Effective Spa Team Leadership
Written by Julie Register and Linda Bankoski,
Co-owners and Managing Directors of SpaQuality
LLC, for the May 2012 edition of Spa Professional Mexico Magazine. Reproduced with their permission.
A spa’s success is dependent on how well the staff works together as a team to understand and serve its Guests. It is the team leader’s responsibility to create a work environment that engages the hearts and minds of the team members and motivates them to act together according to the spa’s values. Effective teamwork accomplishes the spa’s vision and mission. When the team is engaged, each member is committed both intellectually and emotionally to the spa’s Guests and the spa’s success. This cultivates a more tranquil and supportive environment in which to work. This positive energy directly impacts the Guests. The following table describes the differences between a team and a collection of individuals.
Members of Teams
- Trust and respect each other
- Keep everyone informed
- Pitch in to help each other
- Share openly and honestly
- Look for solutions
- Value differences
- Support individual growth
Collection of Individuals
- Feel they have the brunt of the hard work
- Resent helping others
- Talk behind each other’s backs
- Complain and focus on problems
- Disrespect differences
- Put others down to advance themselves
Hiring and organizing the staff are strategic decisions spa leaders make that impact teamwork. Leaders define measurable goals that support the spa’s vision and mission and encourage team members to value, respect and work well together in pursuit of those goals. The spa leader’s hiring process must be structured to find team members who have the necessary and attitudes, ethics, aptitude and competence needed to provide the treatments and services that the Spa offers in a team environment. Effective leaders communicate each individual’s role in the team including expectations, responsibilities, the relevance and importance of their activities, and what they have the authority to do.
Teamwork requires cooperation. Many compensation models unwittingly create competition between staff members and discourage cooperation. Competition creates winners and losers within the staff. The focus is rarely on the Guest and what the Guest wants and needs. In general, compensation models either support teamwork or do not. Commission undermines teamwork and creates a competition within the staff which negatively impacts the delivery of Guest services and, ultimately, profits. A more successful compensation model is salary that provides team members with a living wage. It demonstrates to staff that their leaders value them and provides staff with security. It minimizes internal competition and results in loyalty to the spa.
Spa leaders define ways for effective two-way communications with their teams. They clearly communicate their expectations and requirements for the team and ensure that they are capable of meeting them consistently. They share how well the team is meeting the spa’s objectives. They regularly meet with the team to understand their personal goals, to discuss the team goals and to give feedback on how well they have met goals. They discuss their individual contributions as well as how well they are working as a team. The messages leaders get from the team provide feedback on the spa quality system and how the leader is managing it. Leaders encourage team members to share their compliments, complaints, frustrations, grievances, recommendations and suggestions for improvement with them.
Spa leaders design the spa’s recognition and rewards process to support the spa’s goals and objectives. Effective spa team leaders provide reward for team achievements, not individual activities. They acknowledge and express appreciation to staff with rewards that are specific and sincere. Meaningful rewards support team goals and values and are:
- Sincere and simple,
- Meaningful to the person receiving them, and
- Relevant to the behavior to be reinforced.
Effective team leaders:
Are both confident and modest,
Are good listeners,
Are good communicators,
Encourage, reinforce and inspire their team members,
Set high expectations for their team,
Plan direction and changes,
Protect team members from danger,
Stand for values that don't change,
Lead their team by example,
Look for and network with other leaders, and
Make more team leaders.
Every day spa team leaders take actions that their teams watch and that are at the heart of developing effective teams.
Top Actions Leaders Take that Promote/Create
- Create a compelling vision
- Define the mission that supports the vision
- Use values to manage the mission
- Develop strategies in support of the vision and mission
- Enable and ensure two-way communication
- Develop staff
- Communicate measurable goals
- Set an expectation of continual improvement
- Seek feedback
- Provide team recognition
Top Actions Leaders Take that Undermine
- Set up power structures
- Distrust staff
- Discourage staff commitment
- Hire to fill positions, rather than for skill, abilities, ethics and attitude
- Focus on sales rather than meeting guests’ needs
- Set up internal competitions
- Compensate individuals not teams
- Don’t let staff know what’s going on
- Don’t ask for feedback from staff
About SpaQuality LLC
Julie Register and Linda Bankoski are co-owners and managing directors of SpaQuality LLC, which has provided a roadmap to authentic performance excellence for spas through spa-specific quality system standards, education, assessment and certification since 2004. They wrote The International Standards of SpaExcellence SM to help spas create effective and efficient spa operations that result in consistent delivery of excellent spa services, guest and staff loyalty, as well as business success. They created and co-teach Building and Sustaining High Quality Systems for Spas, a six-week, on-line course for the University of California - Irvine Extension's Spa and Hospitality Management Certificate Program. For more information, visit www.SpaQuality.com or email register@SpaQuality.com.
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© 2012 SpaQuality LLC
All rights reserved.
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