“The single biggest problem with communication is the illusion that it has taken place.” George Bernard Shaw
As business owners you have to think of everything. It will come as no surprise that ensuring communication among all your staff can get lost in your list of priorities. When working on the front lines things often don’t get done, followed up or even completed. It is so frustrating to have to keep repeating yourself to communicate the message or instruction. In any busy service industry unclear communication can cause chaos and this reflects on you or your business. Sometimes the answers to our problems can be so simple. Here are a few tips on clear communication that create a positive system avoiding the frustrating trap of negative thinking when things don’t get done.
Implement a reception handover book for your staff. A reception/therapist handover book records the little things that need to be done, situations that may have happened or new instructions that need to be noted. This makes good reading for the staff when they come into work. By including staff members they feel their role is appreciated and they are in the loop.
- All staff become aware of any changes or tasks that need completing. Situations with clients or people become clear; everyone knows what has happened. This can reduce the need for staff room gossip or Chinese whispers.
- The handover book should be signed when read by all attending staff members. (This happens on a daily basis e,g, nurses use this system when changing shifts, it’s helpful and communicates a clear message.)
- Follow up – Double check that your communication is being followed and the tools in place are being used, it is up to you to put some system in place that lets you know that your message is being heard.
- Get an initial from each staff member upon reading the book or completing the task (creates accountability). This way you know all staff have read and acted upon any instruction. Make sure that your staff (either you or a dedicated member) check that your communication is being read
The most important thing is to follow up that it is being read and signed just until your staff begin to get into the habit. (Remember it takes 21 -28 days to make or break a habit)
Be consistent with the handover book; follow up particularly at the initial stages. If it is not working it is usually inconsistency and poor management of the system that is the problem. Use the handover book to share information and create a positive atmosphere in the run of your business. Leave negative comments out, it is for factual recording.
If a problem is serious or complicated, ask your staff to come to you or a designated member of your team to try and resolve the issue. Enter information every day, if empty draw a smiley face, “all quiet on the western front, have a good day”, because continuity creates a system that contributes to a well run business.
For those who want to know more…Sue Woodall is a salon business consultant who has worked in and with hundreds of salons over the last 20 years – you can contact her on firstname.lastname@example.org