Owners, Managers, and Coworkers: Oh My

Read Time: 15 Minutes
Expertise Area: All Career Fields
Career Stage: Recently Licensed

Managing conflict is a necessary skill for all professionals, but in the beauty and wellness world, we need to depend on each other a little more than most which can put us in some unique situations with owners, managers, and coworkers. This guide takes you through some real-world scenarios that most of us encounter at some point in our careers. Learning how to respectfully and professionally interact with people, regardless of what’s going down, is a learned skill and one that will serve you well throughout your entire career.

The Thin Line Between Salon and Real-World Friendships

Making friends at work is the most natural thing to do. It’s great to have other people to hang out with that “get” what you do, your stresses, etc. but sometimes friendships can get messy. Especially at work.

Becoming friendly with co-works can be a tricky thing. On one hand, having friendships in the workplace can increase morale, productivity and give us the confidence to do our very best. On the other hand, if the relationship hits a rough patch, then it can have the opposite effect. We can find ourselves not wanting to go to work, adding unnecessary stress to our day, and the worst-case scenario: it can bring unwanted drama into the workplace, making it uncomfortable for the entire team. Here's how to find the balance between best work friend and best real-world friend.

Take your time

Just like any other friendship, it takes time to foster new relationships. Avoid rushing into new friendships by sharing too much of your personal life. Slowly let others into your life, with an increasing amount of trust.

Remember why you’re there

You have a job to perform while you’re at the salon, spa or shop. Stay focused on performing your job to the best of your abilities. Don’t let workplace friendships be a distraction from servicing your clients.

Handle work friendships breakups professionally

Just like any other relationship, you will have your ups and downs. If something happens to your friendship, it’s important you remain professional. Any negative energy between you can be felt by your co-workers and more importantly by the salon/spa/shop clients. Putting a little distance between the two of you is a good idea. Whatever you do, don't feed into the drama. It will just make life tougher for you, in and out of the salon.

Building and fostering positive healthy workplace relationships is a win-win for you and your coworkers. Taking the time to build healthy workplace friendships can certainly make going to work more enjoyable and more productive but remember to step away if things go sour. Always, always be the bigger person, for the sake of your career.

How to Handle Conflicts at Work

We all know how to act when we are interacting with the people who “get” us. It’s when we are faced with an opposing idea, or unwanted aggression that really shows the world what we are made of. At some point in our day-to-day lives at work and in life, for that matter, we all deal with conflict. Conflict, unfortunately, is a natural part of the human experience, whether it’s dealing with your coworkers. manager or your clients.

Conflict is brought on by our different beliefs, diverse backgrounds, life experiences, and personal values. How we handle these sticky situations can either ignite into a wildfire and create a great deal of drama, stress, and discomfort or we can calmly put the fire out with a positive effective approach.

Handle conflicts in a timely manner

The problem will not go away; ignoring the problem will not solve it. So, nip it in the bud ASAP. As time marches on, the challenge can ultimately get worse. The sooner you confront the conflict, the sooner you'll find a solution.

Invite the other person to talk about the situation first

“Seek first to understand, then to be understood.” in other words, let the other person go first. Communication is such a critical part of conflict resolution. Hearing a client or coworker’s concern can help both of you identify the root cause of the issue and create the foundation for a solution. People like to feel heard. Even if you think you're "right," respecting someone's voice and experience can be the small olive branch that brings peace between the two of you.

Apologize

Apologize for your part in the conflict. Remember, usually everyone involved has some part in the challenge. By apologizing you’re not accepting the entire blame; however, you are taking responsibility for your contribution. Use "I" statements when you apologize, like, "I am sorry for..." or "I did not realize that..."

Develop an action plan

Remember, no one wins if everyone is fighting. Discuss what would be the best possible resolution. Develop several choices that would meet the overall objective. If it's an issue with a client who doesn't like his or her experience, this might look like a complimentary deep conditioning treatment or a credit towards their next service. If it's a co-worker who keeps taking time off unexpectedly, maybe it's an agreement to put in day-off requests two weeks in advance. Remember, we all like choices.

