Three fists coming together for team empowerment

By Laurel Nelson, contributing writer with Salon Today

Are you having a hard time delegating key tasks to team members? Is your staff asking for more responsibility? Are you ready to use your management team more efficiently?

Not sure where to start? Three owners and managers share the ideas they implemented to lighten their loads and provide new growth paths for their employees.

1. Share Your Numbers


At Ihloff Salon and Day Spas in the Tulsa, Oklahoma, a team of nine leaders/managers run the three locations.

One way owner Marilyn Ihloff keeps these leaders on the same page is by sharing her budget.

“She feels it’s crucial to the profitability of the salon for us to know the details of the budget,” says Kate Cottrill, marketing director and manager. “She shares everything down to the net operating profit with the management team, and we have it at our disposal every month, broken down by location.”

“Seeing the narrow profit margins helps us build and work collaboratively, so we don’t over promise and under deliver,” she adds.

2. Get it in Writing


Denise Zeydel, general manager and co-owner of Z Salon and Spa in Louisville, Kentucky, brought on an HR company 18 months ago to help with hiring and writing job descriptions. What she didn’t realize was how those job descriptions would affect her current team members.

“It was surreal,” she says. “When their job descriptions went on paper, they really took ownership.”

One employee even felt empowered to resign once she saw her written job description.

“She kept trying to do the position because she thought I wanted her to do it,” Zeydel says. “But I needed her to be the best version of herself, not fit into a role she wasn’t right for.”

The employee was able to move into a position better suited to her skills and Zeydel could find someone who was right for the other position.

“Sometimes we promote people who do their craft really well into leadership positions when that’s not their forté,” Zeydel says.

Having a written job description helps show current employees and new candidates exactly what she’s looking for.

3. Implement (and Stick to) a Communication Plan


The most effective way to empower your staff is to make sure they have a clear understanding of company and individual goals.

Stephanie Palko, president and owner of Copperfalls Spa in Castle Rock, Colorado, sits down with her management team every other week for three to four hours, in addition to unscheduled times in between.

This trickles down to the rest of the staff, who meet regularly with management to keep them on track with goals.

Private Facebook pages and group texting apps keep the conversation flowing daily.

At Ihloff Salons, open communication is valued, and stylists know they can give honest feedback without the management team getting defensive.

“There can be an ‘us vs. them’ mentality,” Cottrill says. “To help prevent that, we restructured our staff meetings so we have eight staff meetings per year, with four of them bringing the entire company together. It really changed the way the team collaborates and strengthened relationships.”


Not sure whether you’re communicating with your team as effectively as possible? Ask yourself these questions:

  • How often is a manager or owner meeting individually with team members to discuss goals?
  • How often does the management team meet? What do you discuss?
  • How many times per year do you meet as an entire team? What do you communicate during those meetings?
  • What questions come up most often in huddles and group meetings? Are these questions being addressed effectively?
  •  Is there a group texting tool you could use for daily communications?

Once you’ve answered these questions, evaluate your answers with some key team members. Use their input to help re-structure your plan. It may take more time and energy from the management team, but the transparency that comes from open communication will empower your staff in their own conversations with each other and their clients.