Managing: It Goes Both Ways

By Beth Nilssen

How do you manage your boss? That’s right. How do you manage your boss? “Managing up” can be the key to a great working relationship.

In the world of franchising, there are several rungs on the metaphorical management ladder. Usually, the relationship between the rungs is clear. In the case of a walk-in hair salon franchise like Great Clips, stylists are likely supervised by a manager or assistant manager. Those managers often report to a general or area manager, or directly to the franchisee, depending on the size of the organization.

Yet, in spite of these straightforward employee-boss work relationships, I’m pretty sure when a Great Clips salon is working on all cylinders, it’s because everyone—the supervisors and those being supervised—have figured out that managing goes both ways. Stylists know what their managers want and how best to deliver on those expectations. The same goes for the managers and their bosses. They’ve learned the value of managing up.

For the person at the top in a franchise business, is there any managing up? This is where that management ladder isn’t always crystal clear. The franchisee might have a business partner, and while they might not report to them, there’s undoubtedly the expectation of mutual accountability that requires a certain level of managing.

What about the franchisor—is that the ultimate boss of the franchisee? Absolutely not. Because of the legal stipulations of the franchisee-franchisor relationship, franchisees are their own bosses who run their own operations. Surely there is a supportive business relationship between the franchisee and the franchisor, but there’s always that separation between the operating partner and the corporate organization.

At the same time, I’m not naïve enough to believe that Great Clips franchisees don’t ever “manage up” when interacting with the teams at the corporate office—including me! If they’re intuitive, they’ve figured out my work style: I like to talk. I like clear expectations. I love finding the connections. So that’s how they communicate with me, and I try to do the same with them. In any successful business relationship, it’s smart to figure out how the people you work with like to interact, and I believe the most productive relationships are built on that mutual understanding.

Where to start? I recently hired a new member of our franchise development team, which got me thinking about how I manage people, how they manage me, and how I manage my own boss. In the next blog, I’ll share what I came up with. In the meantime, drop me a line about your best “managing up” experience.


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The number one job for everyone who works for Great Clips, Inc. is to help our franchisees achieve their legacy. That means helping them reach their business goals through growth and profitability.