I was fortunate enough to present to over 800 salon owners at the incredible SalonGrowthCon in Gold Coast over the weekend, and after a month of writers block knowing my HairBiz deadline was looming, I noticed a common theme amongst the attendees and my coaching clients which inspired this article… salon owners are too scared to pull the trigger on terminating staff.
Here’s a fun fact; your employees are paid to do a job. Employing someone is essentially a partnership, however you both have different roles and responsibilities. Theirs: operate the procedures and policies you have built and service your salon’s clients to the standard you expect and require. Yours: pay the employee as required under the award, provide the necessary training required to perform, and provide a safe and positive workplace. It’s simple really.
Firstly, let’s look at you, the owner. To be frank, are you a s**t boss? Do you pay wages on time? Do you provide a positive working environment? Do you invest in and train your team? Are you a part of the team? Do you lead by example? Do you show up to work on time every day, looking the part, hair and makeup done and in a good mood? Are you a good communicator? And here’s the big one, would you work for you? And I mean that honesty!
The following statement might be a bitter pill to swallow… EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS IN YOUR BUSINESS IS YOUR RESPONSIBILITY. Yep, yours. Have you ever heard the term ‘a fish rots from the head’? It’s an ancient Chinese proverb and it’s the truth. If you suck, your team are going to suck along with you. Then they’re not going to run your systems or look after the clients, and do you know what that means? Failed business.
“But I have a lazy employee!” Do you? What are you doing to motivate them and why do you let them keep underperforming?
“My stylist is late every day!” Is she? Why do you let her keep arriving late?
“My therapist is always on her phone!” Is he? What action have you taken against that to prevent it happening again?
Yeah, the truth hurts. Your ‘problem child’ (the naughty employee) at the salon is like that because you allow them to continue to behave like that. You do know you own the salon, right?
I am not going to stand here and tell you that other people’s shitty attitude and work ethic is because of you, but the fact that you let it keep going and going and poisoning your salon and team and clients is because of you. Bad employees are cancer, and most types of cancer spreads hard and fast. Sometimes, the most toxic team member can be your most talented hairstylist and top earner. And it’s an awful situation to be in, but my entire team and business are far more important than one person. And it’s the same with the dollars and cents; that one person could damage my entire team more than getting rid of them would ever cost me. Bigger picture.
We have a phenomenally thorough hiring and induction process in our salons, and it definitely helps to filter out some of the baddies. We also hire our people more based on attitude than skill, and that’s a hard change to make for a lot of salon owners. Hiring perfect people who are floor ready and have a full clientele isn’t always the right way. Hiring people who are positive and fit perfectly into the culture of your salon are so much more valuable than a great hairdresser with a crappy attitude ever will be. I can train anyone to the skill level I expect, I cannot change someone’s personality. Facts.
Earlier this year I hired a horrible narcissistic barber who interviewed perfectly. She was talented AF, confident, seemed lovely and was definitely hard working, but over a few weeks I learnt that she was nasty, a bully, and could never accept responsibility for the most trivial mistakes that she made. Less than a month into employment she was almost achieving her targets, but when I found out my three long-term barbers felt belittled and unhappy, I let her go. Had I not have been strong enough to make that decision, I could’ve lost 75% of my team. Again, bigger picture.
And I know what you’re thinking, she was in trial period, it was easy to let her go. I understand there are steps to be followed with long-term staff, but YOU are responsible for taking those steps towards terminating toxicity. The AHC have an exceptional legal team that can help with this process, and if you’re not a member (which you should be) seek advice on the pathway to getting them out of your business.
So, what happens if your employee is underperforming? This can be because of so many factors: are you under-priced? Are there lack of clients attending the salon? Are your staff poorly trained? Look within before you look without.
If it is genuinely the employee responsible for underperformance, then again, steps need to be taken. How is it fair that the rest of your team have to work harder to pick up the slack of the lazy one? How is it fair that you’re holding up your end of the relationship and they are not? It’s time to take action.
Remember: underperformance isn’t always about sales, are they not retaining clients? Are they slow? Are they not supporting the rest of the team? How are they underperforming? It’s your responsibility as the owner to set KPI’s and track your team’s performance in all aspects. Otherwise, how do you measure anything?
So let’s go with they’re slow AF… put your boss pants on, pull them up and book a meeting with the ‘problem child’. “Sara, we really need to work on your service timing. Why do you think that is? How can I support you to be able to meet our timing standards? Do you need more training? Is it that you spend too much time talking shit and you need a kick up the butt? Do you need a timer on your trolley? What do you need to make this happen?”
This is a relationship, and you both need to work together to make it work, or make it end. Once you’ve had that conversation, set a time frame, do what you need to do and stick to it! There is no point setting a goal for them and then not following up. If they continue to underperform, then you need to manage them out of the business.
Underperformance means an employee is not fulfilling their role. They are literally not doing the job you are paying them to do. Why put yourself and your business through that? We have enough to worry about without that additional stress.
Everyone says that hiring your dream team is the number one way to build a positive workplace culture. LIES! Do you want to know the best thing you can do for your salon culture? FIRE. You never know who you’ve hired until you’re working with them, ‘great-on-paper’ people can turn out to be the exact opposite. Having the strength to make decisions, the ability to take action, and to know when it’s time to let go, shows your team and clients that you mean business, they aren’t just numbers to you, and you care about wayyyy more than your bank account at the end of the week.