Dealing with unwilling staff

Being a salon owner comes with many benefits, and having a great team behind you is a huge win, but an issue that often comes up on my Salon Team Training Facebook group is dealing with staff who have become lazy or unmotivated. Nobody wants to fire their staff, and I get it: it’s a tough decision. But here’s one method I use that helps me decide if someone isn’t fitting in really well, and what to do about it: the Willing versus Skilled model.

This model helps you to:

  • Determine where your stylist is in their skill vs willingness
  • Choose how you need to approach the situation

In the diagram attached the horizontal axis gauges whether the person is unskilled or skilled. The vertical axis is whether they’re willing or unwilling.

Willing vs Skilled Model

Quadrant A – (unskilled but willing)

If someone is in quadrant A (unskilled but willing), they need training—they have the right mindset and attitude, but they need some guidance in order to get up to speed with the rest of your team. This is where you as a leader need to step in and provide them with the tools they need to succeed.

Quadrant B – (willing and skilled)

If someone is willing and skilled (quadrant B), all they need is motivation—they know what to do and want to do it! Spend some time with this person to learn their motivation factors, and let them go for it!

Quadrant C – (unwilling and skilled)

But if someone is unwilling and skilled (quadrant C), then they need some straight talk and some motivation. When it comes to dealing with unwilling staff, it’s important to remember that not everyone is going to be on board with your vision, so this is where conflict resolution comes in. Don’t call them lazy or unwilling, don’t blame them as people, or otherwise diminish their value—coach them on their behavior instead of their character so you can get them back into quadrant A or B.

Quadrant D – (unwilling and unskilled)

This Quadrant is unwilling and unskilled or what I like to refer to as Course correction. It’s easy to get focused on the money you’re losing by letting a stylist go that you forget about everything else: the time and money it takes to hire and train a new employee, for example, or the fact that unhappy employees are bad for morale and productivity.

Personally I believe it’s better to call a firing “course correction” or “finding another business where they’ll be much happier”. After all, you’re not just looking at this person’s ability to bring in revenue—you’re also trying to help them find a place where they can be happy.

I hope this method helps make the process of determining your staff’s future at the salon a little more clear. For more methods, tips and a whole community of salon owners and stylists make sure you join us on my Facebook Page.

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