Managing Your Education Expectations
Salon owners who want to successfully develop their staff — and get the most from their education dollars — should first determine what result they want their training to have. Most types of education will accomplish one of two goals: to improve technique or to inspire. Both goals are important, but they will change over time, based on the needs of your team. The success of each training, like any investment, should be based on whether your goal is met.
If your goal is to INSPIRE:
Inspirational training programs are designed to make trainees aspire to become better. These programs function as a short-term motivational tool, shake up an established routine or dynamic, and get the creative juices flowing. Good examples are attending a one-day hairshow to watch cutting-edge technique by a master artist, or holding a fashion trends workshop in your own salon.
Your stylists will come back inspired and enthused, but without follow-up workshops and consistent practice, don’t expect this experience to translate into changes in technique on the floor.
Don’t overlook the need for inspirational training for the highly creative. But DO use this type of education strategically, when it’s needed. Be clear in your education planning that it is not a supplement for technical education.
If your goal is to IMPROVE TECHNIQUE:
Technical education should improve technique and skill level by the end of the program. Longer-term technical classes with follow-up assignments create the most noticeable improvement over a period of time. One highly effective format that inspires AND changes behavior is the 2-day workshop, followed by weeks of follow-up practice assignments and mastery checklists.
If you’re developing your own technical education, keep these 4 crucial phases in mind:
- Show the steps. Always start with the instructor assuming the trainees know nothing and identifying each step that has to happen, however small. (It’s much better than trying to figure out what they do know, or finding out later they are missing crucial foundational elements.)
- Let them try it. As an instructor, this is where you focus on correction to prevent bad habits, however minor.
- Encourage improvements. This third stage has far less correction and far more support. The instructor is there to encourage the trainees. By now, they get the concepts and they no longer need the technical instruction as much; mostly, they need the encouragement.
- They “Get It!” They’ve practiced to perfection and are ready to move on and master what’s next.
TIP– If you want to take a mid-level performance to the next level, ask them to learn the technique again (i.e. re-take the class) and teach it to the rest of the team! This now gives them the expectation and motivation to really learn it on another level, where before they may have been stuck but getting by.
Top 3 Elements That Will Rock Your Salon Training Program
1. Require Accountability. The most successful training programs are those in which the student must demonstrate that training goals were met.
For short-term programs, this involves having the student do “homework” until they get it. For instance, in a 2-day training program, the trainees may be given 3 haircuts to learn. They should take that information and bring it back to the salon, and practice those haircuts several times until they can consistently duplicate them.
Many salon owners send trainees to short-term classes expecting them to come back with behaviors changed. But most of the time, they’ll come back and return to their old habits. The behaviors didn’t change, and without accountability, they won’t change.
The best way to use education dollars with a 2-day program is to choose one with a later portion in which trainees are assessed. Did they apply the technique successfully? Did they ”test out” of each technique and skill? Accountability is the way to get a successful end result from training programs of all types, and it starts by making those assignments and checklists.
TIP– A Best practice is have the stylist pay for a portion of the training so they are fully invested and accountable becuase it is their hard earned money too – not just the Salon’s.
2. Practice, Practice, Practice. In every technical program there should be a huge segment devoted to practice, because this is how students experience the highest level of success. The key is frequency.
After much repetition, students experience those moments where their level of improvement jumps exponentially. Even trainees who want to give up because they think they’re not progressing will reach these moments — but only through practice.
Check out these teaching tools from Learn Aveda that enable a trainee to practice the basics, 24/7.
3. Provide Mentors. The ideal teaching ratio is 1-to-1. But how many training programs in reality can have that? Classes with more than 12 students to one instructor are challenging, especially when trainees are at the early stage in their learning where they need more attention. This is why mentorship is hugely important in skills development. A trainee who’s learning a new technique from an educator with multiple students can still get 1-on-1 time with a mentor. This person is helping to provide that correction and support that’s so important in learning.
Top 3 Mistakes to Avoid
1. Training Based On “How I Did It.” Just because you folded towels for a year before you could pick up a pair of scissors doesn’t mean your trainees should do the same. Be able to give a sound explanation, based on current educational theory, as to why every component of your training program is presented the way it is. “Because I had to do it that way” is not a valid answer.
2. Compare Trainees To Each Other. Even a simple comment like “look at John over there — he’s doing it right” is discouraging. You should compare the trainees’ work to established standards, or to their own past performance — but not to each other. Instead of ranking them within a group, constantly work with them as individuals to address what they need to do to bring their performance up. Stylists will naturally generate their own awareness and compete amongst themselves. If the stylist improves from the day before that is a success.
3. Be Uninvolved. Your training program is the future of your business, so treat it as such. If you’re not very involved — if you’re not there in person showing interest in the trainees; if you’re not compensating the educators fairly; if you’re not invested in the program and constantly seeking ways to improve it — then you won’t get much from it. Your lack of enthusiasm and interest will seep down to the instructors and trainees.
If you’re going to do it, do it right. Your brand depends on it.