Category

Coaching

How To Identify A Team Players In Your Agency

By Business Management Coaching Consulting Hiring Recruitment

The best leaders seek out A players for every area of their business. This is not a problem for the most successful and profitable businesses. But your company, especially if it’s a startup, might not have the financial ability to hire A players for every position. So what can you do to find these people on a shoestring budget and how do you recognize an A player? What are the common competencies and traits they possess that make them more qualified than their peers? 

This excerpt is taken from “The Marketing Agency Blueprint: The Handbook for Building Hybrid PR, SEO, Content, Advertising, and Web Firms” by Paul Roetzer. It covers the personality traits that you should be looking for when hiring A team players.

“Although intelligence and experience are key, their character, internal drive, personalities, and innate abilities are the intangibles that truly differentiate great candidates from good ones. Let’s take a look at some of the most desirable competencies and traits of marketing agency A players: 

Analytical: They make quick decisions based on logic and reason. They love data, and use it to educate, build consensus, and drive action. They are measurement geeks, and look to apply critical analysis to agency activities, and they integrate it into every phase of client campaigns. 

Balanced: They maintain a strong work-life balance. They have personal interests and hobbies that regularly present opportunities to unwind and recharge. This keeps stress levels controlled and energy high. Balance becomes more critical as professionals move up into management levels, and their responsibilities and stress levels grow. 
      

Confident: They put in the extra time and energy needed to gain knowledge and experience, which translates into confidence and composure. Confidence is not to be confused with arrogance and entitlement, which are two of the most undesirable traits of an agency professional.

Creative: They bring innovative approaches and thinking to projects. They have an innate ability to work within standard systems while efficiently integrating original ideas and strategies that strengthen the agency and client campaigns.
        

Detail-oriented: They are incredibly organized and thorough in all communications and activities, which instills tremendous confidence in their clients, peers, and managers. They rarely make careless mistakes. Their attention to detail enables them to excel at time management and project management.
        

Focused: They avoid multitasking in favor of concentrated effort. They know priorities at all times and work efficiently to deliver. They have the ability to shut off distractions, and are often the most productive and efficient workers.
        

Intrinsically motivated: As defined in Daniel Pink’s classic book, Drive, intrinsically motivated people seek: autonomy, the desire to direct their own lives; mastery, the urge to get better and better at something that matters; and purpose, the yearning to contribute to something greater than themselves.
        

The “it” factor: They maintain a strong presence and positive aura. They command attention when they walk into a room and exude confidence without an air of arrogance. They have an intangible element that cannot be defined, but it makes them uniquely capable of succeeding in an agency. They are born leaders.
        

Listener: They excel at listening and understanding the needs of others. They are adept at making others the focus of conversations.
        

Positive: They bring a positive energy to the agency that is uplifting and encouraging to the entire team. They make favorable first impressions. People want to be around them and work with them.
        

Relationship-builder: They know that strong relationships are the key to success in business, and proactively build connections with peers, clients, media, partners, and vendors. They are strong communicators who do the little things that matter, such as sending personal notes to recognize achievements and milestones. 
        

Risk-taker: They take calculated risks. They do not let fear of failure hold them back, and, as a result, they tend to be more aggressive and proactive professionals on behalf of the agency and its clients.
        

Social web savvy: They monitor and participate in forums and social networks relevant to their interests and the industry. They engage with peers and influencers, and they maintain a professional presence on all social networks that positively represents themselves and their agencies.
        

Strategic: They are capable of fully assessing situations, and considering short- and long-term outcomes. They know how decisions and activities affect different audiences, and how they work to achieve business goals. They make seemingly unrelated connections others commonly miss.
        

Team player: They function extremely well within a team environment, but they also excel when working independently. They always seek opportunities to support team members and encourage collaborative learning.
        

Tech-savvy: They stay immersed in technology news and trends. They continually evaluate emerging products and solutions for opportunities to improve efficiency and performance.
        

Writer: They possess exceptional writing skills and the capability to clearly and concisely articulate their thoughts. They use creative and technically sound writing to produce powerful and effective communications. Copywriting is one of the most valuable competencies in a marketing-agency professional.” 

STOP re-inventing the wheel.

