How Can I Be A Good Barber Boss?

Published 16th Nov 2021 by Charlotte Grant-West

In our series Ask Mr Mills we get MB's Best Business Leader Joe Mills to answer your most-asked frequently asked barber business questions. If you've got something to put to 'agony uncle' Joe, send us a message on Instagram.

The question: "I'm finding it hard to discipline and get respect from staff. How can I be a 'good' boss"

Mr Mills says: "Being a good boss is a balancing act and needs careful consideration as well as understanding yourself and the structure you have in the company. Our industry is very different from many others and has to be looked at in its own right. We tend to work alongside our team and we are not detached from them unlike many other industries. We are also social animals and we can end up being more emotionally involved and boundaries can become blurred.

The first thing is to look at how you run the business; do you have clear boundaries? Do you have a clear structure for the team to operate within it and then do you stick to this? Are you consistent? What I mean by this is sometimes these issues are because of us as business leaders - this is sometimes the main issue. You can easily fall into the position of being their friend and not their boss. This makes discipline a challenge and if you have clear rules and practices in place, it’s far easier to enforce and work with the team and get the results you want and need.

Think about who you employ and why. Look back at previous employees and what worked and did not. Look for patterns; maybe the issue is the type of person you employ. Think about your recruitment process and why you may gravitate to certain personality types, what that brings to the team and what you are getting out of it. If you employ strong personalities for example, be prepared to get some push back from time to time and then think about how you can handle this and what it will do to the team from both a positive and negative perspective.

The other thing to do is to think about what you really want from the team. What structure do you want with blue sky thinking? How would you like it all to work? Then review what you are doing and how to get there. You may have to make some tough decisions and review who you have in the company and whether they are performing how you want them to.

Communication is key with all of this; if they don’t know your vision and your goals you can’t blame your team for feeling lost. Write down what you want and your vision, then present this to the team and explain why this is important to you and to the business.

Explain to them the role they play working alongside you and ask them to buy into this. Once this is done it is far easier to then build the structure of how you and the business works and what their responsibilities are to you and equally you to them. They need strong leadership and you need to be that person to keep consistent in what you are doing and how you run the business and team. It may take time if you are completely overhauling what you do, but you will quickly see who is on board. I have had in the past fallen in to all the traps of employing the wrong type of person, promoted the wrong people into roles for the wrong reason and trying to be everyone’s mate. This doesn’t work long term and this can damage what you are doing and what you have created.

Being the boss is a lonely place sometimes, a lot of the stress of the business sits with you and only you. The team need to see you with a focus and a goal to give them the confidence in you as well as the respect. Respect is not given it is earned. Show them you have the plan, you are going to follow it and that you believe in them and the journey you are all on. If you are fair, consistent and open you will see a massive shift in your relationships within your business and on your business. Listen to their concerns and be prepared for a certain level of conflict as this is all part of being a leader.

If you work with the team and involve them then you get far greater results, but please remember that it’s your head on the block with the business. Compromise is good and it is a case of give and take when we work within a team as we stand next to them doing what they do every day. But you carry the responsibility for the business and its success; don’t forget this and you will find that things fall into place quickly.

This has been a challenging couple of years for us all in the industry and we have had to adapt and evolve. Reviewing what we do over the next month or so until we reopen is going to be key to your success, improving what you do and where you want to go. Think short, mid and long-term plan what you want to do get the team on board and then you will be in far better shape moving forwards."

Charlotte Grant-West

Charlotte Grant-West

Published 16th Nov 2021

Charlotte oversees the print magazine, website and social media channels at HJ. With over a decade of experience as a journalist, Charlotte was formerly Editor of Modern Barber and HJ Men, Social Editor at Netmums and Features Writer at Boots Health & Beauty magazine. She loves any products that make her hair bigger and more voluminous, and loves a behind-the-scenes peek at anything hair-related – whether it's a factory tour, BTS on a shoot or backstage at fashion week.

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