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What I Wish I Would Have Done Before I Hired My Team

In this brand new episode of Raney Day Talks podcast, I’m directly speaking to myself before I hired my first team member and what I wish I would have known and considered before I hired.

If you’re looking to grow your team or if you’re looking to create a more vibrant culture in your company, I encourage you to take a listen.

I’m a firm believer of being a servant leader…

-- Jennifer Sakowski

Podcast Transcript

Hey there, grab your coffee and let’s talk the business. How to grow it, how to sustain it, and how to harness the wonderful world wide web to do it, with me your host, Jennifer Sakowski. Let’s get started. Welcome to a brand new episode of Raney Day Talks podcast, and today we’re going to play a little game called ask Jen. I was recently asked by a friend and colleague about if I would go back to before I hired my first person here at Raney Day Design, what would I tell Jen then, knowing what I know now? What is that secret sauce that has evolved this business and this amazing team of people into what it is now? And I had to think about it for a few, because I was trying to think of this elaborate response that would add so much value.

But my gut reaction came back to before, and this is the first point, before you hire anyone, you have to evaluate your current role at your company. So before we look elsewhere, we have to look in, and you need to take time to… And I’m talking to myself, baby Jen, baby Jen in business eight years ago, that I would say, you have to take the time to write out and track your time, and where is it going? What tasks, what projects, and what is pulling you in whatever direction? And then put it into buckets. So I would take at least a week, if not two weeks, and I would track every little thing, because for me, I find it extremely hard to do this, even now, when I challenge my team to check your time, I am sucking it up. So, excuse me, as I’m saying this, I’m actually convicted right now of I need to go in and hit ClockIt.

But I want you to take time to write that out. I want you to take time to process what areas do you truly need help? Because sometimes we think, “Oh, well I need a virtual assistant or I need this and this is going to solve my problems.” Sometimes that’s not the case. And it’s important to see where you’re spending your most energy at, and then evaluate those items. Is it something that you love to do? Does it bring you joy? Is it something that you absolutely hate doing, and it’s something that you have to do every single month? Is it something that it doesn’t require just you and something that you can train someone else? Write this stuff down. Can you delegate it? Can you transfer to someone else? Can you train someone? Is it something that you could just completely trim out of your to-do list that’s really not adding any value to your business or your goals?

So take that time, at least a week, if not two weeks. And I would be critical of myself. And I think sometimes, as I look back, I didn’t take the time. I was so quick to implement, to take action. I needed to hit pause and evaluate internally. So that’s the first thing that I would do. And if I wasn’t sure how I felt about it, I would take even a further step back before I went to tracking my time and evaluating where it was going and what tasks I was applying myself to, I would find out what truly does bring me joy in the work that I do? I would play the game of finding my sweet spot. What is it that… I would take a sheet of paper, out at the very top write your sweet spot. On the left, this is the things that you are skilled with. On the right side, things that bring you joy and that you love doing.

So the skills, those are things that you may are trained to do, you’re really good at them, but it’s not your favorite thing, but you’re really good at them. On the right hand side, it could be something that you’re not so great at, but you love doing it and that you want to do more of it and you want to get better at. So once you write those two lists out, then take another color and then match up what is on both sides. What’s consistent. Because most likely that’s your sweet spot. That’s where you want to save. It’s something that you’re really good at doing and that brings you joy. You want to do more of that.

So that’s where I would evaluate first. And then also when you’re making those lists of where your time’s going, the things that you don’t want to do, heck yeah, that is something who you could hire to do it, to take it, and make it their own, and most likely they’ll do it better than you. And I find that time and time again, that they may be more detailed or that might be their sweet spot. So that’s the first thing. Evaluate, evaluate, evaluate.

Then the next thing is once you’ve identified what position that you are going to hire for, and that you have a list of items that you will be able to fully delegate those tasks to, then you need to create that position from the top down. Give it a name, give that position a description. Be as thorough as possible. And write out, if you haven’t already captured the processes that you do for the tasks that you’re going to delegate, do that. Create your SOPs. Create the processes, when they come in, that you are equipped to train them and allow them to hit the ground running, without stalling out or you making it up as you go. Because I’ve done both and it’s much easier to manage your own workload plus bring on someone else if you have your training documents in place.

So how do you do that, Jen? Oh, let me tell you. There’s this thing called Loom, which we use and love. It’s a browser extension and it’s free, which is amazing. Grab that tool and talk it out. You capture your screen, do the task, and I prefer to do it in bite sized chunks because it’s easier to transcribe. Do it in bite sized chunks. You can use Rev to transcribe it, or you can transcribe it yourself. Put the points steps by step down. And if you don’t take the time to transcribe it, at least it’s documented. Put it on a Google Doc, name it, file it away under that position, and continue to do that over and over and over again. Because once you have those documents and those training processes down, it makes it a lot easier for that person to come on. So they have something to refer back to. It’s that simple.

