October 24th, 2013
“Anne – it should be obvious why your team isn't working.”
I should know better.
I’ve been hiring people and building teams for a long time.
Heck – just 6 months ago I helped hire MY replacement at LKR Social Media.
I’ve been part of this type of process from the very beginning on numerous teams…involved in every step of the way ….
- writing + posting the job description
- reviewing and interviewing candidates
- making the offer and starting the training
It was not hard…it took time, but it was not difficult… In fact, I’d go as far as saying that it was kind of fun (bittersweet and fun).
But the key point of this process that I was so used to – it wasn’t my business. I was able to be objective, define the needs of the business, and make decisions based on what I knew the business required.
Things have changed.
Recently I discovered some hard to swallow truths about hiring that I never would have seen had I not been hiring people for my own team.
I’ve not only experienced some hiccups myself – but have witnessed friends, clients, and business associates offline struggle to find the right people.
And I've learned the hard way that it takes constant awareness of what's happening with your team in order to make sure they are doing what you hired them to do!
The 2 key questions you must ask yourself over and over again to make sure your team is working well.
Is There A Public Schedule?
Make sure there is a clearly posted schedule and that this schedule isn’t just to share dates, but to say – “this is when I’m going to need you”.
If you are the boss – make sure everyone is available through the entire duration of the launch and understands their role at each and every stage.
Does Everyone Know Who Does What?
Because I’ve seen this one break down on teams that have been working together for awhile, it is important to make sure people know what they are doing and then (extra credit) what comes next after they do what they are supposed to do.
I’d go as far as to ask people to either say and/or write back to you what their understanding of their role is. Ask them to include when and how long they think they need to be available.
This isn’t a trick or a trap – it’s to make sure you’re working with the right people.
True Team Stories
Here are a few examples of team members having a complete lack of understanding on either their responsibilities, time frame of the launch, the core duties they were hired for…
1. Team member who may be inexperienced or lack knowledge on the whole launch process – thinks that your preview call or webinar is the launch and then flakes or falls by the wayside after the call is finished. You know that the marketing part of your launch is just starting… but can’t find them!!! Yikes!
2. Launch Social Media Manager stops posting as much, doesn’t change any of the autoresponders, makes plans the day everything switches over on your site, never tells you, you end up doing everything in the wee hours of the morning.
3. Launch manager hired to manage you – doesn’t check in or send you reminders every single day on what’s due or what’s supposed to go live. In fact, during a key part of the launch, the person falls off the radar for 1 whole week. Your launch manager should be in touch with you even for a quick email check-in every single day…and REMIND you what needs to happen on a day to day basis.
4. Customer service team member fails to respond to people after the launch closes. You know this is the time when you’ll need the most support. Not just in the support inbox, but in the community and perhaps even on social media too.
5. Team members who just go off the radar, start strong by delivering what they promised but then slowly over time their work quality erodes. You find yourself doing more and more of the heavy lifting…and start questioning what is going on here?
6. Team member who quits 1 week before the open cart or actual launch starts. Nothing is completed and you are stuck finding someone else to finish the work.
All of the above are sadly REAL SCENARIOS people have shared with me…and it’s all too common that I get the email about someone:
- disappearing randomly during the launch
- not really doing what was expected
- not owning up to it when they do resurface
- totally forgetting chunks of tasks that impact the launch or your business
- people deciding they don’t want to work with you when the launch is imminent
- the heartbreak of someone you love who decides they’re changing their business model
- someone who’s supposedly done a ton of [insert your type of launch] is less than stellar and you are bummed beyond repair
All of these can leave a mark on you, bring your energy down, and have a negative impact on your launch.
Let’s not get stuck there – though – okay?
Why This Is Happening
When things go wrong or get off track with people you hire – you might be ready to point the finger at people who are messing up or flaking on you immediately…and maybe you should, but I like to do a mix of pointing and taking responsibility…and then asking the key questions mentioned above – and then this one… (to yourself and to your team members)
What happened and how can we avoid this next time?
