February 2010

Shannon Wells

Better Business | by Neil Ducoff


Indifference: When “I Don’t Care” Infects Your Salon

Every salon suffers from indifference. Without question, it is the single most toxic behavior that wreaks havoc on salon cultures and performance.

It can be as subtle as someone saying, “Why should I do that?” or, “That’s not my job - I’m not paid to do that.”

In contrast, indifference can be as blatant as people collectively refusing to follow new salon procedures and sounds like, “If they’re not doing it, why should I?” No matter how you view it, indifference is a toxic behavior that can spread rapidly throughout an organization.

In business, there are two areas of indifference. The first is leadership indifference that can be observed in many forms. It can be a leader who lacks compassion and respect for his or her employees such as leaders who talk down to people or reprimand in public.

Or when a leader refuses to follow the same rules and procedures that employees are held accountable to. It is indifference when a leader lacks concern for budgets, employee feedback systems and other essential responsibilities.

Yes, indifference begins at the leadership level and the trickle down quickly becomes a raging river.

The second area of indifference resides with employees. When “I don’t care” thinking surfaces in one or more employees, your salon culture will begin to deteriorate. Productivity will slow and behavior issues like lateness and absenteeism will increase. If allowed to go unchecked, indifference can evolve into a major case of “destroy from within.” Simply put, there is no way to prevent customers from coming into contact with “I don’t care” thinking.

Here’s the rub: employee indifference is a response to compromised thinking and behavior at the leadership level.

If trust is compromised through breaking commitments, expect indifference.

If the salon vision has lost its luster, expect indifference.

If employees have a reason to question your leadership values and integrity, expect indifference.

If you allow double standards, unchecked egos, conflicting agendas and poor communication, expect indifference.

The indifference of “I don’t care” often means, “you don’t care enough.” It means that you are not playing to your full potential as a leader. You’re not communicating enough or clarifying expectations. You must address your own indifference to certain leadership responsibilities first. You must “care without restriction.” You must lead by example at a level you have never played at before. Your clarity and consistency – and determination to be your best – will restore trust and replace “I don’t care” thinking with “I give my best” thinking and behavior throughout your salon.

Change begins with you.

Neil Ducoff is the founder and CEO of Strategies, a business training and coaching company specializing in the salon and spa industry. He’s author of Fast Forward, and a new book, No-Compromise Leadership, published by DC Press and is available at www.amazon.com. For more information go to www.strategies.com. You can email Neil at neil@strategies.com.