Control equals success for all

By Beth Caron

In part 1 of this blog post about the topic of control, I introduced you to the book, “Smarter, Faster, Better: The Secrets of Being Productive in Life and Business,” by Charles Duhigg. I was intrigued by his belief that having control over how to behave or perform at work or in everyday life made a difference in the outcome of those behaviors. According to Duhigg, when people have control, they are happier and more productive. That’s because choice equals control and people are happier when they have control.

Perhaps this hits home for me because I’m the mother of a two-year-old. Need I say more? My home life is filled “debates” about who’s in control!

But, it’s also something that’s relevant to my work life because at Great Clips, we believe strongly in giving more control to customers. That’s one of the key drivers—in fact, the most important driver—behind Online Check-In. The system gives customers the opportunity to come in at a time that’s convenient for them and avoid having to wait very long to get into the stylist’s chair.

“To be honest, online check-in has been a game changer,” says Great Clips CEO Rhoda Olsen. “It puts the front door of the salon in the customer’s hands. They can open the door whenever they want, and they don’t have to wait. The driving goal of Online Check-In is to not have customers wait—and technology supports that.”

On the other side of the scissors, stylists and managers also have a level of control because of the choices they make when serving customers. Sure, they receive training and guidelines for how to connect with customers. But the guidelines are like recipes for bread—basically flour, water and salt—that can be tweaked. One baker may excel at whole wheat, another at sourdough. Great Clips stylists are encouraged to follow the steps of our customer service system, and personalize it by adding their own unique touch.

The same goes for franchisees. Each one has the choice of which brand metrics they need to focus at any particular time, what incentives to offer stylists, and whether to hire a manager or be self-managing. There are innumerable studies that demonstrate that choice adds up to a sense of control, which in turn increases motivation. People who believe they have authority over themselves work harder, are more confident and even live longer!

This whole issue of control isn’t just about business, either. Duhigg writes about testing the problem-solving ability of fifth graders, who were divided into two groups. At the end of the first series of tests, one of the groups was praised with the words, “You did very well on the test, you must have worked very hard.” The other group was also praised, but they were told, “You did very well on the test, you must be very smart.” Then the two groups were given a set of challenges.

The kids who were praised for working very hard chose to tackle the most complicated challenges. The other group—the one told how smart they were—chose to start with the easiest tasks. The lesson? The first group felt they could control their results by working hard; the second group felt no control over their level of smartness. Having a sense of control is linked to higher levels of motivation and social maturity.

I know this approach is working for many Great Clips franchisees who have found success by using the operational guidelines laid out by the home office, and then transferring that knowledge to their staff, giving them a sense of control in their daily work. Their teams are engaged and motivated, which translates to delivering great service to the customers. In this case, control = success for everyone.

Personally, I can’t wait for it to start working for my two-year-old. (Advice is welcomed!)

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