How to Defuse Salon Spa Employee Conflict Issues

Are you happy with your employees? Or are they your biggest headache in operating your beauty business? Never a week goes by without I receive a frantic phone call from a stressed-out salon or spa owner ready to pull out her hair by the roots because of an employee performance problem. It can range from poor work performance, lack of job commitment unsatisfactory conduct to personality conflict with management or follow workers. From experience I have found there are two kinds of problems a manager has to handle with staff: poor performance, which results when an employee does not or can not perform the job up to acceptable standards, and personality problems, which often interfere with salon or spa team dynamics and can infect the entire team reducing motivation. The first step is to find out why this situation has occurred and then take action to correct.

Determine the nature of the employee's poor performance problem:

• Was the right person employed for your salon or spa in the first place - in regards to aesthetic industry qualifications, salon or spa employment history, attitudes, and ambitions - remember you can train to improve performance but you can't change poor attitudes

• Did they fully understand the duties and working conditions of the position offered in your salon or spa - many new aestheticians or therapists are not aware that skincare and spa product retailing and housekeeping duties are also part of the job

• Are they properly trained for the position - if not are you willing to offer the additional training necessary to allow them to perform to both the clients, management and the employee's acceptable standards

• Are they adequately supervised and regularly assessed - by regularly comparing performance objectives and job description with their salon spa work performance

Many of these problems occur when the wrong person was employed in the first place. As I constantly say "select carefully and hire slowly" but even if you follow this rule you can still find that you have the wrong person in the job.

If poor work performance seems to be a result of the salon or spa employee's not fully understanding her duties, as the owner/manager you should immediately take action to right the situation. Having said that if full and correct induction was undertaken in the first place at employment commencement this situation could possibly been avoided. It is my view that good induction training is absolutely vital for the new team member. How you introduce them to your salon or spa will give them a real sense of belonging, a real enthusiasm for the job, a sense of loyalty for you and the business.

Determine the nature of the employee's personality conflicts:

• Is the personality conflict with management or team member

• If with management what is the reason for example do they feel management does not appreciate their efforts

• If it is a personality conflict with a one of their salon or spa colleague what caused the conflict - is it that they feel lack of support from team members or is it that they themselves are not supporting the team

• Is there a personality conflict between the employee and customer/s - could it be that the employee is not happy to be of service in a customer focused industry

It is management's responsibility to support every team member equally and to offer the encouragement for each team member to reach targets and to offer praise incentives and rewards. Never play favourites or play one team member off against the other. When there is conflict between any member of management and an employee often the employee will react by doing the job poorly in retaliation.

Try to defuse and resolve any disputes with employee first through counselling. Often a counselling session with the employee on informal bases will promptly resolve any issues before they become part of a formal resolution process. This can be achieved by creating a workplace environment of open and honest communication between all parties. However as a manager often you have to face up to the fact that with all the support in the world there are some employees who do not willing support the salon or spas management goals and objectives. If there are no solutions the employee might wish to consider leaving the job.

The salon or spa environment is "close-and-personal" and to reflect the peace and tranquillity we would like to portray needs harmony in the work place. When team members have conflict this ill feeling can infect other employees and then onto the businesses customers. The dispute must be settled between the two workers. Interview each of them separately and ask how she thinks the argument can be resolved and if she is willing to be reconciled. If necessary suggest a cooling-off period and you might even try to arrange that shifts do not coincide. But remember in emotionally charged situations not all can be resolved as people's personalities are not likely to change.

And when all else fails after trying all available alternatives and dismissal is the only option, make sure of your rights and obligations as an employer before seeking termination. And don't forget to keep accurate employee records and document all discussions and counselling held with the employee.

© Copyright Caroline Nelson 2012


Caroline Nelson is a beauty industry specific business coach and author of the Ignite Your Beauty Business For $uccess- Salon, Staff Policies Procedures & Systems manual. To learn more about her step-by-step program for salon spa success, and to sign up for her FREE e-Book "3 Top Salon Spa Money Making Secrets", visit my homepage. Or follow me on

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