Many employees cringe at the idea of going to work because they don’t know what kind of mood the manager will be in. Working for “Sybil” has made them about as paranoid as the boss. What is it going to be this time? Nice? Psychotic? Vengeful? Attila the Hun would be an improvement; at least you’d know what to expect.
Managing employees is a complicated and confusing job. Managers work the longest hours and probably don’t make what they’re worth. And they have the toughest goal¿to make their and the employees’ many hours in the shop easier and more productive. As manager, you have the opportunity to make your shop a great place to work while being profitable and efficient.
Managing a snowboard shop does not fall within the realm of traditional business practice. More than likely, your employees are working to: 1. Ride. 2. Get sponsored. 3. Ride. 4. Score good deals. 5. Ride. And, oh yeah, make a little money. Other than that, shop work can be pretty much a grind. The manager’s job is to make sure the day-to-day job gets done.
Now, being Attila or Sybil might work in the short run. After all, it is possible to continuously replace employees. But that gets expensive and is less than desirable. Hiring the right manager becomes extremely important.
Most shop owners agree that a good manager must have certain traits. First of all, they must snowboard. “You have to ride to be credible,” says Tom Forster, owner of Gravity Snowboard Shop in Virginia Beach, Virginia. “In a snowboard shop, it’s a code of respect. A non-snowboarding manager is a joke to the customer and to the employees.”
Forster makes another good point: “Your employees are looking to you to set the example.”
Jenny Hahn, manager of One Track at Big Sky, Montana, spends a good deal of energy setting the atmosphere for her employees. “They’re not going to make a lot of money at the shop, so we want to make sure they’re having a good time,” she says. “The reason they are here is to ride. They get their work done, and I give them time to ride.”
Understanding the employees’ overall objectives and helping them realize their goals is a primary way of motivating them to do their best. Jacques Manonian, co-owner of Snow Frog Snowboards in Whitefish, Montana, says that a manager who gets involved with the employees will see the benefit within the shop. “You need to be understanding and interactive, not someone who always talks down to your employees,” he says. “A good manager needs to take the time to find out what each employee wants out of his job and then help him succeed.” Forster adds to Manonian’s thoughts: “Letting yourself become stressed at employees doesn’t do any good in the shop.”
A lot of managers are good friends with their employees. This makes for a relaxed atmosphere, but it might be tough when it comes to reprimanding an errant employee. “It’s the worst part of being a manager,” says Brian Landerman, owner of Buddha’s Boards in Incline Village, Nevada. “Having to lay it on the line. Firing someone is tough, but it goes with the territory.”
While Landerman has personal friends as employees, he maintains a slight professional distance. “It helps to keep from being biased or opinionated with the employees,” he adds.
Along with being friends, a manager must have the respect of his/her employees or the position’s basically worthless. “If you’ve ever worked for someone you haven’t respected or liked, you know you didn’t try your best for them,” says Manonian. “If you can earn the respect of your employees, they will go the extra mile for you.”
But respect doesn’t come automatically with the title “manager.” Building trust and respect comes with time and a lot of effort. Being able to listen, showing respect for employees, and being honest and consistent all generate trust and respect. “You treat people the same as you want to be treated. You give respect, you get respect,” says Marquez.
“A good manager needs to be interactive and open tto new ideas,” adds Manonian. “It helps to build trust and respect if you consider your employees’ input.”
Along with assigning duties, overseeing everyone’s efforts, and directing the daily work¿managers need to focus on the personalities of their employees. “Each person is different,” Hahn says. “You need to relate to them in an individual way rather than demanding they relate to you.”
Consistency in a manager’s personality is probably the quality highest-rated by owners. A manager who has double standards or goes back on his word loses credibility instantly. “You need to lead by example,” says Forster. “You can’t be wishy-washy, or have different rules for different people.”
Everybody likes to play hero when the lift tickets are given out or time off is given to ride. The thing to remember is that with the good stuff comes the lousy stuff. Reprimanding or firing people shows employees that a management position is more than just the perks.
But then again, it’s important that managers realize everybody makes mistakes. Manonian says, “A manager needs to instruct them in why what they did was wrong and let them know what to do instead. The important thing is to try and correct it rather than cover it up.”
Finally, a good manager never loses sight of his main purpose¿his employees. As Forster puts it, “Never let an employee walk out the door at the end of the night without you saying ‘thank you.’”
Lame managers …Don’t snowboard.Are constantly looking over your shoulder.Have power trips.Think your paycheck is praise enough, and never say thank you.Delegate all the work and never work with you.Aren’t approachable.Are out of touch and don’t educate themselves about products.Refuse to dump the trash.Are moody all the time.Step in on your sales and act like they know it all.Reprimand you in front of customers.Don’t practice what they preach.Don’t give you time off so you can stay in touch with what you sell.Play favorites with certain employees.Aren’t very friendly.Take extra-long breaks, but freak when you take an extra five.Always tell you what to do, but never ask you.Don’t have any patience.Complain about their job all the time.Expect you to do way too much in a short amount of time.
Managers who rule …Work alongside you and even scrub the toilet.Praise you when you do a good job.Know the products in the store.Can beat you down the mountain while riding fakie.Understand when you need a day off to study.Give you time to ride.Take breaks that are no longer than yours.Explain what you did wrong after the customer leaves the store.Teach you how to sell products and perform duties.Are patient.Pay you on time.Enjoy their work and are in touch.Give a reasonable “to do” list to be completed during your shift.Don’t stand on top of you while you’re selling.Are consistent.Ask for your opinion.Let you create displays.Give you constructive criticism.Are honest, but not brutal.Are flexible.