22. October 2012
I get this question in various forms when working with clients and colleagues who are hiring their teams to support their businesses. And even when I hire for my business I struggle with this question – is there a “perfect” assistant out there? Can I find the perfect person who is affordable and affable and available?
Let’s demystify what most entrepreneurs mean by “perfect” and how that actually translates to working with your team.
Most people are looking for the ideal person who will completes every task just as you would, cares about the business as much as you do, is available 24/7, delivers every project on time, pleasant to work with, cheap, has unlimited skills, a wide ranging network of equally perfect people and anticipates every need before being asked. And while you may be able to develop this team over time, it’s naive and foolish to think you can create this in a week or even a month.
I’m not good at sugar coating the truth so let’s just be honest with each other:
There are no perfect VAs because there are no perfect people. (And that includes you.)
As we strive for excellency, we must remember that there is a lot of room for mistakes because we’re human. We get things wrong. We try and fail and try again. But setting up the expectation of perfection will only leave you disappointed. Most of the things you want in your perfect team are learned skills and must be communicated.
The perfect VA might write an email just like you would after months or years of learning your style. The ideal assistant may be able to anticipate you want a full day of rest after a week of business travel but only if you tell your assistant that is your preference. And sometimes our expectations are way out of line with reality.
Just a week after the New York Times article on life/work balance was released my own assistant was absent for several days. This was unusual and when we touched base again on Monday I discovered she’d experienced a death in the family and had been unable to email me with updated availability. 24/7 instant access is fine if you’re working with robots but people need to eat, take care of families, rest and serve other clients.
The most important aspect of knowing if your VA is the right person is their ability to grow and learn.
Does it mean that we love mistakes? No, but it does change how we view them to take problems as a growth opportunity. When you understand there are no perfect VAs then you are more willing to invest the time in training and clearly communicating what you need from your team. But is the VA able to learn? Understanding that there are several types of errors can help you determine if your VA is capable of learning such as:
error of omission – when a task hasn’t been completed then there are two things I look at first. Consider how clearly you asked for the task and the deadline given. If you didn’t give a deadline then it’s your error. Second, if you didn’t get confirmation that the deadline were feasible then address that communication breakdown first and reassess how many hours are hired or distributed throughout the week.
error of addition - when something has been done you didn’t ask for. Sometimes this is great, especially when you team begins to anticipate your needs. But if they’ve sent emails on your behalf or even scheduled meetings you don’t want to attend it can be a problem. Start by clarifying the scope of work, hours needed and job responsibilities.
simple mistakes – this is probably the most common problem when something hasn’t been done exactly the way we want. For the first few months of a new VA relationship I keep a very close eye on how things are done, stepping in to make adjustments frequently. Systems are created and refined, updated to reflect directions that were ambiguous or incomplete. It’s only if those instructions continue to be misinterpreted or ignored do I consider changing the relationship.
Communication is easy to overlook.
It’s easy to get caught up in the flow of business, talking about projects and tasks and then hang up the phone without clarity on what’s happening next. Clearly assigning tasks with deadlines and resources will not only help you relax, knowing that tasks are being taken care of, but give your team clarity to move forward.
And at times we make mistakes, assigning someone who is otherwise very capable to a task outside of their capabilities or giving too much too quickly. Because I hire primarily for the learning and growth ability, carefully looking to find the right person who is teachable, if the tasks are not working out I’ll shift things around first before starting over with a new person and clean slate.
Developing relationships with your team takes time and patience, unless you hire mind readers and miracle workers then it’s up to you to give clear direction and expectations, follow up on tasks and provide feedback and build the long term relationship that will serve your business for years to come.
If you haven’t yet hired a team you can get my free video training on this page and get started with 5 Days to Find Fabulous Help for Your Online Business including a video on what to do if your team screws up!Continue reading...
17. August 2012
Yes, you… it’s time to get OFF your assets and take action. If you have programs, products or services that aren’t getting any attention because you haven’t launched them in a big way then it’s time to make a change and I have a free, high value class just for you.
Are you ready to make sales from the offers you already have available?
Watch the video below for the whole story or read on to get all the details.
Are you ready to learn the basics you need on how to launch your offer quickly? I’m cutting out all the b.s. and fluff to give you an action plan to get started this week – not in six month or a year. Do you have a great vision but get stuck on implementation? Then it’s time to get direct support and accountability to take action and sell your offers on a bigger scale! Stop shying away from getting out there and sharing what you have to offer and launch confidently.
