In any business with more than one employee, there’s bound to be a bit of drama from time to time, and in a service-based business it's people who make your business - or break it.  So what do you do when the talent that brings in the customers doesn't get along with each other?

A salon owner’s opinion on drama in the workplace

In a salon environment, where most of the employees are passionate, creative and artistic,  sometimes otherwise simple issues can escalate and cause serious drama for your business.

We talked to Lisa Ussher from The Powder Room, one of New Zealand’s most environmentally friendly and ‘coolest’ salons , to see how she keeps drama in check.

When hiring new staff, Lisa takes great care to ensure that the internal culture is added to, not disrupted.

“A lot of thought goes into it,” Lisa says. “We set things up so that a junior staff member has some time to show them around, and so often we can see personality before any interview takes place.”

But even after hiring people who seem like a good fit, problems will come up and personalities will clash. If this happens, Lisa often makes the decision to step in.

“I generally intervene,” she added, “because by the time I hear about it, its normally a DRAMA.”

Lisa handles it by keeping the intervention formal and straight to the point, sitting the involved staff members down, and letting them know that there’s a task at hand that needs to be sorted. More often than not, it’s a simple communication problem, she says, and this can be remedied quickly.

Sometimes there are staff members who just aren’t healthy for your business. They may continue to have issues with other members of the team and refuse to cooperate with you and the way you choose to do business. It can be a tough decision, especially when they are talented stylists and bring customers into your business, but in the end it’s best to let these people go.

“We’ve had to let people go, mainly because of personality clashes,” Lisa recounts. “It is so hard because they are sometimes brilliant hairdressers and hard workers, but sometimes they don’t see that their overly driven personalities can drive everyone crazy!”

“The most recent one was a young male who was so self obsessed, but he had no idea he was. He would ask someone how they were before talking about himself for an hour! Pheww :( ”

It can definitely be a challenge to manage a business in an industry where the cliche personality is volatile, but it’s not all bad news. A lot of fun can be had with such bright and bubbly people if things are kept in order.

Lisa has found that the best way to maintain a positive atmosphere while having different personalities working together as a team is to having a culture that embraces personality, but has guidelines about what to bring to work and what to leave at home.

“Our job is dealing with people’s personalities all day,” Lisa says, “so that our staff all have one common personality trait which is tolerance!”

When you do bring on mature people who are capable of working together without much drama, your business will hit “flow” and you’ll be caught up in positive vibes. It’s just a matter of getting there. Patience is key!