7 management tips for a drama-free workplace

 tips for a drama-free workplace

Drama takes an emotional toll and has a big monetary cost. Follow these management tips for a drama-free workplace. 

Lots of workplaces have drama and conflict, including spa, wellness, and hospitality businesses. Drama can stem from all sorts of roots, which include lack of communication and not feeling heard, and in spa, wellness, and hospitality, difficult or demanding guests can add to feelings of frustration and anger. Stressful times don’t help, nor do managers who aren’t paying attention and being appropriately supportive.

You may wind up dealing with infighting, backstabbing, resentment, seething anger and more – all of which is very bad for your business. It affects the working environment and the atmosphere your guests experience when they come to your spa, resort, or hotel. And it costs you in revenue. One Gallup report found that U.S. employees spend 2.8 hours per week dealing with conflict, equating to approximately $359 billion in paid hours per year. But it’s not just about time spent on conflict – it’s about your guest experience and your employee experience. Toxic atmospheres don’t make successful business. 

Fortunately, if you’re a manager with drama in the spa or wellness workplace, there’s a lot you can do about it. Here are 7 tips for a drama-free workplace.  

1. Model behavior

A drama-free workplace starts with you. Do an honest assessment of your own behavior and ask yourself if you are contributing to the drama. Are you participating in gossip, playing favourites, taking things personally, making assumptions, or allowing your own moods to affect your interactions with your team? If you are doing any of these things (or anything else that’s contributing to the drama), you need to stop. Check your ego. It’s hard and we’re all human, but that is what is required of effective leaders.

 2. Communicate expectations

At no point should your team not know what is expected of them. They should know how they’re expected to behave, what success looks like, and how they’re expected to achieve it. Have a written code of conduct. According to ethics.org, a code of conduct “clarifies an organization’s mission, values and principles, linking them with standards of professional conduct. The code articulates the values the organization wishes to foster in leaders and employees and, in doing so, defines desired behavior.” 

Workplaces should have a zero-tolerance policy on gossip. That means allowing no trash talking, taking pleasure in the misfortune of others, rumor spreading, or conversation that has the potential to instigate conflict or cause pain. Hold a meeting to communicate this policy, write it up, abide by it yourself, and enforce it.

3. Become an impartial mediator

You may like some team members better than others. Nobody truly likes everyone equally. But that doesn’t mean you don’t have to treat everyone equally. If there is conflict, learn to handle it as an impartial mediator, which may mean learning to mediate. Effective mediation is a valuable skill for a manager, and can learn it through online courses and books. Once you know how, use those skills whenever they are needed. Don’t let bad feelings percolate. 

4. Be there for your team

 Customer-facing wellness and hospitality employees may have to deal directly with demanding, entitled, and difficult customers. Spa therapists work in close quarters with strangers and are expected to not only handle difficult guests, but to heal and comfort them. It’s a lot to deal with and they shouldn’t be expected to do it alone. Have an open-door policy and conduct regular check ins. Ask the right questions. People might not come to you with issues unless prompted to do so.

Have your team members’ backs. Don’t immediately take that customer’s side in a conflict situation because you don’t want to lose their business, and certainly don’t do so in front of others. Your team member may never forgive you. Again, effective mediation is key and should take place behind closed doors, after gathering all the important information and allowing for a cool-down period. Even if the outcome is in favour of the guest, your employee should still feel supported and heard.

5. Clean up the toxic element

Drama is often created by a single instigator. If there is a person, or people, with a toxic attitude causing trouble, this must be addressed. Speak to the employee and ask if there is an issue they need to discuss. Make it clear you’re ready to listen and the door is open. In a Harvard Business Review article, Christine Porath, author of Mastering Civility: A Manifesto for the Workplace, points out that many people have no idea how destructive their behavior is. Give concrete, specific feedback and offer the opportunity to change.

6. Shhhhhh….listen

Listen when someone is speaking and to your employees. Also listen to your environment. Listen to the ways people interact with each other and for rumblings of dissatisfaction, unhappiness, and resentment. Listen to the world around you, and if you hear something worrisome, speak to it.   

7. Channel competitive energy into purpose and organizational success

Encourage people to work together, not against each other, and communicate that everyone’s success contributes to the success of the business. Also remind employees that their work has purpose. Eric Stephenson, Chief Wellness Officer of Elements Massage, once told us, “The spa industry is so purpose driven, I think a key piece of engagement is regularly reminding our teams what we’re doing in the world, above and beyond making money.”

Recognize and reward B players as much as you recognize and reward A players. 60%-70% of your team is made up of B players, and they shouldn’t be an afterthought. If you only reward top salespeople over and over again, you’re devaluing the people who comprise a huge part of your success. B players might never become A players and that’s OK. Show them the love they deserve.

Drama and conflict are not inevitable. We can have comfortable, calm, happy and thriving workplaces. It just takes intention and effort. 


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Spa Executive is published by Book4Time, the leader in guest management, revenue and mobile solutions for the most exclusive spas, hotels, and resorts around the globe. Learn more at book4time.com.

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