Boss / Employee Role Reversal

Ask The Grooming Tutor

By Michell Evans

Hi Michell. I have a problem with one of my employees. She has decided that she is her own boss and the boss of some of my other employees, and even some of the customers! It is partially my fault because I let it happen. I was ill for a year and needed her to take more responsibility. Now that I am back to work full time, I see that many of the policies that I had in place have been changed or discarded all together. She has taken over. How do I regain control of my business without making her feel like she is being pushed out?” — Andy

Thank you for bringing this up, Andy. This happens in grooming salons often! I will give you a few things to consider and we may be able to help other salon owners and managers preemptively manage this issue. If you are an employee reading this, you can reverse many of these strategies.

As soon as you know you are heading into a period of absence, choose one of your employees to promote to Temporary Assistant Manager. This gives them some power to make decisions in your absence—but only temporarily. Also by paying them an additional amount for this period, you show a clear time frame for the temporary position.

If these events have already taken place, try giving the employee who has been taking the additional responsibility a bonus and letting them know that they can now relax and let you worry about the business. If you can do this publicly, say in a staff meeting, it can really help relieve them of their managerial responsibilities to the rest of the staff, too. In fact, throw a party to celebrate your return and celebrate her generous contribution to your business during these hard times. This is meant to mark the end of a period.

Try to speak matter–of–factly. We all understand the desire to be gentle, but if you want to have distinct boundaries you must speak in those terms. Try saying, “Thank you for taking care of my salon in my absence, now I am back and I am ready to take control again. You really helped me out when I needed it. Now you can relax and just worry about getting your own work done.”

It is very important that you make a clean switch. There might be situations that come up in the salon that you do not feel comfortable handling because you may not know the back story due to your absence. It is better to ask the client or the affected employee to bring you up to speed than to ask the employee whom you left in charge.

Remember that if you are going to relieve them of their managerial duties, you must handle all matters on your own now. You might also discover new information that could be helpful. The same goes for the other side, the employee might jump into situations to help out because they know the back story and frankly they are just used to doing it. In these situations you must thank them for their help and remind them that you got this.

It is really easy in the course of a busy day to let the employee do things to assist you, but remember that you would be perpetuating the very behavior that you are trying to stop. You said that you don’t want her to feel like she is being “pushed out”, but in fact you do want her to be pushed out of her managerial position. It is ok to reassure her that she is still a very valuable groomer in your salon but that you no longer need her assistance in the matters of running the salon.

As far as the policies that were changed in your absence, it might be worth asking at your next monthly staff meeting how your staff feels about the changes. Maybe they all have a good argument as to why those policies were changed. Maybe bossy manager girl is the only one who thinks they needed changing. Maybe the clients were the reason for the change. In the end, if your policies are the best policies then it is time they be enforced.

Just a note on the importance of staff meetings; they are important! You can have them quarterly, monthly, yearly or even weekly if you have a huge staff. This is an opportunity to celebrate business victories, individual victories, discuss policies, bring up new issues that need new policies, and ask your employees if they have everything they need to do their jobs easily and well. Thirty minutes is usually enough for a staff under 10 people. Over 10 people might need forty-five minutes to an hour.

Remember that no matter how much you want to, you cannot ask her for help. If you are relieving her of her managerial duties, then do so. Good luck. ✂

I am a multi-Best-In-Show and Best-All-Around groomer. I am the recipient of many Barkleigh Honors Awards including journalist of the year. I am a Silver and Gold medalist for GroomTeam USA. I am the winner of Show Dog Groomer of the Year 2015. I am a (VIG) Very Important Groomer-Ambassador for Purina and I have been teaching as The Grooming Tutor since 2000. And I groom to make a living, just like you. Please send questions to [email protected]

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