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How to deal with team troublemakers

Most of us have experience of difficult salon members says Simon Harris from MySalonManager. We dread when they’re around and find them hard to manage. It seems that whatever we say is met with a negative response – ranging from passively ignoring requests through to open hostility and criticism.

Unfortunately, these troublemakers can have a toxic influence on other staff, undermining the positive salon atmosphere and really affecting team morale.

So what to do? The first step is to understand why some people behave like this.

Why do some staff become team troublemakers?

Try to get to the bottom of why your team member is difficult and hostile. There are quite a few possibilities to consider, and you will have to be honest with yourself too.

  • Poor communication within the salon.
  • Inconsistent treatment of staff depending on your mood.
  • Some staff favoured over others.
  • Team expectations are different to yours.
  • Unclear business goals and how staff fit in with your plans.
  • Learned behaviour from their family or other relationships.
  • Personal problems.
How to manage salon troublemakers

How can you manage these people or avoid the problems in the first place?

Unfortunately, we can’t change people’s attitudes; they are what they are.

But everyone can choose how to behave, and we all need to appreciate how the behaviour we choose has a dramatic effect on everything and everyone around us.

Encouraging your staff to behave in a positive way is a major step towards eliminating the damage caused by team troublemakers. Here’s how:


  • Identify and write down all the positive behaviours you want to see in your salon.
  • Ensure that you consistently demonstrate those behaviours.
  • List all your staff and note examples of their positive behaviour.


  • Identify and write down all the negative behaviours you don’t want to see in your salon.
  • Be honest: do you ever behave in any of these negative ways?
  • Note any examples of these negative behaviours in your team.

Now analyse the information you’ve gathered. Is there a relationship between events or changes in the salon that seem to have triggered the negative behaviour? For example:

  • A new member of staff starting?
  • Key staff leaving?
  • A change of direction in the business?
  • Pay structure changes?
  • Price changes?

Be clear about how you want your staff to behave. For example, how should they interact with colleagues, line managers and clients? Once you have set the standards, make sure you consistently lead by example.

As you gain understanding of when and why staff behave negatively, you can start to address the root causes.

Members: Need free advice or information on running your salon? Why not get in touch with our knowledgeable industry experts who will help you on all aspects of running a successful salon business.

Six golden rules for managing difficult salon staff
  1. Listen: When an employee is difficult, we can stop listening to them and simply ‘fight fire with fire’ instead of digging into what’s really going on. By listening, we can understand what is really happening, empathise with the employee and start to put things right.
  2. Give clear feedback: It’s not easy to do, but it’s important to give clear and honest feedback to an employee about their behaviour and the effect it is having on colleagues and your business. When giving feedback, the key is to avoid personal attacks. Concentrate on specific behaviours and actions. It’s amazing how many people don’t realise the effect their behaviour is having.
  3. Document everything: Keep a written record of every meeting about poor performance. If private discussions don’t seem to be solving the matter, consider using a ‘letter of concern’ before going down the disciplinary route.
  4. Be consistent: Treat everyone equally and expect the same standards of behaviour from everyone. Your team will soon notice if one or two are ‘getting away’ with breaking the rules.
  5. Set clear consequences: There must be consequences for staff whose behaviour continues to be unacceptable. Using a letter of concern followed by disciplinary action must be the agreed route.
  6. Be courageous: It’s tempting to tolerate poor behaviour from staff who contribute a lot financially to the salon. Never allow anyone to hold you hostage based on their takings. Otherwise their behaviour will lead to other valued staff leaving and you’ll be left alone with your difficult staff member.

Simon Harris can be found at MySalonManager