Managing Workplace Dynamics

Managing Workplace Dynamics

When you are running any small business, managing the energy in the workplace is important. One bad experience and you may have lost a customer for good. You can, however, integrate new practices that help your employees bring more positive energy to their customer interactions. For example, Josie Ann Lee Draybuck, founder and managing partner of Ann Arbor, MI-based Balance Massage Therapy, is focusing on creating positive energy not only in the massage room, but also in the break room. “We are making energy a part of our culture,” says Draybuck. “We want to take care of each other and take care of our clients.”

Market researchers have studied colors that sell and the effect of the placement of products. Now many small businesses—ranging from retail to professional services to healthcare—are finding that the energy or atmosphere in the workplace can often make or break a customer’s experience. Draybuck shares her tips on how not only to manage, but to change the energy in the workplace.

“What is important,” explains Draybuck, “is acknowledging that energy exists. It is a piece of the workplace environment that impacts your business. It is the law of conservation of energy – energy cannot be created or destroyed, it can only be changed.” So when energy in one form disappears, an equivalent amount will reappear in another form. “Massage therapists will use energy in their work and can come out drained,” she says. “What support can the team give to the therapist to get you back up so that you’re able to give to the next client?”

From a management perspective, small business owners can learn to not only be aware of the energy levels of their customers  and staff, but to measure and change it. Draybuck has instructed her therapists to have a 5-minute meeting before each shift starts. In the last 10 seconds of the meeting, they set intentions for getting the right energy. In addition, each team sets a goal for the energy level for that shift. Staff also check in at certain times of the day to see how other people on the team are feeling.

“You can also work individually with staff so that no one will feel blindsided,” says Draybuck. “It is about open and honest communication. It is safe to have a bad day. If your kid was up all night crying, another staff member can say, ‘I can help you today.’”

Whether you run a massage center or some other kind of company, negative energy is bad for business, impacting every aspect of performance, including productivity, collaboration and sales. Take a community approach to setting the right atmosphere for customers and staff. Says Draybuck, “Everybody is somebody’s most important person.”

SooJi Min is a freelance writer and nonprofit executive based in Ann Arbor, MI. She has written on small business topics for Crain’s, Imagination Publishing and The University of Chicago Booth School of Business.

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