Whether the conflict is with a team member or a salon/spa/shop client, the result is to get everyone back on track with as little discomfort as possible. Even though it's difficult to approach conflict head-on, it ultimately prevents added stress for everyone involved. No one enjoys feeling like they've made someone else unhappy.

Working With Your Teammates

The hardest part about dealing with unprofessionalism is that everyone’s interpretation is totally different, so what might be taboo to you is completely acceptable to others. Unfortunately, with the close working spaces in salons and shops that is often what is happening. We are privy to what is happening in everyone’s life, whether we want to be or not.

The Storytelling One

Coworkers who talk about their kids, parties, spouse, etc. can be very annoying, especially when you have to hear the same stories over and over again. Keep in mind, for most clients, this is the first time they are hearing these stories, so they may have different perspective.

The first thing to do when dealing with someone who’s driving you crazy is to try to have understanding and empathy. Here are two ways in which you can handle the situation.

  1. If the problem is more about how annoyed you are, and you have a good relationship with your coworker, then take the casual but serious approach. Say something like, “Mandy, I know you have an interesting life and you like to talk about it, and I admire that, but if I have to hear the same story about XXX, I’m going to go insane! In all seriousness, can you please change the subject and talk about something else with your clients?”
  2. If it truly is bothering you and your clients then you could try, “Mandy, I know you like sharing your life with your clients and that is great, but I’ve had 2 clients mention that your storytelling is distracting. Could you make an effort to switch it up and talk more about your client’s needs? My clients and I really appreciate it.”

It’s never easy to ask someone to change their behavior, but sometimes we have no choice. Keep it professional, keep it kind – think how you would feel if someone was having this conversation with you. Pick a time outside the salon/spa/shop when you can have the conversation, invite your coworker for a coffee or a walk, don’t bring alcohol into a matter of conflict, as it can make things worse. The break from the salon gives you both a chance to reflect on the conversation outside of work.

The Gossipy One

If you have a coworker who is using obscene language, telling inappropriate stories, gossiping about other clients/coworkers, or just simply discussing topics not suitable to the salon/spa/shop environment, then it is your responsibility to either address it directly and privately and/or tell your manager or owner immediately so that they can address the situation. No one, not you, nor your clients, should ever feel uncomfortable in your salon, spa or shop.

The Dishonest One

It’s one thing to talk to someone about their annoying behavior, but when you are faced with the prospect of confronting a coworker about being dishonest, that takes reflection, awareness and proof. Being privy to sensitive knowledge in the workplace can be stressful. If you witness a team member doing something unethical, such as stealing money or goods from the company, speaking to your manager can be a delicate matter.

Before you approach your manager/owner, consider this sensitive issue with ample preparation and certainty.

Be totally certain of your accusations. After all, theft is a serious matter and could lead to termination of the guilty party. Make sure you have all your information straight before taking it to the next level.

Stop spreading rumors. Don’t allow yourself to be tempted to share your suspicions with your coworkers. This can backfire and create a great deal of disruption for the entire team.

Report it to the appropriate person. Don't discuss your suspicions with the employee/team member in question. After all, more than likely if they are guilty the will deny it. They might feel threatened and make some bad decisions to protect their name, which could harm you or other coworkers.

Go directly to your owner, boss, or manager and make sure you have all the facts. Do not send a text or email, schedule a time to meet in person to discuss the matter. After work is best as this gives both you and your manager time to respond rather than react. When speaking to your boss, avoid getting emotionally connected to the matter. State only the facts. Leave out any emotion.

Once you have discussed the sensitive issue with your boss, the ball is now in their court and they will handle the situation according.

Conflict, dishonesty and unprofessionalism are just a few scenarios you will encounter at work. How much they are part of your day to day work life is up to you. It is always best to stay in your lane, mind your business and work as drama free as possible.

