We start by inviting the squabbling staff members to take the conversation outside the salon and see it they can resolve it for themselves. If these situations continue to surface from the same two players, we empower and encourage them to figure out what the deeper issue is by putting them in a situation where they have to work together, such as a photo shoot or teaching a class. The activity doesn’t matter, the point is they are forced to work together to achieve a common goal, which will ultimately give them a deeper and broader understanding of themselves. I hold them both accountable. If they can’t resolve the issue, they’re telling me the conflict is worth more to them than their jobs.”
Kitty Tierney, owner of Impressions Salon and Spa in Mequon, Wisconsin: “I have to say this has rarely been a problem in my 25 years in the business. There will always be squabbles, but I ask the staff to come to me with a solution, not a problem. But you have to deal with challenges right away. If you procrastinate, it always gets worse.”
Lauren Gartland, founder of Inspiring Champions: “The major cause of these types of breakdowns is no communication or miscommunication among the parties. When this occurs, the smallest thing will set them off. Solution: We have to get to the bottom of why they don’t get along. Again, if you have a strong code of honor they have agreed to, you have a safe place where they can express anything, anytime. Once we know the cause, we can come up with a solution that both can agree on to move beyond this.”
Christine Zilinski, owner of Salon Concrete in Red Bank, New Jersey: “At Salon Concrete, we have an outside coach who comes in and works with the staff on having good communication. In the past, the staff would come to me with their issues and I would try to solve everyone’s problems. The communication coach explained that it’s not my job to solve everyone’s problems, but instead to clearly communicate that the salon does not tolerate this behavior, then give them the tools to deal with the issue themselves.
“I will coach the staff through the process of how to have a conversation with the person they have issues with, and I will even sit in on the conversation. The young stylists from the millennial generation typically need extra help with interpersonal communications. Because of the popularity of e-mail and text conversations, they have become ill-equipped to handle emotional situations.
“Eighty percent of our business is relationship- driven—having good communication is just as important as knowing how to do a good hair cut. We believe we are teaching the staff important skills that will help them in the salon and beyond for the rest of their lives.”