At the time when the salon industry could describe agile change on clients and guests as “fixing the plane while it flies,” the CoViD-19 pandemic has rewritten the rules of upheaval in modern times. Those of us leading any salon or beauty entity to our own families—are not fixing the plane in midair, we’re now building it. Times like these need leaders who are resilient in the face of such dramatic uncertainties.
There is a new outlook that salon leaders will now need in order to effectively navigate through the crisis. Resilient leaders are defined first by five essential qualities of who they are, and then by what they do across three critical time frames: Respond, Recover, and Thrive.
As we progress into the “Recover” phase of the crisis, strong leaders recognize and reinforce critical shifts from a “today” to a “tomorrow” mindset for their staff and guests. They perceive how major CoViD-19-related market and societal shifts have caused substantial uncertainties that need to be navigated—and seized as an opportunity to grow and change. Amid these uncertainties, resilient leadership requires even greater follower-ship, which must be nurtured and catalyzed by building greater trust. And resilient leaders start by anticipating what success looks like at the end of recovery—how their business will thrive in the long term—and then guide their staff to develop an outcomes-based set of agile sprints to get there.
“The historic challenge for leaders is to manage the crisis while building the future.” ~Henry Kissinger~
Resilience is not a destination; it is a way of being. A “resilient salon team” is not one that is simply able to return to where it left off before the crisis. Rather, the truly resilient team is one that has transformed, having built the attitudes, beliefs, agility, and structures into its DNA that enable it to not just recover to where it was, but catapult forward—quickly.
The Mindset Shift: From Today to Tomorrow
For many of us as owners in the early days of the CoViD-19 crisis, the days started to blend together. In fact, some have said that the CoViD-19 world has only three days in the week: yesterday, today, and tomorrow. In that spirit, forward thinking entrepreneurs need to shift the mindset of their staff from “today” to “tomorrow,” which involves several changes that have important implications for the path to recovery.
- The situation shifts from the unpredictability and frenetic activity of the early Respond period to a more settled, though still uncomfortable, sense of uncertainty (an “interim” normal). The implication: The situation invites salon owners to envision the destination at the end of Recover.
- The focus of leadership expands from a very inward (and entirely appropriate) focus on employee safety and operational continuity to also include embracing a return to a face-to-face posture as was the normal practice in the salon experience. The implication: Owners should envision the destination in terms of desired clientele outcomes, not internal processe
- Management goals shift from managing the crisis—keeping the organization functioning—to managing the transition back to a restored future. The implication: The Salon Recover Project team may need a different skill set than the Salon Respond Project management.
- Planning shifts from short-term contingency planning to mid- and long-term economic and scenario planning to understand the related impacts on modes of operation, staff, financing, and so forth. The implication: It is critical to model the alignment of financial resources to the cash required to ramp-up the modes of operation. Things will never be the same.
- Management’s attitude shifts from a primarily reactive mode to anticipating how to reinvent the industry. The implication: Management should seize the opportunity to energize their staff or teams by imagining a successful future and embracing trust as the catalyst to get there.
- The only certainty is … Uncertainty “The recovery from the CoViD-19 crisis must lead to a different economy.”
- The substantial shifts in society, its institutions, and its individuals during the crisis have introduced major uncertainties into our familiar structures. Assumptions about what is true and stable—for example, the freedom to move unrestricted in free societies—have been upended. These shifts have resulted in macro-level changes in, and uncertainties about the underpinnings of business and society that entrepreneurs must navigate:
Changes in the social contract. Societal expectations of the salon industry are being reframed to ensure the viability of all involved. The implicit contract between businesses and their stakeholders (clientele, staff, beauty distributor & manufacturer) has always been based on accepted—and generally unspoken—assumptions about “the way things are.” But the way things are has changed, and that contract is being rewritten. For example, in the implicit “future of work” contract, staggered staff schedules may be both more productive for the salon and more desirable for staff. Further, there are new considerations around work/life balance, job/career fluidity, and staff’s well-being gaining prominence in ways that suggest these factors are reshaping a new standard for how and when we work.
Changes in the roles and rules of our entities. As the crisis unfolds, we find business doing procedures differently and more cautious to protect both the client and the staff. Even as much as temporarily eliminating several services, based on the duration of implementation. Enforcement is crucial as sanitization and safety are the first of the inevitabilities, coupled efficiency and earnings.
Unpredictability in Financing Sources.
The pandemic has sent financial shock waves through economies, financial institutions, restaurants and salons to names a few. The sources and uses of cash and the movement of liquidity during thecrisis have been unpredictable. Owners will need to plan for wide variations in their financial position and needs, all of which are dependent on the disease’s progression, the level of payment acceptance, and the pace of economic recovery. They will also need to evaluate their ability to handle a potential mounting debt burden and the impact this will have on their credit worthiness with financial institutions.
Permanence of customer behavior changes. The crisis will have a profound impact on customer behavior. As the Asian markets reopened, a segment of consumers who visited physical stores was reluctant to touch anything. Client therefore will have to abide by the new salon regulations.
All the consumer research done by Nielsen assert that, after the crisis, people’s daily routines will be altered by a new cautiousness about health, suggesting that some shifts in behavior could be long-term. The significant increase in home care beauty packages has even increased the influence on behavior of a capable client who would normally do salon visits. Owners will need to anticipate whether and how the pandemic has permanently altered behaviors, experiences, expectations, and the role of digital engagement.
Expectations for physical, emotional, financial, and digital safety.
Recovery will create anxiety among all involved, as the post-CoViD-19 world takes shape. Understanding the fears that clients and staff are grappling with—and how their expectations for safety and security have changed, perhaps permanently—will be critical for owners as they seek to restore confidence and chart a new path forward. It remains to be seen how we would have identified the four subject areas: 1. CoViD-19 itself, 2. Fear of the virus, 3. Fear about the economy, and even 4. Fear of the ultimate vaccine—will ultimately be resolved.
What’s normal … next?
As salons emerge from Recover and transition into the Thrive phase, trust, coupled with the five qualities of resilient leadership, serves as a strong foundation on which resilient leaders can build the business models to address the new opportunities that will emerge.
What might life be like after the crisis passes, and what will it take to thrive in a world remade?
When we receive notifications on our mobile devices, indicating that a software update is required to allow our phones to work more effectively, we generally respond in agreement. Upon completion of the software update, our devices aesthetics look the same. Only the applications on our devices appear with varying icons. It may take a moment for us to adjust to the new undertakings of the device. But we adjust with the velocity of time. Let’s all embrace the new software updates in our operation as the globe will make the necessary shifts.
It is incumbent on us in the salon industry to collaboratively create and develop new anchored approaches toward distal outcomes.
Let’s refrain from being deficit based and more asset based.
Unthink – Change – Refreeze ought to be our mindset toward the new norms which will be inevitable.