How to Be the Perfect Boss

A good boss acknowledges employees’ accomplishments–as well as their birthdays–and maintains a winning attitude even when they are having a rough day.


I’ve been an employee and I’ve been a boss, and there’s no question that being a good boss is more difficult. It is possible to tell which salons have great owners by taking a look at the employees who work there. Employees who go the extra mile–greeting customers with a big smile and staying cheerful despite the pressure of grooming like a competition stylist every day–probably have a great boss. When I say this, by no means do I mean to undermine a talented and loyal stylist’s contribution to a successful business, but it truly is the boss that sets the pace, tone and expectations for any business.

So what makes a perfect boss? Well, it’s the same as a recipe for good dog training or child rearing–be fair and consistent, give praise when it’s due, and make sure any criticism is constructive. Here are some more of the ingredients:

- Care about the salon’s employees

- Treat employees with respect and as adults

- Appreciate, motivate and believe in employees

- Have a sense of humor

- Treat everyone impartially

- Be approachable

- Package criticism in a praise sandwich

- Don’t be threatened by the staff’s accomplishments–be proud of them. If employees excel, win awards or have customers ask for them by name, it’s good for everyone in the salon

- Provide the best tools to do the job–blades, equipment and training

My boss at The Yankee Clipper, Liz Czak, inspired this article. She creates a great work environment by encouraging ongoing education (she’ll close the shop so everyone can attend a local trade show or seminar); discouraging nitpicking and understanding that everyone has a bad day from time to time; and by being understanding. Czak also declares ice cream breaks on hot summer days, providing ice cream or Coolattas for all employees; remembers birthdays with a cake and a card for all to sign; buys pastries on particularly busy days or random Saturdays; and tries to have everyone break for lunch at the same time so employees can relax and get to know one another better.

“My employees work really hard for me,” says Czak, “so I try to do what I can for them.” Czak tries to create an environment in which she would enjoy working and treats employees the way she would want to be treated.

Czak also rewards full-time employees who have been at the salon for a year with a week of paid vacation, closes the shop the day before Thanksgiving and Christmas and gives employees three-day weekend holidays.

Why Be A Good Boss?
A good boss tends to have a salon full of employees who care about what they do, think about how their behavior will affect the business and consistently go the extra mile. Even in the best salon there will be the occasional mistake or injury. Unless it is habitual with that employee, a good boss knows that the stylist feels horrible and will not chastise them, instead reassuring them that it can happen to anyone.

When I am training a dog, I never think that the dog has done something wrong; it hasn’t. Instead, I know that it just hasn’t been trained correctly yet. Instead of complaining that an employee is doing something wrong, a perfect boss will ask himself or herself how can they inspire that person to want to do better.

While a boss can do a lot of things to create a great salon environment, perhaps what is most important is their attitude.  Czak has a sparkly woodblock sign on her desk that simply says, “Nice.” It serves as a reminder to herself when she might be feeling a little cranky. I suggested that a couple of the same signs be hung in the shop as well, but Czak says that she prefers to lead by example.

Carol Visser is a Nationally Certified Master Groomer and Certified Pet Dog Trainer. Formerly a pet product expert for PetEdge, she and her husband Glenn now own Two Canines Pet Services in Montville, Maine, which offers grooming, boarding, training and daycare services.

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