Episodes 92: The Secrets For Unlocking Potential In Your Team

Key Points [00:04:48] Don’t jump in and hire anyone until

Jody Milward

Key Points

[00:04:48] Don’t jump in and hire anyone until you do this

[00:07:42] How to get started with the highest priority hire

[00:09:22] One of the big mistakes I see a lot of people make when hiring

[00:10:17] How to get a new team member up to speed as quickly as possible

[00:12:58] How do you establish trust?

[00:16:37] How to have difficult conversations in a respectful way

Jody: Welcome to this episode of Online Confidential, and I’m super excited to bring our special guest to you today, who’s going to share with you some insights when it comes to building a very effective team, which is something that I know a lot of ad managers and even online entrepreneurs struggle with.

So welcome to the show Lindsay White.

Lindsay: Thank you so much. I’m so pleased to be here with you.

Jody: I’m excited because this is such a pain point that a lot of ad managers have. Now, if you guys don’t know Lindsay, Lindsay works with small business owners, particularly female business owners who understand that in order to scale and grow, they need to build a team.

So we’re going to be tapping into that today to help you avoid some mistakes that a lot of us make when we hire, and before we even hire, and then how to provide our new team members with the best success for working as part of our team and being very effective.

So, Lindsay, tell us a bit more about yourself.

How did you get to this point? Where did you start off and find out that this was your sweet spot to lead you to what you’re doing now?

Lindsay: Thanks for asking Jody. I’ve been in business for 25 years. I spent the first 10 years working for a major Canadian retailer in their head office.

And then I decided I really wanted to focus my career, not on retail, but on human resources and talent management. So I moved to one of our most recognizable Canadian financial institutions. One that had an exceptional people and culture team, really focused on best practices and really elevating culture in the organization.

And I spent 10 years working there with some incredible experts and some incredible partners and they were really innovative in the way that they built culture, the way they built high performing teams and all the experts that they brought together, I worked with in-house people and consultants that were absolutely sought after the world over.

So really lucky to be able to build my HR skill and practice in that organization. And then like so many of us, I actually ended up working for a really toxic leader. Happens even in human resources, and I left because I really couldn’t tolerate that kind of behavior, but I already knew that I really loved coaching.

I love asking a smart person a really great question and having them go, ‘I don’t know how to answer that. I don’t even know if I’ve ever thought about that before’.

It’s a really powerful place to be, to help guide people through that discovery, through that exploration. So when I left the financial institution, I went into a coach training program.

I spent 14 months deeply, deeply immersed in my coaching practice and learning how to be the most impactful, most effective coach that I could be. And during that time, I actually decided that I did want to go into business for myself, that I wanted to start my own practice. And so now what I do is combine leadership and executive coaching for female entrepreneurs who really want to grow their own leadership practice, as well as strategic people management.

So really helping design the cultures and the workplaces that enable teams to do their very best beehive performing, be super engaged and ultimately build businesses.

Jody: Awesome. And that’s I really love that you covered that point of building the culture of the team. So looking at the team, what’s the culture, what’s the values of it, so you can create that environment. And I think that’s an extra tricky thing to do with this virtual workplace that we have going on.

It’s not a matter of going in and you can feel the vibe of being in an office. We need to be very purposeful, I think, to create these kind of cultures. I’ve been at some places where it’s been ‘Donut Day’ and we’ve had a virtual catch up and there’s been donuts either delivered or BYO donuts. It’s great if they can be delivered.

But yes, creating a culture and a sense of belonging as well. It’s super interesting that you’ve had the experience of being in a HR place where the leader there was quite toxic. I’ve certainly had my eyes opened up as being a business owner, having a team, a good team on board, making sure I want to retain them and look after them. And then seeing how my children are treated at the workplaces that they go to. You go, oh my gosh, this is just a terrible environment and you just lose staff. When you have great staff you want to do your best to keep them right?

Lindsay: Yes.

