Finding the right manager for your bridal salon is one of most important decisions you will make.
    The best hire will set the tone for your team and can lead you on a path toward profitability. Just like your brides are searching for their exact dream gown, finding the perfect management fit for your enterprise is both an art and science.  The challenge is to identify the right candidate from the onset so you don’t later get bogged down managing your manager.
    Here are the top 11 pitfalls to avoid when selecting your next team leader.

1. Bad role model. “Avoid, at all costs, the manager that cannot be an exemplar model,” says John Boggs, retired Marine Officer and president of Fortitude Consulting, a Phoenix-based company that specializes in helping businesses improve leadership capability (
    Good leaders model excellent behavior and this starts with little things, like always following dress code, showing up to work on time (or early!), maintaining a cheerful demeanor, and making a proactive effort to learn about new products or trends.
    This is important because how someone handles the little things is an indication of how they will handle bigger, managerial tasks. As well, employees look to their manager as a role model. What they see this person doing, they will assume is OK to copy.

2. Lacks decisiveness. If the person running your store is indecisive this will cost you time, money and opportunity.
    “You cannot be everywhere and your manager must be capable of decision-making without worrying about what everyone else is doing,” Boggs says.
    He continues, “You hire an eagle or a pigeon. Eagles exercise sound decision-making. Pigeons, well, they just go along with the crowd. In a crowded marketplace going along with the crowd will never allow you the opportunity to stand out.”

3. Clueless with your crew. If you get the idea that a potential hire is totally unfamiliar with the challenges of managing different positions, you’re sunk, says Bob Phibbs of
    “That’s because the best managers at every level are keen to monitor the emotional temperature of their crew,” Phibbs says. “If there is a person, a situation, or a policy that causes the team to be upset, a good manager knows they have to deal with it.”
    In other words, a good manager has a talent for reading people and responding appropriately. If someone isn’t intune with this skill, they do not belong in a management role.

4. Can’t meet your expectations. If a manager is unable or unwilling to do what you expect, you’ll have a broken culture. If there is a new policy, managers need to ask questions until they thoroughly understand it. Next, they need to think of questions that employees might ask and come up with a plan to address them. Many bridal retailers have task-based managers who, when given a specific project like changing a dress display, excel. However when given a more abstract goal like “drive sales performances by changing employee behavior,” they have no clue where to begin.

5. Has trouble firing people. While firing an employee is never easy, you don’t want a manager who is so emotionally invested in losing an employee that they are paralyzed at the thought of letting them go. “When the bad apples get to stay, it drags the whole team down until all the good employees have left,” Phibbs says. “You want a manager who is compassionate, but who also has the greater good in mind.”

6. Fails to focus on performance. Will the manager take a hard look at your numbers daily? If the sales aren’t there, it is a tangible sign of a team not doing their job. You want someone who looks at reports as a valuable tool to move sales and assure profitability. This can include monitoring best-selling dresses and styles, as well as those that aren’t moving.

7. Is an excuse magnet. With these people there is always a reason for failing. You want a manager who can identify a problem and execute a plan to turn things around, not just come up with reasons why success is difficult.

8. Disregards dirt and chaos. The daily upkeep of your store is a reflection of the pride the manager and the team, Phibbs says. Particularly in a bridal store that is awash in shades of white, if your manager allows trash to accumulate on the counter, dirty windows to sit there, or gowns to hang improperly, customers are going to head out the door to your competitor.

9. Is constantly invisible on the salesfloor. The best managers – like the best owners – are consistenly present on the salesfloor. If they remain in their office or spend all their time glued to their smartphone, heed the warning sign.

10. Likes to micromanage. There is leadership and then the bane of many workers: micromanagement. The key to a good manager is discerning between managing every transaction and teaching your staff how serve the customer without interruption. You want someone who can delegate and inspect afterward, then coach as necessary, Phibbs notes.

11. Publically embarrasses staff. If a manager can’t control his or her impulse to correct staff in front of customers, your problems will multiply. This is a sign that they don’t know how to communicate well. They don’t help staff improve because they are reactive instead of proactive. You want a manager who is hardwired in following the classic mantra: you praise in public and correct in private.
    Avoiding the pitfalls of hiring managers with these negative attributes will be a win all-around. When employees work with an effective manager, they are happy, which translates to your salon’s overall success. Great managers do more than just give their teams a say in how they do their jobs; they also inspire by offering continous opportunities to learn and grow.


