Over the years, I’ve spoken to countless business owners, and the one issue that seems to haunt the majority of them is the performance of their employees.

I would go as far as to say that poor employee performance would be at the top of the list of reasons why many salon owners let go of their employees and move back to working by themselves.

This is a shame, as most of these salon owners started out with a dream of running a large successful salon, where they could eventually take things a little easier while earning a great income.

The good news is that you can do many things to alleviate the issues you may be facing with poor employee performance, and the bad news is that it’s most likely your fault that you have this problem in the first place.

So let’s take a closer look at the things you can do when hiring if you don’t want to feel like you’re constantly trying to herd a group of cats into a very small box.

The Recruitment Process

In my opinion, nearly all problems seem to start with the recruitment process.

This is when you have all the power to ensure you select the right applicant for the role.

Before you even place a job vacancy advertisement, you must be one hundred per cent sure of what the job applicant must have in terms of skills and attributes and to do this, you must first fully understand what the job requires.

Many people make the mistake of assuming because someone holds the appropriate qualifications that they’re going to be able to do the job well. This is mistake number one.

A written qualification is just a piece of paper that says you passed some exams reasonably well. It doesn’t tell you, as an employer, whether or not your applicant has the skill level or the personal attributes you require

What you can do #1

Make a written list of the professional skills required to perform the role to your required standard.

What must the applicant be able to do with proficiency to satisfy you and your salon clients?

What additional skills would you like her to have that would minimise your training time, or perhaps allow you to add something extra to what you offer in your salon?

And let’s not forget about her personal skills either. How much does confidence, along with attitude to work, workmates and clients, matter?

Remember you can teach some skills, but the attitude is pretty much a done deal, and very hard to change. All of these things should be outlined in your job advertisement so the applicants are clear about what you need.

Once you’ve selected the people who you think might be right for the position, it’s time to start the interview process. This should never be sidestepped or rushed because of lack of time. Hiring in haste will most definitely result in long-term pain, so be prepared to go the whole way. You want to make sure your new employee is going to fully meet your needs and be a great fit with your team, so no shortcuts here.

What you can do #2

First, undertake a ten-minute phone interview with each applicant. This allows you to ask important questions that will either allow the applicant through to a face-to-face interview or eliminate them immediately.

Those who make it through can then be invited to complete your detailed employment application. A resume will never suffice in place of this as they can truly be a creative work of fiction if done well.

Once the application is complete and submitted to you by suitable applicants, you can then further eliminate those who do not meet your ‘must-have’ requirements.

The next step is the interview itself. Many salon owners fall apart at this point. They’re not sure what to ask, or how much they should talk.

What you can do #3

During the interview, you need to let your applicants do eighty per cent of the talking. They already know what the job entails from the job description you’ve provided, so now it’s your turn to learn as much as possible about them.

Their job application has given you all the basic details, so instead of focusing on that, ask questions about how they would, or have in the past, handle certain situations that occur within your salon. “Tell me what you’ve done in the past when a client has said she’s not happy with your work?” or “Explain how you’d handle a request for an emergency treatment when your appointment column is full”. Questions like these will help to show the applicant’s attitude to her work, and that’s vital to know.

Base your interview around these types of questions. Think about issues you’ve faced in the past with poor employee performance, and then use this knowledge to create meaningful questions to ask.

Once the interviews are complete, it’s time to make a final selection, but before you can do that you still need a bit more information.

What you can do #4

Always take the time to check with applicant’s past employers to hear their thoughts also. If you encounter a past employer who is unwilling to answer your questions, try asking them if they would consider re-employing your applicant for their salon. This will give you a good insight into their thoughts.

Once you’ve satisfied yourself that your applicants have met all the job requirements on paper, it’s time for the skills test.

It’s amazing how many people get to this point and fall apart which is why it must be done.

You must decide at this point if your applicant is trainable to bring them up to your standard, or if there’d be just too much involved to do so.

Remember, this is the person who will either keep or lose your clients, so don’t accept second best. You must ask yourself if you’d allow this person to work on your best clients?

Now that you’ve found a suitable employee, don’t make the mistake of letting them loose on your clients without some specialised training.

If you’re running your salon well, you should have certain guidelines and protocols in place that your new employee will have to master. The time you take to provide this training is a good investment in the future performance and retention of your new team member.

What you can do #5

Create and use a salon induction form that outlines what the new employee needs to learn about how you run your salon.

Include things such as customer service protocols, the general functioning of the salon and anything else that is special and unique that she needs to know, so she can slot into her role as quickly and efficiently as possible.

You’ll also need time to train your new employee in your salon treatment protocols to ensure she delivers exactly what all other members of your team deliver to their clients.

No matter how experienced she may be, chances are you have your own unique way of delivering treatments to your clients and she’ll need to master these new protocols.

Getting things right during the recruitment and training stage when employing a new team member is a good investment of your time and money.

A new employee who is simply chosen because they were the only person who applied for the job, is often unlikely to meet your needs in the long-term, and then you are left to start the whole process over once again. This can be a costly and painful mistake.

Remember, if you hire in haste you will most likely repent at leisure.