The email that made me cringe…

When staff leave, sometimes you are high fiving, sometimes you are hurt, often you are just a bit nervous. It is not just the hair and beauty industry that has to deal with the risk of client solicitation and gossip during this time. I just received an email from my Osteopath and it made me cringe.

My local osteopath never emails. I will receive automated booking confirmations, but never random emails. So when I received and email at 10:31pm last night, with a typo in the subject header, I was surprised.

“You may or may not be aware that 10 days ago two of our very long standing staff members xx and xx decided to leave our practice.  It was very unexpected and a big surprise, after 9 and 5 years respectively, with us.  We would like to apologise to you if this has caused any undue stress or concern.  I’d like to assure you that as always we are open, and available to provide the best Osteopathic care in xx.  Since 2001 we have supported you, your family and your community with the most professional and ethical Osteopathic care, and we look forward to continuing with this long into the future.”

I cringed. No! I thought. I did not need to know. I am a random osteo visitor who is happy to get anyone last minute. These two ex staff members were my favourite, but it was not necessary for me to receive this email. I could feel the emotion in the words. This is a small practise, in a very small community, and this email makes it obvious that some sort of shit has gone down, and of course I am now going to do a thorough internet stalk to find out where they have gone. I mean who doesn't like a bit of local gossip?

So how do you manage your business (and mind your business) when staff leave?

Here are my top 5 tips.

Keep your cool. Whether or not it is a leaving junior or a multiple staff walk out, when a staff member resigns, there is usually a little ‘shit shit shit shit' that runs through your mind. It may disappear quickly, or the news may cause you massive anxiety, however, it is important to keep your cool amongst existing staff and a careful eye on your behaviour with clients. There is usually some emotion during this time, and you must keep yourself together. EVERYONE will be looking to you for leadership. You may decide to let your staff work out their notice period, or you may decided to ask them leave right away, what ever your decision, remember that there are many eyes on you and how you behave will dictate whether or not this staff exit has a positive or negative impact on your business.

Elegantly let their clients know. Out of respect, it would be in your best interest to elegantly let a few of their clients know. I don't think it is necessary to email the entire database. I don't think any clients should be emailed full stop. A polite courteous phone call to those regular, loyal clients who you respect should be made aware via a phone call that their stylist/therapist will not be available for their next appointment. This keeps it in your control allows you to answer questions and keeps the gossip at bay.

Be a cheerleader. They have gone. There is no bringing them back. How you present yourself in the coming months will show depth of character and integrity. It is so easy to play the victim, but I encourage you to talk them up, and support them in their choice. No matter how seething you are inside. Your clients and staff will have more respect for you if you sing their praise and get on with hiring someone else. After all, you trained them, nurtured their growth, so when they spread their wings why would you shoot them down? You can have your woe is me thoughts, but don't ever speak ill of ex staff in your salon.

Plan your offer. You may choose to offer an incentive to the clients who you think will leave. I would always have the focus on pumping up the new stylist or therapist rather than rewarding a client to visit because someone has left. Make it juicy as hell. An irresistible offer, backed up with a second irresistible offer will capture a client more effectively than a ‘20% off with the new person' discount. For me, I always offered a complimentary Hair Cut & Blow wave under my supervision, backed up with a complimentary Blow wave 2 weeks later to ‘check in'.

Set the rules. This can be in your control. If you set up each employee with the end in mind, it makes the exit much smoother. They should have a contract. They should have an induction and their should be a policy and procedure manual that is current and regularly referred to. The rules need to be the same for everyone. An example of an exit strategy should involve notice periods, social media, client solicitation, handing back keys etc. It should also include how the salon will conduct itself and some promises around how communication is handled.

The practitioners at my Osteo have gone into business together at a new clinic in the same suburb. This is everyones worst nightmare right? I don't know what the story is, and it is none of my business, but if not for the public announcement via email at 10:31pm last night, I would never have known or really cared. I would have happily made my next appointment with who ever was available.

You often spend a lot of time with your staff, so it feels like a break up when there is a resignation. There is emotion and often hurt and betrayal. But it does get easier each time. Be the leader those who are sticking with you deserve, and be the boss that taught your ex staff so much. Be the fond memory, and most importantly, don't give anyone anything to talk about.