Let’s Break the Mean Girls Mentality
I’ve never worked in a salon that has done this. And, when I owned a salon, I admit, that I didn’t: What I propose is that, for one week each year, each Stylist or Master Colorist has to become an assistant again. And if you are running a spa where the assistants clean the towels and robes for the massage therapists and facialists, I say those technicians have to become a week-long assistant too.
I love the salon where I work now. But the problem that I have with “my” salon and every salon that I’ve come across, whether I worked there, spoke at, or consulted with over Skype with, is that they have a hierarchy problem.
Oh I get it. As technicians we want to become the “Head of the Spa Department,” or a “Master Stylist.” The earned title gives us the advantage of charging more to our clients than the levels of workers “under us.” And titles give the outward appearance to that we are greatly valued in our salon, possibly more than the other people who work there.
But are we “Mean Girls?”
Here is where I take issue with the system which got me thinking that stylists and facialists have to become an assistant for a week. I take issue that we in the industry who worked hard to become the platform artist, educator or “Head Colorists” have become Divos and Divas. In some cases, a bunch of asses, if you will. I see it in the salon where I work, on Twitter, and certainly every time I’m near platform artists. I am saying that some of you are all a bunch of “Mean Girls.”
How mean am I to point out that we work our assistants to the bone or treat them like they are not actually the back-bone of our salon? Am I the ass for pointing out how so many platform artists bark orders and won’t even talk to assistants unless in a condescending manner? I have been the Divo. I have owned a salon and I had my artist tantrums where my assistants had to “sweep up” after me. It’s no wonder that assistants have a “Let Them Eat Cake” attitude when they become us. We were their role models.
We have an Apprenticeship program in our salon. And, like so many Apprenticeship programs, in any industry, they are designed to use these new people entering our industry. We stand on their backs while they run around shampooing our clients, ripping and holding our foils while we highlight, cut, and style. Assistants clean up after us and the entire salon. And they have to pick up after our clients while we eat our lunches. How do they ever find time and energy to attend classes?! Oh, and they are paid a penance to do all this work for us and they depend on client’s tips to live on. (Tip well, beyoches!)
Maybe I can’t change the system. But I can point out that our Divo and “Mean Girl” attitude and our silent take-for-granted actions might change when we, once again, put ourselves in the assistant’s shoes. Might we give them a small percentage of our tips per week to say, “You worked so hard and I really appreciate how you made it easier for me to enjoy making my money.” (Think: restaurants.) Might we wash a few of the color bowls in the sink when we get a cancelation? Might we offer to help them fold towels instead of wasting time on Facebook?
And, it’s just a thought, but I wonder what one of your assistants might say if you asked them, “How could we as a salon or stylist better help you do your job?”
Putting a value on status will create contentiousness.
If you overvalue possessions, people begin to steal.
By not displaying what is desirable, you will cause the people’s hearts to remain undisturbed.
The sage governs by emptying minds and hearts, by weakening ambitions and strengthening bones.
Practice not doing….
When action is pure and selfless, everything settles into its own perfect place.
Today I invite you as an owner, stylist or facialists to ask your assistants: “How could we as a salon or stylist better help you do your job?” Better yet, ask them in an official anonymous poll. They’ll be more apt to be truthful and they would have plenty of time to think about their answers. I bet they come up with at least 5 ideas that would make the whole salon run better. Please don’t ever forget that part of their job is becoming the best stylists in your salon as well. Your job, as the salon or barber shop owner, is to actually take into account what they say and put something into action. Agh! There’s the real challenge!
I am also an advocate that salons/spas/barber shops have weekly meetings, you know, like professional industries. Weekly meetings can create a solid cohesive environment because information is exchanged such as product knowledge and the latest styling tips gleaned from anyone who recently went to a show. Meetings offer open “client satisfaction” discussions and are when “Master Stylists,” such as myself, can share our years of experience in an informal/formal exchange; and assistants can remind us that they are people with much to offer as well. Meetings air out differences and brings everyone in a business to the same page: It’s called company culture and it’s time we emulated bigger successful companies. “Five Must-Follow Rules for a Successful Office Culture”