By Coaching Entrepreneur Motivation Skills

Across all of my clients, all of whom are business owners, there are similar frustrations relating to their businesses and growth challenges. They have all adopted the “innovation “ hype and are desperately looking for new ways to re-invent their companies, products and systems.

 

There is nothing wrong with innovation but not a single company has checked all the basic boxes that every company, regardless of service or product, should have.

 

You see, every retailer, manufacturer, agency and professional needs to have accounts, measurement, sales and/or marketing, procedures and systems for themselves as well as legal compliance.

 

There is an unwritten law that states that 80% of every company is the same and the remaining 20% is made up of product, service and culture. 80% is the same. Eighty percent!

 

So why are you spending so much time on getting the 20% right when the 80% will keep you alive and thriving for longer? Getting your accounting in order, your sales in order and your internal communication sorted will allow you to sell an average product with B-class employees for a long time, freeing up cash to allow you to work on the 20% that matters in the long term.

 

Now I’m not saying you should employ B-team staff and sell second-class services but having an amazing product offering and the world’s greatest team won’t automatically mean you will have a successful business.

 

What you don’t know, you don’t know, but why are you spending so much time, energy and often money, trying to work out new systems which have been refined a million times over by a million other businesses? Stop trying to re-invent the wheel when all you should be doing is peddling faster and beating the opposition.

 

Your business has the following major functions in some respect regardless what you call the roles:

 

  • Finance and accounting

  • Reporting

  • Human resources and culture

  • Sales – New business and retention

  • Marketing

  • Public relations

  • Production

  • Procurement

  • Distribution

These make up the 80% I mentioned earlier. If you can get these running well for your business and best arrange the right people around this, you have a business that will make money often in spite of the product and related market. There are very few, truly unique businesses out there, yours included, and that is okay. I would rather back a “me-too” business that has great structure, concise reporting, a strategy that is implemented and staff that get things done than a business that has the smartest business model and service, that lacks the other 80%.

 

Take a look at your 80% and ask yourself:

“Why am I always trying to re-invent this wheel when I could ask someone to show me how to do it?”

8 Ways to Make Your New Staff Onboarding Process better.

By Coaching Entrepreneur Interviews Motivation Skills

Hiring is good–it means you’re growing. But when a company doubles or triples in size in a short timeframe, onboarding new hires can quickly derail the schedules of your managers and existing employees. How can you make sure you’re training hires to make the right decisions without slowing down the entire team?

 

1. Record your foundational materials and assign each employee a mentor.

The biggest thing is to record the foundational training that repeats for each new employee. There’s no reason to have your company’s trainer do live trainings one-on-one or even in small groups when a video can do just as well. Transcribe these video and audio recordings. Reading is still the fastest way to take in information, so organize your training library so that employees and contractors can go back through multiple times at their convenience. Repetition is the mother of all learning, but repetition has to be done right–otherwise, it’s a waste of your company’s resources.

Once the employee has gone through the foundational training material, assign them a mentor. They’ll address unique questions and give insights into the trainee’s specific role and how best to fill it.

2. Create a web-based one-stop shop for new hires.

A membership site is a great way to get new hires acclimated quickly. This should be a destination for new employees to find everything they need to know about working at your company, including standard operating procedures, what technology the company uses (e.g. performance tracking apps and communication tools), company values and even the most popular post-work hangouts among coworkers. You can also include quizzes for tracking progress.

The idea is to make the onboarding process as smooth as possible and set new employees up for success by giving them vital information before their start date. By the time they do get started, they should be able to hit the ground running.

3. Slow down and test before you hire.

Hiring is difficult. The best answer is to slow down. If you try to take on too many people too quickly, you will inevitably hire people who are not in sync with your organization’s mission and values. People are the life force of any organization, and if you make a mistake it can cost you far more than if you slow down the process to find the right people.

At my company, we rely on a best-in-class intern program that is operated in association with institutions such as the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. The interns have access to the executive team, the board and our partners. The program allows us to field test potential employees by offering each intern a real-world problem to solve.

4. Clearly articulate your vision on day one.

Be very explicit about your company’s vision, values and culture. By doing this you’ll know that new team members align with your vision, and they’ll be able to contribute more quickly. You need to give new employees a good foundation based on your vision and then empower them to make decisions about how to achieve that vision.

