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Massage Today
April, 2004, Vol. 04, Issue 04

Your Plan, Part Two

By Perry Isenberg

Last month, I looked at the questions and considerations needed to define and secure rewarding employment; I hope it was useful. Your continued feedback will help ensure that these articles continue to be relevant.

My goal is to provide insight to improve your chances of finding business and economic success. Without the ability to make a reasonable living, you will not be able to continue providing this much-needed therapy. So, continue telling me what you want me to talk about.

This month, I want to discuss growing into and securing a management position. Like everything, management has its pros and cons, and you need to consider these before deciding to be a manager. They say it is lonely at the top - and it can be - so be aware that becoming a manager often involves some invisible separation from your coworkers; however, management can also be very rewarding.

Management generally involves some separation from coworkers and a level of authority over them. This is a frightful reality that separates the "men" from the "boys," so to speak. Having authority over anybody is a huge responsibility and challenge. I still have difficulty with this at times and am constantly evolving into a better manager with respect to responsibility and proper, appropriate use of authority. Take inventory of yourself and try to be honest. Are you ready for the responsibility of managing people? Make sure you are up to the challenge, and that management would be an asset, not a burden - otherwise you will become frustrated.

Management is more about working with people than about making sure the work is getting done. For example, let's say that you are managing the massage services of a spa with six therapists on staff, and your goal is a profitable department that requires 150 sessions per week. Your job is to make sure this goal is met. In this case, managing your staff is more important than the number of sessions, because unless you can create an enthusiastic, responsible team that works well together and takes pride in the work, all the appointments in the world won't help you achieve that goal. The ability to manage is vital to ensuring your department reaches its goal. Often, it involves taking two steps backward and one forward by changing personnel and/or their responsibilities, until you have the right team assembled.

The next item for self-examination is your use of authority; this is important. I pride myself on being a coworker with my employees and try not to create a daily environment of authority. My coworkers know the "buck stops with me," but it is not something we discuss unless it becomes absolutely necessary. If you want to be a manager so you can be the "boss," stop now! Authority should not be something that is sought; it should be earned as a byproduct of wanting to lead, teach and inspire. Separation from your coworkers is an element of management.

As much as I consider myself a coworker with my staff, the reality is that I am on the "other side" of the fence, involved in dealings that are good for the entire business and not always good for individual employees. This reality creates division, whether you like it or not. Many people have balked at separation and attempted to be "buddies" with their staff, while attempting to meet the needs of their management position. It may work for a while, but ultimately it does not. If you want to be part of the "gang," do not consider management. At best, you can reside at the edge of the "gang's" circle.

Generally, as a manager, you will likely spend less time perfecting your craft and more time managing people and handling general business issues. This can cause some serious stress for the therapists that enjoy helping and healing people. There is nothing better than working your magic to provide clients exactly what they need. So before you leap into management, realize that you will be doing less hands-on work. You must also possess the ability to be organized and handle a variety of components, including staff, scheduling, morale, client needs, upper management demands, product and supply inventories, and legal issues - to name a few. It is likely that you will be on salary and work more hours than anyone else in your department. And if short-staffed, you will be called on to do hands-on work.

Management can be a rewarding goal that, once achieved, allows you to improve your "people" skills, increase your economic opportunities, have greater career flexibility, and additional perqs, such as time off, bonuses and more. I believe most people identify with the advantages of management. Examine the following questions and if they sound exciting, you could be on your way to a successful management career:

  • Do you enjoy managing people, and are you good at it?
  • Are you prepared to work harder than anyone else?
  • Without notice, are you prepared to work nights and weekends?
  • Do you truly possess organizational skills to handle multiple people and projects at one time?
  • Do you realize authority is a 500-pound gorilla? Are you capable of using it properly?
  • Are your shoulders big enough to be the "wall" between upper management and department staff?
  • Are you ready for the separation between the "gang" and yourself?
  • Do you have what it takes to fire people, knowing you will be placing them out of work?

If you think you can handle the challenges presented above, I recommend you start pursuing a management position; if successful, you will be on your way to greater economic and career security!

I wish you the best of luck.

Until Next Month,

Perry Isenberg

Click here for previous articles by Perry Isenberg.


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