​Managing Self-Starters

Interactive May 08, 2015 ​Managing Self-Starters

A list of things to encourage and things to avoid when creating an environment for self-starters to thrive.

Employee retention and productivity should be top-of-mind for every manager here at Ohio State regardless of business unit or type of work. And one of the best ways to encourage a healthy, productive environment is to encourage staff to become self-starters. As emphasized in a recent Harvard Business Journal web article, employees who feel they have a stake in the success and production of their unit are happier team members, and that makes for a successful business unit. A self-starter is a good team member who will contribute at whatever level is needed, and will fill many different roles regardless of job title. A self-starter is neither above or below any task that needs completion - s/he sees the big picture and helps the group achieve its larger goals.

Here is a list of things to encourage and things to avoid when creating an environment for self-starters to thrive.

  • Managers don’t need to touch everything
    • Give self-starters a sense of ownership
    • Help develop a trust-based relationship
    • Don’t compete or attempt to be better than your staff
    • Give self-starters access to leadership
  • Celebrate successes, never dwell on failures
    • Nothing kills self-starters’ attitudes like harping on missteps
    • The best innovations were preceded by failures
    • Not everything is a home run, small things count too
    • Don’t just show up when thing go wrong
  • Allow for space
    • Nix the words “we’ve always done it this way”
    • Self-starters are going to have ideas that challenge the status quo
    • Look for opportunities to launch a career rather than keeping butts-in-seats
  • Ask more questions
    • Rather than making statements, ask questions
    • Set clear expectations and then step back
  • How are you running staff meetings?
    • Do you always talk first?
    • Is there space on the agenda for others?
    • Don’t list the meetings you will attend, focus on the why
    • Never have a meeting to justify existence
  • Call projects “beta” or “demos”
    • Self-starters want to be able to try new things
    • If something didn’t work, be willing to kill it off; self-starters may have trouble letting it go
    • Try an agile approach if possible; more small goals, sprint to get something done and out into the world

About the author

Ted Hattemer - hattemer.1@osu.edu
Assistant Vice President
Ted Hattemer

Ted is a 20-year veteran of higher ed communications focusing on corporate web, e-communications and social media strategy and policy.


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