Are you a micromanager? And would you even recognise if you were one? And in any case why is it even a problem if you were?

In general, a micromanager as identified in the aesthetic industry is one who is driven by the need to control situations often because they fear their employees’ work will reflect poorly on their service delivery and the business. And while this in principal seems a good thing, after all we all want our business to reflect our own personal high standards, it can have a negative impact if the level of controlling gets out of hand.

The typical salon micromanager takes the positives, like attention to detail, to such an extreme it has a tendency to undermine the therapist’s confidence, making them nervous and stressed, which then impacts on client treatment and comfort. It can also lead to employees developing a ‘couldn’t care less’ attitude – after all, if they feel they can’t reach what they perceive as unrealistic expectations they cease to even try. Or else the inevitable happens – they hand in their notice and quit.

This is about the time I’m often contacted by the employer, who often has a revolving door staffing situation. They can’t keep staff and can’t understand why. They feel they are honouring their employer obligations in regards to wage and conditions, but still they lose staff at an alarming rate.

The first thing I do is look at what’s happening in the business and all operations. It generally doesn’t take me long to isolate the problems and the challenges the business is facing. And in many cases the standout is employee dissatisfaction with management.

If an employer thinks they are doing everything in their power to keep, train and support their employees and problems still exist, then the ‘blame game’ often beings. Employees are not totally blameless, but it’s fair to say if they’re being micromanaged, this will contribute significantly to staff poor retention rates.

Control freaks rarely know they are one. And while they have very high expectations of others, they rarely equip them to competently complete a task by failing to give clear directions, correct training, and failing to engage the employee in the process. Because they know how to do something well and to a high standard, they think everyone else should do the same. But the issue here is that people’s idea of ‘standards’ vary to a great degree.

Staff should not be expected to be mind-readers, to automatically know how why and when things needed to be done. A good framework of process and training is needed to get results.

I recently met a typical salon micromanager. She was seriously stressed, overwhelmed and suffering burn-out. She was doing the majority of the work because she simply didn’t trust her employees to do the job. Her favourite quote was: ‘Half my staff are useless and the other half are lazy’. It was no wonder they were not engaged therapist, and were instead only doing the bare minimum to collect their weekly pay packet while waiting for a better position to present itself.

While this business owner was micromanaging to the extreme, some of you may recognise a few of the traits in yourself.

Signs you might be micromanaging

• You believe you’re smarter, quicker, and more skilled than your employees.
• You interrupt when an employee is in conversation with a client, because you think you will do better.
• You hover over employees when they are trying to close a sale.
• You rearrange the computer bookings so you can do a service instead of allowing the therapist who booked the client.
• You discourage others from making decisions without consulting with you beforehand.
• You’re constantly swamped with work, because you won’t delegate.
• You’re afraid to take holidays.
• When you do have a day off, you are constantly checking in.
• Your employees are constantly on tender hooks, because they don’t know how you will react.
• Staff sick days are high.
• Staff turnover is high.

If any of these sound all too familiar, it might be time stop trying to be Superwoman. Take a deep breath and realise you need to improve and correct your management style. It could be you need an expert’s help to design better, more streamlined systems to support staff perform up to a standard you are happy with. Or it could just be you need to allow employees to take on more responsibility and tasks. It’s more likely to be a combination of both.

To avoid burn-out and to succeed it is imperative effective and efficient management be adopted. One of the most important skills any manager can learn is the skill of delegation. It is impossible to grow an aesthetic practice without a strong, engaged and supportive team capable of delivery service to a consistent high standard.

As a starting point, ensure each employee fully knows their job responsibilities, goals, and your full expectations. Have this clearly defined and given to them in a written document. This is the first step to being able to ‘quality control’ service outcomes without having to do each treatment yourself.

Provide an employee handbook or policies and procedures manual that sets down exactly how you want interaction between employees and clients to occur. This would consist of not only how treatments are to be performed, but how you want the business to be operated from opening to closing each day. Your employees will be happiest when they know what is expected and in what time frames. It provides them with safety and the security to do the job well without having to second-guess.

Successful Delegation is The Key

Before you start delegating, you’ll need to do staff reviews. These reviews include their skill levels in each service, motivation, dependability and who will be best suited for the treatment/and or task. Matching the right person to each task can be a little difficult, so start small but persevere. Don’t try and make too many changes quickly or expect over-night miracles.

Once you have delegated, make sure you equip your employees with all the information and training necessary to perform to the required standard. Be very specific when you explain what is to be done leaving no room for confusion and therefore, little room for error. This is where the staff policies and procedures is an invaluable tool of reference for employee. Make sure you are available for any additional support or further training, if and when necessary. You will need to monitor staff progress and make any adjustments necessary along the way.

Once you have started to delegate, try to curb your micromanaging tendencies of wanting to control with excessive attention to detail. You have to let you chicks fly, and remember they may falter initially, but they will fly. Both them, and you, need confidence this will happen.

If you don’t allow them to grow their abilities you’ll find it creates workplace dissatisfaction and distrust, and will keep your team from developing and doing the best possible job. Good staff management is about making people comfortable in their work place so they’re eager to come to work each day and happy to treat your clients to an exceptional level of care. Don’t forget to encourage and praise them –it goes a long way to keeping people engaged.

Along the way to better management and leadership of your team, you may hit a few rough patches, but persevere because things will improve and the business will be operating a lot smoother. You may even get to take a much needed holiday in the confidence the business will be in safe hands.