Asking the question doesn’t ensure things will be perfect, but it will set you on a path to get things done better next time.
And honestly – better is all you can shoot for – a better system, a better set of expectations, a better schedule, a better overall outcome.
So – if you’ve ever said – “Why does my team suck??” or “Why am I doing everything still and I have a team of 3 people?” or “Where the heck is my team?”
…then read on.
How We Can Fix It
First – this IS a FIXABLE problem.
You CAN have a team that takes ownership, does their job well, doesn’t drop the ball on you or leave you in the lurch.
This is not a virtual team problem. This is a human being problem.
We aren’t finding the right people to work with us – because of a few key things that we CAN fix or identify quickly to make sure we change course quickly.
Let me repeat that. In fact, let's say it together.
We can fix this.
Here are a few ways to help your team work better…and you just might find yourself working better too!
#1 Make sure understanding and comprehension is 100%
- Always repeat back what they tell you and ask them to do the same.
- Be so obvious with every single piece. Shorthand does not happen overnight.
- Be the example. If something changes – tell your team ASAP and why.
#2 Define who’s doing what EARLY and make sure #1 is solid.
- publish a big board of who’s doing what – so everyone can see it
- schedule regularly – weekly and biweekly calls to make sure everyone’s working on the right thing – this is where daily huddles come in handy
- make sure you share your own to do list on this call too
- appoint someone – not you to be the follow up person on everything
#3 Schedule is the guiding light for everyone.
- remind people: we’re in this together, so if you see something not done or missing, speak up
- remind everyone: if there’s a big deadline – check in with other members of the team – don’t make me manage you.
- if there’s change over in pricing/schedule – appoint one person to step up to make sure it’s all switched over.
- when schedule changes – inform everyone – to keep that example shining.
#4 Back up plans
know your team’s abilities… if x person is sick, who will fill in, > especially important during scheduled shifts in pricing or times when things are going live. The first day of the launch – the closing date of the launch. The first day of the summit – making sure all systems are working!
#5 Where do people go for support?
- Give people instructions on getting support from you and other members of the team
- For instance – assign task – review task and if there are any questions, ask them now before we get closer to the date it’s due.
- Tell people what to do if they get stuck
- Give FAQs to your team when possible – if this happens, do this… if this happens, do that.
- If you are relaunching – give your team access to last year’s set up – explain to them the whole process from top to bottom… ask them for improvement ideas and questions, tell them what you liked, what you didn’t like.
#6 Do people understand how to communicate with you?
I don’t mean – do they have your cell number and personal email address. I mean – do they understand what it takes to work with you well and be your work bestie. This is key – because THIS thing alone was they key to why I've worked well with people in the past.
- Do they know how much advance notice you need?
- Do they understand what happens when you fail to mention something specific related to them finishing or not finishing work?
- Do they get that you aren’t going to tell them what to do for every single step of the process?
- Are they afraid to make decisions on their own?
- Are they waiting to be told what to do and don’t think to ask you?
- Are they actively looking for solutions to problems they see?
- Do they think unless it’s on their list of things to do that they don’t have to mention it?
- When to be proactive and when to seek your advice?
When Someone Just Doesn’t Get It
Sad truth … there are many people out there who think they are doing a good enough job. And they really aren’t.
Because…they might have done a good job in the right circumstances. They might have done a GREAT job in the right job for THEM.
So – that’s the hard part. The part where you come in to really identify who’s in front of you, what their skills are, where they perform best…and be able to decide if that is what you need.
At some point you’ll need to make a decision if someone is a permanent no go on your team.
But before you get to that point – make sure you’re starting the process the right way – and allowing for your team to do its best job.
Learn By Reflecting + Sharing
Take a few moments – and leave me a comment below. Tell me about a team or hiring fiasco and how you would approach it differently if you had to do it again.
And if you know someone who’s struggling to build, hire, or grow their team, send them over to share what they’re learning too!