Jody: So tell us a bit about that. So when it’s time to, because for ad managers predominantly, or any service provider, they’re working with their clients, they’re busy and they go, I need to get someone on board to help. I think often at that point when they do that, it’s maybe a bit too late and suddenly they just throw all this work at them and just leave them up to their own devices.

So what do we need to do to start off that process of making sure that when we do start recruiting or looking for people, that we are doing it in a way that is setting up ourself and our potential new hire for success?

Lindsay: Yes, the best way to start is actually to stop. It’s to pause, take a moment.

It’s to take a moment and actually step back and think strategically about your business. Now that’s really hard and I have been a solopreneur so I know that is not an easy thing, it’s easy to say, but not easy to execute. But it is actually critical that you pause and reflect on your business because especially when we are first starting out, we are so busy working in our business, doing the tactical things, working with the clients, doing the ad management, doing the account, like doing all the things, doing the accounting, right?

That we actually lose some perspective. So the best way to start is to stop, pause, think about what’s happening in your business today, what you want that to look like by quarter, three months, six months, a year from now. What do you want it to look like three and five years from now? Well, sometimes it’s difficult in our really small organizations to think five years in.

It doesn’t have to be perfectly articulated, but it certainly needs to be some kind of vision. At that point, you can start to see in your business where it makes sense to add staff, and I think it’s also important to really think about first and foremost in that strategic plan, what are the things that are important that you need to do and that you like to do?

As business owners we need to be operating in our zone of genius. We need to be doing the things that we are truly brilliant at and then we need to actually find people to help us do the things that they are brilliant at.

An example for many of us is we need a bookkeeper. I don’t have a finance background. I don’t enjoy working with numbers. I really needed, and actually I’m terrible at it. Like to be perfectly honest, every time I went into my QuickBooks, I made a mess. I really needed to find someone who had the expertise and actually got joy out of doing that work. When you pause, when you reflect, when you can get strategic, you can see those opportunities.

Then it’s a matter of deciding what’s the highest priority. So I might know that I need a bookkeeper. I might know that I’d need some administrative experience to help me with my calendar, to help schedule appointments, to help with documents, and on organization. I might need someone to help with my own marketing and social media, right?

I may need to give that up. Then I can decide which one of those I need first, which is the priority and then who I need to hire. What does that person look like? Skills, experience, education, but also fit, right? What is their attitude going to look like? Right? What are their capabilities? So that’s a really important way to actually get started.

Jody: Awesome. And bookkeeping. Oh my gosh. Classic example, right? I hated it. That actually made me feel sick in the stomach. Yes. And for me, and it would take me so long to do, and that’s really not a good use of my time. So getting a good bookkeeper on board was one of the first things that I did because I’d done it myself for so many years in previous business and it was like, this is not not a good fit for me.

So love that example. That’s one that you can very easily handle. It doesn’t affect your client deliverables or outputs but it’s something that’s giving you back time. So that one, you can focus on those things, but then also get some systems and plans in place that as you grow you can go, okay, now I’ve got this in order.

Now I can hire someone to help. Whether it’s a VA to help with the inbox and do all that backend kind of stuff. Awesome. So yes, pause, such an important thing because again, we can just panic and hire.

One of the big mistakes I see a lot of people do is that they will hire somebody because they’ll just be so rushed and then they don’t know what to give that person. So they’ll start and then they’ll feel bad this person’s waiting around. They’ll quickly throw a few things, and then they think, I don’t have time to get this ready, so I’ll just do it myself. How do we, again, other than pausing, avoid that kind of mistake?

So if we have hired somebody rather than going, I’m not ready for you. See you later. What could we do now to help make sure that we’ve got someone on board, let’s work with them to get them set up successfully?

Lindsay: Absolutely. Aside from the recruitment, so you’ve already done that, you’ve already got someone in place.

The next most important thing is actually how you bring them on board. It is really critical to actually be thinking as you’re in your recruitment process about how do I get this person up to speed as quickly as possible. That will require time from you. They will need downloads. So you could be doing things like recording some SOPs in Loom or another video app that you can have them watch.