Of course, there other situations that will come up where you may not know what to do. It’s natural to look around at times of uncertainty and get our cues from our coworkers, especially when we are new. However, following the pack is not always the best idea. When unclear what to do, ask yourself how a professional would handle the situation and then confirm with your manager. Here are some common questions and situations you may encounter on the job and the best ways to resolve them.

Working With Your Manager

One of the most important relationships you’ll have as a professional is with your manager. At their best, they can help you seek new opportunities and help you grow. At their worst, they can make your work life stressful and hinder your growth as a professional. Here are some common situations you might find yourself in with a manager.

You’re Due For A Performance Review

Performance reviews are a natural part of being employed. They allow for a fair and even playing field to measure productivity and performance. Every salon, spa and shop will have their own set of criteria, a measuring stick if you will to gage your strengths and weakness. No need to freak out; performance reviews are an asset in professional development because they tell us where we need to improve and gives us the information and opportunity to reset what needs to change and nurture what doesn’t.

Know How You're Being Measured: The key to a successful performance review is what happens during the three, six or twelve months before the actual review. During these months it’s your responsibility to build a solid working relationship with your manager and make certain you know exactly what is expected of you (like specific measurable items: percentage booked, average service/retail tickets, rebooking, and continued education, etc.). In other words, do you have individual goals that need to be achieved?

Write It Down: To help you prepare for your review spend some time summarizing your achievements and write them down, much like you did when you created your resume. Think about what you’ve accomplished since you began your job. Make certain you mention specifics results, for example; I completed XXX number of advanced training classes, I have increased my average service/retail ticket by XXX%, I supported my fellow coworkers at XXX on XXX date.

Consider Your Manager's Perspective: When you sit down for your review be prepared to WOW your manager or owner. Once again, much like you did in your initial job interview, you want to remind them why they hired you and how you contribute to the team, the salon/spa/shop and to the business as a whole. You’ll want to share what you have accomplished and what effects those accomplishments have contributed to the overall success of the team.

Remember, a performance review is a two-way street. It’s an opportunity to discuss with your manager what you accomplished and discuss areas of improvement. To show your investment in the review, create a list of specific questions you would like to ask your supervisor to help you achieve your overall goals within the company. Nothing impresses a manager more than when an employee comes prepared. With a little preparation, your performance review will be less stressful, help you be more open to constructive feedback and leave the meeting feeling confident.

Conflicts With Managers

It’s one thing to resolve conflicts and professionalism with coworkers, it’s another when you have an issue with your manager. Your job and your career depend on how you handle these sensitive matters. When approaching your manager or owner about something they have or have not done, keep it professional and focus on the behavior that is upsetting. Here are some common scenarios you may encounter and how to best resolve them.

My Salon Manager Is Playing Favorites

At times, it can feel like there are team members who get a little more attention or greater opportunities in the salon, spa or shop than you do. It's easy to say that favoritism is at play or your manager or boss is doing this purposely to hurt you.

If you find yourself in this position, stay focused on you. Don’t concern yourself with what others are doing or aren’t doing. Schedule a meeting with your owner or manager and create an action plan for how you can thrive at the salon, spa or shop. The key here is to remove all personal emotions from this conversation.

With a little patience and dedication on your part, you will be well on your way to thriving in your business. Remember: don’t get caught up in what others around you are doing or are not doing. Stay focused on yourself and your goals.

My Manager Doesn't Trust My Abilities

Nothing boosts self-esteem more than when our abilities are trusted by our boss, coworkers, and clients. So it really hurts when you suspect there is a breach of that trust and the quality of your work is being questioned.

Don’t be so hard on yourself if you think this happening. There is a natural learning curve we all go through when we join a salon, spa, or shop. We learn new techniques and get acclimated to how our new place of employment does things. Learning curves are funny; some individuals can adapt quickly, while it may take a little more time for others. For this very reason, many salons, spas and shops have mandatory assistant or training programs that can last anywhere from 6 months to 2 years.

