SmartStyle Salons
Keisha Westbrook takes pride in her position as salon manager for SmartStyle Salon, one of six local hair salons associated with a large retail store chain located in the Southeast and one of five chain store groups under the Gold Group umbrella. She oversees a staff of 30, including hairdressers, a nail technician, receptionists, shampoo assistants, and a custodian. She enjoys a reputation as a manager who works very hard and takes care of her people. Hairdressers want to work for her.
Following the salon’s new-hire policy, Westbrook began as a shampoo assistant and quickly became a top hairdresser in the company through a combination of skill, a large and loyal client base, and long hours at work. In 2017, retiring manager Carla Weems hand-picked Westbrook as her successor, and the board quickly approved.
Initially, the salon, located in a suburban mall, managed a strong, steady increase in revenue, holding its position as one of the corporation’s top performers. But an economic downturn hit the area hard, with increased rates of unemployment, mortgage woes, and foreclosures among current and potential customers. As families sought ways to save, the luxury of regular visits to the hair salon was among the first logical budget cuts. The past year has reflected this economic reality, and Westbrook’s salon saw a sharp decrease in its business and profits.
Westbrook’s stomach is in knots as she arrives at the salon on Monday. Scheduled to fly to Atlanta the next morning for a meeting at corporate headquarters, she fears potential staffing cuts. More important, she fears the loss of the opportunity to secure her dream job: replacing the retiring manager at the Riverwood Mall location, which is the top-performing salon and is located in an upscale area of the city.
Distracted, Westbrook walks past the receptionist, Marianne, who is busily answering the phones. Hanging up the phone, Marianne tells Westbrook that Carol Jean, a popular hairdresser, called in sick, and they now have to reschedule their clients. Moreover, Marianne said that Carol Jean was badmouthing the salon on Facebook again. Westbrook had denied her earlier request to miss a day to travel out of town to attend a concert, and her irritation is obvious. The Facebook post slammed the salon for its declining business and being a poor place to work.
Westbrook orders Marianne to call Carol Jean and instruct her that, when she returns to work, she is to bring a doctor’s statement and a copy of any prescriptions that she was given. “She had better be sick!” Westbrook shouts as she enters her office, slamming the door more forcefully than she intended. Startled employees and early-morning customers hear the outburst, and, after a momentary pause, they resume their activities and quiet conversation, surprised by the show of managerial anger. Westbrook knows she has let Carol Jean get away with unwarranted absences and negative Facebook comments before, and she worries that she might engage in such behavior again. She needs every head of hair that they can style to help the salon’s profit.
Westbrook takes a deep breath and sits at her desk, turning on the computer and checking e-mails, including one from the group manager reminding her to send the salon’s status report in advance of tomorrow’s meeting. She buzzes Marianne on the intercom to request final figures for the report on her desk by 1:00 p.m.
Picking up the phone, she calls Sharon, a manager at another SmartStyle Salon. “I really lost my cool in front of everyone, but I’m not apologizing,” Westbrook admits, adding that she wished she had the guts to fire the stylist. “But this is not the day for that drama. I’ve got that report hanging over my head. I have no idea how to make things look better than they are, but I have to come up with something. Things look pretty dismal.”
Sharon assures her that she did the best she could dealing with an “irresponsible” employee. “What will you do if she shows up tomorrow with no doctor’s statement?”
“I don’t know. I hope I scared her enough so that she’ll come in with something.”
“I know you’re worried about the report and the effect it might have on the Riverwood job,” Sharon says. “But everyone knows you can’t control the economy and its effect on the business. Just focus on the positive. You’ll be fine.”
At 10:30, as Westbrook struggles to put the best possible spin on the report, she is paged to the receptionist desk to speak to an angry customer. “Another interruption,” she fumes to herself. Just then, the door opens and top stylist/assistant manager Victoria Boone sticks her head into the office.
“I know you’re busy with the report. I’ll handle this,” she says enthusiastically.
“Thanks,” Westbrook replies.
No sooner has she handed off the irate client to Victoria than she second-guesses the decision. In addition to her talents as a hairdresser, Victoria had experience as the manager of a successful salon in another city before moving to the area. Recognizing her organizational and people skills, Westbrook promoted Victoria to assistant manager soon after her arrival. Now each “I’ll handle this” remark by Victoria convinces Keisha that her assistant manager is positioning herself as a potential rival for the Riverwood job. Westbrook appreciates her enthusiastic attitude, but she’s also trying to limit her opportunities to lead or appear too competent before staff, customers, and company officials. Westbrook finds herself wanting to hide Victoria’s competence, and she has condescendingly reminded management that Victoria is a “great help to me.”
Now, thinking of Victoria’s cheerful “I’ll handle this,” Westbrook rises from her desk and marches to the door. No, she thinks, I’ll take care of this personally.

What positive and negative managerial characteristics does Keisha Westbrook possess? 
How do her characteristics align with the technical, human, and conceptual skills described in the chapter?
How do these traits help or hinder her potential to get the top position at the Riverwood Mall salon?
How would you have handled each of the incidents with Marianne? Carol Jean? Victoria?

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