By Marco LaLau
At one point in my career, I found myself being the nagging boss that points out everyone’s mistakes. I would blame the issues I had on employees, customers, plumbers and even the dogs. While I was spending all that time blaming everyone else for my situation, I came to realize that I was lost in my business, trying to move a million different directions at once. For example, I wanted to be the best grooming salon, have the best groomers, and be profitable while maintaining my low prices. But I would find myself at times letting some grooms go by not so perfect or I would cave in to customer pressure on pricing. I would not stick to my mission in practice. So I started to look at the bigger picture and ask myself “what am I trying to accomplish with my team, with my grooming salon and with myself?” I needed to create a mission statement to navigate my business into my dream grooming salon.
Now think about what bothers you in your grooming salon. Maybe a nasty boss that doesn’t know how to groom dogs or a groomer with a lot of attitude that doesn’t show for work. I want you to think of all those problems that you wish you could change at the drop of a hat. Make a list of all those things. Now, imagine yourself in a perfect world and visualize exactly what that world would look like. It could be a perfectly organized and clean salon, or a place with no matted dogs. Thinking about all your problems and what you want to become is a great starting point in creating your mission statement.
Come up with Your Mission Statement
Call a staff meeting and create a mission statement with everyone who works in the salon. If you work on your own or as a mobile groomer, you can make your personal mission statement by including all aspects of your life, for example; include your mission as a mother, as a groomer, and as a person.
Imagine what you want to become and what your end goal results are. Be careful to not shoot down ideas during this time in a group setting, as this can discourage your team members from participating. The team has to own the ideas in order for you to be successful. Once you have brainstormed enough ideas to include in your mission statement, begin to narrow down those ideas. I recommend keeping your mission statement to one sentence. Example: Offer the highest quality grooming service to customers while maintaining an organized and clean salon.
Make a list of all the tasks needed to accomplish your mission. This is where the details matter. These action items can’t be vague or open ended, like “everyone helps to close the store”, it needs to be more specific, like “these are employees’ assignments when closing store: Judy cleans the tubs, Carlos vacuums, Amy closes register…” These tasks will help team members understand what exactly is expected of them. This clarity will allow people to know when they are doing something right or, in some cases, something wrong.
Once you have finished creating specific tasks and your mission statement, place them on a poster or white board for staff to see.
Remind and Reinforce
Positive reinforcement is the best tool to guide your team in the right direction. Start by focusing on each individual’s strengths by show-casing their beautiful work and complimenting a job well done. Although positive reinforcement is great, you still need to point out when team members are not abiding by tasks and the mission statement. Deliver this message in the right tone, like a basketball coach would give his team direction during a game. Only use a stern reprimand when the situation merits, like a serious situation such as not using proper safety with an aggressive dog.
Also, learn to pick your battles. You can’t solve all problems at once and you can’t nag your team for every single little mistake. They will feel like they are walking on eggshells and this will lead to distrust.
Soon you will begin to notice your team collaborating with each other and possibly self-policing each other as well. No one wants to be the groomer to drop the ball and be responsible for letting the team down.
Lead by Example
This is the time you are on stage and everyone has their eyes on you. Don’t contradict yourself, actions speak louder than words. For example, you cannot tell staff members to treat customers well and then complain about a customer as soon as they walk out the door.
Accomplishing your mission statement is difficult and takes time. Think of it as going on a long journey up Mount Everest. You need to plan the trip, find a good team of Sherpas to guide you up the mountain, and get into physical shape to adapt to the low oxygen level and rough terrain. Your mission is to reach the top of the mountain. The tasks are all the actions needed to get to the top. There will be all kinds of unforeseen obstacles that even the best mountain climbers could not foresee, but it is up to you as the leader to come up with resourceful solutions to these problems.
I encourage all of you to champion your own mission statement today.
Years later, after working diligently on my mission, I found myself leaving the country for 30 days on vacation to Brazil. This was a true test for my team as I had never been away for that long. Thankfully there were no issues and I could truly enjoy “Caipirinhas” (a Lime Cocktail) on Copocabana Beach.