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Thursday, 25 October 2007 14:07

Who's the Boss?

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Bosses! Just saying the word can send chills up one’s spine. Our direct supervisor is the one person who can be the biggest ally in our career or make our lives miserable. When it comes to employment, there will always be someone there who is the boss!

The Cheerleader
Some bosses are always nice and happy with a peppy, cheerleader-type attitude. They don’t like confrontation. If someone takes a problem to them, they tend to listen, nod their heads and say “yeah, yeah”, but nothing gets done.

Similarly, they will avoid correcting an employee who is clearly in the wrong. The less motivated workers are content because no one ever questions them. The better ones are unhappy, because nothing gets done.
This kind of boss flourishes in well-established and large organizations or monopolies where concerns about individual performance are secondary. Their job is focused more on public relations. However, once an organization goes through a financial crisis, then this weakness becomes evident. How long can a business survive with under-performing employees?
Eventually, people begin to realize that the nice, pleasant, and non-confrontational boss is a liability. While everyone likes having the cheerleader around, the lack of leadership and guidance leads to serious problems. If this boss needs to be saved, sometimes management classes can help turn things around.

The Wicked Witch
The Wicked Witch bosses are bullies who are used to whipping people into shape to get what they want. They rarely ask for opinions, as it is not necessary. They rule with absolute power and expect compliance. They tend to exercise power in a harsh, cruel manner; they don’t seem to care about their staff. The main goal for them is to get the job done at any cost. Employees may often hear “so-and-so is lucky that I don’t fire him/her.”
This kind of boss will flourish in militaristic cultures where orders are never supposed to be questioned. They prefer new graduates who have little experience in the industry. They seem to enjoy taking advantage and abusing those who are in their first job experience, are particularly harsh with workers who are afraid of losing their jobs, and believe they have nowhere else to go.
Usually these Wicked Witches are unaware of how they affect the work environment and are clueless as to why their staff leaves in droves. They are experts in denial and will easily find other reasons to explain why things go wrong. They do not see how their attitude may have contributed to the problem.

The Bully
This may be a boss. However, frequently this person acts with authority but has no official title; this person may even not be in management. The bully typically is one of the ‘originals’ and feels part of a clique with special privileges; or may curry special favors with the owner. If they decide they don’t like you, life at work can become quite miserable. Bullying at work is a problem that is only just beginning to be seen as one of the main causes of workplace stress. Bullying is a form of psychological or physical harassment and women and men at all levels of employment can be affected by it. The bully can be a manager, a supervisor, or a co-worker.
A bully is a person who uses strength or power to intimidate others by fear. Workplace bullying exists in various forms. It involves behavior that intimidates, degrades, or humiliates an employee (sometimes in front of other people).

Covert Acts Include:

  • repeated refusal of ongoing education or training
  • if they do attend, they make snide and negative comments during the training
  • withholding important information needed to complete a job
  • continual allocation of low grade or inappropriate work


The Effects Of Bullying

No one works at their best if they feel hurt, angry, vulnerable, and powerless. Bullying can have a variety of physical and psychological effects on people. Commonly reported effects are:

· Stress, anxiety, and tension

· Feelings of social isolation at work

· Loss of confidence and self-esteem

· Loss or deterioration of personal relationships

· Headaches, backaches, stomach cramps, depression

· Deterioration of work performance


The effects of bullying can also be psychological and financial and include:

· Stress-related illnesses and headaches

· Anxiety, depression, self-blame

· Stomach disorders, skin rashes

· Disempowerment

· Lethargy and sleep disturbance

· Anger, irritability

· Loss of concentration

· Loss of self-esteem, lowered self-confidence

· Panic attacks

· Reluctance to go to work

· Uncertainty of self

· Actively seeking other positions

· Post-traumatic stress disorder

Bullying at the workplace is an unacceptable behavior and should not be tolerated. As a first step, there are a few tactics worth trying. First, you must feel strong enough about it to want to respond; second, your reaction must be appropriate to the situation. Stand firm if you come under verbal attack. Tell the bully you will not put up with being spoken to in that way. Remain confident in your own judgment and ability. Avoid being alone with the bully.
If you do not feel up to this, contact the Human Resource Director or Supervisor and start documenting what this person is doing to you. In smaller salons, there is no HR department and the owners may have a high opinion of this person. Sometimes, you will have no other choice than to look elsewhere for employment. No one should have to work under this type of stress, especially when you are working in a healing industry.

