Why I Was a Terrible Manager (and How I Became a Better One)

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A case for talking to your people.

At a previous Kick.Start.Smart. event in Sydney, Julie Stevanja of Stylerunner opened up about the hard lessons she learnt as a manager early on. “I just love to get into my office and sit at my computer and get stuff done, but when we started to hire people, I’d say, ‘Hi guys!’ and just sit down at my computer and work all day,” Julie said. “Over time I realised that they felt a little bit scared to approach me or they felt I didn’t love them – and there was nothing further from the truth.”

Realising her shortcomings (and taking practical steps towards fixing them) was Julie’s key to success. “I was a terrible manager and I just didn’t know it,” she said. “I just wanted to get to my computer and do my work and I thought everyone was the same, but of course, we’re not, we’re all different. So I had to learn how to be a great manager and to set the time aside and spend time checking in with people.”

Julie’s go-to strategy is a regular focused check-in with opened ended questions. “We have one-on-ones now and the first question I ask is, ‘Where are you on a scale of one to 10?’. Because if your staff are feeling a ‘four’, you need to know about that early so you can work out what the reason for that is and what can you do to change that. We work on that [by asking], ‘What can we do to get you to a 10?’”

Read More: How To Delegate Like A Boss And Get More Done

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