If you find yourself in a situation where you feel your team is questioning your abilities, set up a meeting with you manager and ask for an evaluation. Ask for feedback on your performance and ask what specific areas you should focus on. Maybe it has to do more with your soft skills than your technical abilities.

Once you have their feedback, work with the owner or manager and create an action plan to help you move past those areas holding you back. Perhaps all you need is additional training in technical and/or soft skills. Another idea that will help you succeed is to work with a senior service provider and observe how they interact with clients (soft skills) and how they implement technical services.

Even if you aren't having issues, it is a good idea to sit down on a quarterly basis or at the very least once a year, with your owner or manager for a performance review. After all, the only way to grow as a service provider is to seek feedback and empower yourself with continuing education.

Human Resource Questions For Beauty Pros

Unless you work in a corporate or business setting, you might not have a Human Resources (HR) team on-site at your salon, spa, or shop. Here are some common HR-related situations that might arise on the job and how to handle them.

What Happens If I’m Sick?

Taking a sick day is never in anyone’s plans, but it happens and when it happens to a beauty and wellness professional, it sets off a chain of events that affects both your clients and coworkers. Often clients have their appointments scheduled weeks, perhaps even months in advance. From your customer’s perspective, there is nothing more disappointing than being excited and looking forward to that long-awaited haircut, color, facial, massage or nail service and receive the dreaded phone call “I’m sorry your service provider called in sick today.” Getting sick is a part of life, no one wants it to happen, and it’s not a question of if it will happen, but when it will happen. When you start a new job, always ask if there is a process you should follow in the event you are sick. If there is not set plan, use these best practices to make things easier for your team, your clients, and yourself.

  • Create a plan: Timing is critical. It is best to call the salon and your clients the night before or as early as possible in the morning. If you feel you will be out for a few days then start calling clients booked for those days too as soon as possible. This gives everyone time to readjust their schedules. Your number one priority is to create a plan to accommodate the clients you need to be rescheduled. If you are an employee in a salon/spa/shop, the front desk person will most likely call your clients. If you are a booth renter, you will need to reach out and communicate with your clients yourself.
  • Communicate: Communication in any relationship is key. When you return to the salon/spa/shop reach out to your clients ASAP to personally apologize for any inconvenience your sickness may have created for them, this is your opportunity to reschedule them if they have not already rescheduled. Either reach out to them via telephone or personally like to send a handwritten note card expressing your sincere apology for the inconvenience and that you value their patronage.

Getting sick unfortunately is part of life, however, if we handle the situation in a timely manner it can provide us with another opportunity to demonstrate outstanding client care and continue to grow and build client relationships for years to come. Always take the sick day if you need it. Don't let a little bug become something worse because you're not taking care of yourself.

Can I Leave Work "Early" as a Commissioned Stylist?

This can be a sensitive topic between salon owners and salon employees. If you’re the owner, your number one priority is to be as profitable as possible during business hours. This requires having staff available to take last minute appointment requests. On the other hand, from an employee who is a commission-based, this down time can appear they are working for free and are losing time and money. Both viewpoints are equally valid. The overall goal is to find a balance for both the owner and the employee.

The real culprit here is your appointment book. It should be filled to the point that you don’t have business hours that are unfilled. To remove this situation altogether, the overall objective is to create an action plan to generate more clients coming into the salon, spa, or shop and filling those open appointment slots.

Bringing in more clients through the door is a team effort and should not fall on one person’s shoulders. Come together as a team and create a plan of action. There are a variety of action steps you can take, like creating a marketing campaign, referral program, promotions, community involvement, etc. Let’s face it- when a salon, spa or shop has a full appointment book, both the employees and the owners are happy. Everyone is generating revenue!

