I’ve spent more than 2 years building the systems and processes necessary for the service-side of my business (i.e. the client-facing members of Team Hirsh) to genuinely, truly excel beyond expectation.
But, I’ve neglected my internal team.
(I’ve promised to be nothing but transparent here! So here’s another bump in the road for my company.)
This became evident when we cycled through too many “not the right fit” team members… and I started asking, “Why? What’s going on here? Why am I so frustrated?”
That’s when I caught myself saying, “Well, I just CAN’T find the right people… because NOBODY can do it like me!”
Let me cut to the chase and tell you right now – That’s literally NEVER true.
The problem was really, I hadn’t documented all the details of my process.
And I’m not talking about *just* the technical details. I’m talking about every little thing.
In this episode I’m detailing…
- How I tore apart my internal marketing department to create a new one
- Why I’m creating “playbooks” for every role in my company
- And what this means for our future hires
If you learn nothing else from this episode, I hope you hear this…
“No one will meet your expectations 100% of the time – but especially not if they don’t know what you expect!”
Tune into this episode for a behind-the-scenes look at how we’re improving our internal Team Hirsh. And let me know in the comments below if this inspires you to change something in your own company!
If you’re ready for custom-built strategy by the best marketing team in the industry, head to HelpMyStrategy.com to apply to work with Team Hirsh. We only accept clients we know we can help – so really, you’ve got nothing to lose.
[1:39] I neglected my internal team, and here’s what happened
[3:17] Why “nobody can do it like me!” is just an excuse
[5:00] The problem is… I hadn’t documented our processes
[6:45] This was the light-bulb moment
[9:44] How I’m creating “playbooks” for my internal team members
[13:21] When you get frustrated with a team member, it’s *usually* NOT about the person – it’s about your systems + processes (or lack of)
[16:56] People will not meet your expectations 100 percent of the time… especially if they don’t know what they are
Hello, everybody! Welcome to the podcast. Welcome back, or welcome if you’re new. I am excited for this episode. I get so excited talking about team building. Honestly, I was born for this. I love it so much. I get obsessed with it, and it’s what I spend a lot of my time doing. So I’m always excited when I can share this with you guys. It’s definitely relevant to marketing, too, because you could implement this in your marketing department like we did. This was specifically around my own internal marketing department. But, I am excited to share it with you, because I think… the people I’ve shared it with were like, “This is so good!”
So backstory on this: I have focused so much of the last, really, two years on growing my team, but specifically growing my team to deliver for our clients. That was obviously my top priority. It was what I put so much of my time and effort into, putting in processes like, obsessing over the processes, and the checklists, and the templated emails, and everything. We have the best processes out of any agency, like hands-down, I will argue that with you, because we’re good at it. And I’m good at thinking that way, and I’m lucky to have that skill as an entrepreneur, like a lot of them lack it, where I can think and process and I can think in breaking down things into small pieces. And so, I’ve put so much of that energy into my delivery [with] our ads team.
But where I didn’t really put it was into our own internal team, so my marketing department, my sales department, operations, and HR internal, everything happening internal. And that’s really what I’m responsible for now. That’s a majority of my direct reports. So now that the delivery… it’s been fully off my plate for a while… I had this like, block. We’ve really struggled with my marketing department, my own internal marketing department. I’ve been through too many people coming and going into the role, because they weren’t a right fit or whatever. And just frustrating in the amount of like, creating funnels and projects and getting it done in my own company has been frustrating for me and a struggle for me.
And I was talking to my friend, good friend and coach, Alex Charfen, about it and he’s like, “Emily, that’s because you’re so good at marketing. Like, of course that’s going to be really hard for you to outsource the entire marketing of your company, because you’re still trying to drive it all. You’re still trying to drive the strategy, and you don’t think anyone can do it better than you.” And I remember, we were going for a walk, I don’t know, I think it was a month ago… which is great. I love this, because I implement everything he says, and like, it’s so good. So anyways, we’re going for a walk a month ago, and I said this statement to him, I said, “Well nobody else can do that,” or something like that. Those words came out of my mouth. And when I said them, I was like, “Oh crap.” That’s the worst thing to say to Alex Charfen, because he will challenge you and prove you wrong.
And like, that was me a year ago was, “Nobody can do clients strategy calls.” I was like, “Nobody can do clients strategy calls. I do them intuitively. There’s no way I could train it. There’s no way I could have a process for it. I don’t even know what I’m doing. I just get on a call, and I do it. Nobody can do it like me.” And so I said it, it just came out of my mouth, and as soon as I said that, I started laughing, and I was like, I said probably the F word, and I was like, “Dang it, you caught me! I’m not outsourcing this, because I don’t think that I can outsource it, because I think I’m intuitively doing this.” So of course he challenged me. And as soon as I said it, I knew it [was] not true.
