Arm yourself with octopus moves to see your salon team grow, writes Lisa Conway.
Salon owners need a remarkable suite of business smarts to lead a fabulous team. Most days, you wish you had more heads and more time. Maybe more arms would do the trick? That’s where octopus moves are your secret weapon.
At one stage I had three babies all in nappies – my twin boys arrived when my daughter was 17 months old. Whenever I changed a nappy on the change table, one or both boys would take off. During the few minutes I was occupied, the little monkeys would climb on things and get into all sorts of ‘fast danger’. When I gave away my fancy change table and started to change nappies on the floor, ‘fast danger’ dried up like magic. Why? Because I could leap up and reach out to stop them in their tracks – my ‘octopus’ move. To keep the upper hand, you’ll need to develop a
similar move to lead your salon team.
No matter who you’re training – kids, puppies or salon staff – you have to read the play and see the next move before it happens. You need to anticipate what’s next and what’s going to get in your way, and be ready to reach out and halt any ‘fast danger’ – the stuff that sneaks up on you while you’re occupied on other things.
Your salon owner octopus moves are invaluable. Keep your ears attuned, your eyes peeled and, if need be, your hands in everyone’s business, but from the distance your long arms allow. You need to be across everything that’s going on in your salon so you can identify the moment when things get tricky for a team member. When someone support and save them from that drowning feeling. Your octopus arms reach in with the exact thing they’re wishing for: a bigger
brush, a styling product, an idea for a hairup dilemma or simply a positive snippet of conversation to keep communication rolling.
You need to adapt your training (and your thinking) to what is happening today,right now. Here’s an example. Today, your team can’t find models for training. Instead of letting that slip through to the too-hard basket where it’ll fester, grab your computer appointment book (with one of your octopus arms) and block out 15 minutes for them to make 5 to 10 phone calls offering a free service to loyal clients. Show them how to gather the who-to-call list and use the 15-minute slot to get results. Load the bases to win, set them up to succeed. Show them it’s going to get done and that you’re happy to show them how. Here’s the kicker:this hand-holding is only short-term. Longterm
hand-holding is not an option for you or your team. You get exhausted (especially if you’re hand-holding with all eight arms!) and your team learns zip. Teaching them is your goal, not doing it for them.
Here’s the difference: the octopus is the support person, not the undermining role. Be the octopus, not the meerkat with its neck constantly craned upwards, nose poking into everyone’s business for all the wrong reasons. Salon owners develop meerkat behaviour because they don’t trust their team to get on with their job, to learn, to show initiative. The meerkat undermines team members, suffocating their confidence and sense of initiative. If your team member can’t do a job as well as you, then train them until they can. That’s your job.
In my salon, we had a trainee men’s hair cut priced at $22. The full price was $58. Price-sensitive clients would come in for the cheaper option advertised in our salon window.
The apprentice would get about the business of cutting and do 80 per cent of the work really well. The salon manager would come and check the work, but instead of just tweaking it a bit, he’d inevitably point out all the faults in front of the client and completely redo the entire cut. What a win for the client! He got two haircuts for a bargain price. But not much of a win for my apprentice. How deflating. And all because the salon manager chose to act like a meerkat rather than an octopus.
A manager with their octopus moves down pat would have kept an eye on the apprentice during the haircut, quietly pointed out anything to improve along the way and checked in at the end (but while the client was still there) with positive praise of things done well. The haircut might not be perfect, but it would be fine. Any problems would be
things only a seasoned cutter would spot and could be discussed with in private. With this approach, my apprentice always came away feeling a foot taller and having learnt new skills. Rather than being fearful of failing at the next opportunity, they were motivated to keep learning and improving.
Focus on seeing yourself as a really cool, smooth octopus, ready to lend a hand to your team members when they need it. Show them that you want them to learn and skill-up. You’re not interested in belittling them in front of clients or other team members. Why would you bother with that toxic approach?
You’ve got eight arms and a bucket-load of know-how to share around your team. Your goal is to grow each of your team into a fabulous operator so they can love what they do as much as you do. Then, once your team can deliver outstanding salon experiences for your clients, you’ll reap the rewards of taking your salon from good to great.