Illustrations by Katrina Peterson Often, the salon Diva maintains a love/hate relationship with the salon owner and the rest of the staff. Over the years, he or she has developed a strong book and becomes financially beneficial to the salon. That gives the Diva a certain degree of power, and he or she wields it by making demands of the front desk, fellow colleagues and even the salon’s owner. The more others give into the Diva’s whims, the more demanding and controlling he or she becomes, until even salon management begins to adapt its own policies to please the Diva.
Kitty Tierney, owner of Impressions Salon and Spa in Mequon, Wisconsin: “I recently let a Diva go, and she was very smart. She never did anything in front of me, but she brought everyone else down. She talked about people’s weight, teeth, cars, spouse, work, skin—nothing was off limits. She lied and told people I’d made her the secret manager and I was planning on replacing them. Assistants and receptionists quit because she was so mean. Other staff took to eating lunch in their cars instead of in the breakroom. On a Saturday before the holidays, she called in sick, but a few hours later we saw her on Facebook getting a tattoo. It was the final straw, and I fired her. Afterward, my staff e-mailed me and thanked me for being a leader and giving them back their lunchroom. I didn’t realize how deep her dysfunctional disease went until we cut it out. Since then, our salon has never been as cohesive and happy. I proved to my team that I will not allow anyone to treat them poorly, and they proved to me that they look to me to lead them to success and prosperity.”
Don Bewley, Founder of Eufora: “Typically, stylists aren’t born as Divas, they are created when an owner is weak and makes decisions based on fear. You create the Diva, because you allow the behavior instead of facing the tough conversations. Don’t make your decisions based on money, make them based on what benefits the team.”
Christine Zilinski, owner of Salon Concrete in Red Bank, New Jersey: “It’s very important for salon owners to know their staff cannot and should not hold them hostage. The salon must adopt the mindset of rewarding their staff based on performance and behavior. To start, have an understanding of what drives the numbers. Is it great upselling, or prebooking or their average ticket?
“Implement one-on-one meetings with staff members for about 15-30 minutes every week or biweekly. In those meetings, give staff honest feedback about their performance, both good and bad. Clearly define expectations to each staff member. Reward positive behavior, and talk about the importance of setting a good example for the younger team members.