A year and a half ago I had NO team. It was just me, floating on my own little island trying to figure things out and run every aspect of my business. Many of you already know the story but when we went through our first miscarriage I was paralyzed with grief and for the first time in my business I was forced to ask for help. For SO long I had my grip so tight on control: wanting to control every thing from my inbox to my blog from giving each and every client a personable experience to posting on social media… while I was making it happen, it wasn’t easy and in reality I was stunting my own growth simply because I was too proud to let someone in.
The truth is: if you’re trying to do it all, you might be staying afloat but chances are, you aren’t doing everything well. There are things slipping through the cracks, there are areas you’re putting off, things you dread, and it’s likely holding you back from your potential. Over the last year I’ve built my team adding women in roles that free me to up to focus on what I do best while letting them have ownership in the business doing the things they are gifted in!
So whether you have ONE VA or you’re thinking about adding to a growing team, I want to talk about ways you can foster a team culture and what that can look like as your business grows. One of the best gifts is being able to run a business that not just affords my life but supports other women and their families plus I have a TEAM of women helping me live out my mission while they are chasing their dreams in tandem.
1.) Create communication channels:
my team uses Slack to chat and it’s been such an awesome resource. One of the hardest parts about building a team is creating a culture that gives people specific roles and then connecting them to work together. I recently had a friend tell me: having a team is TOO much work, I’d rather just do it on my own than having everyone ask me a million questions. I challenged her back and asked her how she’s encouraging her team to work TOGETHER to keep her out of things until they absolutely need her input.
How to do this: Our team works entirely remotely, so creating relationships between your team and encouraging them to reach out, chat, talk through ideas is critical. During launches we do team calls so everyone can talk about their role and say where they might need additional help. The more I can encourage my team to partner with one another, the more I am freed up to stay out and focus on the big picture stuff. This also helps us set boundaries and leave messages for when the team is logged on. You can set “away” messages and we try to use Slack for 90% of our communication so that we are keeping work separate from life. When people communicate via text you never know if it’s a good time so Slack has helped us set boundaries!
2) Give your team members ownership of a task:
one of the biggest pitfalls I see entrepreneurs make when building a team is keeping ownership on things they need to let go of. Not only will your team feel more liberated to treat your business as their own, but they will also have ownership over a task from start to finish, putting more stake in the game (and isn’t the whole reason of hiring a team is to allow yourself to let go of areas you’re not awesome at?) When you’re always interjecting, you’re taking that ownership away from them. You want to encourage them to take action – even imperfect action is better than staying stagnant.
How to do this: My team has very specific roles for their positions and while we encourage some overlap to have them work together and partner it, it’s also their job to own a task. For example: my sister is in charge of the podcast, so I’ll give her a list of guests to have on the show and then it’s up to her to get them booked, prepped, ready, and live on the show. I don’t need to be a part of that process because she owns it and I trust that she’s doing it the way that makes sense. She will need to partner with Caitlyn who oversees the blog and SEO strategy but they work together so Kate can pass the torch when she’s ready.
3) Allow space for mistakes to be made:
I always tell my team, “we aren’t curing cancer – though I wish we were.” I want to give them the autonomy to make mistakes! The truth is, a lot of times having them make a call and it be the wrong call is better than not moving forward at all and I think we learn the most through any mistakes (which let’s be honest, are usually super minor!) I want my team to make decision and move the brand forward to their best of their abilities and I’d rather have imperfect action than have to have every little thing pass by me first.
How to do this: There have definitely been learning moments but they are usually so brief and help us to streamline a workflow that makes the best sense for me. The other beautiful thing about this, is that if your team accepts ownership and then you realize that maybe they went slightly astray, you can always follow up and say, “Hey this is Jenna, I’m intercepting the message here and realizing that I didn’t let Kate know xxx…” and then overrule whatever had been discussed while still respecting your team.
4.) Ask for feedback and do monthly or quarterly check-ins with your team:
This is something I’ve definitely gotten better at as a leader. I want to know how my team is feeling, what they are excited about, what they dread about their job (yes, I want to know what they hate and I expect them to be honest!) I want to know how I can support them better or where I am not giving them enough direction and figure out how I can continue to support them to be fulfilled and excited about what they are working on. I want to know these things because I’m investing a ton into my team and I want them to love their job: if they love it they will work harder, be more focused, and committed to results.
How to do this: I have questions I send my team each month included as a freebie for this episode! Then I give them the questions and space to write a few sentences and then I jump on the phone and run through it with them. It doesn’t need to be stressful or dramatic but just asking certain questions can help to make sure your team is serving in the best places and that they are encouraged to dream for your business and bring new ideas to the table.
5.) Help them prioritize tasks of importance:
I’ve talked about the “big 3” a lot on this show but every single day we send each other the big 3 and that simple quick check in can help me to make sure we are all working on things in the right order, with the right sense of urgency, and in the right places. What this means is, every morning I’ll hop onto Slack and share my “big 3” or the 3 things I am working on and getting done before anything else gets done for the day or so my team knows what I’m working on and then I encourage them to share theirs. Basically stated: I am not done working for that day until those 3 things are complete.
How To Do This: Start by walking your team through what the “big 3” is and then start to communicate it each day. This can be a quick, simple email or slack message, but it ensures that they are spending their days in the right spots but just setting those 3 goals helps to ensure that we are focused and moving forward instead of being pulled in a million directions.
In the free guide above, you’ll find 5 questions to ask yourself before hiring a team. (Once you do hire, I ask these exact same questions to my employees to open feedback and ensure we are all doing your best work!)
These versatile conversation points open the gateway for honest conversation and are designed to show you areas of weakness and strengths within yourself and your employees. All of these magic questions (and more!) are in the freebie above! Enjoy!