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What’s Working in Salon Education

Our industry is in the middle of a revolution that requires a major mindset change to survive. Millennials and those growing up in the post-technical world are driving this revolt. Completely at home with every communication platform, innately confident and with high expectations, they are impatient with tradition and the old way of doing things.

Most ISBN members are ahead of the curve on this, recognizing the need to change. At this year’s conference, the breakout session focusing on education was on fire. The knowledge, commitment and enthusiasm to help employees grow to become the best they can burn strong within our membership and it was great to be able to share that.

The takeaways from the session fell into two distinct sections – what works and areas of attrition. We will cover each of these in its own blog.

The session started by looking at what works, with people generously sharing experiences and procedures. Unsurprisingly, inspiration was held up as possibly the most important aspect of education – a requirement for all – new and experienced.

Inspire me

There are core skills that absolutely must be taught as they directly affect the brand’s reputation, whether it’s successfully completing a service in 45, 30 or even 15 minutes, depending on the service model. But there must also be exposure to the rest of the industry and beyond so employees are excited and stimulated. There is so much available now through technology that this new generation of beauty professionals know so much more than we did at their age. They can access amazing education by scanning Instagram, glancing through online magazines or watching a guest artist’s podcast.

Inspirational training also does more than keep your team’s skills sharp; it’s essential for updating techniques so they can deliver on changing trends in hair and beauty. If you think about it, the same holds for ISBN members. Coming to the annual conference is a highlight because it is an opportunity to become immersed in the industry, to network and to learn.

Successful me

Learning must be ongoing; it can’t stop the minute someone graduates from school. The ones that develop from competent into brilliant are almost always those lucky enough to join a company that, like our members, has a strong ethic for continuing professional development. They will be exposed to the rest of the industry and encouraged to participate. But they will also be instructed from the start in the core values of the company, with education at its heart. They will be given a personalized learning program that connects them to the company’s (LMS) Learning Managing System, which, like ours, will include clear learning goals and targets, enables progress to be monitored and gives access to well-curated purposeful content. If they are at risk of missing those targets, additional support will be triggered. Having a program also makes it easier for the employee. They will know exactly what is required from the beginning, be able to recognize any weaknesses and be free from the worry that there will be any sudden surprises; plus they will learn to be responsible for, and to value, their own professional development.

They will be allocated a mentor and possibly encouraged by a cheerleader within the company who has been through the same system and knows its benefits. There will be people to encourage them when they get disheartened.

There are various methods of delivery in education, and harnessing those differences means you can cater for all. Our members at the session universally agreed on the importance of using a variety of educational delivery methods. Different people learn in different ways, and a wide and varied approach allows everyone to succeed.

Recognize me

Education can be a reward in itself. Those passionate about the industry want to be immersed in it, so a trip to IBS or ABS to see their hair heroes in action because they’ve trained hard and improved is a win/win situation. They’ll love it and they’ll keep on being educated. But there must be other rewards for commitment, hard work and success. Perhaps it’s something as small as recognition within the team, a pat on the back for an outstanding individual from the CEO in his or her monthly internal blog to employees or some vouchers for Hollister. It might be an opportunity to help out on a photo session or backstage at NY Fashion Week. It might be a promotion. However small or big, the aim is to emphasis to the learner that she did well and show her effort is appreciated.

We know what works:

  • Inspiration
  • Strong core values
  • Personalized learning programs
  • Cheerleaders
  • Targets
  • Rewards
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Robert Passage

Robert Passage

Robert Passage was born into the beauty industry. His father, Leo Passage founded Pivot Point in 1962. Today, Robert is a licensed cosmetologist, a licensed cosmetology instructor and holds a degree in business from Loyola University. In his roles, he guides Pivot Point International and continues to expand his father's vision and legacy. Robert is an active industry advocate serving on many boards, including American Association of Cosmetology Schools, Cosmetologists Chicago and Beauty Changes Lives. In 2011, he received the N.F. Cimaglia Award for his achievements in promoting cosmetology education for more than 25 years.

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