Positive Signs of a Good Manager

In previous issues, VOWS has offered stories on why it’s important to motivate and reward your best people. One way to do that is promoting from within.
    But while this may show employees you recognize their hard work, unfortunately, many salons find out the hard way that not every great employee is the best manager.
    Some employees will be up to the challenge, while other workers will flounder on the job and tank productivity in the process, Robyn Melhuish, communications manager at, explains in an online article. Here are key items to look for before you promote from within your ranks.

1. Do they really want to manage? This is the most important question, but it’s so obvious many owners fail to consider that not every superstar employee wants to become a manager.
    Your top-notch salesperson might have become invaluable because she really loves the work she’s doing – and is excellent at it. Naturally you want to reward her by giving her a manager position, which you assume she’d be great at. But what you’re really doing is taking her away from the work at which she excels. If the candidate doesn’t seem motivated to manage, find another way to recognize and reward her hard work and find someone better suited to the management lifestyle.

2. Are they aligned with your goals? Make sure the employee is currently aligned with your goals. Has the potential candidate demonstrated that he or she understands your culture and will lead accordingly?

3. Do they demonstrate organizational skills? In addition, good managers need to demonstrate how to guide workflow, train team members, clearly communicate goals, and keep everyone on track. They have to be organized and ready to negotiate problems.

4. Do they possess top-notch people skills? Can he or she deal with different personalities and abilities? Employees need management suited to their individual abilities and job descriptions.

5. Can they capture the big picture? Just because an employee excels at the day-to-day work of an organization doesn’t mean she’ll be great with big-picture initiatives. As a manager, she will need to help an employee rise to the occasion and help the whole team see how their work fits into the health of your store.

6. Are they a comprehensive communicator? Listening is essential so he or she can clearly communicate to the team.  It is important to not only listen to what is being said, but understand what is left unsaid. This includes the ability to listen to problems, address concerns, and stop small issues from snowballing into huge challenges.

7. Can they groom for growth? Your managers need to be creative thinkers and problem solvers. Before you promote an employee, imagine what concrete value the employee can bring to your business. Have they thought up new ways to face old challenges? Have they brought in new business or helped your company streamline the backroom?

8. Can they motivate? Managers need to know what employees need to stay motivated, and understand what makes their employees tick and how to get them excited about projects. High engagement means high productivity, so only promote managers with the ability to lead and inspire.


Four Skill Sets of Successful Management

Management is a learned skill; it is not something you are born knowing how to do, explains Doug White, of Whitestone Partners, a small-business consulting firm in Midlothian, Va. 
    Any manager you hire will need to be trained in skills that are needed specific to running your store. And unless your new hire has a good management background, be willing to spend time teaching them some things along the way.
    “You can’t throw someone into that role, cross fingers and hope,” adds Polly White, a partner in the firm.
    The consulting team recommends examining four key traits before hiring from within your business or the marketplace.

1. What is the candidate’s personal-management behavior? You want to know how potential managers manage themselves. For example, do they turn up to work on time; are they organized; are they hard workers; do they follow up and hold themselves accountable? If candidates don’t have that kind of personal self-management, or are lackadaisical, disorganized or fail to follow through, those are huge red flags. Bottom line: if they cannot manage themselves they can’t manage anybody else.

2. Examine interpersonal behavior skills. Determine if he or she relates well to other people, is a good listener, and can deal with conflict comfortably. Do they treat other people with respect, know when to talk and when to listen? Do they understand social cues when they are warming up to the customer or are they standoffish?
    If you have someone who never shuts up, has frequent meltdowns, takes credit for other people’s work, or who is not well liked or respected, they are interpersonally inept. Again, these are negative characteristics and behaviors that are fairly unlikely to develop in the future (at the very least, you don’t want to waste your time with this person, hoping he or she will change).

3. Learned leadership skills. A great manager can figure out how to remove roadblocks to the sale. They also have to be able to teach employees and keep the thought process flowing.
    Importantly, they should also know how to praise someone – thanks for good job! – and name something very specific. For example, a manager might tell a bridal consultant that he really liked the way she handled the mother of the bride, persuading her to work with her daughter’s gown choices.
    On the flip side, a good manager has also learned how to give negative feedback and tell someone when she made a poor decision and how to fix that in the future. Of course, negative feedback is always given in private, whereas praise is best made public.

4. Impeccable integrity. If there’s any indication that a candidate’s integrity is in question, trust your gut. “Run away fast,” Polly advises. “Don’t give up the key to the store.”  The consultants also warn against promoting friends and family unless you are absolutely certain they will succeed at the job. It is very difficult to terminate these close associates if their performance isn’t satisfactory.