5. Train your employees to train others.

Time is the most important asset we have in our lives, and especially in the business world. Highly skilled employees can transfer their knowledge to new hires, expediting the process that it would normally take a new employee to get up to speed if they are only trained by management. Allowing new hires to “pick the brain” of senior employees is beneficial to both the employees and the company as a whole.

6. Hire multiple people at a time.

As an entrepreneur, there is nothing more important than your time. So whenever my company hires, we hire in multiples of at least two. By training multiples of the same position, you maximize your time and provide an environment that promotes sharing and learning together. We have found that these employees make a much quicker impact than hiring/training one at a time.

7. Don’t skimp on having a leader do some training too.

Your other team members can help a new hire get up to speed, especially with company culture and day-to-day basics. However, you or a manager should spend some time in the first week or two orientating the employee and drafting up the first order of business for the new hire.

While you don’t need to hand hold, it’s imperative that you invest a little time upfront to help them fit in. You’ll waste much more time and money with a high turnover rate, so it’s worth a little extra time at the beginning. In fact, many HR and retention research validates this point. After they’ve got some orientation, make sure to draft up some work they can get started on so they’re busy and feel like their work is meaningful.

8. Develop a comprehensive training program now.

Give every new employee a ramp-up period to get up to speed with your product, the market and the nuts and bolts of their specific role. You should also have comprehensive training materials ready for every employee you bring on. These materials should include information about the competition, functional learning and Q&A sessions with other relevant members of the team. Having a great training program also helps attract the best employees, as these are the ones who want to learn and grow along with your company.

 

This article originally appeared on http://www.inc.com/

The Law of Three: You should know this!

By Business Coaching Interviews Skills

When you start the process of interviewing for new staff members, you should always refer back to the Law of 3:

  • Interview at least three candidates for a job, comparing and contrasting their qualities and characteristics. Check their suitability against your stated requirements. You would be amazed at how often people forget to do this.

  • Interview the candidate you like three different times: the true person is revealed once you get beyond the initial interview.

  • Interview the person you like in three different places. Brian Tracy of the American Management Association says that people have a “chameleon complex.” They appear a certain way in your office in the first interview and then seem to act and react differently when you move them to different environments.

  • Have any candidate that impresses you interviewed by at least three other people on your team.

  • Check at least three references from the candidate. Ask specific questions around their strengths and weaknesses and whether the referee can tell you anything to help you make a better hiring decision. Ask them whether they would hire the person back. If the answer is not an unequivocal “yes,” be cautious.

  • Check references three deep. Ask the given reference for the names of other people the candidate has worked with and talk to those people, too. You may be surprised at what you learn.

Interviews are the start of the most important function in almost every business and should be taken seriously and never rushed.

Should you want more info on building a successful interview process, please contact me here

What Do Your Agency Staff REALLY Want?

By Business Coaching Culture Entrepreneur Motivation

When a digital agency head, asked his team what they wanted the most from him and the business, he was surprised to find out it wasn’t money.

This survey was sent out anonymously and the donut clearly shows that Training and Development is what millennial’s in the agency space really want.

Are you brave enough to ask your staff? Are you paying your team well enough to get these results?

Maybe you need us to help with the hard stuff.

What the hell is a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP)?

By Coaching Entrepreneur Social Media Strategy

An SOP is a procedure specific to your operation that describes the activities necessary to complete tasks in accordance with industry regulations, provincial laws or even just your own standards for running your business.

 

Any document that is a “how to” falls into the category of procedures. In a manufacturing environment, the most obvious example of an SOP is the step-by-step production line procedures used to make products as well train staff. An SOP, in fact, defines expected practices in all businesses where quality standards exist.

 

SOPs play an important role in your small business. SOPs are policies, procedures and standards you need in the operations, marketing and administration disciplines within your business to ensure success.

 

These can create:

  • Efficiencies, and therefore profitability
  • Consistency and reliability in production and service
  • Fewer errors in all areas
  • A way to resolve conflicts between partners and staff
  • A healthy and safe environment
  • Protection of employers in areas of potential liability and personnel matters
  • A roadmap for how to resolve issues – and the removal of emotion from troubleshooting – allowing needed focus on solving the problem
  • A first line of defence in any inspection, whether it be by a regulatory body, a partner or potential partner, a client, or a firm conducting due diligence for a possible purchase
  • Value added to your business should you ever wish to sell it

 

Developing an SOP is about systemizing all of your processes and documenting them. Every business has a unique market, every entrepreneur has his/her own leadership style, and every industry has its own best practices. No two businesses will have an identical collection of SOPs.