And I know we get caught up, like, “Oh, we have to do it.” No, just do it. Download that extension and just do it and file it away, because I promise you it will help you in the long run. And then I would map out… As I’m creating that position, I would map out what it’s going to be like when they first start. What’s day one going to look like? What’s day three going to look like? What’s the first week? What’s 90 days. What are their incentives? What stages, milestones are they going to be hitting in their training? When do they get to take the training wheels off? Have that mapped out, because I believe when someone gets hired in and they have all of this documentation and a plan ready for them, they’re going to feel supported and they’re going to feel equipped to do the job that they’ve been hired to do, more so than playing the game of let’s just wait for the boss to see what she’s going to send me today. Or what’s going to come down to the pipeline today?

No, plan it out. And while you’re planning those out, not just the tasks that you’re delegating, but also plan out ongoing work, something that are projects that they can chip away at if they need time to fill, that will still add value to them and their position. Maybe it’s training courses, maybe it’s books, resources to go through. Maybe they’re doing cleanup of your database. But pick something that will help your business as a whole and that will allow them to take ownership in that task. Oh, that brings me to a very important role, a very important point, is how do we truly delegate something? What does that mean? I used to think that it’s just me telling you what to do, and then you go do it, and then you come back to me when you have questions. No, no, it’s more than that.

When I truly delegate a task, I am going to shift the responsibility of the outcome of that task to you. And I’m going to put it in a nice, pretty package of, “Team member, this is what needs to be done. This is the information that you need and the permissions, the logins, whatever that you need to do it.” And I give them the instructions or the video or a Loom, and then here is what success looks like. Here’s what my expectation is. How they get there, as long as they follow through with those certain guidelines that I’ve given them, that’s on them. They’re able to have the responsibility and the opportunity to meet that demand and to take ownership in that success of that task or project. That frees me up to do other things.

So boss, I really want you to challenge yourself about control, because as a leader, you have to give up some control. I’m a firm believer of being a servant leader, and that my team knows there’s nothing that I’ve given them that I wouldn’t do if I knew how. And I’m thinking of my full stack developer Stuart, because some things that he does, I have no idea how he gets there, but dang it if I wouldn’t try. Or I would Google it up to try to figure out how to do it, or execute the task. But outside of that, they know I’ll jump in right alongside them. But I hired them to do a job, to take responsibility, that because of them, we’re able to do bigger and better things. So I’m going to give them the opportunity and release my grip from it and be okay if it’s not… If they had done it and it’s not something how I would do, that’s okay. That’s okay. I’m not perfect. I’m not Jesus. It’s okay. How they’ve come to it.

And what I’ve found is when you start to give your team permission to not do the job, but also to fail, it opens up this awesome, transparent communication within your team. I challenged my team that I would much rather you ask me for forgiveness than permission. I want you to feel empowered to take action. We come up with these guiding principles that they can make choices with on things that we should not do, or our level of standard that they should abide by within our Raney Day culture, and outside of that, go do it. And if you mess up, if something happens, it’s okay, because I’m proud of you for taking action, not waiting around for me, because Jen wants to not be the bottleneck anymore, and that you took it and ran with it. We celebrate that. And if a mistake happens, that’s okay. We’ll figure it out. We have a problem? Great. That’s an opportunity to get it right the next time.

So I challenge you, boss. You’ve got to get over your ego. You have to get over yourself to be a good leader. And when you hire that first person, first of all, bravo, but you’ve got to give them room to fail and let it be okay, and let them know that you are going to be right behind them pushing them on and helping them. But it’s up to them to make the decisions. So how you set them up for success is that you get prepared for that new person. You get the position ready, get the docs ready, and you know what the impact will have when you assign those tasks over because it’ll free you up. That’s amazing.

One more point about why it’s important to have training documents and your protocols in place is because it is tough. When you’re a one man show and you are doing the work yourself and then in your already tapped, because let’s face it, if you are an entrepreneur trying to grow something, most likely you’re spending more than just 40 hours a week. And if you are a parent or have other responsibilities, or if it’s a side gig, you’re burning the midnight oil. So to bring somebody else on, it may feel daunting because now you’re going to have to not only do your work, but also train this person. The more organized you are when you bring them on, it’s still going to be hard, but it’ll be easier with training documents in place and a plan for them than it is without. I promise you. Promise.

