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Giving Feedback to Stylists

FEEDBACK - by SDC
Create quantitative measurements for everything on everyone, then inform everyone on everything. What gets measured gets done. Measure what is important.
As the previous chapter indicated, training is the catalyst for change and change is necessary to create the desired cultural shift. But it is feedback that keeps the change in behavior going. Getting change going isn’t nearly as difficult as keeping the changes in behavior going.
Many managers work hard to institute a training program that causes a shift or change in the behavior of the group - say an increase in sales. But, due to lack of feedback programs, the performance slowly moves back into a former, non-productive mode and therefore management believes that it was the training that didn’t work - when in fact it was the lack of feedback that caused the performance to break down.
The role of feedback in the salon situation is obviously an important one, yet one that is often neglected. Feedback gives stylists answers to the question, “How am I doing?” The desire to do well is inherent in most people and with encouragement, everyone in your current salon situation can accomplish almost any task expected of them. If that sounds good to you - read on!
Feedback Objectives
The objectives of this chapter are to develop performance feedback systems for your salon, to evaluate performance feedback and to communicate the feedback to the stylists. Before going further, it may be a good idea to define feedback. Feedback is the information given to someone that tells them how well they are doing with what is expected of them. If that is the case, the first objective (developing performance systems) is vital. Without performance systems, the stylists won’t know what it is that is expected of them. Therefore, the first step is to inform the staff of what it is that is expected of them in all areas of their work. Sales goals, performance goals, customer service goals and others must be developed for each stylist in the salon and monitored consistently. (See Chapter Five - Goals, Visions and Targets)
The ABC’s of Feedback
Let’s look at a feedback model that may make the idea of feedback more easily understood.
The activator is the stimulus that motivates the stylist to perform. A typical activator might be a goal that must be met. Other types of activators are contests or sales meetings
- training can become a most effective activator. It is indeed anything that causes a stylist to want to perform in an expected manner.
The behavior equals those activities that result in productivity. These activities include the actual work of cutting, perming, coloring and styling hair as well as servicing customers properly, selling retail products that support the service and doing whatever it takes to move toward the designated goal.
Behavior can also result in non-performance. In thiscase, the activities being done do not result in productivity or high performance. They are anti-productive activities that actually get in the way of high performance.
Consequences or feedback are the results which maintain, support, reinforce or change the performance. Linking a consequence to the behavior
(either positive or negative) will encourage the desired performance to continue. High performance behaviors should be met with positive feedback such as rewards and support. Low performance behaviors are best dealt with through what can be considered negative feedback - which can come in the form of support,
discipline or reprimand. This does not mean punishment.
Let’s take a moment to look at some examples of this feedback model. Consider this - the activator is a contest, involving training, to encourage the staff to increase the salon’s retail sales figure by.30%-from 10% to 13% in the next six weeks of the contest. Stylists X & Y have been through the same training - their behavior should have changed due to the training. Each have been given the goal of increasing their retail sales by 30%. StylistX-anewstylist-is eager to get to work and prove she can accomplish the goal that has been set. Stylist Y - a long term stylist - has been through numerous contests and promotions and is feeling more than a little put out by always having to endure these contests. From her perspective, the contests are just short term fixes because after the contest is over, everyone goes back to what they were doing before the contest.
Stylist X works hard and, midway through the contest, has made increases of more than 30%. The salon manager offers support -theconsequence or feedback
- and a reward of a monetary bonus for each percentage point over goal that is reached. Although the support and verbal praise is the primary reinforcement, the monetary goal may be further encouragement for continuing the desired behavior.
Stylist Y has not really taken the contest seriously. •She has not increased retail sales at all over the last three weeks and is not concerned about her lack of performance. The manager, however, is quite concerned and has a meeting with her. The manager offers support and makes suggestions as to how the stylist can improve her performance. The manager also tells the stylist that he wants to meet with her every day for one hour for the remainder of the contest to do training on retail sales since there is obviously a need for training. The manager suggests that he is disappointed in Stylist Y’s performance thus far and expects more in the future.
