Organize Your Team

– We are here to answer your questions about scaling your team, and your business, beyond seven figures. So that means hiring. That means team building. That means systems and structures. Most importantly, it means getting your team to run the business so that you can get out of the day to day. So, the person who asked the question said that she feels as though her business and her team growing the system that they’ve set up over the past few years. They’ve, you know, they’ve been using a asana, they’ve been using Google docs. They’ve been using all of that stuff that online businesses tend to use, right. I use them, we use them, you probably use them. And her question was, you know, really looking forward as the business is gonna grow, what are the best practices in terms of, you know, systems and technology and that kind of thing. You know, is it a asana or should we be using base camp? You know, should we be using slash be using this? Should we be using that? And so that was the question that we wanted to answer today. And I mean, for me, the very first thing I noticed for this question, and I’m curious to get your thoughts about this, but for me, what I noticed is that there’s an assumption going on in the question, which is that if communication breaks down and this is a remote team, right? It’s a distance team. So the problem with the communication is either a problem with the technology or with how they’re using the technology or something like that, right? Like this is a problem that’s gonna be maybe technology, isn’t a problem, but maybe technology will be the solution. And you know, this is really interesting because I love technology.

 

– I never would have guessed I mean, we both have computers

 

– Right we both have computer science degrees. We both love like finding the right tool. And, you know, the tools that she mentioned she was using like asana and Google drive and stuff. They’re completely normal tools. But I completely empathize with this question because I remember we literally set a project for a quarter. We gave ourselves three months to find the right help desk tool for our team to use.

 

– Yup

 

– Right. To manage the inbox and like, oh, like this was a big thing. And at the end of the day, like we try it, how many different tools and we piloted and we did this and that and the other thing. And at the end of the day, what ended up working was just, we picked a technology solution because the problem wasn’t the technology. And that’s what I think is going on here is I don’t think, that what we’re talking about is actually a problem that’s gonna be solved by asana, or it almost can be solved by slack or whatever.

 

– Yeah I agree with that actually. I don’t think it is a tech problem cause like these, the tools that are there that she’s using, I think it’s a she

 

– Yup.

 

– Um that she’s using are all, you know, widespread, typical communication tools.

 

– I know businesses everywhere from 20k a month to 20 million plus a year that are using these tools. Right?

 

– Yeah so like, it’s, it’s definitely, I don’t think the, the tools themselves, I’m actually more wondering, you know, maybe there’s some different processes that she could put in place, naming conventions, that kind of thing. But all of that kind of really depends on the why, why is she saying that this isn’t working because for me, until you know that answer.

 

– You need to do like a root cause analysis. So I did ask her that that’s one of the benefit of the question coming in from the Facebook group. Yeah um, but she said, you know that the problem that she’s running into is the technology is what it is. But she feels as though she doesn’t know where things are. Okay. So it’s like her, her OBM knows where things are and maybe other team members know where things are, but she doesn’t know where it all is. And so it feels disorganized to her. Things are scattered and she’s worried that as the team grows, the disorganization is going to get worse. And um this is interesting too, because I think there’s a bit of a again, and this is something that we’ve done. So I speak from experience here. We think that getting everything organized is a good thing, but there’s an opportunity cost of that. Right? You can build processes to build processes, to build processes, like having a meeting, to plan a meeting, plan a meeting, right.

 

– There are people that do that I promise. And, and some disorganization is always going to be there, right? Because as you use things, things get disorganized. So you can either spend all your time trying to organize everything. Or you can spend your time and your team’s time growing the business right. So that’s one of the things that I would consider here is, is this actually a problem? Right. I feel like things are disorganized. I feel like, you know, I can’t find anything. But is that a problem that’s worth investing time to spend? Or should it just be, but it’s working. And so we should be spending our time growing the business.

 

– That’s a really interesting consideration because like, for me, the first off for me, what I always do when I think about these kinds of things is I take a step back and go. As humans we are disorganized.

