Tuesday, August 19, 2008

A Little Work Rant

Perhaps there should be a revolving door on the front of my salon.

I live in a small community although we do have a university. We often use college students as assistants and they come and go with regularity. Schedules change with each semester and sometimes they are unable to work the schedule we need. That's understandable. There is a good bit of turnover as a result of that. That doesn't bother me.

What bothers me is the seeming increase in people who quit or we have to fire. People who consistently show up to work late, leave early (when the owners aren't there to hold them accountable) and just generally try to do the least they can get by with. We try to be gracious employers; having a meeting, discussing the problem, stating that this behavior is unacceptable. Employees nod, occasionally ask for a raise while they are at it ("because I've been with you for a long time, I've stuck with you when others left...") They leave me shaking my head in wonder.

I find it very simple. I lay out my expectations from the get go, and expect these rules and regulations to be followed. Why don't people just follow the rules?! That's what a job is! Nobody said you had to like everything about it, but while you are there (which is about a third of your day, but less for them because they almost never work an 8hr. shift) you should do what you agreed to do when you took the job. And this is a relatively short term job. This is what they are doing to get through school to do what they really want to do. It's not like they are going to be washing hair and sweeping floors for a career.

I have to do some research to break this cycle. I don't know if the secret to finding a good employee (loyal, capable, self-motivating, trustworthy, one who will work) is in the interview process, or if it is somewhere during the pow-wows we have during their employment. None of the three owners of this salon (including myself) have any business background other than what we have learned along the way.

I guess I get frustrated because, as the old saying goes, "you can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him drink." No amount of pep talks can change an employee's bad attitude. I guess it bothers me so much because I care about the people who work for me. I have an employee who has been through some stuff (outside the salon but it affected her work) that she should have been fired for and we decided to keep her anyway in good faith and give her a second chance. I'm all for mentoring and coming alongside people, but my loyalty with them becomes a little thin when, by their behavior, they devalue my investment in them.

Thanks for hanging through my rant. Any guidance from those with more experience than I in this area is most welcome.


InTheFastLane said...

Maybe it is because the students, themselves see this as a temp job, so they don't value it as they should. Or they are just flaky young adults. But, it is probably a good life lesson to find out that you will be fired if you do not do what you are supposed to.

hepsmom said...

I feel your pain. Try to get people to remember trig functions. Ugh!?! What's going to happen to us when we get old? It's kinda scary.


Lady Em said...

Oh I know, it sucks sometimes. I was a manager for an insurance agency I used to work for, it was hell!!!!!!
I thought oh management will be fun, blah blah blah. Yeah by the end of it I wanted to pull my hair out!! I would type or add on to applications and ask a series of thought provoking questions, you know like "what do you think you will contribute to this company?" Stuff like that. It makes them think, keeps them on their toes, and I really think you can learn a lot from studying someone on an application, and doing a thorough face to face interview. Don't be afraid to tell people you will gladly kick them out the door if they waste yours and the salons time. Be nice but scare them just a little. You can get a good judge of character from doing all that. I don't deal with bad attitudes, especially when it comes to work. You will see it in the first meeting. You might want to do a two week probation period to test people out, and tell them that is what you are doing. Most people want to feel important in their work, they want to feel like they have earned something, I think the above steps help.
Unfortunately though you are still going to get those ones that blow smoke up your butt, smile pretty, and then do the opposite of what you discussed. It is a pain, and a let down, I hate to say it comes with the territory of owning your own business and being in a management position.:(
When that happens you just have to cut your losses. Maybe some of their hair too!!
So that is my rant about that. Got a little carried away!!!!!!!