Are You an Obsessive Compulsive Salon or Spa Owner?

April 3, 2017 | By Neil Ducoff | 1 Comment

Obsessive Compulsive Salon Spa Owner

One of the traits of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is the need for “everything” to be a certain way or done just right.

At a salon or spa, the traits of OCD are manifested in an owner or manager in the form of micromanaging damn near everything…

Like getting involved in everyone’s work to the point where your hands are doing the work.


Taking a project you assigned to an employee and completely redoing it.


Redoing retail displays, refolding towels, organizing employees’ work areas, rewriting promos, training manuals, presentations and more.

If this describes your approach to leadership…

You’re driving your employees, especially your leadership team, crazy!!!

While attending a seminar in our Business Academy, an owner and coaching client of Strategies said she needed to speak to me privately. When we met later that day, it was clear why this owner was so upset.

“I’m suffocating my two key leaders because I keep obsessing over every little decision, task or project they do,” she explained. “I don’t even give them a chance to do it right by taking it over or doing it myself.”

When I asked the owner to explain what’s causing her behavior, she said, “I remember how bad it was a few years ago. I have so much invested in our recent expansion that I’m afraid to fall back into the fiery pit of hell.”

As an entrepreneur myself, I could totally relate to the fears that were driving this owner’s OCD behavior.

KEY POINT #1: The owner’s OCD micromanaging behavior to prevent falling into the fiery pit of hell was doing just the opposite. It was forcing two very capable leaders to shut down and stop trying. Should they reach the point of not caring and losing hope … an already damaged culture could collapse completely.

The employee’s perspective

Interestingly, a few weeks earlier I had this same conversation with the two leaders she was referring to. Both were seriously frustrated with having everything they do micromanaged and interfered with.

KEY POINT #2: These two leaders are equally passionate about the health, wellbeing and success of this salon/spa, as the obsessing owner they work for. But their mounting frustration is causing them to give up and shut down.

KEY POINT #3: When a leadership team member says, “It’s your company … if this is how you want it done … fine,” the company’s culture is broken and it will only get worse unless corrected.

  • The leader’s OCD behavior is saying, “You’re not capable … you don’t care enough … your ideas/opinion/approach don’t matter.” Ouch!

This scenario plays out in salons/spas every day where owners with the best intentions … but the wrong behaviors … create the very problems they desperately want to avoid.

Here are a few No-Compromise Leadership thoughts to avoid becoming the dreaded OCD micromanaging owner:

  • Leading means letting go: Leadership truly is about letting go of the controls. A salon/spa business cannot grow when the owner’s tentacles are wrapped around every decision, task and process. It’s even worse when the owner can’t resist the temptation to take over tasks and projects that were delegated to others … especially menial tasks.
  • LESSON: The leader’s job is to lead, direct, coach, inspire and protect the company’s culture. Let go of responsibilities that others can do as well … or better.
  • Leading means keeping the company on course: A leader is the keeper of the vision and ensures forward progress. Great leaders oversee the work of others … they don’t touch it. Leaders manage their people resources through delegation. Yes, when duty calls, great leaders know when to step up and get their hands dirty. That’s leading by example. But they also know that while they’re busy getting their hands dirty … the company can wander off course.
  • LESSON: Focus your energy and attention on making progress by creating opportunities for others to step up and experience a sense of ownership in the outcomes.
  • Leading means coaching others to reach their full potential: Today, more than ever, salon/spa owners should be spending time coaching and developing their people. Too many service provider owners that spend the bulk of their time doing services on clients are leaving the door wide open for culture, productivity, operational, financial and employee turnover issues.
  • LESSON: A salon/spa leader cannot effectively lead in between clients. The moment employees sense that their work is being taken for granted, because the owner is “too busy” … culture contamination has already spread. What’s more important … servicing your clients or leading your company?
  • Leading means engaging and paying attention: Salons and spas are complicated service businesses with lots of moving parts. It doesn’t take much for things to go sideways.
  • LESSON: Be present. Make time for your employees. Pay attention to systems, customer service quality and cash-flow. Most of all, demonstrate through your behavior and deeds that you really care about the success and wellbeing of your employees.

Here’s my challenge to you: It’s so easy to get caught up in “fixing everything” that doesn’t look right. The justification sounds like, “If I want it done right … I’ll just do it myself.” That justification will bog you down in stuff you shouldn’t be touching or dealing with. It drives your employees crazy and spews toxic waste all over your culture.

  • Leading takes time.
  • Constructive coaching conversations take time.
  • Designing, skill certifying and locking in new systems takes time.
  • Developing your leadership team takes time.
  • Building your brand takes time.
  • Sharing your vision takes time.
  • Seeking out new opportunities takes time.

OCD micromanaging devours time, minimizes people and wrecks companies.

Changing your behavior and developing your leadership skills is hard to do on your own. Want some help? Talk to a Strategies coach.

Categories: Leadership , Monday Morning Wake-Up

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  1. OCD is a diagnosed medical condition, NOT something that should be bandied about when a manager is incapable of managing their salon/spa properly. You wouldn’t (I hope) publish a blog telling salon owners who are just a bit overwhelmed that they’re depressed, would you? Also your overuse of ellipses is woeful. the comma is there for a reason.


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