Warning…this is another tough love session today, so if you're not in the mood, move…
When you’re going to be bringing someone into your business, in whatever capacity that may be, it can be easy to solely pay attention to their skill-set pertaining to the job you’re hiring them for, right? If you’re bringing on another massage therapist, you may focus mostly on their hands-on skills on the table; what kind of massage they give, how their pressure is, that kind of stuff. If it’s a receptionist position you’re trying to fill, you may focus on their job history and abilities to multitask and things like that. Those are hard skills. And while it’s obviously important to take these skills into consideration, I mean, that’s what you’re hiring them for, it’s far from the only thing to pay attention to. You can often teach hard skills, but there are some things you just can’t teach, or maybe you don’t have the time and capacity to bother teaching, so you need someone who’s walking in the door with what’s known as “soft skills”.
Look at how your personalities, and those of any other employees, will work together. Everyone is a bit different in this department, and I’m not suggesting that you should only hire someone who matches your personality by any means. You don’t want only identical personalities within a business – that can actually lead to more problems since you’ll tend to butt heads regularly and be in an echo chamber instead of enabling constructive disagreements and situations. Instead, you want complimentary personalities. This will fair you well in your day-to-day business, as well as give some slight variance for your clientele.
They don’t necessarily need to be the most outgoing and bubbly person, but they do need to be personable and friendly. And this leads to…
#2 Communication Skills
How this person is going to communicate both with you and the customer is paramount. Can they clearly set expectations with clients, or are they allowing the clients to push them around, so to speak? Are they somewhat forward and blunt about things in the interview or do they seem afraid to speak up? If they’re too timid to speak up, that’s the kind that may very well be unhappy in their job, but refuses to ever bring it up to you to try to mend any problem that may arise over time, so they just end up quitting out of the blue. Or they let clients push boundaries and ignore red flags. Or If they’re overbearing or arrogant in the way they present themselves, this is a big turnoff both to other employees and to clients. An ability to effectively communicate with a variety of people in multiple situations, adjusting their language, both verbal and non-verbal, and their willingness to openly communicate even about tough situations, is imperative to a healthy work environment.
#3 Willingness to learn and adapt
When someone joins the team of any business, there is a learning curve. But the learning doesn’t stop there. They may need them to learn a new modality or specialized service specific to your business. As your business grows, there will be changes and speed bumps and your employees need to be able to adapt and take on new skills. If they’re unwilling to grow with you and with your business, adapting when necessary, they may not be the best fit. There may also be times in your business where their job duties are altered, for whatever reason. A fellow employee suddenly quits and the others need to pick up the slack; or your laundry service goes out of business so everyone needs to help with laundry for a week or two while you find another one…whatever it is, a willingness and ability to be self-reflective of what they offer versus what they need to offer and then to adapt and be flexible in those types of situations is crucial. And this kind of leads to…
#4 Commitment and Work Ethic
No one is going to work for your business quite like you. You can’t expect someone with no real skin in the game to just jump in and treat it like their own, putting their blood, sweat, and tears into the place from the very start. But there is a positive work ethic to look for in potential employees. Are they really giving their all in each massage, ensuring their focus is fully centered on the client? Do they readily clean up after themselves or do little things here and there to help out overall? A solid, reliable work ethic, and an eagerness to do right by the business and the clients is something you really just can’t teach.
#5 Critical Thinking
This is a skill that is absolutely crucial, both inside and outside of the massage session. Can they identify and comprehend information, analyze it, synthesize it, and take appropriate action on it? Whether it’s a client presenting with specific symptoms or a grievance between employees, can they be rational and think critically through situations that are more than likely to arise in a work environment?
So there’s the top 5 soft skills that I think are really important to look for when hiring anyone to join your massage practice. I hope this gives you some insight into the complementary characteristics to consider. And if you have questions, don’t hesitate to let me know!