They can actually see you doing the thing the way you want it done. They can watch and rinse and repeat. That’s a really great trick. To help enable the individual. You can be, you know, making some notes for yourself. I love to use Otter. It’s an app I have on my phone where I can do voice notes so I can be recording my thoughts as I’m in the car or as I’m out for a walk.

Those are the kinds of small things that will make an enormous difference. If you have someone that you’re bringing on board and you think, geez, I’m really short on time here. But it is absolutely critical. If you’re going to hire someone, you need to communicate. You cannot hire them, especially in our remote working environments, leave them to their own devices and assume that they are going to be able to read your mind.

Because as far as I know, we don’t come pre-programmed with that skill. VAs don’t come with crystal balls. They don’t know what you need. But if you talk to them and you say to them, I don’t know what to give you. They may be able, if they’re very well trained to say, here’s the things I could help you with.

Why don’t you give me access to your inbox and I’ll go through it and clear it out. Why don’t you give me access to your calendar and I’ll send you your meetings for the next three days so you know who you’re meeting with and links to their website so that you’ve got all the information. They will be able to generate ways that they can help you.

You have to talk to them. You have to communicate effectively.

Jody: That’s great and like you said, the calendar, here’s who you’re meeting with and links to their website. How much time will that give you back if you’ve empowered and educated your virtual assistant to be able to do that for you?

It takes time to go and find all that information. Having it just dropped there for you. Golden. That’s awesome.

Lindsay: How much more prepared will you be going into those client calls? You will feel confident, you will feel ready. You will be able to spend two minutes before the meeting and you will nail that sales call. Not only will it save you time, it could potentially make you a ton of money.

Jody: Exactly. Yep. Great advice there. And so with regards to that then, you need to have a level of trust. So how do you get to that place of how do I really trust them with my inbox? Or how do I trust them that they’re going to give me the information? Any ideas or suggestions there?

Lindsay: Yeah, you’re absolutely right. Being able to trust them is absolutely key. Especially when they are really getting into some of those important details in your business. I believe that you start building trust through the recruitment process. So whether you post a job online and you’ve got to make sure that you have a great job description, it’s accurate, it makes sense, it’s articulate, it describes the main pieces of what they’re going to do

Or you get someone that comes to you through some kind of networking event or individual, Hey, I have a great VA, they could work for you. It is absolutely important that you start building the trust through the process of interviewing them. And having, again, those conversations that are connected, that are articulate, that you’re asking great questions and you know what kind of answer you’re looking for, that will help you feel that you can trust their abilities, you can trust their integrity, because they are going to be touching really important, sometimes private and confidential pieces of your business. And then again, spending some time with them. You cannot build trust if you’re not connecting and communicating. You will need to have conversations with them. Set expectations. This is what I want you to deliver for me.

This is what success looks like in your role. If you can have those conversations and talk that through with them. But be really clear and concise about what you want. That will give you a level of trust right from the start that you’ll be able to build on. And then it’s all about great feedback.

It’s all about saying to them, this is what you did really well. Here’s something that was a little difficult or tricky for me. It didn’t go the way I had hoped. Here’s what I’d like you to do next time. You also need to get feedback from them. That’s how you’re going to build trust on their end. Really, Jody, it’s really about great communication and it’s something we struggle with as entrepreneurs.

Jody: I think a lot of us just expect people to be mind readers, this is what I want. What, you didn’t get it? I wanted it to look this way, or I wanted this. And they’re just not, right? Communication, like you said, I even find, well doing loom recordings so easy to do, so effective. But then also like, for example, YouTube thumbnails.

If you just do some images and show this is what the vision is, this is how we want it to look. Then at least they’ve got something to go by rather than just trying to figure out, oh, I want to have some words here and I want these colors and all the rest of it. So, clear communication, yes.

Lindsay: Clear communication and encourage your people to ask questions. Encourage them to ask questions because as you hear the questions, you will start to understand what their thought process is, and in that way, you may be able to be proactive in the way you deliver information, because if you’re doing it right, they should have very few questions. This really is a two-way street.

