By Ashley Laabs
When your job involves supervising others, it’s easy to lose sight of the image that you project. From time to time, it’s important to manage your own reputation and leadership style. Different environment require distinctive styles of management – see if your style matches up with the needs of your salon and employees:
Hands-off: This type of management happens often when leaders are not physically present, are otherwise occupied or when no formal operations procedures have been put in place. Employees make most of the decisions amongst themselves. While this allows employees to take an ownership role in their work, it can also be upsetting for those who crave direction and feedback. Hands-off leadership works best in a strong team environment where members are self-motivated and work is restricted to an area of their expertise.
Informal: Unlike most other forms of leadership, an informal approach can put employees at ease through regular exposure and frequent interaction with their superiors. Informal communication lets leaders know about the daily details that are often glossed over in formal meetings. It can also be great for coaching opportunities, as the manager will talk about and give feedback on what employees are doing on a casual level. While some employees may try to take advantage of informalities in the workplace, informal leadership may be effective in work environments that are already casual or require constant training.
Nurturing: Communication still flows from the top down, but leaders are more concerned with the happiness of employees than actual efficacy. In extreme cases, this can make staff feel like their boss is their friend or make an ineffective environment for healthy confrontation. Leaders may avoid conflict, leading to inconsistency. This method is most effective in positions where subordinates are self directed and highly creative.
Democratic: Dependent on the principal of two-way communication, a democratic form of leadership not only accepts, but considers feedback from subordinates. This can do a lot to ease tension since employees feel heard. However, it can also create the illusion of authoritative equality and can make decisions more time consuming. This method is best when employees are knowledgeable about the decisions that management must make.
Top-Down: Referred to most commonly as a dictatorship, top-down communication takes place when leaders direct all employees without considering their feedback. While it encourages a high level of discipline, employees may feel like they are not unique. This is best in scenarios where one must manage many low-level employees, in environments that do not require creativity, and when quick decisions are made on a regular basis.
Whichever style of leadership you demonstrate in your business, there are some almost universal qualities that employees value in a strong authoritative figure: morality, composure, knowledge, trust, listening skills and a sense of respect for others. It can be easy to believe that you demonstrate these qualities, but the slightest non-verbal gestures can make your employees question it.
Take notice of how you say things: Do you mumble or yell? Do you use sarcasm or word things in a negative way? Your mannerisms can also make a big impact. Do you fidget, gesticulate wildly or avoid eye contact? Do you stand extremely close to employees or make uncomfortable faces? All of these elements can affect how seriously an employee takes your communication. Poise, confidence and a genuine nature go a long way when having any kind of discussion – your staff can pick up on that assertive strength and will rely on it.
A great first step to determining what you need to work on and how your employees feel about your leadership is to ask for their feedback. It can be a humbling experience, but creating an opportunity for your staff to be honest about their relationship with you can save a lot of time and prevent a lot of issues in the future.