Salon Pros on Fostering Empathy in the Workplace

Robert Cromeans Hair

Empathy is an important tool for effective leadership and crucial to the success of any business. Here, seasoned pros share how they foster understanding in the workplace.

A salon is only as good as the employees that are working under its roof, and if there is discontent in the workplace, business is negatively impacted. To encourage positive relationships and a happy environment, one must practice empathy. “Owners must always find new ways to add value,” says Robert Cromeans, John Paul Mitchell Systems global artistic and business director. “As an owner you ask yourself the tough question of, ‘Why would I work here?’” Adds Gino Trunzo, assistant vice president, business development Redken and Pureology, “Upholding great relationships with your employees takes effort, persistence and empathy, and above all, great communication. Employer/employee happiness is all about empowerment: appreciation, involvement and mutual respect.” Below, tips for fostering empathy that will help you reach new levels of success in the salon.

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1) Be a Role Model: The best way to motivate your employees to act a certain way is to set an example for them. “Model the behavior you expect from your staff,” Trunzo says. “Your manner will dictate their mindset. The way you present yourself will reflect in their behavior. Show up to work looking sharp, keep smiling and stay positive. Don’t sweat the small stuff and view the ‘big stuff’ as opportunities—not obstacles.”

Wayne Grund Hair

2) Hold Team Meetings: “The new world is transparent, and our businesses should be too,” Cromeans points out. “We need to keep the team aligned with the vision of business every day, which is why daily pow-wows are so important. Here we can talk about shared purpose, including celebrations and victories, inventory needs, as well as upcoming education to keep everyone on the same track.” Trunzo agrees, “Elevate and involve your employees, and ask for their input. At your next staff meeting, lay out your salon’s budget, goals and objectives, and with their inclusion, this makes the salon’s goals their goals and the salon’s success their success.”

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3) Understand Others' Needs: “The owner must accept responsibility as a leader and exhibit true caring for the quality of life of the stylists,” says Wayne Grund, founder and president of Surface Hair. Good questions to consider: What are the stylists’ personal goals in one year and in three years? Then relate that to the number of guests, services and retail that need to be sold in order to achieve those goals. “Ask what is important to the stylists in their daily lives,” Grund adds. “In turn, the owner must openly state what expectations they have for the quality of life in their salon environment and overall performance of employees.”

Gino Trunzo Hair

4) Encourage Team Bonding: Create traditions. According to Trunzo, the most successful salons encourage their employees to bond through social events outside of the workplace. “Periodically arranging an informal dinner is a great way to strengthen relationships,” he says. “Interaction and involvement outside the salon promotes better communication and boosts morale.”

5) Celebrate: “Employees who feel appreciated and receive regular acknowledgment for their hard work remain loyal,” explains Trunzo. “That appreciation goes so much further than some salon owners realize. When employees do a great job, tell them that. If they show initiative, express gratitude. And during monthly meetings, deliver praise before constructive appraisal.”


[Images: Courtesy of individuals]

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