How to have difficult conversations with your styling team or salon owner

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How to have difficult conversations with your styling team or salon owner
It’s about to get real because today we’re talking about how to have difficult conversations with your styling team or salon owner.


If you can’t bring yourself to have difficult conversations, like pitching a new marketing idea or talking about work performance, you’ll end up with plenty of gossip, which creates all sorts of problems. The best way to resolve 90 percent of those challenges? Constructive communication.


Good news: Constructive conversations don’t have to be awkward or difficult. The more you practice good communication habits, the easier these conversations with our leaders and team become. I’ll give you the skills to navigate these situations constructively, whether you’re a stylist or a salon owner.

Stylists Talking to Owners
When we choose to be a stylist in a salon, we choose the owner as the leader. The reality is salon owners are trying to keep everyone in the building happy at any given time. That’s a lot of pressure, and it takes time to make changes happen. Remember your salon owner is only human and respect where they’re coming from when you start the conversation.

Don’t come in hot
Don’t get wrapped up in your emotions when you approach your salon owner; it won’t come across as productive, and you won’t have a good conversation. Instead, if something is frustrating you, take a step back and make a plan. After you take time to compose yourself, approach the salon owner. They will be much more open to what you have to say and willing to come to a constructive conclusion.

Communicate in your best method
If a verbal conversation makes you lose your words, but you need to discuss something with your salon owner, ask if they would mind if you sent them an email later that day because you best express yourself in written form. They’ll say yes!

Come with a solution, not just a problem
Instead of complaining in the back room about how bad the salon’s Instagram is, approach your owner with some new marketing ideas to step up the salon’s social media game. When you can come to the table with a solution instead of just a problem, your salon owner will be so much more open to helping you and, chances are, they’ll be thrilled to partner with you.

Come in willing to help find the resolution
It’s okay for you to say you don’t have the answers to the problem yet, but you’re willing to find a solution and get back to them. Can you see how an owner would jump on board with that in a second?

If your salon owner agrees with your idea, but asks for some time, try and be patient. Know they genuinely support you and that they are trying to keep you and everyone else in the building happy.

At the end of the conversation, say “So what happens next?”
Always ask at the end of the conversation with your owner, “What happens next?” Have them come up with a plan. If they don’t know, don’t just leave it in their lap. I give you full permission to propose a plan and meeting to discuss next week.

Owners talking to stylists
When you walk through the door of the salon, be ready to support, learn, and grow. Leave your problems in the car so you can be 100 percent present for your team. And keep your door open to honest feedback 365 days a year, so your styling team knows that you’re there to help them grow.


Don’t come in hot
You are there as a resource to your team, so don’t wear your emotions on your sleeve. No matter how mad you are at a stylist, take a beat and say “I’m really frustrated with you right now, and it’s not a good time to talk. Let’s set time to talk tomorrow.”

Don’t be afraid that your stylist will leave you
You have to be confident in knowing that if you are going to run a successful business, difficult conversations will have to be had. If you aren’t enforcing rules because you’re scared your stylist will leave you, that is not constructive. Enforce your ground rules: if a stylist isn’t cleaning up their mess after you’ve already asked, pull them aside and set up time to discuss the issue.

Have a set of behavioral guidelines
We can’t hold stylists to a standard if there is no standard. Look at your behavioral guidelines. Are they still in line with your goals? Are you actually enforcing them? Even if you have booth renters, you can have rules for how you want people to behave in your building. Because if you don’t enforce them with one stylist, you can’t expect the one at the station next to her to follow the rules either.

Always start by asking “So how is everything going with you?”
We are humans. They are humans. If you need to pull a stylist aside, remember this is a conversation; it doesn’t have to be super heavy and scary. Take a breath to check in with that person as you step into the next phase of the conversation.

Say “I want to bring something to your attention.”
Think about how you phrase things. Don’t start with “I have a bone to pick with you” or “I’m frustrated because…” Saying “I want to bring something to your attention” gets their attention and opens the door to the conversation without confrontation.

It’s not about the blame game; effective communication is just about expressing how you feel and allowing the other person to do the same.

Don’t be afraid of written documentation

Written documentation doesn’t have to be scary; it’s a great thing because it shows you’re serious and can protect you if things do go sideways. Using written verbal warnings that don’t count towards termination are a great way to document an issue, so the next time you need to pull a stylist aside, you know what you have already discussed.

Always end by saying “What happens next?”
Sometimes you should be the one that comes up with the next step, and sometimes your stylists should be. Either way, every conversation should end with an action plan.

I hope this has given you some insight on how to be more constructive in your conversations. Ultimately, we all want the same result, and these keywords and social cues should help you navigate some difficult conversations.

TO HEAR MORE ON THIS TOPIC TUNE INTO THE THRIVING STYLIST PODCAST EPISODE 38. CLICK HERE TO LISTEN NOW.

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B. Seva