Working with so many tanning salons and chains has afforded me interaction with many unique people, and more than 75 percent of them are women. Now, for some men, that can be problematic. Not for this guy! I grew up with an alcoholic father who had many good attributes, but couldn’t escape the demons of drinking. Fortunately for me and the rest of our nuclear family, he finally kicked it “cold turkey” and had four years of solid sobriety and good health. Then, smoking and other issues caught up with him, and – well, you can guess the rest.
Life in a substance-addicted home is a subject for another column; but suffice it to say that chaos and insecurity could be daily issues. If I have any sanity or marbles rolling around between my ears, it’s due to my mother, our family leader. She was not as much a nurturer as she was a leader. When my mother was conceived, I think God couldn’t make up his mind: girl or boy? But one thing she had from birth for sure was the fortitude to make it through the depression, WWII, my dad’s problems and all the “fun stuff” that my two siblings and I put her through. What a great advantage it was to have her as a mentor. Because of her guidance, there are no chauvinistic bones in my body. Even two weeks before she died (also from smoking), I refused to arm-wrestle with her!
What’s the point of all this? I swear that Stone Age man is alive and well and running tanning salons! Many men in the sun biz just don’t “get it” when it comes to the emotions of their staff – especially the females! Most grew up with John Wayne or “Rambo” as a male role model and think that force and sternness are always the answer. I’ll hear male owners walk (or rather run) away from what they perceive as an emotional encounter with their female staff. That flight from interaction smashes the potential power of communicating performance expectations, performance feedback and destroys the growth of staff strengths. (And probably doesn’t serve them in their personal lives, either!)
It’s as if being “in touch with your emotions” or those of other people, especially “women folk,” is just too emasculating an experience. I consult many male bosses (mostly owners) who lose excellent performers because they don’t try to understand how the other half thinks.
What should salon leaders (male or female) look for when they gaze in the mirror? How about examining your own failed staff or personal relationships? This can be a great opportunity for introspection. Ask yourself, “Could I have handled the situation more effectively by just being a better listener and finding some empathy?” A boss who works at seeing the other person’s point of view, regardless of gender, and listens to their staff when issues arise is someone who improves communication and gains trust. Women may have a unique emotional makeup; but then, men tend to grunt and growl when watching two guys slug it out in a ring and yet, can’t find it comforting to say, “I screwed up. I made a mistake.” An employer who can admit mistakes and works for better understanding of his entire team is someone who has more potential to maximize staff efforts by gaining their trust. And, since tanning salon teams are largely female, isn’t it about time to lose the caveman mentality and get down to real, good, new-fashion two-way chats about the experience of working in your salon(s)? We want to provide the ultimate salon guest experience, why not have a better handle on the “staff” experience?
(Don’t worry guys … embracing your feminine side will still allow you to grunt at two guys beating each other up!)