How to Use the Zookeeping Technique to Help Manage your Team

by akesha / last updated August 4, 2020

zookeeping technique - elephant1

Spirit Hair Co’s Mikaela Martin reveals how you can use the zookeeping technique to manage your team more effectively.

Knowing how to communicate with your team and get the best out of them is key to running a successful salon. Mikaela Martin, co-director of the Spirit Hair Co in Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire, uses the zookeeping technique to motivate her team members on a daily basis.

Founded by motivational speaker, Nigel Risner, zookeeping takes the approach that, although everyone is an individual, there are certain personality traits that groups of people have in common. These traits affect the way we communicate so business leaders can use them to help each team member excel.

The four main personality types are broken down into four types of animal:

• Monkeys
• Lions
• Dolphins
• Elephants

“I’ve found it invaluable for getting the most from my team. I communicate with each member of staff in a way that appeals to their animal type,” explains Mikaela. She adds that by teaching the team how to use the zookeeping ethos to interact with clients more effectively, it also helps to create a loyal and happy client base.

How do you identify the different animal types in your business? Here, Mikaela outlines the traits that will help you to separate the monkeys from the dolphins and explains how the zookeeping method can also be used to create harmony between your stylists and clients.


zookeeping technique - monkey
Are excitable and like to get excited. They rely on personal charm to get what they want, have lots of ideas and like variety. Involve them in tasks that include ideas and creativity, such as marketing and creating graphics.
Do: Get excited with them and show emotion. Give them positive feedback and create a structure for them to work in with lots of short-term goals.
Don’t: Give them long or boring explanations with too many facts and figures.
Ideal client pairing: Other monkeys as they both love talking and being excited about colours, retail and being creative together on hairstyles and fashion. Lion clients are also a great pairing as lions like assertive people who are full of energy and they will bring out the best in a monkey stylist.


zookeeping technique - dophins
Love attention and like to be liked. They try to be helpful and support others. They will excel at dealing with people and offering great service.
Do: Be supportive and show you care. Make sure you let a dolphin know when they have done a good job.
Don’t: Be over critical, especially in front of others.
Ideal client pairing: Other dolphins as two dolphins will never feel threatened by each other and the conversation will be easy when discussing hair services and retail. Monkeys are also a great pairing, as they will make a dolphin feel secure and open to talk about retail and hair services.


zookeeping technique - lion
Like to have their own way, are very decisive, have very strong views and know their own abilities. They are great organisers and will excel at tasks that involve planning and co-ordination.
Do: Give them responsibility as they love to be in charge. Offer them competitive scenarios and give them as much freedom as possible.
Don’t: Waste their time, lions prefer to get to the point.
Ideal client pairing: Other lions as they enjoy direct conversation and knowledge that is relevant to their conversation. Elephants are also great clients for a lion because information will be delivered in an assertive way and elephants can also bring relevant detail to the conversation as they will have done their research.


zookeeping technique - elephant
Ask a lot of questions, seem indecisive, but are logical and like research. An elephant will excel at anything that involves collecting data or information.
Do: Give them a clear structure to work within.
Don’t: Make them feel cornered or expect them to carry out a task without all the information they need.
Ideal client pairing: Other Elephants as both stylist and client will enjoy talking about all the detail together and relate to each other’s in-depth knowledge. Dolphins are also a great pairing as they will be happy to listen and won’t take an elephant out of their comfort zone.

Understanding your clients as animals
Monkey clients will love everything new, however they are the clients that tend to jump from salon to salon unless you keep them highly entertained!
Lion clients are very loyal and will stay with you, however make sure you are never late and try to avoid changing their appointments.
Dolphins are for life, even if you are late or run late.
Elephants will stay with you because they trust you, but never take them for granted as they do not like change.

This article originally appeared in the July 2018 issue of Hairdressers Journal. 

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