It has to be about both people. You as the business owner and leader, and your employee about coming together in a way that’s mutually beneficial.

Jody: Great. Absolutely agree. So you’ve got someone on board, you think you’ve been training them, right? And you’ve been going back to them with this is not exactly how I would do this, or giving them constructive feedback to help them do their job better.

It’s four weeks down the track and you find you’re still having to correct the same things that you’ve been correcting back from week one or week two. What do we do there?

Lindsay: So this is going to be revolutionary for many people. You need to tell them that. You need to say those things because when we are clear with people, we can solve problems.

So in the kindest, most appropriate, most professional way possible, you need to say to the individual, it’s been four weeks in the business here. First of all, here’s the things that I think you’ve done really well, and hopefully at four weeks they’ve done some things well. We need to celebrate those things, right?

Don’t forget to actually recognize the positive. Then you need to be very clear and concise. Do not tap dance around it. Do not couch it in language. Here is the thing that is not working, and I feel like we have been over this two or three times and it still doesn’t seem to be the way I need it to be, and here’s why it’s not working.

Give them some background. Give them the why. Here’s why it’s important that it goes like this, or you do it this way, or this is the execution. And then talk about if we can’t get this right, this could potentially impact our ability to work together. They need to know if you’re thinking that their job is on the line, they deserve to know that information.

These are difficult conversations. Very hard for many of us. We don’t want to hurt other people’s feelings. We don’t like to deliver bad news, but it is absolutely critical that we are very clear about what is working, what is not working, and how we need to fix it.

And don’t just say, I want you to fix it, go and fix it. Go find the solution. It’s your responsibility too. You’re the business owner. It’s your business. If you want it working a certain way, you have got to take some accountability for that. That’s really key. You can’t just say, go fix it. They don’t know how. If they haven’t been doing it right so far they don’t know the solution.

They need you to help them find it. And I would say if that doesn’t solve the problem, then potentially you don’t have the right people, or the right person working for you in your business. You may need to move to terminate.

Jody: Right. Okay. Which was going to be my next question. How long do you give it?

So if you’ve corrected them once, twice, maybe three times, you’ve got to four weeks and you’re still saying, okay, these things we’ve been talking about for the last three weeks already. At what point do you know that okay, this person isn’t a right fit?

Lindsay: Yeah. I think once you’ve done a couple corrections, you’ve had that difficult but very forward kind and caring, but straight up conversation. If it doesn’t change at that point, then I think that you really need to consider that it’s probably the time to severe your relationship. And I will add to that it is absolutely key that you treat that person with dignity if they’re exiting your business.

You need to be professional about delivering that message that they don’t have a job with your organization anymore, but you need to treat them with respect. Every one of us deserves to be respected, even if they didn’t do a great job for you. Treat them with dignity and kindness as they leave, because we all know that one bad review can live forever on the internet.

And even if they are an employee today, they may know clients tomorrow. We get bad candidate reviews on things like Glassdoor and Indeed, and it can impact your ability to recruit in the future. So make sure that if they are exiting your business, you deal with them with as much kindness and professionalism as you can.

Jody: Absolutely agree. Yep, you never know what’s going to be around the corner and plus, for me and people I work with, we don’t want to leave with that kind of experience, right? Thank you very much. This is just how it is at this stage. Wish you all the best, blah, blah. With that as well, with the online nature of our businesses our process is that we remove access to everything straight away.

Even just saying that as part of our procedures, we’ve removed access straight away. We’ll pay you out for the rest of the week, or whatever it may be. Effective immediately, we’re no longer working together. So that’s all clear.

Lindsay: Make sure that you know the rules and regulations, the labor laws in your jurisdiction.

What is appropriate here in Canada is different from state to state in the US. It’s different in Australia, it’s different in the EU. Make sure that you are aware. Seek professional advice from an HR talent professional like myself, who can support you in how to execute that. But you could also consult a lawyer.

