What do people mean when they say they feel a sense of “belonging” at their jobs? Belonging doesn’t necessarily mean being popular with colleagues, nor does it mean feeling connected with work peers because you attended the same schools of live in the same neighbourhood.
A sense of belonging is rooted in four elements:
- Being seen and appreciated for your unique contributions.
- Feeling connected to your co-workers.
- Having a sense of support in your daily work and career progression.
- Pride in your salon’s values and purpose.
When we create a culture of belonging in our business, everyone wins, for example:
- Seen: when you are seen at work, you are recognised, rewarded, and respected by colleagues.
- Connected: when you are connected at work, you have positive, authentic social interactions with peers, manager, and clients.
- Supported: when you are supported at work, those around you give you what you need to get your work done and live a full life.
- Proud: when you are proud of your work and your salon, you feel aligned with its purpose, vision and values.
People who experience “high belonging” at their salon feel more engaged with their work, they plan to stay at their job for at least two years, and they feel very loyal to their company. Those who experience “low belonging” are four times more likely to say they feel stagnated in their roles and careers.
How to build and foster a culture of belonging in a salon environment:
- Senior managers must act as role models and set the tone in a salon by embodying the company’s values. Demonstrate excellent leadership skills by listening to all voices on their team and seeking to connect with all staff members.
- Managers improve the culture by praising their employee’s work, providing regular honest feedback to improve the work of the team members, responding to employee concerns, publicly praising employees, and empowering staff to make quality decisions.
- Team members drive belonging with one another and ultimately build an inclusive culture if they can respect the colleagues’ commitments outside of work, praise and thank colleagues for their work, while also communicating assertively with one another about their working relationships.
Everybody will perform better when they feel seen, connected, supported and proud.
Empowering your staff is really important if you are committed to creating a culture of belonging in your business.
Empowerment is the degree of autonomy and self-determination in people, in communities and in salon business. This enables them to represent their interests in a responsible and self-determined way, acting on their own authority. It is the process of becoming stronger and more confident, especially in controlling your own life and claiming your rights.
Self-empowerment examples include giving your team members autonomy and responsibility to manage their own work, objectives, and deadlines. Instead of micro-managing them, you provide them with tools and support necessary for success and you trust them to manage their own columns.
In order to implement a strategy of employee empowerment, you need to first be able to trust your employees. As the team leader you can promote a culture of belonging and empowerment by promoting this sense of trust. Give your staff a voice by requesting and acting on consistent feedback. Provide them with the opportunities to grow and develop by regularly offering options for career progression and increasing their responsibilities.
Recognise employee achievements to help improve confidence levels and engage with your team to establish clear expectations and guidelines. Share your objectives and vision so that your team understand how their role contributes to overall salon success.
The benefits of staff empowerment are increased trust in leadership, improved motivation levels, increased creativity and higher levels of employee retention. All of this increased performance and productivity will also improve the bottom line of your business.
Developing great leadership skills
While fostering a culture of belonging, it is necessary to review your own leadership skills. Leadership is defined as the art of motivating a group of people to act toward achieving a common goal. In a salon business setting, this can mean directing staff and colleagues with a strategy to meet the company needs.
When faced with salon problems, true leaders look inwards and focus on their own abilities and shortcomings. There are always areas of improvement for salon leaders. When you want to empower and inspire your team, you will naturally discover that this starts by accepting that self-accountability is the foundation of becoming a great leader.
Leadership skills are important in any business, since they facilitate strong team with the ability to get tasks done efficiently. Whatever your natural strengths are, continuing to develop leadership skills is a must when managing a team and aspiring to run a financially successful business.
Developing leadership skills will also allow you to grow as a person. It is an empowering process of harnessing your natural talents to inspire others. You will become very aware of your strengths and weaknesses, creating a high level of self-awareness, making you very effective in daily team communications.
Areas of improvement to consider are:
Building empathy: are you empathetic to others’ needs and feelings or do you focus solely on your own? Putting others first is essential to building rapport and inspiring your team to follow you.
Improving communication skills: setting expectations and boundaries, providing clear goals and direction while keeping your team in the loop are all part of creating and leading effective teams.
Making tough decisions: you must be confident in your ability to make tough decisions, always putting the needs of the business first.
Stop micromanagement: an inability to delegate routine day to day tasks is one of the most common areas salon owners need to learn to let go of.
Learn to give constructive feedback: it is very tempting for team leaders to limit feedback to the positive. But, if you want business success, you cannot ignore problems within your team and you must learn to give the negative feedback in as positive a manner as possible.
Become inspirational: a team member who feels you don’t believe in them will not perform well and this can create a domino effect of poor morale across the salon floor. Instead, believe in your team and what they are capable of. Developing your leadership skills throughout your salon business by generating and focusing positive energy is the secret to sustained growth.
If you want a happy team, delighted clients, and a successful business, then focus on creating a culture of belonging with an empowered team and an inspirational owner, then the sky is the limit for you, your business, your team and your clients.