How to Ensure Salon/Spa Policies Are Followed

April 30, 2012 | By Neil Ducoff | 6 Comments

Companies evolve over time and so do their policies and procedures. New policies are written to prevent certain issues from reoccurring, to fend off potential problems before they happen, and to maintain a semblance of organizational order and efficiency. For the sake of this discussion, I’ll just call them the laws of the land. There are laws for performance, attendance, compensated and uncompensated time off, customer service, execution of work, chain of command, performance reviews – you name it, there’s a way to create a law to control it.

But as your book of laws gets thicker, keeping watch over and holding everyone accountable to your laws grows in complexity. That’s why companies need managers and HR departments. Without a control mechanism, even the most commonsense laws will fade, allowing problems to spring up like weeds in an unattended garden. To succeed, laws need an accountability factor. It doesn’t matter what size a company is, someone must be accountable to protecting the laws of your company land. Even if it’s a simple reminder to someone that keeps ignoring a basic law like what time work begins, accountability must be ever present.

Fact: Employees are testing your company’s laws every day; not to the order of an organized mutiny, simply people being people. Just as you have amazing employees who adhere to every law in your book, you have employees who keep testing every rule to find a weakness – to find a chance to mold the company to their personal likes and preferences.

Here are six no-compromise strategies to keep your laws in play.

  1. Pay attention: I’ve seen leaders write policies and procedure manuals that truly have every “I” dotted and “T” crossed. They hand them out, have employees sign off indicating that they have read and understood every word – only to find the problems persist. Rules are nothing without accountability, and accountability is a pipedream if no one is paying attention. I’m not suggesting that you create your own police force. I’m suggesting that you and your leadership team need to be paying attention in order to help employees function within rule guidelines – and to identify and coach through infractions when they occur. Otherwise, breaking the rules will become the norm.
  2. Bending breaks rules: Any form of preferential treatment instantly creates a double standard. I don’t have a problem with special privileges being earned through clearly defined qualifiers, but allowing indiscriminate rule breaking or bending is a guaranteed way to contaminate your company’s culture. What does it say about your leadership if the “winners” in your company don’t do all that much to win? If you want to build and maintain a dynamic culture where everyone strives to do what’s best for the company, then you and everyone else must adhere to and live by the same rules.
  3. Tell them why: Every rule should serve a purpose. But without understanding, some employees can interpret rules as an infringement on their freedom or quest for life balance. For example: A company may have to implement blackout dates for vacations and time off in order to meet peak business demands or to avoid cash-flow challenges. Invest the time and energy to educate your employees on why certain rules, especially unpopular ones, were created.
  4. Define the line: In the world of no-compromise leadership, there is a term called “non-negotiable.” While some rules allow a little wiggle room, some rules cannot allow any. I’m talking about rules that are the foundation of what every company is built on that pertain directly to integrity, trust and respect for leadership, employees, customers, vendors and stockholders. Certain infractions may have immediate termination as the only option. Others may require probation, reassignment, demotion or specified skill training. Whatever it is, leadership must define where the line is drawn on foundational rules, because even just a little wiggle in this area is a compromise of the highest order.
  5. Let them fix it: One of my coaching clients just had an issue arise over multiple requests for vacation time that would leave too few service providers to meet demand, not to mention potential cash-flow issues. Although there were rules in place, it was unclear how many employees could take vacation at one time. These are “no win” situations for owners and leaders because some employees already had made travel commitments and others just wanted specific dates off. My recommendation was to hold an emergency staff meeting to clarify vacation policies and what can and cannot occur for the company to continue to function operationally and financially. Once all employees understood the conditions, they were instructed to work together to find a solution to fitting their vacation requests to those conditions. This approach required every employee to work together to achieve an acceptable outcome. More importantly, this approach shifted the solution to those directly involved.
  6. Share it: Leaders can’t do it all, and those who try will burn out fast. Accountability to protecting the integrity of the company by protecting its laws is everyone’s responsibility. I mean everyone, no matter what the role or position. Playing the “catch them doing something wrong” game means not paying attention to where the company is going. Every employee needs to be the eyes and ears for what’s going right or wrong – and must know they can speak up without retribution or fear. No one likes a “snitch,” but everyone likes to get his or her paycheck. There’s a difference between a snitch and someone who believes in and protects the company.

