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Publisher's Note: Team Building

By Annette Delagrange
Posted: February 27, 2008, from the March 2008 issue of Skin Inc. magazine.

We all know that employees are the lifeblood of our business. Each one of them is responsible for meeting the goals of satisfying and surpassing our clients’ needs. In pondering the concept of team building, I’ve sought advice from three industry professionals with expertise in this area. I’ll share their thoughts in a moment, but first I’ll relate my experience in team building at Allured Publishing, the parent company of Skin Inc. magazine.
     A few months ago, Allured’s president Janet Ludwig required that the company’s executive team participate in a three-day team-building experience. I don’t mind telling you I was both skeptical and a bit alarmed. Upon arrival my blood pressure immediately dropped a few points when I saw no signs of hanging rope bridges—or ropes of any kind. My agility skills just don’t match my need for risk-taking when it comes to rope courses—I’d be afraid of hanging myself. Accidentally of course, but the outcome would have been the same.
     A secondary fear was the prospect of having to endure an inordinate amount of hugging. That fear was realized and 90% overcome. The three days unfolded to be a series of team-building exercises, reflective time and voluntary commitment to common goals. I confess to walking away after the three days thinking I could go another 47 years (for the few of you questioning my age) without doing this again.
     Fast-forward a few months. The company’s clients and products are benefiting from a heightened level of trust, respect and communication that the team had not achieved before this experience. Following the positive results and despite my initial team-building release reaction, the entire Skin Inc. magazine team will go through this process in the next few weeks. Since it has become a model for success at the company’s executive level, and in spite of the discomfort and emotional strain required, I’m anxious for my team to discover the benefits and our clients to receive the results. Although it is too soon to report results, I’m confident we will emerge with a renewed dedication to each other and to you, our customers and clients.
Here are three other solutions to team building. Your spa requires employees with different kinds of skills and personalities, so I posed the question—“How do you turn talented individuals into a vibrant, productive, energetic team committeed to your spa’s goals?”—to three industry professionals. No small challenge, right?
     Heidi Lamar, owner of The Lamar Everyday Spa in Scottsdale, Arizona, and a member of Skin Inc. magazine’s editorial advisory board, answered from her position as a thriving spa owner with a wealth of business experience, and currently operating in an extremely competitive region.
     Heidi took it to the beginning. She said she recruits only passionate team players. She mentioned that every job posting contains the phrase “dictators, divas and clock-watchers need not apply,” adding that this has been effective in attracting applicants who want to be part of something special. Secondly, she stressed that the team members must trust each other. She mentioned those dreaded (by me) “trust falls,” but thinks time spent on the spa floor is equally effective. “When your team members trust that everyone has the spa’s best interest in mind, it is easier for them to overlook differences when they arise.” Her third offering was to create clear common goals and team rewards. “We base all our key decisions on the criteria of our three brand pillars: satisfied guests, happy employees and a profitable spa,” she said.
     Frank Westerbeke, vice president of Gadabout SalonSpas in Tucson, Arizona, and author of this month's article "Maximizing the Male Market," said, “Team building can’t be done overnight. It is about creating the culture and that takes time. It is identifying the strengths of all the people involved and sharing the vision, and as every member knows, it takes the efforts of the whole team to score.”
     Another editorial advisory board member, Bryan Durocher, president of Durocher Enterprises based in Texas, asserts that developing teams is a collaborative process. “You work together to understand what is necessary to drive the individual and the business goals successfully. Teamwork requires making a shift from ‘telling it like it is’ (your truth) to asking questions and listening, helping to bring out what is true and real for each individual,” he said. Durocher also contributes his expertise to this month's article "Choosing the Right Spa Software," by Cathy Christensen.
     I wish you much success in team building—because I know it will dramatically impact your clients and your profitability.

Annette Delagrange
Publisher