If you are an online business owner with products, services and programs that you KNOW work but feel like you’re the only one who knows about them then this is the class for you. If you need a guide to launch your business and offers in a big way or you’re frustrated by a lack of sales, or inquiries about your offers, then it’s time to launch in a strategic manner.
I’m sure you’ve seen months long, complex launches that cost thousands of dollars to produce. That is NOT what I’m teaching in this course. Instead I’ll give you the basic formulas for running a no-cost or low-cost launch in weeks, not months.
Do you wish everything else could see and acknowledge how great your programs, services and products are? Are you ready to stop hiding and playing small and get out there in a big way? Do you know WHAT you want to do but not HOW to do it? Then now is the time for action- start by signing up for the free teleclass “Get Your Show on the Road” Launch Plan so you can get the foundation to understand and take action on your next launch. Not in 6 months, not when you finish reading all the literature and programs out there but NOW. No more procrastination, no more sitting on your assets and keeping them from the people who need your amazing support.
The call will get you into action quicker and you’ve been waiting long enough (remember get OFF your assets!)
I have some awesome bonus scripts, tactics and strategies just for attendees of the live call!
You get first access to the Quick Start Launch Program if you want personal attention for your launch and a detailed, personalized plan for your upcoming launch.
Hope to see you on the inside!
6. August 2012
If you’ve been watching the Olympics from London this summer you probably know the story of Russian gymnast Ksenia Afanasyeva who fell on her face during her floor routine. During the difficult routine you could hear the thud when this strong competitor hit the floor which is not cushioned to enable falls.
What impressed me the most was that Ksenia as a competitor had trained and practiced and perfected the routine to the best of her ability. But when the time came and she misstepped, Ksenia picked herself back up and continued on. There wasn’t any time to wallow or whine or be concerned with how the judges were perceiving such a fall. She simply got right back to work.
Which leads me to the question, are you and your business rebounding from missteps?
We all like to think that we cannot fail, but as the Olympics prove every few years, the best in the world still fall, trip or miss on occasion. What matters when we do misstep is how we keep on going. Preparation is key, of course, but even the best concerts have sound issues and the best cameras sometimes fail.
I’d go so far as to say that we, as a culture, like to see people trip on occasion. It’s part of the reason gossip magazines are so popular – we love to see how the mighty have fallen and know that the lives of the rich and famous are not so perfect after all. How you react, on a scale of grace under pressure to John McEnroe, will reveal more about your character than a perfect performance.
It’s tempting to wallow, especially when the frustration is so great you’d just like to acknowledge that this sucks. But if you have fallen down and stay down it becomes increasingly difficult to get perspective on the finish line. Which is why when an athlete falls but picks right back up and keeps on with a smile the crowd cheers. Because we all know how hard it is to keep going. You’ll never reach the finish line if you sit down and cry – even when that’s all you want to do.
Here are some tips to help you get back up:
Keep your perspective by remembering that your teleclass, event, launch, video, presentation, or other business opportunity is not as big as the Olympics. Millions of people are not watching you and there is not a panel of judges noting every movement in your body. Sure the stakes are high but they’re not insurmountable. You can do this.
Build it into your story. No one likes a liar or someone who pretends to be perfect despite evidence to the contrary. So share your success and failures and use it to grow your credibility having ‘been there and survived that.’
Focus on getting back up, not the fall. If there’s anything people like more than the fall it’s the story of redemption. It may be easy to think that everyone in the world is thinking of your fall, but take a lesson from the Olympians and let them see your dedication and strong finish. While you make a commitment to always put your best foot forward, take the missteps into your story and grow along the way.
As the Olympics come to a close what has been your favorite story of a stumble or success?Continue reading...
24. May 2012
At the tail end of hurricane season last year I found this amazing story of how one company has created a system so comprehensive that it is recognized by the Federal Government. The amazing thing is that this is no bank, institute of higher learning or government entity.
It’s the Waffle House.
For those of you unaware, Waffle House is a regional chain of 24 hour restaurants serving up inexpensive breakfast fare frequented by travelers, broke college students and loyal locals.
Located in mid-Atlantic states targeted by hurricanes, the Waffle House franchise has made an amazing system around recovering from these natural disasters. So much now that the Feds use the reopening of restaurants – or “Waffle House Index” – in an affected area as a metric of how badly an area was hit.