Categories: Monday Morning Wake-Up , No-Compromise Leadership , Productivity , Teamwork

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  1. After my last mastery class my leadership team and I began putting into place the new “Career Map” that was introduced to me at that time. This is similar to the format of the former “broadbands””, with the exception of there are point allowances for each category within a skill set on the spreadsheet. As it is currently designed, we allow 40% of the points to be applied to their individual numbers. The remaining 60% is assigned to various other segments, such as “Building Trust”, “Teamwork”, etc. The essence of this new format is it rewards heavily the behaviors, which ultimately rewards both the employee as well as the company. “What gets rewarded gets repeated.!”

    This has proven to be the best/worst thing we have ever done to support TBP. The best comes from where it places the focus. The worst comes from misunderstanding, distrust, unaccountably and a myriad of other things that were actually “rules” that were being broken every second of every day. To them it felt as though the hammer had fallen and it had fallen hard! The reality is, these are the things we have always embraced, coached toward and held valuable. Until it came right down to their ‘individual’ pay, it really did not resonate.

    So, yes, for over ten years, now, rules have been broken, crimes committed and virtually the punishment, (if that is the right word) has never been stiff enough. So we turned that around to become a reward and their whole world turned upside down.

    Now, through lots of training, coaching, group discussions and everything else we can think of our culture is truly beginning to change.

    Regarding a human resources department, for the time being, I guess I am it! Until we are much larger we cannot afford to pay one individual just to head up that department, but it is truly a critical department and I would love to figure out how to pass this pressing challenge on to the next generation.

    Thanks for a great article today as it was just like salve on a burn for me.

  2. Pat, what a wonderfully enlightening post you wrote. You got it.
    BTW: At Strategies, “Broadbands” are still called “Broadbands.” You can call them “career maps,” if that works for you. 🙂

  3. Great article Neil.
    Pat’s input was genuinely thought provoking.Pat I like the rewards ideas.
    As Neil said, the rulebook becomes much thicker over time and as I found in my case, more of a burden than an enforcer of the rules. I had a formal spiral bound book of my house rules,which was becoming too much.This was, like Pat said, all initialed and nodding heads in agreement. So why was it being ignored?. Daily infractions and bending the rules to suit their own agendas made me decide to go back to my original format of a salon rule book, written many years ago for the City&Guilds (UK) class in college. Anything that makes us look at the progression of the business is a helpful indicator of where we have come from and where we are going.
    All the things Neil mentioned are covered, especially the vacation rules. It is first come first served, that is, the person who fills in the vacation request form first gets the weeks they choose. No exceptions. I agree there are certain rules that are more flexible but not in the case of productivity during busy times.
    I also know this, communication and a reminder now and then in a staff meeting of why the rules exist is essential. People need reminding of boundaries.
    I would recommend a rethink of policies and a meeting focused on why we have the rules.
    So I guess my reply goes with the old adage, ‘keep it simple’ worked for me and my team.

  4. Great Monday Morning blog. Pplicies and rules are a never-ending topic. The most significant, yet difficult part, is that, “Rules are othing withyout accountability.” And accountability requires the one-on-one courage to gently get in someone’s face and insist that compromise stop. We are doing Broadband reviews again this week. The balance of courage and compassion!

  5. Neil,
    I read your Monday morning wake up every week. This one I find thought provoking due to the fact that I have struggled for 5 years now with enforcing the rules. I have managed commission salons with no issues up North for 10 years before coming to NC, a state that allows booth rental. I find that if employees don’t like the rules, they just find a booth rental salon where they can make their own rules whether they compromise their income or not. It’s an interesting phenomenon here, one that I would love to dig into deeper. I struggle as an owner here getting the professionalism I know our industry deserves. I am with Pat as it seems when rules are enforced, the employees really feel the negative effects of “the rules” rather than the positives that provide them the opportunity for bettering themselves and the salon as a.whole.

    1. Hi Abi,
      Rules are the “laws of your business.” They support and protect what your company stands for. They protect the vision of your company. They protect the promise your company makes to the customer. If the connection between your employees and your company’s vision is weak, rules can be regarded as infringements on personal freedom and expression. When it’s about the “rules” and not the vision the rules protect, it’s easy for employees to justify jumping ship … even for something that’s less of an opportunity. If working alone as a booth renter is more enticing than working with a team to build something truly extraordinary, then it’s time to do some major reconnecting with your vision and business culture. Take your vision and put it front and center. Polish it up until it glows. Rediscover the magic that gives a company life.

      Rules make a whole lot more sense when connected to a vision that’s worthy of hard work — that captures the imagination of team to achieve the extraordinary.

      It’s about the vision — not the rules

      Hope this helps.

      – Neil


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