Spa: A Comprehensive Introduction | Chapter 10.1 | Management: Building Blocks for Leaders

Management: Building Blocks for Leaders

When Larry Prochazka, marketing executive for Robbins Research Institute in Phoenix, Arizona, addressed a group of spa professionals in 2007 on the topic of leadership, he spoke in terms of balance—particularly the balance between managing and leading. Organizational activity consists of tasks (measurables, standards, delivery, procedures, structure, what is done, what is said, what is professed) and process (resistance, fear, attitude, buy-in, enthusiasm, how things are done, how things are said, how people show up).1 In other words, spa professionals manage things and lead people.

In practical terms, this distinction means that while a professional can become a manager on the virtue of what he or she accomplishes, being a leader is in part determined by others and their willingness and acceptance of the professional’s leadership. Whether others accept the leadership of a professional will depend in large part on how they manage and, even more importantly, how they behave and believe.

Management Functions

Henri Fayol, a French management theorist born in 1841 who developed the foundation for the field of management studies, grouped many different activities that managers perform into categories that are now referred to as management functions. Through the years, these functions have been grouped many different ways. Six common ones include:

  • Planning
  • Organizing
  • Coordinating
  • Staffing
  • Directing
  • Controlling

Planning establishes goals and objectives to pursue during a future period. These goals become the basis for short-range, annual operational planning and more specific objectives. It also encompasses such things as developing renovation plans or creating a marketing plan.

Organizing reflects how the spa intends to accomplish its goals and objectives. It involves the assignment of tasks, the grouping of tasks into areas, and the allocation of resources. Organizing also involves establishing the flow of authority and communication between positions and levels within a spa.

Coordinating refers to achieving an efficient use of resources to attain the spa’s goals and objectives. Servicing the needs of a bridal shower party might require coordinating staff members from several different areas. Interfacing electronic point-of-sale terminals from the retail shop to the guest registration desk is another coordinating activity.

Staffing involves recruiting applicants and hiring those best qualified. All spas use basic principles of staffing such as defining jobs with job descriptions, recording personal qualities needed to perform the work in job specifications, considering several sources of job applicants, using job application forms to collect information, screening applicants, and offering employee orientation, training, and evaluation programs. Decisions about transfers, promotions, and other related actions are also part of the staffing process.

Directing involves influencing others to accomplish the spa’s goals and objectives. In this context, directing means communicating goals and objectives throughout the spa and creating an environment that encourages everyone to perform at the highest level.

Controlling involves translating the spa’s goals and objectives into performance standards and assessing actual performance against standards. This is necessary to determine whether the spa is on target to reach its goals and to take corrective actions as necessary.

Management Skills

While the functions of management attempt to categorize the many activities that managers do, another approach to management focuses on the skills that managers need to carry out their jobs effectively. Robert L. Katz offered a view of management in relation to three skills:2

  • Technical skills
  • Human relations skills
  • Conceptual skills

Technical skills involve specialized knowledge of tools, techniques, methods, procedures, or processes associated with a specific type of activity. Human resources managers, marketing directors, controllers, and all spa managers apply a unique set of technical skills to their particular jobs. Technical skills for a spa director might include creating a monthly variance report, establishing inventory levels, or creating a treatment menu.

Human relations skills are the abilities of the manager to work effectively with people at every level in the spa. Managers need interpersonal skills that enable them to relate to guests, owners, peers, and staff members. Human relation skills for a spa director might include conducting a performance evaluation, training staff members, discussing a treatment plan with a guest, and responding to a guest complaint.

Conceptual skills involve a manager’s ability to see beyond the technical aspects of his or her position. They include recognizing the interdependence of the various departments within the spa as well as seeing the bigger picture of how the spa fits into the community and the wider world at large. Conceptual skills include identifying a mission for the spa and ensuring that all elements in the spa are in harmony with that mission, tracking trends and understanding their effect on the spa and its guests, and could even include establishing a sustainability plan that ensures the spa operates on an eco-friendly basis.

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