 

– Yeah.

 

– I don’t, I don’t care whether, whether you’re a systematic personality or not in the day-to-day, we are disorganized.

 

– Well we’re constantly in flux. Right. We’re always moving from chaos to order. And then we introduce more chaos and then we bring more order, right? Like we never exist in one or the other.

 

– No we can’t.

 

– And why would you want to? Because part of growing is breaking things right. As she like knocks the desk over. Totally awesome. That was fantastic. Yeah.

 

– So there’s like you said, there’s always going to be some disorganization, like growth growth is disorganized, right.

 

– Growth is messy.

 

– Growth is messy.

 

– You have to break things in order to figure out how to put the back together.

 

– Exactly. Right. You think about, you know, a kid always pulls everything apart before they put it back together to figure out how it works.

 

– Or like.

 

– I love doing that.

 

– How do you go in and like build muscle right, the reason your muscles hurt after a workout is because you. You’ve literally broken them down. You’ve literally introduced disorganization into the fibers of your muscles because it’s the reorganization that makes it stronger.

 

– Yeah it’s actually interesting. I’m going to digress just a little bit here because it kinda ties back into um, conversations that we’ve had about comfort. Right? Same kind of thing. You have to get comfortable, not just with discomfort, but also with some level of disorganization. Now so the question is, is right. That it’s that balance. So yeah. You can get comfortable with it, but when is too, when is it too much?

 

– Yeah.

 

– And for me, I think that’s when the disorganization starts to actively work against the growth, whether it’s of yourself, of your business, whatever. And it essentially becomes a bottleneck.

 

– Yeah.

 

– And like, for me, that means like things like outcomes aren’t being reached or, you know, those kinds of concepts.

 

– Yeah.

 

– And so when that starts to happen, that’s when you know, your disorganization is impacting your growth negatively.

 

– Right and so then solving the, disorganization becomes a growth tactic.

 

– Yes

 

– Basically. So that’s, that’s when you need to look at this is when the disorganization, when the inability to find stuff, when the ability to do this is preventing you from growing further then that is the bottleneck that you need to focus on solving.

 

– Exactly.

 

– And this is one of the biggest things we work on with our clients is identifying where the bottleneck really is because it’s so easy to get ourselves locked into these things that sound like they’re future-proofing. But really what they’re doing is they’re taking our eye off of whatever it is. That’s truly keeping us from growing. And it can be a way of playing safe. Speaking for myself, you know, creating systems, looking at technology, investigating different platforms. That kind of thing is a huge way for me to avoid doing the things that actually grow the business and is a huge way for me to not grow the business. And so identifying is the disorganization something that’s actually preventing growth is the first question. And if it is then fixing the disorganization is actually the same as removing the bottle neck. Right. We don’t want to go and over-engineer a system that’s perfect. We want to organize things enough and in the right way so that we can continue growing so that the bottleneck has been eliminated or reduced to the point where it’s no longer the primary bottle.

 

– Yeah, exactly. I think like all of that, and I think too, the other thing that really jumped out at me from what you were saying of her response to that question is the comments about her OBM knows where everything is, but she doesn’t, and that’s, that’s scary. Is it? Did she actually used the word scares?

 

– Uh I don’t know if she had literally used that word, but it’s the sense was I should know where this stuff is.

 

– And I laugh because honestly that fear that she just articulated there is one, I hear from pretty much every single one of our clients.

 

– It’s the whole giving up control thing. Right? Yeah.

 

– Yeah. I hear it a lot. And it comes from us being so used to, you know doing everything and, and finding all of these things up for ourselves and managing it all ourselves. That when it comes time for us to start, you know.

 

– Letting someone else take care of it.

 

– Yeah. They, you just don’t know how to let it go.

 

– How to trust.

 

– How to trust yeah.

