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Meet our Modern Manager Panelists | Ivayla Tzvetkova

Join us on Wed. Sep. 27 for a lively conversation about how to motivate employees in the modern workplace. Learn more and RSVP here

In this series of posts, we’ll be shining the spotlight on our expert panelists for the event. Next up, Ivayla Tzvetkova! Head over to our blog to meet the rest of the panelists, and our moderator.

Ivayla has worked with some of the biggest names in banking, IT and tourism – HSCB, CGI, BMO and Expedia, to name a few. After getting her MBA, she went on to manage sales teams around the world – most recently in Italy and New Zealand with Expedia. She’s back home in Toronto and is excited to discover the latest unique design shops and eat the city’s best poke bowls.

Favourite One-on-one question: “How can I help you get to where you want to be?”

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How Ivayla Learned from the Burn 🔥

Modern Managers learn by doing. And sometimes that means we get burned. I sat down with Ivayla to hear about a time she got burned, what she learned and how she avoids making the same mistake again: 

Tell me about a time you were burned in the past. I was brought over from Italy to cover a mat leave and manage a Sales team in NZ. One employee was particularly difficult to manage – her ego outpaced her experience and, although she was super smart, her attitude was toxic. Her and her old manager got along really well, so I figured she’d let up a bit when she’d had time to adjust. Two months went by and nothing changed, so I decided to confront her. By then, her negative feelings toward me had had a chance to fester and we ended up requiring a mediated discussion to sort out our communications issues. Turns out there was a cultural divide in terms of our styles – I tend toward straight-forward exchanges, preferring to create an open environment for my team, but she was more guarded and wanted to keep the relationship at an arm’s length. In the end we worked it out, but the burn was waiting so long to confront the issue. Had we been able to have a transparent conversation about our styles at the first sign of friction, we could have saved a lot of time and frustration.

What did you take away from that experience? After our mediated conversation, and in working with my Director, I realized I was the one who had to adjust my style, and not the other way around. Motivation isn’t a one-size-fits-all thing – even though my style works with a lot of people, it won’t resonate with everyone. It’s my job as the manager to understand what motivates each individual employee, and adjust my style accordingly. This employee didn’t want to build a relationship with me – she needed a task manager. Once that became clear, it was a lot easier to get results.

How do you avoid making the same mistake again? Whenever I start working with a new team, the first thing I do is ask, “How do you like to communicate with your manager?” and “Are there any negative experiences you’ve had with managers in the past you’d like to avoid?” By confronting any points of friction right away, we’re able to quickly work through any differences and move right to getting results! 

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