 

Below is a listing of just a few typical SOPs, which you will want to consider writing for your own small business.

 

  • Production/Operations
  • Production line steps
  • Equipment maintenance, inspection procedures
  • New employee training
  • Finance and Administration
  • Accounts receivable – billing and collections process
  • Accounts payable process – maximizing cash flow while meeting all payment deadlines
  • Marketing, Sales and Customer Service
  • Approval of external communications: press releases, social media, advert, etc.
  • Preparation of sales quotes
  • Service delivery process, including response times
  • Warranty, guarantee, refund/exchange policies
  • Acknowledgment/resolution of complaints, customer comments and suggestions • Employing Staff
  • Job descriptions
  • Employee orientation and training
  • Corrective action and discipline
  • Performance reviews
  • Use of Internet and social media for business purposes Legal
  • Privacy

 

 

Tips

  • Establish prior to opening; review at least annually
  • Develop procedures in the language style and format best for the establishment (your industry/operations knowledge is crucial here)
  • Write SOPs in clear, concise language so that processes and activities occur as they are suppose to
  • The level of detail in SOPs should provide adequate information to keep performance consistent while keeping the procedures from becoming impractical
  • Keep written SOPs on-site and in the cloud so that supervisors and employees can use them
  • Drafts should be made and tested before an SOP is released for implementation
  • The more decision makers, employees and complexity in the business, the more SOPs are required
  • SOP’s should be developed in existing businesses by all the stakeholders in each process.

 

In my experience, companies with well built, managed and maintained SOP’s are far less likely to make the same mistake twice and are often more resilient internally. An SOP can often be the difference between getting new work and not as clients can see the value of a well-run organisation.

The real cost of Influencer Marketing

By Coaching Entrepreneur Social Media Twitter

Having received more than my fair share of branded disposable pens and matching lanyards over the years, I feel its my duty to inform brands and agencies to stop trying to buy my loyalty with cheap plastic gifts and branded promo-gear.

My loyalty should be curated, nurtured and rewarded.

Let’s be honest, you are looking to use me as another marketing channel and hoping that my mid level influence can help grow your brand or deliver your campaign objectives. It can, but only as long as I already believe in your purpose and buy into your marketing message and most importantly, love your product.

Influencer marketing is a very smart way of using a third parties voice to authentically portray your brand in a way that would only seems paid for and fake, if it were coming directly from the brand. Influencer marketing has been around before the dawn of social media, before the web and before traditional marketing was even dreamt up. Storekeepers would ask patrons to spread the word, and if the customer had a good experience, would do just that. Nothing has changed except the medium on which we spread the word.

I understand what you, the marketer, want to use me for and feel that I should be fairly rewarded for my part in your process. It is paid-for media and the reward should be cash.

My voice to my followers is far more powerful than any other medium you have in your vast arsenal of marketing channels. The consumer of today no longer believes your polished message and scripted values. The consumer of today wants to hear an honest message, one that is unique to the influencer but the truth no less. Consumers want someone that will answer the questions asked, with deep insight into the product and will kill for the brand if he is truly an ambassador.

Would you rather have a message being broadcast to thousands of people that don’t necessarily care or a conversation between an ambassador and a few real potential clients of the brand, who will most likely spend money with you? Influencers who believe in the brand will not only drive awareness but will drive an action that is valuable to the brand.

Involved affiliate marketing has proven to be hugely successful in industries like travel, fashion and restaurants. This is because people will trust the voice of a virtual stranger over the “your call is important to us” tone of taglines. Influencers have taken the time, often over years, to build credibility with their audience and have their own authentic voice and tone, which resonates with their own audience.