If you ever think, “Nobody can do what I do,” in anything in your business, you’re wrong. And I’ve learned that, and I’ve proven that to myself, which is why I know when that comes out of my mouth, I’m like, “Something is wrong. I’m doing something wrong.” So I said that with the marketing, and he helped me see like, what I haven’t done is basically all the work that I did for the ads team and documenting processes and how I think and everything we do… I hadn’t done that for my marketing team. So of course people weren’t being set up for success, and of course it was this constant struggle and frustration for me. So what I did was, I created… I literally took three weeks, I dug down, broke everything in our marketing, and documented everything.
Now here’s the thing. When we think of documentation, a lot of times I want somebody else to do it for me, but the problem is, it’s in my head. And so what I hadn’t thought about was documenting things like, “This is how you get an email approved by me,” or “This is how you build a funnel at Hirsh Marketing,” not just the technical steps to building a funnel… That I could have somebody do, that I am having somebody else do. Because I don’t know all the technical steps, but I have my own strategies and the way I think about things, that’s like, how I like landing pages, how I like emails written for our company, how I like the aesthetic of our brand to look, how I like anything around our strategy that I think is intuitive that I’m just like… What I was doing was, I was assuming that people would just know that! Like, “Oh well, that’s good strategy, and my marketing coordinator who I hire should know that and be able to read my mind.”
I wasn’t thinking through like, “They should be able to read my mind,” obviously, but I kind of was. In my head I was assuming like, “Well that’s just the way it’s done,” but it’s not. And so… it was this huge light bulb moment for me, because I was like, “Oh my gosh, two years ago I documented The Hirsh Process for our clients, and I documented how to do those strategy calls, and how to manage our client ad accounts.” And I got all of this stuff out of my head that I thought I was doing intuitively, and I had to find people who could just also do it intuitively, but they’re not. Everybody’s going to have a different perspective, different experience, different things that they bring to the table in your company, and you have to teach them your way.
And so, Alex was like, “You need to make ‘the Hirsh way’ for doing your own internal marketing.” And I was like, “Oh my gosh, why did I not think of this?” And he’s like, “And then when you do it, give it to me, because I want it for my own company!” So, I ended up making a 30-page… it’s our Marketing Playbook, and it’s like everything. And I gave it to Alex, and he’s like, “This is so good,” and he’s going to knock it off for his business. But it was like everything, everything to success. We had a marketing coordinator start. On her first day, I handed it to her, “Here’s our marketing playbook.” And it has everything from every funnel we have and its goal, all of our active campaigns and sequences we have… but then also how I like emails being written, how I like funnels being built, how to get something approved by me, if you’re going to send it to me.
And you guys, I literally wrote, “If you would not opt-in to this copy on a landing page that we built, it is not good enough. Don’t send it to me. Ask yourself that question [first].”That might sound obvious to you, and I was assuming that my team members would just do that, but they’re not going to do it unless I say that. So, I made checklists where you have to ask yourself, does this copy sound good? Does it make sense? Does it flow? I don’t know what else I put, I should pull it up. But I put like things that I thought were really obvious, and I put them inside of this playbook.
And so what that did was, I got to hand it to our marketing coordinator and set the foundation of like, “Here are my expectations, and here is how you work with me, and here’s how you do run the marketing at Hirsh Marketing.” And I had never done it before, and it’s made [a] world of difference. Our new marketing coordinator is a week into her role, and it’s like night and day from my last experiences. Now we also updated the hiring process on that. We redid the test, we did not rush a hire. We had three weeks that we didn’t have a marketing coordinator, so we had no marketing department, and I had to run it temporarily. So we just cut back on projects, we slowed things down. We were like, “We’re not rushing this hire, we’re going to do it right.” And I said, “And they’re not starting until I have all the documentation I need to hand to them so they can start with success.”
So I made this massive marketing playbook where I documented everything I thought was intuitive that I was doing. And I would just sit there, and what I did was, I thought of all the times that I maybe had been frustrated in the past with somebody, assuming that they were going to do something and then they didn’t, and I just wrote those things down in a way that was like, “Here’s how you do it.” And this is a working document, we’re going to continue to add to it. But again, it’s made a world of difference.
That was the big epiphany I had, because I, right now, have to work on training one team member to replace one of my high-level executives. And so, somebody below her is going to replace her. And she’s been working directly with me for about a year, and she’s leaving in 2020. She gave me plenty of notice, and it’s all good. But we’re having to train someone [for her role]. And… the epiphany I had is, the training that we often give people is very tactical. It’s like, “Here’s how you do the role, here’s how you check things off your list, here is your list, here is what you do, it’s your task list.” But there is a lot of unsaid things that happen in a role that, unless you document [it], I would have a very hard learning curve with this new person.
So let me give you an example. This team member gives me updates. She gives me updates on critical clients, she communicates a lot of things to me. She’s like a liaison through several team members. And I’m like, “If we don’t document how you’re communicating with me and how that process works, this person coming into your role is never going to know how to do it. And so I want to think through like all the times in the last year, as much as we can think of, that you and I have had something where I had to almost correct the way something was being communicated or the way something was being done… and there wasn’t frustration, but there was that feedback. Let’s think about all of those examples, and then write them down.” And so we’re making, what we’re calling a “playbook” for every role so that’s documented.
