departure from the direction the organization needs to go for the clients . It ’ s actually a perfect fit . Because what ’ s better than having an organization that ’ s congruent from the inside out ? So , we care for the mental health , the spiritual interests and the emotional well-being of our guests , and it ’ s being delivered by a team of people who are looking after the same things in their own workplace behind the scenes ? I mean , that is a strong product .
P : What are the barriers that prevent those good internal ideas from turning into actual practices and policies ? Is it simply the uncertainty of change ? E : The irony is that we have senior leaders in spa organizations asking what we can do to deliver a better product and retain staff and all these things , when years earlier , they were the bright-eyed applicants who had all kinds of ideas about this . That ’ s why they went into spa in the first place . I think the real breakdown is between owners and properties . At the very least , we could say you can ’ t create a vision for a wellness property or a program branded as holistic and person-centered , and then have it run by a group of people who are asked to manage it as if it were a car dealership . Some of the burnout and internal schisms
we see are happening because of this . A lot of spa leaders , if given a sense of permission , would build more inclusive , eclectic , supportive teams , but I think they ’ re looking over their shoulders , and I think they ’ re fearful .
P : To what extent might the uncertainty and rapid change of the past few years factor into that hesitancy ? E : In the moments of greatest uncertainty and highest risk to the bottom line , the impulse is to be more conservative and more controlling , when that is almost a guaranteed problem in the making , because [ that ] only means looking backward . And if the risk is higher than ever and meeting the bottom line is risker than ever , then innovation actually has to be the way forward , and innovation can ’ t happen in a place where there ’ s no psychological safety , where there ’ s no permission to try new things , where there ’ s no tolerance for failure .
The challenge is that senior leaders and owners have their own fears . I get that the risks feel very real to them . But that is one of the great challenges in human nature : When we feel threatened , we move towards fear and control , when fear and control is actually the most vulnerable mindset when facing adversity and change . n
“… innovation can ’ t happen in a place where there ’ s no psychological safety , where there ’ s no permission to try new things , where there ’ s no tolerance for failure .”
42 PULSE n AUGUST / SEPTEMBER 2022