Now, the last thing. This might feel a little woowoo, and that’s okay. You have the opportunity, boss, to create a amazing work environment, a culture for your team. You have that opportunity right at your feet. What are you going to do with it? I challenge you to take some time before you bring those first team members on, and even if you have already team members, that’s okay, still do this anyways. I want you to take a few moments… Probably more, like an hour, and just think about what kind of boss do you want to be? What do you want to lead by? What do you want to happen when these people come in? Are you going to meet regularly? Are you going to do fun things as a team to build team and in a virtual office? How are you going to build collaboration? How are you going to build comradery? How are you going to get people to work and communicate and get pull them out of their little islands behind their computer wherever they are in the world?

What culture do you want to create for these people? These beautiful people, from wherever they are, they are now working under your brand and under your vision. How humbling is that, that they want to work for you? Do not lose sight of that. Show up and create a culture for what they’ll love to work at. And it’s not about you. It’s about that feeling when they’re able to clock in. What does that feel like? And how I would challenge you to think about it is, where would you want to work at? If you didn’t work for yourself, would you want to show up with a boss who’s rarely around or that you never see the other people? What does that look like? And how can you do it better?

And one things is to Google it. Go look at companies that you think that are killing it and people love to work there and dig into their about and their websites and maybe their culture statements and how they position their job descriptions or job postings. What do they say? What words do they use? What feeling do they give off online? That’s a good beacon to direct and to pull in ho how you would want to design your culture. So I think it’s oftentimes that we get so hung up on the work and serving the client’s need and building the business and bringing in money and grow, grow, grow, grow, grow. We lose sight that you’re working alongside of other people that depend on you, and that they’re people too. That they’re showing up in a space. How can you make that enjoyable? How can you give back to them?

So I don’t know if this will be helpful, but I want to just share with you some of our company cultures that I’m really proud of. I wrote these out a couple years ago and then I brought it to the team to help mold. So is a great exercise if you have a team, just to ask them, what does your business mean to them? How do they feel when they show up? And I’m going to give you some examples of what ours are. Raney Day Design is unique just like the individuals who serve here. We stand out amongst the crowded online space of marketers. We will not blend in when we were created to stand out. We are servant leaders. We empower one another through kindness and respect. We rally behind each other in struggles and celebrate each other’s victories. Our company strives to serve each other, including the clients who hire us.

We strive to go above and beyond, not just in the task we execute, but how we show up for one another. We are a team here that trust one another to do what is needed to get the job done. That is how, that is how we can be successful as a team and help us to go bigger every day. We choose joy, because negativity will not get us to where we are going. Gratitude is how we accomplish it day in and day out, meaning we say thank you a lot. We pay attention to our clients and to one another. Our organization strives off of handling details like a boss. We strive for growth because we want to be better than yesterday.

We are results driven, therefore we are on a mission to be intentional in all we do. We may be bold in the actions we take, but it is not without planning. We all work hard to live well. We enjoy productive days, and when we are checked in and online, we crush it. When we are offline, we are fully present there. All are welcome here. We believe anyone can be a part of our team and sit at our table. We serve a diverse audience, therefore we welcome diversity with open arms. We are good stewards of what we are given and a desire to bless others.

Those are our culture statements, and that we strive to live by when we show up online, and we want to cultivate a company that is bigger than just the tasks that we execute and check off, but it’s bigger than that. Because when businesses come to us, they are entrusting us to help put food on their table, essentially, that we’re going to help provide a way to increase their awareness online and authority, to increase leads to their business. And I don’t take that lightly. I don’t take the people who I hire, I don’t take who they are lightly and the walks that they have taken to get to this point. So I just tell you all that to say that I want you to lay down your ego, to get over yourself as a leader, to think that you have to know it all, and to be fully transparent with your team.

Lay down your guard and just talk with your team and ask them those hard questions of what do they want? What would it mean for them to show up every day and to find joy in the work that they do? What is that? So with that, that takeaway that you can get from having these conversations with your team, you’re able to craft these culture statements. You’re able to craft and design a culture in which your business will truly stand out. So I hope that that was helpful. That’s the top three that I wish I would have known back then, because then I feel like we would have gotten to this awesome company a lot quicker, of the culture that we have created as we have it now.

I hope you found that helpful. And if you would like to hear more about how I run our team and what we do inside the business, whether it’s our team meetings or just how we run our day to day, I would be more than willing to help it. Please shoot me a message, drop me an email, or tag Raney Day Talks, or Raney Day Design, or Jen Sakowski. We can make that happen. We hope you have a wonderful day, and boss, good luck.