is one of the worst things you can do

spa managers sabotage their teams' performanceHow? We reached out to Dr. Bryan Williams to discuss this. Williams is a professional speaker and the founder of the BW Leadership Academy, the STRONG Leadership Institute, and the BWTV training series. Prior to that he worked as global corporate director of training and organizational effectiveness for the Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company. He is the recipient of the 2019 ISPA Dedicated Contributor Award and his focus is leadership effectiveness and service excellence.

One of the behaviors Williams listed that gets in the way of optimizing team performance is micromanagement, something all management experts agree is one of the most damaging things you can do to your team.

“Micromanaging,” says Williams, “is the manager hovering over you and breathing down your neck. They will ask you to do something, but insist on being involved in every step and CCd in every piece of communication that you ever put out. It implies that the manager does not trust you.”

And then they get frustrated with their staff.

Sometimes a manager just needs to be needed

Williams gives an example of how managers in all industries are blind to their micromanaging behavior and its detrimental effects: “I was in a gym at a hotel in Miami, and a gentleman on the treadmill next to mine was talking to me about his employees, saying that they’re always calling him and that he could never take a day off because they need him etc. So, I asked him ‘Why don’t you just turn off your phone and see what your team does?’

“He looked like he was about to pass out and said, ‘No. They need me.’ And that’s when it hit me. It’s not that his team needs him, is that he needs to be needed. He needs to be called and texted and CCd on and involved in every meeting.”

In doing this, Williams says, the manager is stifling his team’s ability to think for themselves.

“He’s literally conditioning them to not think and to depend on him for answers. And, here’s the dysfunctional part: He will turn around and blame them for not thinking.

Inhibiting discretionary effort

It’s a toxic cycle. When you don’t trust people you erode their self confidence and your confidence in them. You also inhibit their discretionary effort, says Williams. This is the level of effort people can put in if they want to, above and beyond the required minimum.

“Whenever a leader is asking their team to provide exceptional service, what they’re really saying is ‘I want you to do more than you have to do, and I’m not going to pay you more to do it,’” Williams explains. “Somebody doesn’t get paid more to exceed expectations. You can set that standard, but ultimately you can’t make someone go above and beyond. All you can do is create a working environment where somebody wants to do it on their own.”

Almost everything about success in spa and wellness depends on this discretionary effort. And empowering your employees is one of the main ways to inspire this effort.

“The absence of micromanaging is not empowerment”

To get the results you’re after, not micromanaging isn’t enough.

“The absence of micromanaging is not empowerment,” says Williams. “They’re opposites. You have to actually find ways to empower your team. Involve them in planning and decision making. Then give them an opportunity to flex their decision-making muscle, so that they know that they’re valued contributors to the organization.

“One of the best things I can do as a manager, to make you feel engaged, is to tell you that I believe in you and that I trust you well enough. And then, back up what I have said with action.”

If you want your team to perform at their best, step back, and give them space. And involve them in your planning and decision making.

Also, as Williams points out, an excellent guest experience depends heavily on a team member’s ability to transform that experience in real time. “A guest with a question or issue will judge the quality of the service experience in a spa by the responsiveness of the first person they come in contact with to address that issue.” If a team member has to check with their manager before making any decision, that can ruin the flow of the guest experience.

“You want your team to feel empowered to move heaven and earth and to find ways to make things happen.”

If you can create this environment, you will be ahead of the game.

“The vast majority of people don’t work in organizations where they’re truly empowered,” says Williams. “It’s a rare thing.”


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