I am grateful every day that our salon has such terrific managers. I'm also regularly shocked at what I hear about managers at other salons. Typical complaints are that the manager plays favorites, cuts hours without explanation, disciplines in front of others (including clients), or does nothing at all. The most common complaint I've heard from individuals who have held manager or assistant manager positions at other other salons is that they are given responsibility without authority.
So the first place to look for a good salon manager is in the mirror. No, I don't mean the owner needs to be the salon manager. I mean you must be committed to letting them do their job and providing appropriate training and support to help them succeed. Taking a reliable stylist and naming them manager with little guidance and support is a recipe for failure.
None of my managers had any supervisory experience before taking on a management role at our salons. And they are shockingly young to have so much responsibility. I can't imagine my 25 year old self successfully managing a team.
The individuals we chose as managers share some qualities. They are each mature and reliable, they hold themselves to a high standard, and they care about the success of the business. But I'd say the single most important quality they possess is that they don't shy away from difficult conversations. They don't LIKE to have tough conversations, but they don't avoid them.
One of the keys to the success of our management team is that we do, in fact, act as a team. Each week, the four of us meet for two hours. Because we don't have appropriate meeting facilities, our bank is kind enough to allow us to use their conference room. If you can find a way to meet offsite, I highly recommend it. At each meeting, among other things, we discuss any personnel issues that arose in the past week. Sometimes issues have already been handled, other times we discuss a plan of action. If the action plan includes having one of those tough conversations, we decide who will have the conversation with the team member and we discuss the best way to approach the conversation, based on our knowledge of the employee and their personality. If we've had an on-going issue with a team member the conversation may be escalated to me as the owner. Otherwise, the direct supervisor will speak with the employee. Conversations are always done privately and respectfully (they can be firm and still meet those criteria). Depending on the offense, a follow-up conversation may be scheduled. We also make sure if the problem can be solved with additional training, we not only provide training, but remind the employee that it is their responsibility to let us know if we are not giving them what they need to succeed.
Our weekly meeting provides the managers with the support they need to succeed. It's not fair to toss a young, managerially inexperienced person into a leadership role and expect them to succeed without support. The weekly cost of the meetings is not insignificant when you consider the hourly rates the managers are paid (remember, we're Team Based Pay so everyone is hourly). But the intangible cost of NOT having the meetings would be considerable.