The only way to grow your agency and prevent overwhelm is to build a team. And the only way to ensure that they are performing to their best ability is to have regular check-ins.
These check-ins are typically a 1:1 meeting with a team member to make sure that expectations are being met on both sides of the relationship.
The main reason that most people don't have these check-ins is that they don't have a framework to ensure that the meeting is helpful and effective. (Because let's face it… having 1:1 meetings without a good framework can be a little awkward for everyone!)
Watch last week’s episode of the Agency Hour or read the show notes below to get our framework for effective 1:1 check-ins.
The Show Notes
Giving More Responsibility To Your Team (9:09)
How do you prevent yourself from becoming the conduit through which every decision needs to be made in the agency?
Pete says that you need to understand that your team may be afraid to make mistakes because they might think they’ll lose their job or they don’t want to look stupid or let the team down.
So you need to create a culture where it’s ok and normal to make mistakes and also to own mistakes (which includes you owning your mistakes too!)
Looking Beyond the Local Talent Pool (12:50)
Why would you restrict the growth of your agency by just looking in a local talent pool?
The way I see it is that we are inherently a little bit lazy here in Australia. We expect that we will have a job and a good job, and that will be well looked after and well paid. We don't want to commute an hour and a half to work. Because why would we do that when we can work from home?
So if you're a digital agency in Australia hiring someone locally, they're going to cost you a vital organ because it’s expensive to live in Australia and employees expect to get paid accordingly.
The other thing is that because these remote work opportunities exist for people in developing countries, they are getting paid better than if they were working for a local company. And so what that has done is increase the demand and supply.
There are so many people in countries such as the Philippines and India, that study extremely hard to learn how to become really good at their craft. Whereas in Australia, we have this entitlement that we can just graduate and become managers or entrepreneurs. We don’t have an “I absolutely have to become really good at this to survive” mentality. Whereas in the third world countries they often need to do that to support their entire family.
Managing Your Team Well Is The Key To Good Performance (24:43)
When I first hired my first VA in the Philippines, I totally screwed it up. I had no idea what I was doing. I mismanaged him and I expected him to be a unicorn. I expected him to be a jack of all trades – to edit videos, build websites, design logos and manage my calendar.
And then someone made me realise that I had hired someone in the Philippines to do a job that it would take six people to do in Australia! My VA wasn’t able to perform to his best ability because of my expectations and the way I was managing him.
When we found Michelle from the Philippines in 2015, we knew we had found an amazing team member. We got to know Michelle on Zoom as a human being, but it wasn’t until we had a company retreat in Thailand that we were able to get to know Michelle even better and she is like family now.
These days Michelle basically runs the place and is our most beloved employee amongst our clients! She is also now a recruiting unicorn and recruits for us and our clients by finding amazing talent in the Philippines.
Yes! Unicorns do exist! You just need to know how to manage and develop them.
So here's what I've learned over the years…. if you hire people and then just leave them alone to do their thing, it's not going to work out. You need to communicate with your team on a regular basis.
So what I want to do is dive into a framework that we've built for having what we call a check-in with team members now. (Full transparency: This is part of our Team Accelerator program.)
Why do Check-ins Matter? (29:55)
When you hire a new team member, check-ins are particularly important. It shows that you care about their success in the role. Check-ins also allow you to mentor them and course-correct early and often.
The mistake I've made in the past is to assume that if you don’t hear from your employee, that everything is fine and on track. But without regular communication, your expectations and their expectations kind of start to get away from each other. Then it's harder to get back in alignment.
What is a Check-In? (30:42)
A check-in is a 20-minute call scheduled in advance that gives you and your team member the opportunity to stay connected and make sure expectations are being met on both sides of the relationship.
It's not just about them meeting your expectations. It's about you meeting their expectations too.
One of the questions I like to ask new hires is:
“You've been here a week now, do you have any buyer's regret? Are you still thinking, this is a good decision?”
Usually, in the first month of hiring someone new, I would like to do this every week. And then after that, probably once every two weeks, depending on how big the team is.
How to Run a Check-In (31:43)
Here's the agenda that we use:
We always start with a win, and that's just a good opportunity for us to get into a positive state of mind. It also gives the team member an opportunity to share something that's worked well for them or something they want to celebrate. Ask them:
“What's something that's gone really well or a win that you've had in the last seven days?”
People might be humble about sharing this, so they might need encouragement to share. But it’s important to always celebrate wins and give praise.
The second thing we do is share any lessons by asking:
“So what have you learned over the last week?”
The lesson could have come from a disaster – something that broke, something that didn't go well or something that failed.
If the employee is saying that there are no wins and no lessons, then that's a big red flag and you’ll need to dig deeper to see what they’ve actually been working on.
Next, you want to ask:
“What is the focus for the next period of time? What projects are you working on and is this work in alignment with the job scorecard?”
In other words, are their activities going to help us achieve their outcomes, or are they distracted?
They should be very clear about what outcomes they're responsible for. So if you haven’t yet developed a job scorecard for your employees, then check out this earlier episode of the Agency Hour. (You will need to be a member of the Digital Mavericks Facebook group to view this).
The aim of this question is to make sure they’re in alignment with the outcomes on their job scorecard and that they're not off down some rabbit hole.
Next up, check what they need from you or the team to succeed. Is it training? Resources? Software? Access? Guidance? Information? Coaching?
Your job as an agency owner is to clear the path and make sure your team have everything they need to succeed.
Next on the agenda is to recap who is going to do what by when.
I create an agenda in Asana which outlines the tasks that need to be done and the timeframe they need to be done in so that every time you catch up for the 1:1 you can go through the agenda and check everything is on track.
We finished off this episode with a Q&A where I answer questions about hiring and about our new program – Team Accelerator.
Team Accelerator has only been available for our Mavericks Club members until now. But soon we will be opening the doors to all agency owners so that we can take the hassle and risk out of hiring for you.
We will find your next three (highly qualified) applicants and give you a step-by-step process for recruiting them. This includes the interview process, arranging their pay, the legal documents and so much more.
There is such a high demand for this service within our community that we’ve started a waiting list until we officially launch.