As you can see in Stylist X’s case - the manager used positive consequences of reward and support to encourage the stylist to continue the high performance of the first half of the contest. This type of feedback should cause the desired performance to continue. Stylist Y’s situation called for different action on the managers part. Because she was not showing signs of the desired performance - the consequences needed to be negative. By requesting weekly training meetings, the manager let the stylist know he was there to support her but was not satisfied with her performance. In order to avoid the weekly meetings, the stylist must change her performance and reach the desired goal. Notice that the manager did not punish the stylist by taking away privileges or making her do extra work - he simply made the consequence one she probably would want to avoid.
Notice how feedback is not used in the same way for every situation. Let’s look at some of the characteristics of feedback that make it soimportant in gaining the desired result.
Importance of Feedback
When stylists don’t receive feedback, they invent their own.
They can’t help but do that since they have no other information coming in from any other source. Unfortunately, the feedback they do give themselves is usually inaccurate. Either stylists think they are doing better than they actually are or think they are doing worse. No matter what the case, the inaccurate view of the situation causes stylists to act inappropriately. They will either continue as they have been when improvement is called for or they are hard on themselves for doing poorly when they are actually doing well., We have found that the
lower the performer, the more inaccurate the self-appraisal.
Progress is difficult without feedback. Because stylists are unable to objectively view their performance, they are less likely to be able to do better when they don’t receive behavior changing feedback. Without feedback, stylists are unable to adjust their behavior if they are off-target.
First of all, without feedback, they may not realize they are off target. Even if they do realize they are off target, they may not know how to make the changes necessary to get back on target. This leads us to another important factor of feedback. When no feedback is given, it decreases awareness. In other words, when stylists aren’t given feedback, they are less aware of not only how they are doing, but also how they should be doing. Stylists who are notgiven the encouragement to reach goals, may not even be aware of what those goals are
- which make the goals nearly impossible to achieve.
Tools for Feedback
(Feedback - Create measurements for everything on everyone, then inform everyone on everything. What gets measured gets done. Measure what is important) the next step is to build performance feedback systems that would allow the manager to graphically measure each persons performance in all areas of salon function that deal with productivity. These areas include total sales, total retail sales, total service sales, total customers, total request customers and total new customers. Graphs that show weekly salon sales in these areas should be posted for viewing by all staff. Individual charts that the staff monitors themselves should also be designed and posted. Individualized charts allow people to measure their individual contribution against the performance of the group as a whole. It is also often
easier to set goals and see progress in graph form rather than just by percentage increases.
By having self-monitoring charts, the individual stylists are forced to see their increases and decreases and the chart itself becomes a form of feedback. The key is that the charts be kept up to date with current information and used as a tool for monitoring what behavior works, resulting in productivity - and what behavior doesn’t work, resulting in stagnation or even backsliding.
Ranking
It may be useful to display a weekly ranking list which rates performances by the staff in productivity corresponding to the chart topics listed above. The ranking list should show the top performers for the week.The manager may elect to list only the top five rather than the whole staff. These ranking lists should be made available for all staff members and placed in a location so that all staff can view them on a weekly basis. Management must be responsible for figuring and posting the ranking and then working individually with the stylists on their ranking placement.
A staff newsletter may be another way to provide feedback to the staff. This does not have to be elaborate or professionally done. It should contain a ranking list as well as goals, progress reports and suggestions for future success through productivity training.
Daily Feed Back
The “scoreboards” (running totals of weekly service or sales figures) or growth charts should be used daily even if they are discussed in short “mini-sessions”. These mini- sessions can be of 5 - 15 minutes in length and entail a short discussion of what the information on the growth chart means. Is the stylist
increasing at an acceptable rate? What do they have to accomplish in the next two days of the week to reach their weekly goal? Are they contributing to the welfare of the group or are they part of the problem? Do the goals need to be set higher or is training called for because the minimum standards aren’t being met? What is the next step for the individual stylist and the manager? How can they work together to reach goals set for the salon?
Management must view it’s role as that of teacher, trainer or counselor - doing whatever it takes to encourage performance from the stylist. Managers should be trying to shape the stylist’s behavior through working with them. Stylists must actively strive to reach performance goals set by the teacher and themselves and work toward the end result of reaching personal goals as well making a contribution to the goals of the salon.