 

– Yeah. And what’s interesting about this is that I’ve actually, once you get past that point, you can actually get to a point where you are super excited that you don’t know. Like we actually, we had a client that went through this exact process last year and he came back to us at one point and said to me, I was so excited that I didn’t know how to do this. And it didn’t matter because this person and this person and this person on my team were able to just take care of it. I wasn’t needed at all.

 

– Yeah I remember Ramit Sethi uh, it was an in an interview years ago or one maybe in one of his programs or something. And he made the comment that he does not know how to send an email to his list. I was like, that’s brilliant.

 

– That’s brilliant.

 

– Right that’s the goal though. Isn’t it like to, to have a team that you can trust that the things are going to get done in the right way and right places. That to you don’t have to know where things are. That is so huge. And so I, what, the other thing I noticed that too, right? It’s like, she’s in the middle of this transition where she wants her team to be taking ownership of things. She wants to not have to worry about things. And yet she’s got, and we call it the black box problem. Right.

 

– Yeah. She’s excited.

 

– She’s experiencing the black box problem. And which is the problem that happens when stuff’s happening. But you’re not exactly sure what’s happening. You’re not exactly sure how it’s happening. And so it’s terrifying because like, what if the person that’s doing the magic inside the black box? What if they leave? Or what if they get sick? Or what if the lottery bus hits? Like, what happens if the person who’s doing the stuff inside the black box disappears that you’d have no idea how to pick up the pieces in that case.

 

– Yeah, exactly. It’s, it’s honestly, in a lot of ways, the opposite of micromanaging, right. And micromanaging you’re down in the weeds and you know exactly what everyone’s doing and spent, you’re spending all your time essentially. And I’ve actually had clients use this term, babysitting their team.

 

– Yeah babysitting adults.

 

– Yeah and where has he opposed that with this concept or with this, this um situation in the black box, you try so hard to give up all of your control that you have no idea what’s going on.

 

– It’s like the pendulum effect right.

 

– Yeah totally gone the other way.

 

– You know you don’t want to micromanage, so you completely go black box and yeah. So what’s. What do we do? What do we do about this? We can’t have black box and you can’t micromanage it. And that’s where she is. Right.

 

– Yeah.

 

– She’s trying to figure, that’s what her act for question actually is, Right? Her question isn’t about asana or slack, her question is how do I trust that the business outcomes aren’t going to be negatively impacted if I don’t know where a document is?

 

– Yeah, exactly. And so there’s two things that I really see here and that I’ve recommended to clients and other individuals. And the first one is actually really important to get just right, is that there needs to be some form of cover off. So something, someone else on the team needs to know and have a system in place for covering here’s the key piece, the critical pieces of the organization. Not everything.

 

– Yeah. We’re not, I’m not saying though that there needs to be someone, on the team that knows Joe, let’s just call it Joe, that Jane needs to know Joe’s every single task that he does every single day, every single week uh uh.

 

– Yeah. You don’t need double coverage.

 

– You don’t need double coverage.

 

– For a full Job.

 

– You need just mission critical pieces that are easy enough that they can be passed off and important enough to be passed off to someone else so that if that person goes on vacation or get sick, someone else it can be able to pick up and continue. A great example of this is um, back in one of my previous roles. I served as the cover off for the departments.

 

– Business analyst.

 

– Business analyst.

 

– Yeah.

 

– And like she was in charge of, we had so many projects when we were in the multi-millions in projects. Right.

 

– Projects yeah.

 

– And every week they needed a breakdown of where all of these projects are because they’re doing all of this stuff. She did like.

 

– The reports that she did were ridiculous like a binder of reports every week.

 

– Yeah.

 

– But I couldn’t, I didn’t know. I didn’t have all the concepts. I didn’t have all the information to be able to do all of that, but I could print up the most critical pieces of information and pass those on that’s what needs to happen.

 

– Yeah so what is mission critical? It’s like the 80/20 rule. Right.

 

– Exactly.

