Dealing with Difficult staff
Staff room terrorists. Who are they and where do they come from?
We can all think of someone we have worked with, or still work with, whom you dread having to manage. Whatever you say to them is always met with scorn-derision, criticism, sarcasm etc.
More importantly, they can be quite influential within the salon and turn some quite positive staff into their way of thinking.
Understanding why some staff behave in that way:
- Poor communication
- Inconsistent treatment of staff - either staff treated differently to others, or you treat them differently depending on your mood
- Staff expectations different to yours
- Lack of clarity around the business goals and how staff fit into that goal
- Learned behaviour from their family or relationships
How can you manage these people or avoid the problems in the first place?
We talk about ‘attitude’. We can’t change people’s attitudes; they are what they are. We can however choose our behaviour and understand how the behaviour we choose has a dramatic effect on everything and everyone around us.
Getting staff to recognise positive behaviour is a major step in eliminating difficult staff in your salon.
- Identify and write down all the positive behaviours you want to see in your business
- Ensure that you are demonstrating all those behaviours all the time
- List all your staff: write down the examples of positive behaviour from each of them
- Identify and write down all negative behaviours you don’t want to see in your business
- Against the staff list: write down any examples of those negative behaviours
- Now look critically at your communication with all of them.
- Is there a relationship between events of change that you wanted in the business and the start of the negative behaviour? A new member of staff starting? A change of direction in the business? Pay structure or price change?
9 Steps to Managing Difficult Staff
- Listen: when an employee is difficult we stop listening to them - we are just watching for the behaviour and then often reacting to that rather than digging into what’s really going on: sometimes it is a case of listening and then understanding what is really happening: empathise with the employee so they feel they are being heard.
- Give clear feedback on actual behaviour. There is no point complaining about an employee unless you have actually given them some feedback on their behaviour: how it impacts on others and on the business. This is not easy for most managers, as it can be perceived as a personal attack rather than on their behaviour.
- Document everything – write notes on every meeting to discuss poor performance - behaviour does come into this category, and use ‘letters of concern’, which are really useful tools before you go down the disciplinary route.
- Be Consistent. When you have set a clear standard of behaviour then you must have the courage to follow it through. The rest of your team will be watching to see if you do deal with other staff who don’t conform to agreed standards of behaviour.
- Set consequences when things don’t change, otherwise you are a manager with no teeth! There has to be a consequence for staff whose behaviour continues to be unacceptable and are choosing not to improve. Using a letter of concern followed by disciplinary action must be the agreed route.
- Be courageous. Sometimes we will allow poor behaviour from a staff member who contributes a lot financially to the salon. My advice is always: never ever allow someone to hold you hostage based on their takings. Otherwise their behaviour will lead to other good staff leaving, and it will be just you, and the difficult staff member.
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