Monday 23 April 2018

What I wish I'd known before I started

Hilarie Geary, managing director of Executive Connection

Delegate the stress: Hilarie Geary. Photo: Tony Gavin
Delegate the stress: Hilarie Geary. Photo: Tony Gavin

Roisin Burke

George Bernard Shaw once said: "A life spent making mistakes is not only more honourable, but more useful than a life spent doing nothing."

Well, in the early days of establishing my business I really feared making a wrong decision.

For example, I would have hesitated on occasion to develop a new sector or make a specific hire. Now I know to trust my instinct and go for it – taking an attitude that says "I know I can make this work".

And if the decision turns out to be a wrong one I don't beat myself up about it but learn from it and move on.

Making mistakes can actually empower you and keep you humble. In fact, if there's anything you should be afraid of, it's not making mistakes at all.

In the beginning I worked incredibly long hours, arriving into work at 7am and working into the night. Then, after having had my three children in quick succession, I had to learn how to develop a work-life balance that made me happy – but yet gave enough to the business to bring it to where it is today.

Losing an element of covetousness and learning to delegate took time. However, once I did delegate things more, the value of sharing the common goals for the business through my management teams and allowing all to participate at an executive level allowed individuals to flourish.

This resulted in a highly driven and successful senior management team.

When setting up I would have hired individuals that had less experience or knowledge than me. Today I hire people who do elements of my job better than me. I trust them to get on with it, without me micro-managing their every move.

As advertising guru David Ogilvy said: "Hire people who are better than you are, then leave them to get on with it."

I also took a one-cap-fits-all approach when it came to my staff management style. As time went on I learnt that this most definitely does not work and that it is important to adopt different management styles to suit different individuals.

Having established my business at the ripe young age of 25 this was one of the steepest learning curves.

Again, this took time to realise and to change and involved taking a number of management programmes to help develop different management and communication styles. As a result, retention of personnel within our business is very strong in an industry that sees high attrition levels.

Hilarie Geary was in conversation with Roisin Burke

Sunday Indo Business

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