 

– Its like the 20% of this person’s job, what is the 20%? And then someone else should be able to do the most mission critical 20% of someone else’s job.

 

– Yeah. And I think, you know, we say someone else, but I’m gonna add another criteria to that, which is that the someone else should not be you as the founder.

 

– Yes.

 

– The CEO Right.

 

– Yes.

 

– I mean if you’re small and its only like you and one team member.

 

– Okay.

 

– Then that’s one thing. But you know if you’re watching this and you’re at the multi-six or low seven figure mark, you’re already past that point, you have more than one person on your team. And this is where founders get caught, getting down, pulled down into the weeds.

 

– And it’s really easy to get caught.

 

– Right. Because we think, oh, I can be the cover off because I used to do it, or I know how to do it, or yada, yada, yada, whatever the story is, but you shouldn’t be the one that’s getting pulled into the weeds. I think about it in terms of those functional teams, right? So if you have a sales and marketing team, then the sales and marketing team should be able to do all of their stuff. Including all of their cover off without anyone from outside the sales and marketing team needing to come in and help. And if it’s something to do with clients, then you should have someone on the product ops team who is able to come in and support the client when the project manager or the community manager, or whatever’s going away. And the sales team shouldn’t have to get pulled in and you shouldn’t have to get pulled in. Now the truth is, again, that you might have a small team. And so you might be operating in your capacity as a member of the product ops team, but that’s different than having you as the founder and CEO come in and fill in and get yourself down in the weeds. Um the exception. There is one exception, which is if it’s a manager that’s on vacation or like an executive or a leader of your organization, right. If it’s on your leadership team, then the fat, the CEO, the C-suite can cover off or someone else in the C-suite or someone else at a director level or whatever

 

– Basically like should be covering.

 

– Yeah um yeah that’s a really good way of saying it, right? Your implementer on the sales team should be covering for another implementer in the sales team. And on a day-to-day level, that’s really about cross training your people for that and vital 20% off for all of it and for the vital 20%.

 

– And that, that cross training that’s where documentation comes in right? Like everyone’s talking about systems and processes. That’s the critical piece that needs to be documented, especially for those people that are doing the cover off. Right. So that the person, and here’s the thing that we, we suggest we recommend is that the person who is doing the learning like when they’re coming in and

 

– Being cross cross trained.

 

– Being crossed trained, or if you’re training someone brand new into a new role, they’re the one that should be creating the documentation because they’re the ones that are going to be recognizing what it is that needs to be put down because they’re coming in without any kind of cursor, cursive expertise right.

 

– Like I think about my mom, right. And that new thing we were visiting last week. And I think about um, she’s always has difficulty and I don’t blame her because iTunes on windows is awful.

 

– Pain.

 

– Apple or anyone that talks to anyone apple in the UX design side, your iTunes on windows is terrible. And you keep moving the buttons, which makes it really hard for me to, you know, help my mom figure out how to use this software to update her phone. Right. And whatever else. Um it does absolutely. It does my mom absolutely no good. If I were to give her a step-by-step of how to update her iPad or her phone.

 

– No. But what works is when I show her or I’d walk her through it and she takes the notes.

 

– Yeah.

 

– Right. Because if I were to do it, like the things she writes down, I would never think to write down, she’s like, right click here. I would not write that, at least to me that’s obvious, but for her that wasn’t obvious.

 

– Yeah, exactly.

 

– And so you don’t want, this is how system should be created. Don’t create your systems and then hire someone to follow them. Instead of hire someone or across, you know, pick the person you’re going to cross train, how does the person who does the thing do it and let the cross trained person take their notes, take those notes, put it in a document.

 

– Voila

 

– The process has been built. Right. So that’s the first thing, right? It’s the cross training and the cover off, you said there was a couple of things so.

 

– Yeah the second thing is that anytime there’s a black box problem where the founder feels like exactly like this individual where they’re disconnected or worried about what’s happening. Feeling a lack of control, that’s a sign that they need a better, better. What we call a communications rhythm.

