A Lesson on Swallowing Your Pride and Being a Better Boss

When Kristen Hadeed was growing up, at the dinner table her parents asked what


go well that day and what she and her siblings learned from it. She learned from a young age that failure was a growth opportunity, not something to fear.

“My relationship with failure is probably why I was able to bounce back quickly,” Kristen explains on the podcast, referring to a mistake she made early on in her cleaning company when her small team jumped from four to sixty in less than a month. Kristen was just nineteen years old at the time and still in college.

That was over ten years ago. Since then, her company

Student Maid

has continued to serve a double purpose: offer commercial and residential cleaning services and teach professional and leadership skills to students.

In this episode, Housecall Pro’s Roland and Alexa talked to Kristen about how she learned to be a leader and how she runs her company. We’ve included some of the main points from the podcast in this article.

Resources Mentioned:

Be Transparent With Your Team And Customers About Your Mistakes [3:08]

On the “best” and “worst” day of Kristen’s life, 45 of her 60 cleaners quit at once early on into a huge contract. Kristen was new to being a boss and had a lot to learn. But instead of letting the experience defeat her, she asked everyone to come in with the promise of an early paycheck.

She admitted she messed up and asked for their feedback. By the end of the meeting, they all decided to give her a second chance.

“We have to experience things to learn when you mess up, the best thing you can do is admit it and to not let your ego get in the way and to not let these moments defeat you, to see how you can learn from them and grow from them and be better.”

Kristen keeps the mindset of being transparent about her mistakes. She builds trust with both her team and her customers by being honest about when she has messed up or doesn’t know what to do. But there’s more than simple honesty at play. Student Maid has different management practices in place that are built around honesty and communication, including consistent meetings with her team and customers.

Ask Your Team And Customers What You Can Do Better [17:46]

Hold Company Improvement Meetings

Kristen holds meetings where she asks each of her employees to say one thing that would make the company better. She takes notes and makes sure everyone feels heard.

“It's up to us as leaders to create the space for our people to have these conversations with us and to ask some powerful questions,” she explains.

Customer Focus Groups

Kristen also encourages business owners to bring customers into the conversation, as well. To accomplish this, she hosts focus groups where she takes a few customers to lunch and asks what she can do to improve her service.

Respond To Mistakes with Values In Mind [26:28]

Leading with transparency and focusing on relationships does not have to mean being a pushover. When team members make mistakes, Kristen’s response varies based on the company’s values:

“It's okay if you mess up as long as you're making a decision with our values in mind and coming from the right place. If the outcome is bad, we will learn from it.

But if you make a decision out of greed, out of selfishness, dishonest — that we have no tolerance for, but just making people feel safe because you want people to feel empowered.”

Offer Daily Feedback Supported By Quarterly Reviews [28:21]

Management at Student Maid offers their staff feedback on a daily basis, whenever they see a habit that could be improved. They use a process known as F.B.I. when offering someone feedback. It stands for

feeling, behavior, impact

Kristen gives an example of offering employee feedback using F.B.I.: 

“I feel disappointed that you’re 30 minutes late to your shift and the impact is now I'm unsure if I can rely on you, and I don't want to feel that way, can you help me understand what's happening?”

Everyone is encouraged to use the framework. Team members approach company leaders in the same way. And Kristen explains that by the time quarterly reviews come around, nothing that is mentioned is a surprise. The quarterly review offers a time for deeper reflection instead of a bunch of small things.

Encourage People to Solve Their Own Problems [43:12]

When someone comes to Kristen with a problem, she asks them to offer feedback using the 1.3.1 method:

1. What is the challenge, problem, or obstacle? 

3. What are three ideas that you have to solve that challenge, problem, or obstacle?

1. What is your best recommendation out of all three of those solutions? 

Using this method Kristen explains that people get into the habit of finding their own solutions instead of relying on someone else. 

People Quitting Is Not a Sign of Failure [46:18]

Another way that Kristen has reconceptualized failure and success is by learning that it’s okay when an employee decides to leave. It might be because they have a better opportunity, she explains. Or even when their exit means there are things the company could have done better, Kristen sees it as a growth opportunity. She conducts exit interviews to discuss what they could have done better.

She sees companies making the mistake of being led by this fear which causes other issues, like being afraid to offer feedback. Instead, she recommends focusing on what’s best for each team member. She explains, “The moment. I stopped focusing on keeping people and I just focused on investing in people and helping them become the best them, then all of a sudden people didn't want to leave.”

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