Good Cop/Bad Cop
You are excited about working at this spa as it is so beautiful and you have met with the owners. The purpose of the meeting is always seen as a chance for them to evaluate you. But, don’t forget that you should also be evaluating them, since they will be your boss. During the interview, owner number one was sweet and kind and very seasoned; but the other owner, who was introduced as a silent partner…, well he/she was OK. From what you could tell, partner number two was not there very often, so you weren’t too concerned about their specific questions. As time goes on, you start to see that this team operates using the traditional good cop/bad cop routine. Partnership bosses who use this routine can be tricky even for the best teams. Partnerships can come in the form of a husband and wife duo, sisters, or long time friend. The main difficulty in working with teams as a boss is that they seem to feel that they must always win, no matter who is right. One may seek your allegiance, only to be pounced on by the other. One aesthetician thought she was working in the twilight zone as she felt she could never make the owners happy. These owners were what she called amoral. They would change the rules to fit their own gain and would be very condescending. The staff felt that with these types of bosses they never knew who they could go to; they didn’t know who to trust.

Is There a Good Boss?
The good news is that there are many good bosses - even great bosses! Just like Goldilocks in the story of the Three Bears and her finding just the right chair and porridge, an aesthetician may have to look around for a while in order to find the perfect fit. The reality is that there are some people you just aren’t going to like or get along with no matter how hard you try. When you do find a great spa and a great boss, work becomes a joy.
Peggy Wynne Borgman, spa director and president of Wynne Business, will ask all job applicants during the interview, “If you could design the perfect boss, what attributes would that person have?"
The number one response is that employees want to work for someone with personal integrity. The second most-mentioned quality is the ability to listen. The third seems to be the willingness to tell employees how they're doing, and to clearly articulate what's expected of them.
In the book, "First, Break All the Rules," author Malcolm Gladwell cites years of Gallup studies of great managers that show one particular behavior in common. They ask their subordinates, "How can I help you?" on a regular basis. Peggy Wynne Borgman recommends reading Gladwell’s book and learning the Gallup – the famous 12 questions that best indicate employee satisfaction – as a framework for understanding your priorities as a boss. The Gallup (www.gallup.com) is an organization that has studied human nature and behavior for more than 70 years.
A great employer will treat each employee fairly, not only in terms of salary and other forms of compensation, but also in how that employee is involved in the daily function of the business. Encourage feedback, innovation, and creativity so employees feel genuinely engaged. The boss needs to create an environment of integrity, trust, and respect to make absolutely certain that everyone is treated fairly.

Don't Just Lead - Coach.
It is common to hear a sports reporter observe that one coach out-coached another in a particular game. A great boss will see himself/herself as a leader and a coach who teaches, encourages and, if need be, corrects employees. It is important to use a different perspective to educate and encourage. But it is also important, like a good coach, to lead your team by example. For instance, while you should point out mistakes by your employees, you must be sure to admit when you yourself make a mistake.
A true leader accepts responsibility. Stand by your decisions and your leadership will be solidified. If you are wrong then admit it and move on. Being wrong is not a death sentence in a business sense, but not admitting it may be. A good leader accepts fault and shares credit.
Leaders are not always born; some are made. Being a good boss is recognizing that much of what goes into being an effective leader is, in fact, learned. To become an effective boss, one should attend a management seminar and read books on effective leadership. It is important to realize that a good employer naturally attracts top notch employees. Bosses can develop good leadership capabilities. We all have the traits that make us good bosses and leaders. All you really have to do is take the time and make the effort to develop those traits and become the boss!

Denise R. Fuller is a Licensed Aesthetician and Beauty Therapist Consultant, educator, and author for the aesthetic industry. Fuller is also the CEO of International Spa Importing Specialists. For more information, please contact her at 888-566-4747.

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