 

– Yeah it’s, it’s so fundamental.

 

– It is. It’s absolutely fundamental

 

– It’s like the big, the big thing. And I think we’re at what 27 minutes.

 

– Yeah.

 

– Which is about where I thought we’d be at this point, because this is such a big topic.

 

– Its a big topic.

 

– Right um so we’re gonna, let’s do a separate live.

 

– Sure.

 

– On the flow of the communications rhythm, but the gist of the communications rhythm is, so number one we said, you want to have your cover off, but number two, the communications rhythm is that you need to have flow of information going from the right place to the right place. But it needs to happen at the right time and with the right frequency. And this is like you said, this is the big problem with the black box. Is that information doesn’t flow at the right time.

 

– Yup.

 

– Or you don’t get the right type of information, or it doesn’t come to the right person.

 

– The flow is really, really critical. And the key thing here to, to just recognize that this particular piece is that you can’t pull the information you have,

 

– No you can

 

– Well you can.

 

– But that’s where you feel like your dealing with a black box.

 

– Exactly right. Because usually when you’re pulling information, that’s because you have a question or because you don’t, you feel like you don’t have control, you don’t know what’s going on.

 

– Yeah. Whereas if that information is being provided to you, it’s being pushed out to you at the right time with the right frequency, all of those things, then that’s where it started. Those feelings start to get mitigated and released.

 

– Because then you’re focused on the output of the outcome. And you’re saying, oh yeah, we don’t have a bottleneck.

 

– Exactly.

 

– Which goes back to the very first thing you said, because the communication rhythm gives us the ability to keep everything aligned, how that information be flowing at the right time. You don’t have to go searching for it.

 

– Exactly. And so I think that actually takes us full circle. Right. Which is that you want the information to be coming at the right time, because that’s when you can know if you actually do have a bottle, if there actually is a problem with, if disorganization is, is actually costing your business, is your problem actually. A problem that you should be focused on solving. And you know, especially when it comes to communication or information or those kinds of things, very rarely is it a technology problem. Right. And I hear this a lot, and I see this a lot with folks at the low six-figures levels, right. Where it’s like, you don’t need fancy technology, but the truth is, even if you’re at mid six or low seven figures, you are not a big business. You do not need enterprise software. The software stacks that you have is almost certainly gonna to be fine.

 

– Yeah. And so you could spend a lot of time trying to figure out what the perfect tech solution is. And there might not be any, um or you can say, okay, what’s the actual problem? What’s not happening here? That needs to happen in this case, what’s not happening is that the founder does not have a clear sense of feeling that if her OBM leaves, the business is going to be able to keep running and growing. She feels as though things are going to fall apart, it’s a black box problem.

 

– Yeah exactly. She doesn’t know where things are it’s stressing her out. So in that case, you know, a little bit of process, a little bit of training, cross training, that kind of thing, right? That’s the team’s responsibility. She just needs to know that that’s happening. And that, that has happened. And then the second piece of that is that there is the communications where they’re put in place so that she can see the output, see the results, see what is working and not working. And when she sees that things are working and when she sees that her OBM has gone on vacation and the team is continuing to function just fine. When she sees that those things are in place, then she won’t feel like she has to get down in the weeds. She won’t be stressed out. She won’t be worried about it. And she won’t be trying to go and create truthfully more disorganization by going and introducing a new technology system because you and I have both done, you did a multi-million dollar tech migration project, moving tens of thousands of users and all of that kind of stuff.

 

– And its huge.

 

– And I actually have done that too.

 

– We’ve both done that.

 

– Massive migration. And you want to introduce more disorganization into your business, go change your major technology stack.

 

– Oh yeah.

 

– That’s yeah. So don’t, don’t look for a tech. Don’t create a technology problem. When what you actually have is a lack of, you know, black box problem. And deal with that.

 

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