A typical problem in many salons is the lack of follow-up or feedback from management. In most cases, management is good at setting goals and getting the ball rolling - as we saw above -they are good at activating the process. But often management falls short in the consequence or reinforcement of the behavior. That is why so often training is ineffective. Even though they have learned a new behavior, stylists are not encouraged to continue it because management is not giving them accurate, timely feedback.
Shop meetings are the ideal place to give feedback to the staff. Group goals and graphs should be discussed and new goals should be set. This is a good time to set short term goals for the rest of the week according to the scorecard in the back room. For example, Jon is about one third of the way to his retail sales goal for the week but the week is already half over. The manager encourages Jon to work hard and hit that goal by the end of the week. In fact, the manager wants to meet with Jon on Saturday to see ow well he did in hitting that goal. Can you see how effective this can be?
No one should be excluded from comment in a shop meeting. All can benefit from discussion, reminders and on- the-spot training.
Feedback here encourages the top performers to continue so that they keep getting positive feedback and low performers are encouraged to move up so that they move into a more positive position in the salon culture. Peer pressure can play an important role here.
Customer information should also be discussed in shop meetings and posted in the back room. Letters from customers, both positive and negative should be posted and discussed so that the entire staff can take notice. If the customer has been satisfied - the stylist who cared for the customer can receive positive feedback from both peers and management and can discuss what s/he did to satisfy the customer - a mini training session results. If the customer feedback is negative- training can also result so that the mistakes made will not be repeated.
Reviews
Traditionally salon managers give performance reviews once or twice per year. In terms of on-going feedback - these sessions are highly ineffective. The time span between them is much too long for any improvement to be made. Instead,management should consider scheduling several short, simple coaching sessions/discussions throughout the year - this may even be in addition to the more formal review(s). We recommend that management schedule at least one session per month for all but the newest stylists. The newest employees should be met with weekly for best performance results.
These short coaching sessions are only effective when the manager has constructive information to offer. This information is most easily gathered from three sources - through productivity reports, Customer Satisfaction Measures and, most importantly, MBWA or general observation. Without this actual experience - all management would have to discuss is the black and white figures, graphs and charts - important indeed but the manager has no way of knowing what specific activities the stylists are doing that result in the figures on the graphs and charts. Management must be able to comment on the stylists performance that leads to the end result figures - without that
management can only speculate as to why the figures are what they are. By seeing the stylists in action management is able to give effective training and accurate feedback in these sessions.
How and How Not to Give Feedback
Let’s look at a model depicting the proper and improper ways of giving feedback.
Personal Performance, effective communication, describe what you see & feel about what they are doing- this is the POSITIVE Feedback
Ineffective Communication , say the word YOU DID THIS or THAT to the stylist, Judging Labeling the stylists- this is NEGAVTIVE Feed back
This model uses two spectrums in the form of a cross. The horizontal continuum ranges from positive to negative feedback. The vertical continuum ranges from feedback given about the performance to feedback given about the person.
No matter what type of feedback is being given (either positive or negative) it is most appropriate to give feedback about the performance rather than the person.

 By describing the activity the person is doing - management gives useful information without causing the stylist to feel defensive. When you talk about the person doing the activity - you move from describing to judging.
At times it is difficult to communicate negative information with the staff members. The key to giving the information - either positive or negative - is to give it appropriately so that the positive performance will continue or a negative performance will change without causing the stylist to become defensive or angry.
Take a situation in which a stylist (Matt) is seen treating a fellow employee in an inappropriate manner - he confronted the receptionist about an appointment in front of a client. In scenario A - the manager confronts Matt by calling him into her office and saying, “Sit down, I want to talk to you about your problem.” Suddenly, instead of having just one problem to deal with, because of the manner in. which the subject was broached, there are two problems. The second comes
about because the manager must convince Matt that he has a problem at all. A more successful result is likely to occur in scenario B. The manager addressed the stylist like this, “Matt, I am having a problem and I’m hoping you can help me with it.” In this way, blame is not established and the stylist is less likely to become defensive, It can be more powerful if management owns the problem.
Further, it is typical for scenario A to continue with, “And do you want to know what your problem is? Your problem is that you have a bad attitude.”
