29 February 2024

Staff motivation: tips from Liz McKeon

Staff motivation is the driving force which causes us to achieve our salon business goals. This is why managers and supervisors need to know how to motivate their employees. Here Liz McKeon. an internationally renowned Salon Expert, provides some ideas.

Where should a salon owner or manager start?

It is impossible to be a motivating, effective manager if your own enthusiasm for the salon starts to diminish. You can help to maintain your passion for your salon by maintaining your health and managing your own stress. Surround yourself with positive people, train all your staff in how your business operates. Make good rules, stick to them yourself and you will reap the rewards. Be open and honest, lead by example and your team will follow.

Liz McKeon, founder of the International Salon Business School, is an internationally renowned Salon Expert, bestselling author, speaker, salon coach
and trainer.

Always set the objective of aligning the goals of the organization with the goals of the employees. Don’t do everything yourself. Learn to delegate and give due importance to teamwork. Let them decide how they want to carry out tasks. When you delegate, your team will get the impression that you want them to take stronger roles in their jobs.

Staff Motivation: the Top 10 Proven Ways to improve it

  1. Personally thank employees for doing a good job one to one, in writing, verbally or both. Do it timely, often and sincerely.
  2. Be willing to take the time to meet with and listen to employees – as much as they want or need.
  3. Provide specific and frequent feedback about their performance. Support them in improving performance.
  4. Recognize, reward and promote high performers, attend to and deal with low and marginal performers so that they improve or leave.
  5. Provide information on how the company makes and loses money, upcoming new products/services and strategies for competing in the market place. Explain each person’s role in the overall plan.
  6. Involve all staff members in decisions, especially as those decisions affect them. Remember involvement equals commitment.
  7. Give employees a chance to grow and learn new skills; encourage them to do their best. Show them how you can help them meet their goals while also achieving the salon’s goals. Create a partnership with each employee.
  8. Provide employees with a sense of ownership in their work and the salon. The ownership can be symbolic (for example, appointment/business cards for each member of the staff)
  9. Create an open, trusting and fun working environment. Encourage new ideas, suggestions and initiative. Allow staff to learn from, rather than punish mistakes.
  10. Celebrate the success of the salon and of the individuals working with you. Take time for team and morale building meetings and activities. Be creative and fresh with your ideas.

How can effective feedback improve staff motivation?

You’ve also got to master the art of giving constructive feedback, that doesn’t de-motivate them. Salon professionals don’t like making mistakes and they don’t like the manager drawing attention to them. Give staff the chance to correct their own mistakes whenever possible and praise them for doing so.


  1. Always exaggerate the good and downplay the bad.
  2. Always praise in public and correct in private.

How can a salon owner or manager tackle poor morale?

Poor morale undermines the staff motivation, hurts the product and service they offer, and can alienate clients. It may arise for many reasons, such as a difficult economic climate, a personality clash or poor management. All of these may result in a high stress environment. And this is the last thing you want your clients to experience!

Poor morale can be so widespread that, after a while, it is difficult to know how to identify its source. Then is becomes difficult to reverse it. What may start just as one individual’s apathy can deteriorate into a generalized infectious problem that spreads throughout the entire salon.

The good news is – it is reversible!

Even the manager must know how to get back on track when morale is ebbing. Everybody needs to vent frustration and anger sometimes, but more importantly, to receive assurance that they are appreciated. Don’t let the lines of communication break down when you are feeling low.

Your staff is the salon’s most valuable resource. By offering open, constructive feedback, staff will feel inclined to co-operate with you as you drive your salon forward. Tackling poor morale is not a one-off. It needs to be sustained constantly. Communicating openly will demonstrate that you are in charge of your salon. Staff motivation can improve when you communicate that you care for and value your team. Let them know you are committed to providing a satisfying place to work.

What is the best way to communicate with staff?

Be honest and transparent. A large part of staff motivation is about trust. Your team should consider you the most reliable source of information. Never lie to your team and keep them informed about what’s going on as much as possible. If there is bad news, it is better they hear it from you first, rather than from corridor gossip, often exaggerated and distorted. Give them a chance to voice their questions and answer to the best of your ability.

Remember that peoples’ feelings matter. When faced with doubts, they need to feel comfortable coming to you for clarification. Be ready to put concerns into perspective for them, helping them to remain focused and motivated.

Be a motivated leader and watch your business soar to new heights! See more about Liz’s work here!


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