Every young person entering our industry brings a set of challenges unique to them and their generation. But more recently, the post-Millennial generation has perhaps posed a greater challenge to employers and managers. As we discussed at our conference breakout session on the stylist mindset, the seismic shift in the way we access information today has led to a near-breakdown in understanding between the generations.
I argued in an earlier blog on our site that I believe it is up to us to change to accommodate this brave new world – the young certainly won’t change because they don’t know any other way – and I think when we do, we are better able to understand the shortcomings of some young people embarking on a career as a stylist or aesthetician. But I still recognize there are issues with a set of young people who have developed much of their communication and interpersonal skills while looking inward, hunched over a cell-phone exchanging memes and gifs.
One of the most oft-quoted difficulties is in client relationships. This can also extend to difficulties working as part of a team. There is a danger that a young person who has grown up communicating remotely might not develop the fundamental skill of being able to read body language or being able to present their own body in a way others understand. The fallout is that while they will be totally relaxed engaging with someone they’ve never met on the other side of the globe via Snapchat, they may lack the confidence to talk to a complete stranger face-to-face, especially if that person is the same age or older than their mother.
But these challenges aren’t new in this industry. Lots of youngsters struggle when they first join the workplace because they have to talk to adults. Part of every successful company’s education program covers communication so our newest recruits learn what it takes to be successful participants. If we shift our attitude from hypercritical to understanding, and hone our education programs and systems to accommodate these challenges, then we’ll carry on producing successful employees.
I’m a huge fan of Amy Cuddy, the social psychologist behind ‘power-posing’ – standing in a posture of confidence. She reckons presenting in a confident way actually affects testosterone and cortisol levels in the brain, and might even have an impact on our chances of success. So we teach our team through role-playing to pretend being confident, to exude self-assurance. We teach them how to shake hands properly, how to always smile and to make eye-contact. We make them aware that how they stand and move sends constant messages to others, and how they can control it to put others at ease and encourage confidence in their abilities.
These skills have always needed to be taught to the very young, but I agree we need to be more systematic and comprehensive these days as such issues do appear to be more prevalent. But young people are naturally inquisitive and keen to learn, so let’s give them the tools to be more confident and succeed so that they find a home in our industry.