Even better, they call this plan a playbook, “its hurricane playbook explains how to reopen a restaurant and what to serve if there is gas but not electricity, or a generator but no ice.”
You can read the story in its entirety here but here are some of the brilliant aspects of this plan:
The best takeaway here is that it’s not just one manager in one location who figured this out but company wide to over 1,600 franchises. It’s likely that this idea or practice started small but management, seeing the potential, allowed it to take hold and grow so that the entire company is now known for their emergency preparedness, responsiveness and capability.
You may not have a physical location that’s in danger of being hit by a hurricane. But there are some predicable “emergencies” for online businesses. Have you thought about them? Prepared for them? If not, grab your copy of the Play a Bigger Game Business Playbook on this page and start thinking of how your business can create systems to serve your clients, even in times of crises.Continue reading...
27. February 2012
When I worked in a traditional, corporate environment I made a point of keeping my resume constantly up to date with my accomplishments and results. What began as an effort to fight my non-existent short term memory turned into a powerful tool to ensure that I was always improving and evolving as an employee.
I’ve since recognized that this is an incredible trait of the entrepreneur : to never sit happily on one’s laurels but to consistently grow and evolve, sharing our on-going successes as we do so.
It only makes sense to me to continue that process within my own business and with my team, asking them on occasion to record everything they’re doing in the business which may include tasks I’d forgotten about or had deemed unimportant.
By asking your team to record their accomplishments and tasks you’ll get a few direct benefits. First, seeing if there are any tasks which should be eliminated as no longer necessary, freeing up their time to focus on other areas and saving you money. Similarly, you may find ways to automate tasks that take a lot of time but serve an important purpose.
Second, when you see how someone defines their job you can understand and align your perceptions. Imagine that your VA has omitted all of her contributions to your graphics which have brought incredible value to your sales pages and programs. This is a great opportunity to help your VA uplevel her self-image and show an updated skill set. Or, if you have a new team member in a support role who lists that he is managing launches (which is at best a stretch( then you can help him redefine his role and see the value in it.
Third, you can see gaps that need to be filled, redundancies to eliminate and reorganize the team. It’s hard to get a comprehensive view when you’re looking at people, roles and tasks piecemeal. By viewing it all at once you can keep the pulse of your business as an entity.
After reviewing how your team currently functions it’s time to make some changes.
Identify weaknesses that you’d like to turn into strengths. This may be the contractor who doesn’t respond to your emails, or the assistant who is always late for phone meetings. Once you know the behaviors you’d like to change directly address those in private with the person in question. Take it one step further and create general policies for all employees.
Example: Elmer is consistently 10 minutes late for the team call each week leaving him out of the loop and you often stop the flow of the call as you try to catch him up. Action: Speak directly to Elmer about the importance of being at each meeting on time beginning this week. Use “I expect” instead of “you should” to make your expectations clear. Take it a step further: Email all team members to let them know you’ll no longer be recapping mid-call if someone is late and everyone is expected to show up on time for all calls. And in your ‘welcome to the team’ packet give the details of the team call and explain the importance of punctuality.
Praise publicly the people who are dedicated to your vision. Thank them via Twitter, send them an unexpected gift and say “thank you” verbally. Few things are as powerful as gratitude and you may find that a phone call simply to express your thanks can create deeper loyalty and dedication. In addition to saying thanks, consider adjusting the pay of any contractor who has earned a rate increase.
Be sure to document new pay structures and if you have out of date agreements or are lacking contracts, now is the time to get those in place.
Set new expectations by describing and embodying the behaviors you’d like to see in your business. This subject can be an entire post on its own so I’ll just say: be the change. Elmer is not going to show up on time if you’re consistently late to meetings yourself.
Celebrate. This can all seem like a lot of, well, work, but take some time to celebrate the accomplishments here. This is your business and it’s growing and evolving and serving clients! Your team is also growing to meet those changing needs and you’re committed to creating a business that lasts.
Enjoy this time because when you view systems with a spirit of gratitude it fills you with a sense of purpose and motivation to keep growing.Continue reading...
5. February 2012
Check out this short video I made for you about today’s big game and how you can prepare to reach the highest levels of success in your online business:
p.s. I’m in New York for the big game so keep an eye out for more live on location videos and system tips this week!