Guest Article by Valerie Delforge, Founder & CEO Delforge + Co.
I often coach clients whose attitudes, when facing adversity, is to cross their fingers and hope all will turn out to be okay in the end. Fingers crossed, head in the sand – or whichever way you want to call it – is a salon management style that often exists, and to be fair, isn’t wrong at times. It’s true that letting things take their course, seeing how they develop, is recommended to some extent. However, it is crucial to know that you should only adopt this method if you have strong foundations in place. Otherwise, at one point or another, there will be a shift in power, and you will lose control of the situation altogether.
I believe there are 5 key factors that help create long-term results within any service businesses:
- A strong and inspiring management team,
- The heart of an efficient reception,
- A flawless customer journey,
- A powerful and consistent marketing strategy and finally,
- Procedures for your staff to know, understand and follow your expectations.
These key factors are important, but implementing them is possibly the most difficult task. At this stage, consistency is your only friend, and the ‘head in the sand’ salon management style is not ideal nor recommended.
A Real Life Application To The “Fingers Crossed” Salon Management Style
Dealing With 2 Team Members That Aren’t Getting On
‘Elaine and Mary have been arguing over the cleaning of the station. Elaine never takes part in cleaning, and a few people have been complaining about her. Mary can’t take it anymore, she is now vocal and has had an argument with Elaine.’
Firstly, as a manager, you should have dealt with Elaine’s attitude towards cleaning to avoid for this situation to escalate. Staff members shouldn’t feel like they need to take charge. But in any case, I adopt the “1,2, 3 Chat Method©”. During all of these informal chats, you start making notes of the conversations and date them. This is important as if it goes to disciplinary you have a record of everything.
For the example I gave in my previous blog, when two people are being dismissed, again, a consultation meeting needs to take place and a strict process to follow before you can even dismiss them.
Every situation is different. One of my clients told me that ‘her Elaine’ became so difficult that she was close to claiming harassment. Another was in such a difficult situation that she emotionally drained herself and got sick in the process. The point is, we work for people with people and issues will always arise. It is crucial that you have personal and professional support around you, so you don’t feel alone.
The first chat will be an individual, friendly one to try and diffuse the situation. If it carries on, the second chat will be a little firmer, aiming at making your staff understand the consequences of their actions. By then, I would tell Elaine that we are monitoring her cleaning habits and a manager will check up on her more often. They need to know that by the third talk, we will have a different conversation. This third conversation will take them to performance management.
Performance management can address various issues, and can be used with almost kind of salon management style:
- Not achieving targets, etc.
In this instance, Mary would go on it for her ways of dealing with her colleague – attitude – and Elaine, for her lack of cleaning and attitude.
A system within your salon management style is key to this process as it allows for you not to go down the route of disciplinary straight away. Consider it as giving a second chance. Disciplinary isn’t fun for anyone. I believe we take on people to build them up for success, so you want to give everyone a chance to get better.
Before, During And After
You need to set a time for your Performance Management meeting. In this instance, I would say give them a month to improve and you write every conversation you have with them and make them sign the notes to make it official.
Ideally, you want to have a witness – but it’s not essential – for these meetings, and organise a meeting per week throughout the month. If you were to give them longer, let’s say 3 months, you can have a weekly meeting for the first month, and reduce it to one a month if they are improving on discussed issues.
Performance Management tends to go two ways: they get better or they get worse. If they get better, you support them and ensure you tell them you are very happy. Within the time frame when they finish the performance management, the notes stay in their files, but only for another 3 to 6 months (you can make that choice). You don’t want the negative to overshadow their career with you.
If the attitude gets worse, then you proceed with a disciplinary procedure. You hold a meeting in which you tell them they’ll receive a letter and be invited to a disciplinary hearing because their attitude isn’t getting better. You decide on the date and time with a neutral witness to take notes. They are allowed to bring a witness themselves. You then send them a formal letter on recommended and signed post (this will allow you to know they have definitely received it and it cannot be argued).
Once this is done, you ensure that the meeting takes place and state only the facts. You then let them talk and answer your questions. Make your mind up, resume the meeting again and give out your decision: a verbal warning is the first warning. It is rare to go onto another warning straight away unless you’re dealing with quite severe cases.
On A Final Note…
It is important to know that I am not an HR company, my advice is based my own salon management style. However, I deal with these types of situations all of the time. To be fair, performance management has allowed me to avoid disciplinary many times. Before it even reaches that point, employees tend to either get better or leave on their own terms. But in any case, I strongly suggest that you have all of your procedures checked by either a solicitor or to look into ACAS or NHF, who both provide great support. Employment laws change all the time, so professional support to guide you in the process is important.
In the midst of a lack of recruitment, we tend to put our head in the sand and let things go. Hence the term “fingers crossed” salon management style. However, dealing with issues straight away and communicating is the key avoiding all of these negative issues. You must be neutral in everything you do and lead your team to your vision; not the other way around. Remember to never make things personal. It’s business, and your procedures are, like one of my favorite sayings goes, “for business’ needs.”