In the meantime, while you’re increasing your client count and filling those open appointments, why not create a rotation schedule amongst the service team? The rotation could be based on seniority or simply looking at a calendar and selecting days when each team member can go home early if they are not booked. When you discuss the plan with your team, make sure you reiterate your shared goal: to increase the salon, spa or shop’s client count. Turning away clients is one sure way to sabotage that goal and hurts the entire team.

Coming together as a team and developing a growth plan that includes actions steps to increase customer count will result in increased revenue for the business and the service providers. In the end, this makes everyone happy.

Can I Take Weekends Off?

To work weekends or not work weekends is a frequently asked question for new beauty and wellness professionals. If you have always had weekends off, then the thought of working them can be hard to grasp, however, it’s important to take into consideration Saturdays are usually the busiest day for salons, spas, and shops. Saturday appointments are the ideal time for clients to receive their beauty services, as they are busy with work and family during the week. Also, let’s not forget about all those special occasion events, such as weddings and parties, clients want to look their very best for.

Weekend appointments are one of the most effective ways to build your clientele especially as a new beauty and wellness professional. When weighing your options, here are a few key points to take into consideration.

Are you an established beauty professional?

Meaning, do you have enough clientele to fill your books during a regular work week? My suggestion would be if you are not established then your number one priority is to continue to work Saturdays and build a solid client base before you even consider making any adjustments.

What are the business hours of the salon/spa/shop?

If the salon/spa/shop is open seven days a week this certainly can give you greater flexibility, you can adjust your work schedule to reflect a Monday–Friday work schedule or you might want to consider working every other Saturday, known as a split-shift schedule. This means you and another service provider would rotate working a Monday – Friday schedule and a Tuesday-Saturday schedule. Split-shift is a great option as it allows for few Saturdays off each month, while providing clients the convenience to book Saturday appointments if needed.

One of the many benefits of working in the beauty and wellness industry is the flexibility it can provide throughout one’s career. From working full-time, part-time, or split-shifts. As you grow within the industry, you will have the opportunity to adjust your schedule, the hours and or the days based on the salon/spa/shops needs and more importantly your clients’ needs and wants.

Should I Answer My Phone on My Days Off?

If you are using your cell phone for business and your personal life, you might find yourself being inundated with business calls on your days off or late evening hours. As much as you love hearing from your clients and assisting them with booking their future appointments, you also need an opportunity to disconnect from business.

When you first get started, you might want to answer every call while you build your client base. As your business grows, you might find the calls are interfering with your personal life.

No matter your preference, you should always have two separate lines. One line dedicated for personal use and another just for business. The business line can go directly into your voice messaging system, advising your clients you will return their calls on your first day back in the salon, spa or shop.

Yes, a second line is an added expense, but you have plenty of options to bundle a landline with other services with your internet provider at a minimal expense. Or you may want to invest in an inexpensive cell plan you use solely for business calls. To keep the cost down, avoid adding data plans to your work phone. There is also another option called GotoPhone. It uses your own cell phone and you pay a nominal monthly fee and receive a dedicated business number with voicemail. You can pick up your voicemail directly through your phone or better yet, they also come into your email, so you always have a log of who called. When a business call comes through, the system lets you know it is a “Go To Call” and you can decide in the moment if want to take the call or not.

Whatever you decide is right for you and your business, remember, communication is key when building a working relationship with your clients. Having your clients’ calls be directed to a message, advising them of your working hours and returning their calls during regular business hours is a very reasonable way of running a business. Not answering your phone and not having a professional voicemail however, could cause clients to lose trust in you as a provider, especially if you fail to return their call within 24 hours.

As you embark on your journey as a beauty and wellness professional, think about the reputation you want to cultivate for yourself. Learning to manage a wide array of personalities and situations professionally and respectfully is a skill that will serve you well throughout your career. Fortunately, most people and situations will be helpful and pleasant, but once in awhile you will have to deal with conflict and confrontation. When that happens, take a deep breath, count to 10 and commit to resolve all issues with professionalism and respect.

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