Dealing With Conflict as a Salon Owner
Many of us are partial to watching a bit of drama unfold – whether that be on TV (Love Island, we’re looking at you), social media or real life. Conflict can also be common in the salon, and with that in mind, HJ spoke to a range of industry professionals to discover why this is so common and how conflict can be dealt with appropriately in the workplace.
Causes of Conflict
Discussing the different types of drama, Aline Knee, hair colour specialist for Simi Hair Lab, explains: “A hair salon without drama is just not possible, but there are both fun and toxic kinds. The mixture between big personalities, flamboyant characters and eccentric artists can add a zing to our colourful industry, but that can also bring shade, competition and toxic drama – traits which are not acceptable.”
Nicola Magee, owner of Salon T.Elle, and Lisa Carter of The Crowning Stylist, both agree that the biggest cause of conflict in salons is the clashing of personalities. Louise Wood, BA Counselling, member of British Association of Counsellors and Psychotherapists, explains that every individual in the salon will have a different response to conflict according to the roles they play in their own families. “The Quiet One, the Peacekeeper, The Extrovert, The Introvert, The Fighter, The Fragile One… and so on. Everyone has their way of dealing, or not dealing with conflict but respect, tolerance and perspective can be learned, as can the approach to drama and conflict.”
It seems that too little communication between these personalities can also intensify the problem, says Nicola, adding: “We as hairdressers know how to talk to clients, but to talk about our own feelings can sometimes be a problem.”
One way this problem can be addressed is through team building exercises. “They’re often a fantastic way to boost morale whilst also providing you the opportunity to listen to your team and their needs,” says Lisa.
Meanwhile, Maria Hodgins, owner of Fringe Benefits, suggests a salon handbook for staff to refer to, which could be particularly effective for salons that have different staff working different days.
Louise also points out that it is also about tolerance as much as communication skills, expanding: “When it becomes a problem is when it affects the broader team, causes divisions, stress on other team members and ultimately may threaten the health of your business as it will most likely lead to people moving on to less stressful working environments.”
Whilst it can be beneficial to bond with staff, Brian Leo McCallum, owner of ROAR Hair and Beauty, adds: “It’s important to set boundaries and stick to them – but also ensure you always have mutual respect.” Likewise, Dan Mewies, of Mewies and Co, shares: “As a salon owner it’s a fine line between preventing scenarios and letting the team figure certain issues out for themselves. Although you often develop friendships with your staff, you must remember that first and foremost you are a boss and that needs to be respected.”
Julie Hensman, director of Hensmans, also shares a similar approach, operating an open-door policy with her management team. “This ensures there is always someone there to bring any issue to you without judgement, and also there is someone there to help the team member, or members, to talk through any issue.” Julie adds that the result of this is the heat is taken out of the situation almost immediately. ”We find that this is the secret to a respectful and caring staffroom.”
Seek Additional Support if Needed
Setting out clear expectations for your staff can also help to combat conflict. For example, Maria shares: “Clarify job roles and get your team’s commitment to follow any salon policies you might have. For us, this includes a ‘no gossip environment’.” However, she also says: “We try to mediate any conflict, making sure all team members have their say, but we always get any further advice from NHBF if required.”
Valerie Kelly, owner of VK Hairdressing, also believes in seeking support when necessary, explaining: “If issues cannot be resolved, hiring an independent HR member to sort things out will keep your business safe. Common issues usually arise when changes are made to the salon blueprint. Employees like things to stay the same but business is an ever-changing world and we must adapt business for the better. Bringing a professional in to help will not only make your business stronger, it also helps staff see they’re supported and the wheels of industry can thrive.”