So here’s another example. We have our internal strategist. She does all of our client strategy calls, and… we’re not re-training, she’s staying. But we’re still documenting her role and going over it with these guys, because it’s just so much easier to be this proactive kind of communication than [to be] reactive when something happens. So for her, you could easily say, “Your job is to do client strategy calls. Here’s how you do the client strategy calls. Then here’s how you send the presentations. And here’s your checklist.” The pieces that aren’t said are things like, “You have permission and it is your job to question strategies that you think are bad strategies from clients coming in.” Giving them that permission that… “You need to own your role, and here is how you own your role,” those are unsaid things.
I may assume that she would question a bad strategy, and she does obviously do that, but… we, maybe at one point, had to have that conversation of like, “Wait a second, why did you agree?” And she’s like, “Because I was trying to please the client,” and we’re like, “No, we do it this way.” I don’t want to have that conversation again, so we document it. So we’re making a “how to have success in this role” in all roles. And it started with the [playbook for the] marketing person that I made, and then I’m sharing it with other team members. And I’m like, “I want you guys all to do this,” because anytime you have that kind of uncomfortable, frustrated feeling with a team member, most of the time it’s not the person, it’s actually unsaid expectations, you assumed something, or you’re really lacking process.
And for me, we were really lacking process in our marketing, and that’s why I had people not set up for success, and that’s why I was like, “This time we are not hiring someone until I can do all this.” And I literally, for at least a week straight, but it took me two total weeks to do it all… But a week where that’s all I did. I had four-hour chunks where I didn’t talk to anybody, I was just doing this. And I documented “how to have success in the role,” and I put things like, things that I would have … One thing I put was “keep our Google Drive organized,” because for me, it’s a massive pet peeve when people create documents in my Google Drive that are not in the team drive, so then they’re like, in their drive, and I can’t find them, and then they’re not organized. I need them in the folders, and I need them labeled and organized. And so I put that there, because that’s a massive pet peeve of mine.
And so why would I not put that there? Why would I assume…? I think I was assuming like, “Oh this person should come in and keep the drive organized, because that’s what a good employee does.” But like, they’re not going to think about that unless you tell them, “That is the expectation. And it’s an important part of your role, because otherwise it drives me crazy, and you’re reporting to me.” So I put all of these things in there, and it was like, being able to break down projects, everything. What I did for the marketing person was, I really just sat there for a lot of reflection time, and I would come up with things two days later.
So this is not a document you can create in one day. You’re going to think of things in like, two days. In fact, I’m still thinking of things, because every time there was a situation or there is a situation where I’m like, “Oh they should have known that,” or I was frustrated about something, or I got on a call and it’s like, “Here’s the way I delivered it,” and I was like, “That did not meet my expectations.” That’s on me, because I didn’t clarify the expectations. And so, I documented things that I was assuming people would know and do, and then they weren’t, and then I was getting frustrated, and it was like this loop. And it was just a massive epiphany, and it’s really made such a difference in onboarding a new team member, where you can hand them this document, and it’s like, “Here is how to have success in your role. Here is all the information about your role. Here’s our processes,” everything that I could think of. And again, it’s a working document, and it set them up for success.
And if you have that, then that way you know, “Well then if the person doesn’t work out, then I know it’s the person. But I have everything possible to set them up for success from the checklist to the processes, the SOP’s, and then my own documentation.” And it was just something that only I could do that piece, only I could get that information out of my head. And then from here on out, I should be able to remove myself from the marketing department. So, that is the huge epiphany I had. And I think everyone should make a playbook for their different departments and/or positions in their team, and really think through that, especially if they’re a direct report to you, but then I’m having my executive team, my managers, who manage people, do the same.
I’m like, “If you have a frustration about an ads manager or about somebody, and it’s like this common theme, then we need to just straight up write it out and say, ‘This is the expectation in the role,’ and then reference back to it very easily when it’s not getting met.” Because people are not going to meet your expectations 100% of the time. That’s not realistic, especially if they don’t know what they are, but often, even if they do know what they are… but if you’ve already already referenced that that’s your expectation, and you already have that foundation set, it’s so much easier to remind them. And they’ll be like, “Oh yeah, sorry, I missed that,” or “I forgot about that,” and they’ll just start doing it, than it is if that was… an unspoken expectation.
As I’m saying this, I’m like, “Oh my gosh, this has to do with marriage, relationships…” That’s all it is, guys! Managing a team is all about that: relationships. I should do this for my husband. I’ll make a playbook, “how to have success being married to me.” That, actually, is a good idea. I actually like that idea, because same thing, though… we expect people to meet our expectations 100% of the time, we’re mad or frustrated if they don’t, but we never even said what those expectations are. And how often do we do that with our team members? And so that was my epiphany. I hope you guys enjoyed this episode. Thank you so much for tuning in, and I will see you all on the next one.