Influencer’s audiences are often incredibly niche. Understanding whom their audience is absolutely key to using an influencer to sell the right product to their niche audience. My personal online audience has evolved drastically from a comedic one to an entrepreneurial business base in the creative and tech industries. You can’t expect me to promote food brands or fashion, as my listeners know that this is not what I talk about and it won’t appear credible. I have taken years to have the right followers for my brand, my business and my messages, and if you want to gain access to this market and put my own credibility at risk, then you should pay for the privilege. If you are financially compensating someone then you also get the right to guide the conversation towards your own goals and expect certain clear deliverables to be executed by the influencer, in the influencers own unique tone and fashion. Giving the influencer the freedom to express your message intheir incomparable voice will deliver the greatest results for your business.

You want your influencer to feel rewarded, acknowledged, loved, important, or any combination of those and ensure that they are partners in your communication strategy.

so

Get Shit Done.

By Coaching Entrepreneur Interviews

I have heard it several times from numerous successful business owners and MD’s that they would unquestionably always hire Grit over skills and experience.

It was Justin Spratt who once told me that in his interview process he tries to establish a high GSD factor. Being a business coach I should know what a GSD factor is but decided to eventually ask. Justin laughed and said its a “Get Shit Done” factor.

To establish a “GSD factor” you need to ask questions that are several questions deep. Personality index tests can also assist in this process but often it’s in the interview where you can best tell the personality and culture you are looking for and if the candidate has the GSD you need.

It often starts with questions that are about their person lives and hobbies.

  1. Are they obsessed with something?
  2. What lengths were taken to complete a “pet project” or to acquire something they desperately wanted?
  3. Do they start and stick to good habits?
  4. Do they push themselves at places like gym?
  5. What do they do that is consistent over a long period of time?
  6. What experiences have they overcome that shows mental toughness?
  7. Do they call one friend every day to catch up?
  8. Is there Consistency of Interests?
  9. Do they often set a goal but later choose to pursue a different one?
  10. Do New ideas and new projects sometimes distract them from previous ones?
  11. Do they become interested in new pursuits every few months?
  12. Do their interests change from year to year?
  13. Have they been obsessed with a certain idea or project for a short time but later lost interest?
  14. Do they have difficulty maintaining focus on projects that take more than a few months to complete?
  15. Have they achieved a goal that took years of work?
  16. Have they overcome setbacks to conquer an important challenge?
  17. Do they finish whatever they begin? Example?
  18. Look for sayings like “Setbacks don’t discourage me, I am a hard worker, and I am diligent.”
  19. Do they cultivate growth and keep learning?
  20. Do they improve their skills on a micro level?
  21. Do they ask for support? Examples?
  22. Do they have a clear meaning and purpose of life?

You want to see what character traits a person has and if they are the type of person who has the grit and drive to complete tasks almost at any cost.

Skills and experience are always essential to a good hire but throwing in a high GSD factor makes the candidate the right person for the job.

Relationships are reality for Influencers

By Business Coaching Mentoring Social Media Twitter No Comments

spillly influencer marketing

Before web 2.0 and the rise of social media, influence was exclusive to a privileged few who held unrivalled sway over public opinion. Today, individuals on social media get to pick and choose who and what they listen to and those who once had little chance of being heard can now broadcast their messages across the world.

Influencers are now niche promoters and brand advocates that are active on social media sites and blogs and brands are now naturally hungry to take advantage of this phenomenon. Brands will seek to turn that influence into a marketing opportunity but aren’t always sure how best to go about this.

An influencer is the mutual friend connecting your brand with your target consumers. For influence to take place, the influencer needs to behave authentically and when communicating about or on behalf of a brand. The balance between being seen as an online billboard and someone that is being paid to recommend a product in a credible way is often misunderstood and the value in using influence marketing lost.

There are five key understandings that allow you to define what the right influencer looks like for your brand:

  1. Context:

An influencer differs for every brand because, first and foremost, they are a contextual fit. This is the most important characteristic when targeting the right influencers for your brand. The example I always use is that Justin Bieber can’t sell insurance without looking like a fraud to his followers because they are teenager girls who aren’t interested in that.

  1. Reach:

Defined as the size of the audience or the number of followers the influencer has on a particular platform. Influence describes the ability to affect action from within that audience. When Reach and Context work together, you have success.

  1. Actionability:

This is the influencer’s ability to cause action by their audience. This characteristic comes naturally when you target individuals that are in contextual alignment with your brand and have a far enough reach.

