By Vivienne O’Keeffe, A.A.D., P.E.A., C.I.B.T.A.C.
Published in Spa Management magazine’s August 2004 issue
The spa industry provides employment for large numbers of individuals drawn from different walks of life, cultural backgrounds and educational experiences. Each individual presents with a unique set of perceptions and style, deriving from standards and values acquired from their experiences in life. Such rich individuality and inherent potential among industry professionals demands a positive, patient and imaginative nurturing by visionary and dynamic leadership, in order to create and maintain a functional team environment – one which is committed to delivering a consistent spa experience for the client.
The prize for achieving healthy staff/team cohesion and synchronization is commercially and personally very worth-while – much negative, time-wasting, energy-dissipating and counter-productive activity can be avoided by a team that truly works together. Strategic team building increases client retention and satisfaction, staff retention, profit margins and can decrease operating costs. What a plus this achievement represents for a competitive advantage in the marketplace.
How a facility manages the diversity of its workforce while minimizing risk is an important consideration for every spa owner. It is important to have precise job descriptions, contracts, detailed policies and procedure manuals in place before strategic team building can occur.
Investing in team time upfront and clarifying what is acceptable, and what is not, can go a long way toward creating a harmonious and balanced working environment. The most fundamental aspect of team building is to have a very clear understanding of the context or foundation for team participation. Positive peer group dynamics can have profoundly beneficial effects – bridging the gap of understanding and comprehension, with the added benefit of instilling peer group monitoring, a proven and economical method of maintaining the objective of a consistent service delivery to the client.
How do we achieve this solid team structure, referred to above, within the spa facility? In essence a team context within a spa environment is firstly a working team as opposed to a committee style decision-making team. A clear and meaningful understanding of what is required of the spa team is essential up front, to motivate the individual to commit to the additional personal effort necessary for enhanced cooperation among all members of the team. Peer dynamics can rely upon a certain hierarchy, which will evolve from these initial requirements, with the evolution of “micro” team leaders, even within small work- related or socially involved groups of staff. This team leader, once identified by management, will need to accept the challenge of facilitating congruent team development in a congenial environment. Here, where each individual member’s views are welcomed and pooled for consideration towards possible inclusion in best practice policies, team participation becomes a reality; policy assumes relevancy and individuals tend to be drawn towards identifying with the businesses vision and objectives. Orientation and training seminars are also essential; combined with thorough ongoing assessments to keep individuals focused on, and teams challenged by, the objectives of the facility.
In the case of established facility team-members, their contributions can help in a significant way to reform, redefine, and fortify the fundamental building blocks of the team philosophy. In short, a social and commercial “bonding process” has been set in motion. Significant potential may be realized only through a planned series of team-meetings, sequenced in incrementally developing stages and held at intervals and frequency to best suit the individual establishment. The basic premise of complementary individual development in a group context requires the good-will, careful guidance and patient persistence of team participants to maintain its soundness.
A healthy spa team would be committed to achieving the spa’s mission and vision with each individual supporting each other’s activities. For example – a specific therapist is running behind in an otherwise effectively functioning team environment. The spa front line people would seamlessly bridge this emerging gap in the clients experience by assisting the individual therapist in having the spa attendant prepare the treatment room for the next guest. The ball is never dropped as the “team awareness” takes responsibility for its overall actions. Developing a supportive and collaborative team approach, focused upon a seamless delivery for the client, is the only way to achieve a harmonic workplace in this labor-intensive and competitive business.
Examples of Team Building Blocks:
Team building and team spirit enrichment is not a process to be quickly completed and ticked off your “To-do” list or noted as a yearly event. It is secured by resolute commitment to implementing team building practices on an ongoing and consistent basis.
Taking the time to ensure each team member knows what it is you require from them will in turn help lead to buy-in, identification with the mission statement and their empowerment within their team roles,- these being critical catalysts for setting in motion the dynamic synergy of the team environment.
“Coming together is a beginning; keeping together is progress; working together is success.” – Henry Ford
Vivienne O’Keeffe, A.A.D., P.E.A., C.I.B.T.A.C., President of Spa Profits Consulting Inc., has earned an international reputation as an expert in designing successful spa concepts. She specializes in working with owners to create profitable spas. As an international consultant she is highly skilled in developing unique product and treatment lines, as well as training programs. Vivienne has studied and trained extensively in the beauty and well-being arena and is a member of ISPA, Leading Spas of Canada (for which she won an Outstanding Industry Service Award in 2001, 2005 and 2012) and the Institute of Management Consultants USA (IMC USA). She is also a published author, having written a wide range of articles on developing and running a successful spa. Spa Profits Consulting Inc. is the only SpaExcellence certified consultancy in North America, and is committed to setting the standard for quality, successful spas on a global level. For more information call 604.921.6245 or email