You’ve decided it’s time to hire a new team member — congrats!
Now you might be wondering…how do I decide exactly what to outsource?
In a couple of past blogs, I’ve covered deciding if you need to hire a VA or an OBM and how to bring your values into the hiring process. Now, I want to dive deeper into defining the dynamic role and specific responsibilities of the person you want to hire because a job title just won’t cut it.
This blog is Part 1 of a two-part series. In this blog, I will cover the four layers of support in business and how to use them to determine what type of role is missing from your team. I’m sharing the exact framework I use to evaluate my clients’ businesses here.
In Part 2 of this series, I’ll detail how to track your (or your current team’s) time to determine the specific tasks and projects you need a new team member to take on.
Knowing you want to hire a social media manager, virtual assistant, online business manager, or copywriter isn’t enough for most small businesses. You need to understand what your unconscious and assumed expectations are for your new hire.
If you don’t understand and clearly express your expectations in the hiring process, you can end up months into a working relationship with someone only to discover that they can’t or won’t take on the entire role as you had (mentally) planned it.
For instance, as an OBM, I do not touch my client’s social media accounts. Some OBMs may be up for taking on social media and even love it. I know copywriters who hand off a Google Document with their copy in it, and that’s it, while others will plug their copy into your website or email system and even monitor analytics. There’s nothing inherently better or worse about these differences. Everyone thrives in their ways.
I have found that there are four layers of support in every business that help business owners distinguish between the roles and responsibilities of team members.
When you fully understand these four layers, you’ll be able to:
I’m going to cover these layers from the ‘bottom’ up.
I want to be very clear about what I mean when I say I’m starting with the ‘bottom’ layer of support. This layer isn’t the least important, least impressive, or least valuable layer. It’s more like the crust on your favorite pizza — if you don’t have it, you don’t have a pizza. When it comes to implementation in your business — if you don’t have it, you don’t have a business, either!
Implementers get things done and typically think in terms of one day or one week at a time. A task-oriented or project-oriented assignment drives their productivity. They aren’t usually initiating what they’re working on or figuring out what needs to be done; they’re just showing up and doing it. Your implementers create stability and predictability in your business.
It’s common to see entrepreneurs just starting their businesses who are heavily involved in the implementation layer of their business. Gradually the implementation gets outsourced as the business owner turns their attention to Management, Strategy, and Vision.
When implementers are missing, your business can feel rushed, chaotic, frustrating, and even uninspiring. I see this happen a lot when team members who are very skilled at managing or strategizing are stuck doing the implementation. With the right people in your implementation roles, your business can keep rocking daily without exhausting your team.
Implementers could be:
Managers support a business by overseeing what’s happening in the business. Their job is to take the vision of the CEO and the strategic plan that’s been created to produce that vision and make sure that it gets carried out in a very tangible way. They tend to think about business on a weekly, monthly, and quarterly timeline. In a way, they’re also the ‘middle man’ between the implementers, strategists, and visionaries. They’re the special sauce that brings the whole team together.
Implementers aren’t equipped to manage entire projects and processes; that’s the job of management.
If management is missing from your business, you might notice that the visionaries or strategists (more on them in a bit) are frustrated with their team and think things aren’t moving fast enough or that their team isn’t taking enough responsibility. In reality, what’s happening is that the management layer isn’t translating the bigger-picture projects, strategies, and visions into doable tasks and project pieces for the implementers. When management is missing, there can also be an overall sense of chaos. CEOs end up not knowing what progress has been made on what projects, and implementers become unclear on what their tasks are from one day to the next.
This could look like:
A brand strategist creates a complete brand overhaul and hands that off to the social media person, copywriter, and graphic designer without breaking down exactly what each team member needs to implement and when.
This team needs someone to organize and assign pragmatic, tangible steps to carry out the brand strategy and vision.
A launch strategist is doling out launch-related tasks and projects to team members who already have their plates full of regular content creation, customer service, and other tasks.
This team needs someone to protect their implementers’ time while throttling expectations from the CEO and strategist. They also need someone to identify what implementers might be required to carry out the launch strategy.
I’ve seen teams where management was missing, and it really made the day-to-day running of a business a nightmare for everyone. When you have skilled managers in place, the big-picture ideas and strategies get broken down into clear, actionable steps so the business can progress and move forward.
Managers could be:
When you’ve got high-quality strategy support in your business, it’s like adding the gooey-ist, stringiest, meltiest cheese to your pizza (aka your business). Strategy is what turns tasks and scattered projects into a delicious business that people keep coming back to again and again.
Strategists are the big-picture people who think in terms of quarters and years. Excellent strategy is always informed by the layers of support above and below it. This means that strategists need to take the CEO’s vision and turn it into a structured system that can be handed off to management. They may take into consideration the current size and capacity of the existing team of implementers to create a workable strategy or to recommend expansion of the team.
Strategists can tap into the power of your business, services, and products in a unique way. They’re fantastic at tying the inner workings of a business to the delivery of your brand and business to customers. Strategists usually have a specific specialty and are often hired as consultants or contractors on an as-needed basis, particularly in smaller businesses.
Strategists could be:
Strategy brings a layer of intentionality into a business that focuses on return (not always directly financial) on investment. If strategy is missing in your business, chances are you feel like you’re putting in a lot of hours and effort without getting the desired results. Without strategists, a business can feel scattered and full of ‘busy work’ that doesn’t produce measurable outcomes.
An example of missing strategy is a CEO saying, “I want to create the #1 podcast in parenting,” and asking a project manager to set up a podcasting workflow. This is a great vision, and the manager might be able to put together a podcast production system. Still, without any strategy behind the content, marketing, and development of the podcast, it’s doubtful that it will hit #1 on the podcast charts.
This is the one layer of support in a business that can’t really be outsourced, it can only be inspired, encouraged, expanded, and protected. This is because the primary visionary in a company is usually the CEO or business owner. Of course, in large companies, the CEO role is outsourced, but even then, it requires a specific individual who can’t just show up to work expecting to do a job and then clock out at the end of the day.
Visionaries dream, set big goals, and plan on a massive scale — usually on a one to ten year timeline. There’s something really special about people who are visionaries and how they carry the future of a business in everything they do.
The visionary is one choosing the perfect combination of toppings on a pizza, which everyone knows should NEVER include pineapple. Period.
Everyone has their signature mix that makes their pizza theirs, proven by the fact that I once ordered an artichoke and breaded eggplant pizza that was pretty wild and wonderful. The visionary choosing the business ‘toppings’ sets the business apart.
And…if you take away the implementers (crust), management (sauce), or strategists (cheese) it doesn’t matter how amazing your topping selection is; you just don’t have a complete, bona fide pizza anymore, do you?!
If the vision of a CEO needs some fresh inspiration, encouragement, expansion, or protection, there are ways to bring that into a business even though it can’t be outsourced.
The CEO’s vision can be inspired, encouraged, or expanded by:
The CEO’s time and attention can be protected by:
Yes! A new team member can plug into multiple layers of your business, with one big caveat: You must define their two roles and how they function separately from each other. Mixing layers without clarity is a recipe for overwhelm! For example, if you were to hire me as an OBM and a strategist for your business, we would have designated times for strategy creation and a clear workflow for project and team management.
Join me for Part 2 of this blog series, where I break down how to track your time and tasks (or the time and tasks of your team members), so you can determine precisely what responsibilities you need your new team member to take on!
October 11, 2022