Feeling held hostage by a brilliant but difficult employee? Here’s 4 steps to nipping diva-like behaviour in the bud—without pulling out any hair!
1. Know the signs
We’ve all seen it, time and time again. A sometimes-stellar member of your team suddenly develops an attitude. Staff morale is down, and the situation is explosive.
Some tend to think the most challenging employee is the one with the big ego, the great artistic vision and the high ambitions. Not so. Peter Mahoney, president of SCI Inc., one of the most respected salon consulting companies in North America, says that less than five per cent of difficult staff fits this description. The diva may come in many shapes and forms. He or she may not even be your best stylist, or just be the new kid on the block who has gained praise from clients who like her. Whoever it is, the diva must be managed, and pronto! The damage can undermine years of good management.
Here’s how to spot a diva:
• Has a passive-aggressive attitude
• Displays top-dog syndrome
• Makes others feel insecure
• Requires multiple assistants – at all times!
2. Find out where the attitude is coming from
Experts all seem to agree that before doing something drastic you might later regret, it’s usually best to sit down with the challenging party and try to find out where the exasperating attitude is coming from.
Years of experience have taught Mahoney that, “this type of behaviour usually stems from insecurity and fear. Find out what this employee’s goals are. Is it more money or more artistic freedom she is looking for? Is this person a natural leader? If she is and feels stifled because nobody lets her be responsible, she will develop acrimonious behaviour, which will, in turn, hurt team morale and, ultimately, your business.” The key: Focus on something important for your stylist and work on helping her or him achieve that goal.
3. Plan a real discussion
A good, open conversation will help dissipate tension and can make both your business and your staff grow. Now that’s a win-win situation! “Nobody wants to lose good employees. Particularly in the salon world, where great staff is hard to find,” says Catherine Latucca, who has been managing upscale salons for more than 20 years and is the present owner of La Coupe, an iconic salon that has been in business since the ‘60s in Montreal. Take the time to go over the issues at hand, not just in the backroom over a 15-minute break, but, rather, at lunch or dinner. And definitely off salon premises. Another setting often does wonders to help ease tensions.
4. When all else fails…
But when everything fails, is termination an option? If you know you’ve done your best to open up, to reinforce positive behaviour and the situation continues to deteriorate, maybe it’s time to say goodbye, both for the benefit of the business and staff morale. It’s called tough love. And, no, it’s not easy.
Do you have any diva stories to share? How do you handle a diva?
This article originally appeared in the September 2011 issue of Salon Magazine.