Is it really just a word?

I’m often amazed at how much a word used to describe a persons title or position has a big impact on how they see their job and how others relate to them.

Now I know that some of it’s cultural and what might be appropriate in one country may not be in another, but that aside let me explain.

As an example, I was in a salon in Ireland last year and the owner was giving me a tour and he introduced me to one of his team as “This is Mary, she’s the housekeeper”. Now I don’t know about you but you don’t often hear someone in a salon referred to as the ‘Housekeeper’.

When I enquired what Mary actually did in the salon, I was told, “She’s the cleaner”. Now, they could have called her ‘the cleaner’ but they chose to give her the title ‘Housekeeper’.

How do you think they made Mary feel about her job? How do you think it made the rest of the team think about Mary’s role in the salon? And how do you think it made the clients think about Mary’s role just because of a different title?

Titles can be empowering or disempowering…

In bigger salons, there will often be at least one person working full-time in a role at the front desk. That position can have numerous names from ‘front of house’, ‘receptionist’, ‘maitre de’, ‘front desk manager’, ‘guest services manager’ or ‘salon co-ordinator’ etc

I have often noticed that when a person in a salon is given the title ‘receptionist’ that in so many ways it disempowers them. Without saying anything else to that person, or to the clients, or the rest of the team the assumption is that they just answer the phone and check clients in and out.

But because of the title ‘receptionist’ they are also often seen as subordinate to the stylist who are likely to see them as someone there to work for them, someone to look after their clients, to take their clients bill, to get their clients coat etc.

The stylist will often tell the ‘receptionist’ to move their breaks or to allow more time for a service or call a client and change an appointment …And that’s just not how I see the role of receptionist, but the title itself has so much baggage around it. 

My preference for someone in that position is to call them ‘Salon Coordinator’. Just the change in name without saying anything else implies that there is a different level of responsibility, a different level of seniority, and a different relationship with the stylist and with the clients.

I see someone with the title ’Salon Coordinator’ as someone who is overall responsible for managing the productivity of the salon and everyone in it. They are responsible for managing the appointment book and the overall client experience.

If you give them the title ‘Salon Coordinator’ that is the first step in making that happen.

Politically correctness or fashionable…

Sometimes a word might be appropriate for a period of time but after a while become unfashionable or not ‘modern’ for want of a better explanation.

A good example of that is the word ‘Junior’ as opposed to assistant.

In the 80’s they were called ‘Juniors’ and it seemed right.

Now though, I think it’s much more empowering, modern or even dignified to refer to someone as an ‘assistant’.

Words have power, the words we use to give titles or positions to people on our teams have a lot of connotations about them before any job description has been written or training given, so think carefully about the titles you give because maybe they are working against you.

Thank you for watching…

Have a great week! 

One response to “Is it really just a word?”

  1. Philip Gravels says:

    Thanks for bringing to my attention the things that make sense. It’s nice to listen to, as I, someone who has a love for the business more than a job.

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