Business Management

Huddle Time

Team building is essential for a salon’s success and not as difficult as you think. Daily communication creates clear objectives and promotes participation by all.

Bring up the subject of staff meetings to many salon owners these days and they will either break out into a sweat or change the subject immediately. This is probably because in salons all across the country, owners have been conducting team meetings for years, and for many of them, the outcomes are less than desirable.

Salons all over are opened each year by talented, passionate technicians and people who love to serve others. What many fail to realize is that in order for any business to succeed, the focus has to be on growing the teams on board. The team is the nucleus of any salon. So, what stops so many from working in harmony?

“People want to be celebrated, not tolerated,” says Lance Courtney, a Certified Dream Coach and business coach with Inspiring Champions, a San Diego-based coaching and consulting firm. “They want a blame-free culture where not only triumphs are acknowledged, but where mistakes are OK too.”

Let’s see if you can relate to one of these scenarios: Salon meetings happen once a month; everyone sits on one side and the owner stands in front, lecture style. A few share thoughts, most stay silent — until a controversial issue is brought up. People become defensive, it takes too long to cover that issue, and before you know it, time’s up. Most things go unmentioned and unsolved.

Another scenario: The owner does all the talking with little sharing, doesn’t really connect with the team and wonders why there’s always so much turnover. But my personal favorite, which I just dealt with on a recent coaching call with an owner, is the fact that so many salons never even hold a meeting. Like at many salons, people don’t show up on time, or even at all, and this particular salon owner felt so beat up with all the negativity at the meetings, she cancelled them all.

Fortunately, there are solutions. Consistent communication with your team (yes, I said team, not staff) doesn’t happen once a month or once a quarter. It happens daily. It comes from everyone being really clear on what’s expected. “Define the rules of the game, everyone’s roles, and what the finish line looks like first. Then do a check in with each member before you begin,” says Courtney. “That’s your greatest model for success.”


Group Huddle

At the most recent Premiere Show in Orlando, the team from Inspiring Champions led a group of 120 salon owners in an activity to bring this point forward. We very clearly explained the goal, engaged each individual at the same level, let the team determine the ‘how’ of the process, and gave them a clear picture of the finish line. It was the type of activity that required each member to help someone else first in order to help themselves. But the best part was that we took away arguably the most used, or abused, communication tool first, and that’s your voice. They had to complete the task in silence! Then little by little we would allow encouraging words like ‘Go!’ or ‘Yes!’ to enter in, and boy did the speed and accuracy pick up. It was amazing to see the light bulbs go off in people’s heads. They got it.

When a group is focused on the same goal, enrolled into the same vision, that singleness in purpose can change a breakdown into a breakthrough. Owners today are realizing they are exhausted and bitter from trying to control everything. They cannot keep their hands in it all. They’re realizing they have to make some new choices. Delegating and enrolling their team in daily operations is an effective way to leverage their time and move forward more quickly.

It’s about creating more leaders, not followers, and keeping everyone connected. One way is through education. That may mean utilizing an entire team to come up with ideas for continued education and encouraging each member to research the trainings and contact those involved to present at a future meeting. Another way to bring people together is to create a “star bar” or another acknowledgement/hero board to celebrate the efforts of the team.

Use a daily “huddle” format that works for your team. Because not everyone will arrive at the same time in all salons, use a communication tool that everyone is responsible for checking each shift to keep everyone on the same page. Note the goals for the day, acknowledge a hero, share the lowdown on things missing or broken, note if someone is sick, and include other tidbits and tips. Taking turns on who’s responsible for filling in some of the huddle sheets will keep all members engaged in the outcome.

Understanding that we have two ears and one mouth will also shift the dynamics in communicating with your teams. You don’t have to be brilliant all the time. (Whew, what a relief!) By asking open-ended questions to your team and allowing them to come up with solutions it generates more accountability and creativity. That creativity has developed mini team leaders, promotions, and several cool events to market salons everywhere.

When things don’t go as planned, avoid asking “Why?” That invites great excuses. Instead, look for what may have been missing in the process to create a new outcome next time.

Remember that what you feed grows. Feed your team opportunity. Feed them accountability and structure a safety zone to try things on. Things may not turn out as planned, but the support of the entire team will guide them forward to their goals and celebrate in their success. When you eliminate the chaos, everyone grows.    

Heather Goodwin is the owner of A Totally Unique Nail Boutique in Palm Harbor, Fla., and a certified success coach with Inspiring Champions.

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