  1. An “opt-in” network:

Influencers don’t force themselves upon an audience as their followers choose to follow them on particular channels like Twitter or a blog. Thus, their audience is engaged and is there to hear about the topic being discussed. This is why the need for a contextual fit is so important.

  1. Engagement:

Positive engagement is a great indicator that the content is interesting to their audience. This means that something about their content is evoking a reaction and that there is the potential for an action to occur.

Once you understand these, the next step is giving your influencer an image you can best match real influnecers to. Decide on what type of personality you require and if you need an activist, an informer or an authority to best promote your campaign or product. Next pick a genre. Examples include technology, fashion, travel and marketing. Niche this genre further into LSM, geographical position and age group.

Pick a topic that your ideal influencer sometimes talks about on social media or their blog and decide what type of reach and actions you will require from the influencer. Do you want likes, follows, engagement or visual content creation? Always ensure that the influencer is aware of your primary audience and your campaign objectives from the start, giving you the best chance of success.

Always remember that reach is vanity, engagement is sanity and relationships are reality.

 

<This post was originally written for Digitlab and can be viewed here>

What is a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP)?

By Business Coaching Mentoring No Comments

Spillly coaching

 

 

An SOP is a procedure specific to your operation that describes the activities necessary to complete tasks in accordance with industry regulations, provincial laws or even just your own standards for running your business.

 

Any document that is a “how to” falls into the category of procedures. In a manufacturing environment, the most obvious example of an SOP is the step-by-step production line procedures used to make products as well train staff. An SOP, in fact, defines expected practices in all businesses where quality standards exist.

 

SOPs play an important role in your small business. SOPs are policies, procedures and standards you need in the operations, marketing and administration disciplines within your business to ensure success.

 

These can create:

  • Efficiencies, and therefore profitability
  • Consistency and reliability in production and service
  • Fewer errors in all areas
  • A way to resolve conflicts between partners and staff
  • A healthy and safe environment
  • Protection of employers in areas of potential liability and personnel matters
  • A roadmap for how to resolve issues – and the removal of emotion from troubleshooting – allowing needed focus on solving the problem
  • A first line of defence in any inspection, whether it be by a regulatory body, a partner or potential partner, a client, or a firm conducting due diligence for a possible purchase
  • Value added to your business should you ever wish to sell it

 

Developing an SOP is about systemizing all of your processes and documenting them. Every business has a unique market, every entrepreneur has his/her own leadership style, and every industry has its own best practices. No two businesses will have an identical collection of SOPs.

 

Below is a listing of just a few typical SOPs, which you will want to consider writing for your own small business.

 

  • Production/Operations
  • Production line steps
  • Equipment maintenance, inspection procedures
  • New employee training
  • Finance and Administration
  • Accounts receivable – billing and collections process
  • Accounts payable process – maximizing cash flow while meeting all payment deadlines
  • Marketing, Sales and Customer Service
  • Approval of external communications: press releases, social media, advert, etc.
  • Preparation of sales quotes
  • Service delivery process, including response times
  • Warranty, guarantee, refund/exchange policies
  • Acknowledgment/resolution of complaints, customer comments and suggestions • Employing Staff
  • Job descriptions
  • Employee orientation and training
  • Corrective action and discipline
  • Performance reviews
  • Use of Internet and social media for business purposes Legal
  • Privacy

 

 

Tips

  • Establish prior to opening; review at least annually
  • Develop procedures in the language style and format best for the establishment (your industry/operations knowledge is crucial here)
  • Write SOPs in clear, concise language so that processes and activities occur as they are suppose to
  • The level of detail in SOPs should provide adequate information to keep performance consistent while keeping the procedures from becoming impractical
  • Keep written SOPs on-site and in the cloud so that supervisors and employees can use them
  • Drafts should be made and tested before an SOP is released for implementation
  • The more decision makers, employees and complexity in the business, the more SOPs are required
  • SOP’s should be developed in existing businesses by all the stakeholders in each process.

 

In my experience, companies with well built, managed and maintained SOP’s are far less likely to make the same mistake twice and are often more resilient internally. An SOP can often be the difference between getting new work and not as clients can see the value of a well-run organisation.

 

Should you need help with your SOP or other business processes please contact us.