September 8, 2015

Is Your Barber/Stylist Better Trained Than the Supervisors of Your Business?

By Paul Bieber

In the state of New Hampshire, a stylist/barber license requires a 1,500-hour course at an approved and licensed school. That’s about 40 hours per week for nine months. Becoming a supervisor in a glass shop requires that a higher-up supervisor or owner taps you on the shoulder, and you have the new position.

Some people are naturally good at leading others, but most of us need training and education. So your foreman wins the lottery and gives you his 10-minute notice. Or he gets poached by a competitor, or hopefully not, he has an accident. You look around the shop, point at one of your team members and say, “Bill is now in charge.” Bill is a great glazier, is usually on-time and cares about the company.

The next day, Bill comes in all nervous and asks to speak with you. He is afraid of the new position. He doesn’t want to offend his friends, and he doesn’t know the administrative points needed in your company. Also, he has a vacation coming up in three weeks where he has paid a deposit on a cabin in the woods; can he still take this vacation? It is then that you realize you have not really trained someone to be a supervisor. You thought about it a couple of times, but you didn’t want to spend the money and the effort.

Now what? You work alongside Bill for a week or two, helping to answer questions. Never tell him what to do. Ask him what he thinks is the best answer to a problem that has arisen. If Bill’s answer is the one you would have picked, tell him to go ahead and implement his decision. If you disagree, give him some options and explain why you picked the solution you favor. Lead Bill to the answer. In both ways you are building his confidence, which seems to be his problem.

How about outside training? Call your local community college and ask about courses for new managers. Most school have a one- or two-semester course in an evening program. Pay Bill’s full tuition and give him a nice bonus if he gets a B or higher in his grades. If Bill is an hourly employee, in most states, you’ll be paying his time in school, but not homework time. When you promote him, it may be time to make him a salaried employee, explaining that he will be spending time on training and other issues. You probably received lots of mail advertising one-day seminars for managers. Some of these may fit your situation, but if you are not 100-percent sure it is right for Bill, don’t do it.

Give Bill a scheduled course, taught by you, about your company policies, your employee handbook, your local state’s labor laws and your payroll procedures. Your local attorney may be a good teacher on the labor laws. A three-hour visit could be very valuable.

So, you getthe drift. You do have to train a new supervisor in your company. You can’t just appoint someone and expect immediate success. Every six months, go over every supervisor’s position and think what would happen if he or she won the lottery. Start cross-training the potential leadership. Whether you have three people or 33, you need leadership ready to step up.

As far as Bill’s vacation, either let him take it, or if you want him to stay at work for at least a month or two, pay for the deposit he will lose.

And of course, go get your hair cut by someone who has studied and practiced for 1,500 hours.