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Talent Management: Family Style

July 5, 2011

I’m a loyal customer at both my hair salon and my nail salon; balmy south Louisiana weather can mean year-round open-toed shoes which, in turn, necessitates year-round pedicures.  Interestingly enough, both salons are owned by Vietnamese families: in the case of the hair salon, a pair of sisters, and in the case of the nail salon, a husband/wife team.

As I’ve been a customer at both for a number of years now, I’ve been able to watch their talent acquisition, training/mentoring, and succession planning activities unfold right before my eyes.  Both operations require a dedicated staff, willing to work long hours with a focus on service, efficiency and within the parameters of various regulations/licensing requirements.  Obviously, as customer-facing and service focused enterprises, mad-skillz are not enough.  Everyone who works at each business must be pleasant, personable and able to deal with the sometimes-grumbly public.

Now I’m sure that no one at either business has sat down and mapped out their Talent Strategy; they just do it.  But they do it right…and we could all probably learn lessons from them.

Talent Aquisition:  Both the nail salon and the hair salon leave nothing to chance.  They are constantly on the look-out for new talent and ready to bring a new staff member on-board as soon as the need arises or when theyneed to adjust to changing business demands.  Not only do both have a wide and deep pool of extended family members from which to draw, they also ‘share’ resources as necessary.  One of the nail technicians (a daughter) returned to Vietnam for an extended family vacation, so the manager (“mom”) recruited another tech from a salon across town to come in and fill the talent need.

Career Pathing:  I’ve seen this play out in the hair salon over the years.  New employees/family members often come in with a goal of teaching them the business and growing their skills to get them to the next move.  First step is shampoo girl (oftentimes going hand-in-hand with learning English), with subsequent duties taking the new staff member on to the reception/scheduling desk.  If one has sufficient desires, capabilities and interests, the next stop on the journey is moving towards beautician’s school and acquiring a license.  And some staff (usually the college age sons/daughters) are well-equipped and content to continue working as a scheduler/receptionist since they’re making plans to finish college with a degree in another field.

Succession Planning:  As with any family business, this aspect of talent management is probably the one that is front of mind.  To whom will the business move after the original owners retire/leave? Who will take over?  At the nail salon, I get a sense that mom/dad want to hang on – at least for a while.  But as several sons and daughters work for the business, I take quite a bit of comfort in the fact that I will probably be able to patronize this shop for a long long time.


Just as in any organization, there’s a bit of tension around some of the goals, plans and working conditions.  As she and I chatted on the saturday of Mother’s Day weekend, I learned from one of the daughters at the nail salon that the kids have a great desire to close for more holidays, yet her parents will not.  Even though the kids begged with mom to close on Mother’s Day so they could celebrate as a family, mom insisted on keeping the salon open.  Historical trends gave them the knowledge that they would probably have only 1 or 2 customers on Mother’s Day, but mom insisted on being open.  And mom won.

I guess it’s just a tad harder to make an argument for more workplace flexibility when Mom is the boss.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. July 6, 2011 2:37 am

    I love this. Although since it’s a nail salon, we might think of it as ‘talon management.’

  2. July 6, 2011 6:53 am

    Bah dum dum! Ladies and gentlemen – she’ll be here all week!.. 😉


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