Taking A Step Back
Before saying anything further, I don’t want to come across as a love killer. Personally, I actually never minded much if staff dated. I always felt that with a team, no procedures will ever stop feelings to develop. It’s human nature. To me, it very much depends on the situation. For example, is the relationship based on a Casanova playing up with all the new team members, or is it a true love story?
One thing is for sure, creating a procedure for such a situation is not part of my recommendations. Sometimes, procedures don’t stop things from happening, especially when it comes to human emotions.
The potential issue with staff employees dating is the fact that the team dynamics changes. That, to me, is the most important aspect of the situation: how is it affecting the salon/spa/clinic/barbershop?
Salon Employees Dating: The “L.O.V.E” Principals
Personally, I have always applied the following L.O.V.E principals.
(L) Let It Go
It always comes back to you as a manager: you need to know, or realise that something is up. For a while, I’d personally let it be, observe how the team dynamics change, how the team behaves, and how it’s affecting the other salon employees and customers.
(O) Open The Conversation
Once that’s done, I would have an informal chat about the situation, even if it’s not affecting the team or customers. Again, personally, I simply want my staff to be aware that I know and that I’m ok with it, as long as it doesn’t affect my business.
For this reason, this chat should be a one to one meeting as you’re not there to be a babysitter of love. You’re there to be clear about your business intentions. Call it a warning, a friendly chat or whatever it is, but ultimately, it’s important that this conversation takes place. It not only allows you to judge how serious or potentially damaging the situation can become, but it also sets the tone of your views on the whole matter.
(V) Vent If Needed
This, I’ll repeat again and again: communication and clear business intentions are key to ensure smooth operation. It’s important that your team members know they can vent to you if they need. It allows them to stop bottling up what bothers them. My recommendation to you: stay very aware of the people dating, and as soon as you hear someone is unhappy, let them vent and diffuse the situation.
(E) Establish Disciplinary
If a situation comes out of hand, or if there are any sign of troubles, you can create a disciplinary procedure with a first verbal warning. For this to happen, you need to ensure you have notes on conversations that have taken place, but also facts on situations.
In the case that you’re not prepared to create a procedure, your message needs to be clear to everyone. For instance, “I am happy with staff members dating as long as it’s not affecting my business. The minute it does, I will deal with the situation straight away with disciplinary procedures.”
In all, it very much depends on the situation at hand.
I’ve dealt with a situation where I had to give the salon employees 2 weeks off and put them on different shifts when they stopped dating as they were really upset. I’ve had to use disciplinary measures when 2 staff members were really awful to one another and created a difficult atmosphere. Both of them were on disciplinary very quickly, and one was let go. I also attended a couple of weddings, which in the end makes it all worthwhile…!
It’s important to listen and understand each point of view. It’s also equally important for your team to know that you will not tolerate any erratic behaviour, in which case you will be ruthless with disciplinary when needed.
Going Ahead With Procedures
Some companies have procedures in place and are strict on the matter. No dating allowed. Procedures can help the disciplinary process, as you can reinforce everything quickly. However, it can also create an underlying atmosphere. As soon as something is not allowed, it happens: isn’t that human nature too?
Perhaps I’m more of a romantic than I am led to believe, but as long as it doesn’t affect the business, I am happy to let love blossom around me… What about you?
Valerie Delforge - Founder and CEO of Delforge + Co
Judge, Key Note Speaker, Commercial Trainer & Coach for the Spa & Beauty Industry
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