Leadership when your team pushes the boundaries

I speak with salon managers and owners all of the time who share stories with me like

  • “I have one stylist who always comes in late no matter what I do…”

  • “I have a stylist who doesn’t seem to care about the feelings of anyone else on the team…”

  • “I have a stylist who is always out of dress code.”

These statements are ALWAYS followed up with: “But he/she is a really busy hairstylist”.  I always hurt a little for the leader sharing these stories with me because I know it’s a terrible feeling. The feeling where it seems like your hands are tied and you are at a complete loss with what to do. You feel frustrated, stuck, and unsure of the right move.

When leaders feel any of these feelings they are doing a disservice to themselves and to their teams. We’re certainly not at our best when that is our reality.

As a salon owner myself, I recognize the financial risk involved in losing a high performer. It is scary. Really, really, really scary! The numbers fly through our head… can we afford to lose $$$ a month, what about cash flow, how long will it take to rebuild that lost revenue?

There is something much scarier though. Losing MORE than one high performer because you let yourself be held hostage by someone trying to exist outside of your business boundaries. When you see them pushing boundaries so does every other team member you have. And day by day the other team members start to feel frustrated, annoyed, and underappreciated. They start to wonder why that other person gets away with those things and quickly it feels like favoritism or just owner ignorance.

Growing a profitable high performing business means you must have your teams respect because your team respecting you means they respect your business and the way you run it.

So what is the solution to regaining emotional control of the business and removing the ties that feel like they bind our hands? You have to set your boundaries.

The best place to begin with boundaries are your business values. What is important to you? What do you want the business culture to embody? By choosing 2-4 key values you immediately set spoken boundaries. They become the basis of the conversation you have to have with the team member who is trying to play by their own rules. Your conversation feels less like, “You have to stop being late…” and more like, “It is so important to us at (salon) to grow and when you show-up late you’re trampling on that value….”

The values become your standard for what everyone has to uphold. They let you take the emotion out of it. The best case scenario is that these values were used when you hired your team so that they are attracted to your business because of what you mutually value. No worries if you’re starting today though. Today is better than never. Sit down, collaborate, and brainstorm what you care most about your business feeling like. Then, think through what values have to be in place to create those feelings. You can involve your team in designing the business values if you really want to gain their buy in. I always suggest you host an interactive team meeting to share the values and what they mean to each person. Once this is done it will feel like a weight off of your shoulders because you’ve now set the expectations for the business and you can feel safe using them to guide the tough conversations.

Having a hard conversation based on emotion doesn’t get us anywhere. Not having a hard conversation can cost us more than one employee. Having a hard conversation based on a standard set of values gives us credibility and strength. If your team is pushing boundaries, ask yourself if you’ve properly set and upheld them.

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