Episode 150: Show Notes
In today’s episode, we’re going to walk you through how we went from communicating as single business owners to a partnership to now growing a team. We want to show you how communication systems can evolve and how we keep our business organized through our various communication tools, old and new. We have come a long way from endless phone calls and constant emailing and want to share with you how we stay on top of projects and ensure all of our work gets done and our team is on top of their tasks.
We have tried many different communication channels; our most recent addition being Slack, our new favorite (and yes, free!) app which we are going to tell you all about. Growing a team is not easy and if you are feeling overwhelmed with slipping and unproductive communication flows, we want you to know there are systems out there to help you. It’s time to do your research and fix your ish! This episode is here to help you do it, so take a listen!
Pre-partnership Communication For The First Six Months
If you think about communication, it includes a lot of things and before we were in a partnership together, communication was fairly simple. Communication was writing a list, sending an email or making a phone call. We would either call or text clients. There were no programs or software used regularly. An email was even a rarity. Initially, when we got together, we had to be very specific about how we wrote emails and who sent them. It was foreign territory for us and emailing even made us angry! Then we evolved to using Wunderlist and being on the phone or Google Hangouts constantly talking to each other. All day. Every day. We would interrupt each other’s day constantly. At the time, it wasn’t bad because we didn’t know any other way to communicate better and our plates were much lighter. We communicated this way, predominantly for the first year we were in business together. But soon things had to change.
Transitioning From Endless Phone Calls and Emails to Trello
Then we discovered Trello. We organized our processes and figured out our how we were going to organize ideas and blog posts. We were then able to plan out our week. There would be Emylee headers and Abbie headers and we could both see what one another were working on for that week. We would use Trello to update each other on the progress of our tasks. This was before we had a team to do all those things and when it was just the two of us, this system worked pretty well! We were still on the phone a lot but we didn’t interrupt each other as often. We would check-in in the morning and evening and carry on with our tasks throughout the day. We had one email address between the two of us, which worked for a while. We would spend the first two hours of our day, initially, deciding how to respond to our emails and making a checklist of all our email admin for that day. But soon, it became exhausting!
Introducing Our First Team Members, Voxer and Our Facebook Group
Before Katie joined our team, we had AllieDanae and Sarah who were formulating the blog. We only talked to them through Trello which worked just fine. For the small group of four of us, it was peachy and everyone was very happy. Around the same time, we set up the private group for team members and we brought in Katie to manage our inbox. Katie started managing all of our outward facing email communication. We decided to each get our own personalized work emails at that point in addition to keeping our main work email address. Katie would receive emails and forward them to each of us, depending on the nature of the email. It started to get a little messy with the back and forth so we started to transition a little bit into using Voxer and communicating through voice notes. With Trello, you can tag people on a card but there’s no real thread of communication. We use Trello for passing the baton to team members, so to speak. To say, “Okay, now this is your task.” But it’s not really great for conversations around, “Okay so what do you think about this…?” Voxer became the way to ask instant questions. For example, here Katie was able to ask quick questions regarding an email response and soon enough was able to answer emails on our behalf. At this point, we also decided to start a team member Facebook group for camaraderie, fun and just to hang out.
Why We Decided To Bring in a Director of Operations and Implement Slack
Even with Voxer, things got complicated. Often, we didn’t know which voice note was about which topic and the threads became so long no one could quite keep up or categorize the voice notes. At this point, we knew something needed to change so we decided to bring in a Director of Operations to get us back on track. Although we had processes and workflows, it had gotten to a point where our business had scaled so quickly and we were afraid we were going to drop the ball. Missing emails, double-booking, missing out on meetings – things were on the verge of falling apart so we brought in a Director of Operations, Angela; her top priority being: “Fix team communication. Establish it. Set a new precedent. Tell us what to do and we will do it.” We wanted there to be a sort of culture shift. She came in and told us we needed to be on Slack. We were super resistant, but for her, it was non-negotiable. We’re still just getting to know Slack and we’ve only been using it for a couple of weeks. But it really is a lot more robust for communicating with teams than any other system we’ve used.
Why Managing a Team is a Learning Curve and Communication is Personal
When you’re growing a team, you’re never going to be the best at it. You’re going to have to learn. You’re going to fumble. You’re going to lose some things. You’re going to miss a meeting or two – all before you figure it out. Every team is different and you have to really just keep in mind people’s preferences. Some people on your team will want to talk. Some people on your team are super visual. Some people on your team really need the hand-holding and some just a brief direction and they go. Knowing how your people like to be communicated with is as important as the systems and software you are using. We’re excited about where our communication channels are going and are focusing on making our Slack channel better because we feel like Slack is going to be where we are for a while. Do whatever is working for you right now, but just know that there are many other systems out there to help you manage your processes. Take note of what those are and go fix your shit!
- Pre-partnership communication for the first six months. [0:03:30.1]
- Transitioning from endless phone calls and emails to implementing and using Trello. [0:08:00.1]
- Introducing our first team members, Voxer and our Facebook group. [0:12:45.1]
- Why we decided to bring in a Director of Operations and implemented Slack. [0:23:10.1]
- Why managing a team is a learning curve and communication is personal. [0:30:30.1]