The valuable lesson this broker learned from a hairdressing coach

Mortgage Choice broker Caroline Jean-Baptiste has always been an innovative broker— but often her best ideas come from looking beyond the broking network.

“I went paperless within my first year. It was not revolutionary, but it was something different,” says the Fortitude Valley-based broker, who’s been in business for 13 years.

It wasn’t so much about pushing the boundaries as it was about making her life easier.

“I wanted a better way of doing things that would make my process more efficient and make my life easier.”

So when she wanted to learn how to better manage her staff, she decided to cast her net wide. She came upon a strategy employed by a coach for hair stylists.

The simple strategy centres around preventing problems before they arise. Every week, Jean-Baptiste holds 10-minute casual sit-down chats with each member of her team. She asks them the same 10 questions to find out how they’re feeling and why, and how she can better help and support them. “Listen and ask, ‘What else?’”

In the past, Jean-Baptiste said she often struggled with trying to strike the right balance between getting to know her staff personally while also maintaining that professional distance.

But as most business owners know, people’s personal lives affect their professional lives, so as a boss it’s best to be clued in to what’s going on.

Jean-Baptiste says the 10-question strategy has made a huge different in her leadership.

“It's the ideal forum to see any problems as they start and kill the problem before it becomes a monster.”

“Of course, the questions can be changed to suit the workplace, but the important thing is to keep them the same so everyone knows what to expect. Discuss in mutual territory like a coffee shop, not in the boss’s office.”

Ten questions to ask your staff:

1. Out of 10, how do you feel today? Why?
2. What are you proud of this week?
3. What is your biggest challenge?
4. What are you working on at the moment?
5. How are your figures? What's up and what's down?
6. How can I help you be your best?
7. What do you need me to do in order for you to grow? How can I support you with training?
8. Are there any team issues we need to address?
9. How are you improving yourself?
10. How are you managing your workload to ensure everything gets done?

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