Of course the stylist responds with “I don’t have a bad attitude” which complicates matters further and adds one more problem.
Then, the manager really blows her cool and says, “You know what else, you have a rotten disposition.”
Getting angry, the stylist Matt responds with, “Well, the reason I have a bad disposition is because you’re so cheap. In fact, you’re the cheapest person I’ve ever worked for.”The manager retaliates with, “You think I’m cheap because you are lazy.”
And the situation deteriorates with each person throwing verbal barbs across the room.
Finally, a simple problem solving session has turned into a battle of wits and a power struggle. In the end, the manager may just blow up and give the stylist the unfortunate choice of quitting or quietly swallowing his words and meekly going back to work. Chances are good the stylist will back down but move onto new tactics - what we call guerilla warfare. You know, suddenly
product is walking out the door, the front door is left unlocked at night, the water is left running in one of the sinks, the cash register is continually coming up short, the air conditioner or heat are left on full blast all weekend long. These types of things will eventually run up huge costs - and there is no evidence of foul play. And all the while, the angry stylist just laughs and thinks of more ways to get back at the manger.
To make matters worse, because of the contaminated perception of management, no matter what the stylist does, the manager sees it either as inappropriate or that the stylist has ulterior motives for doing something appropriate. If the “problem” stylist comes in early, management wonders what he has up his sleeve this time.
Let’s go back to scenario B - when management begins by taking ownership of the problem. The manager might continue by saying, “Something happened yesterday that concerns me. I spoke briefly with the receptionist who was very upset by the conversation you had with her yesterday. According to her you said, ‘Why did you book me with a 9:45 appointment. How could you do something so stupid.’ She was very upset by your words and your tone of voice, especially because it happened in front of clients.And it seemed like every staff member came to me yesterday upset by something you said to them. I’m not sure you understand the impact you have on the others in the salon when things like that happen.” As you can imagine, the stylist’s reaction to this type of conversation will be vastly different than in scenario A - mostly because the manager was commenting on the stylist’s behavior or performance rather than attacking him personally.
Even when offering positive feedback, be sure to stay on the performance subject rather than on personalities. You can only tell someone how wonderful, helpful and loyal they are for so long before they begin to feel patronized. Keying on the performance will result in more effective feedback and insure proper communication of the situation no matter if it is a positive or negative subject being discussed.
Other how-to’s concerning feedback include giving the feedback as soon as possible after the performance. In this way, stylists are more likely to remember exactly what they did right. Also, the quality of
the feedback from the manager is clearer since the performance was just witnessed. Imagine the impact the feedback would have if the manager waited until the quarterly review and said, “You did a great job with your first customer of the day on June 21st. The customer purchased a number of retail products after the service so keep doing whatever it was you did then.”
Chances are good that the stylist would have no idea what the manager was talking about - and obviously the manager was not able to give specifics about the performance. You can seethat the sooner the feedback is given after the performance, the more effective it will be.
It is also important to offer information not only on what behaviors you are seeing, but also what the end result of the behavior is. You may make a statement like, “I see you asking specificially for referrals and offering your clients incentives to send in their friends. Consequently, your referral rate has been increasing over the last few weeks. Nice job and keep up the incentives for your clients - it obviously works.” By tying the result to the change in behavior, the stylists are able to see for themselves that their efforts are paying off - especially when management takes notice.
Feedback should be given frequently, especially with new stylists. A daily dose of feedback will do much to encourage performance in the new stylist. But once they are up and running - don’t neglect them. Long term stylists often feel that no one is watching them so why should they work any harder than they have to. By offering consistent feedback to all staff members, management is able to encourage the continuation of positive performances and, if the feedback they are giving is negative - it will serve to discontinue unwanted performances.
You will find through your practice in giving feedback that positive feedback is more effective than negative feedback. Again, this is where MBWA (Management By Wandering Around) and “catching someone doing things right” is the key role for management. All of us would rather hear about what we have done well than hear about what we do poorly. By commenting mainly on what is done well, the stylists learn that it is more enjoyable to do their job well and receive positive feedback than choose not to do the job and be constantly receiving negative feedback.








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