So for many of us, we belong to those organizations where we have access. Make sure that you get the right advice, you do it right, you don’t ever want to put your business or yourself in a risky situation.

Jody: Absolutely. And that’s where a lot of us are hiring contractors as well. So making sure that that’s clear. In having it checked over by a lawyer. That this is what they’re signing to when they sign up to agree to work with you and what the terminations may be there as well. But yes, legal advice always, always recommended.

Lindsay: Yes.

Jody: So you’ve got people on your team, you’ve been working together, but sometimes you may just feel it’s like, oh, does anybody really care about this business? Are they going the extra mile? Are they just doing these things that just need to be done, checking the boxes? What do you do if you’re feeling a bit like that?

Lindsay: I have clients say this to me frequently. My team doesn’t care about my business as much as I do.

No, they don’t. It’s not their business. They’re likely never going to care about your business the way you do. Having said that, there are some great ways that you can help them be as invested as they’re going to be. Right? And the most important way to do that is through great workplace culture. And culture is really how we get the work done together.

It is all about articulating the behaviors, talking about accountabilities, creating conversations, and building an ecosystem where every single person can come to work every day. Now whether they work in a physical office space, or they just enter their office at home. You said it, they can feel like they belong.

They can feel like they’re respected, they’re heard, that everything that they do is going to add value in some way because we all want to do work that we know adds value. So first and foremost, if we want to create a great workplace, culture starts with us. Starts with us as the business owner and us as the business leader.

So we really need to think about what are the behaviors we want to emphasize? So if we really want to emphasize the behavior of going the extra mile for our clients, Then we need to talk about what does that mean? How do we collectively do that? So does that mean that we fill orders within 24 hours?

Actually, we want to fill those orders within 12 hours if we can. If that’s going the extra mile, what are the actual behaviors that your employees can then replicate every day that are going to speak to that value in your business. Right. It’s also about creating opportunities for them to learn and grow. So maybe that’s giving them an opportunity.

If they are on your service team, maybe they want to get involved in your next big marketing project and they have great ideas to contribute. Maybe they’re a process person and you say, you know, we have this process that seems to be a little bit broken. I would really love for you to dig into that and give me some great ideas about how we could make this process more effective, more efficient.

So giving them those growth opportunities, giving them great feedback. People want to know if they’ve done a good job or not, right? They also want to know where they can improve. So making sure that you as the leader are setting aside time to have one-on-one conversations with each of the people that work for you at a minimum, monthly.

Here’s what’s going well. Here’s where I see you really shine. Here are the things that I think you could work on, and here’s how I can help and enable you to do that. And here’s where we can really change things and do them differently in the future. It’s a very simple but very profound conversation.

And then the other thing you need to do is set up some great programs, right? So if you can have a reward and recognition program so that they can recognize each other when they do something awesome. You need to think about compensation. Do you have a strategy that helps people grow as their expertise grows in terms of their salary and comp?

Maybe it’s giving people some PTO, some paid time off instead of just vacation and sick days so they can be flexible. And how are you honoring things like the fact that they have a family and they need that flexibility in their calendar Those are all great ways to create a culture where people feel like what they do is important and who they are is valuable.

Jody: Absolutely. And our team is one of our biggest investments in our business financially and then also for our time resources and the deliverables that we do for our clients. So having a culture like that, looking after them, having these values, having that time for the family. I know some businesses are like, we give you a paid day off on your birthday for example.

So really taking care of them. Educating them and having those weekly meetings, monthly meetings. So good to continue to build on their expertise and really keep them and retain great people for a long time.

Lindsay: Right. And that’s what we want. We work really hard to hire the right people and to build these teams.

And ultimately we lower our cost. When we can retain our talent, they get more and more efficient, and we spend less and less money trying to bring new people in. The equation is quite simple. And the other equation that’s really important is that when we make our employees happy. When we keep them satisfied and working in a really high performing way, they make our clients happy.

And when our clients are happy, they bring us more money and they bring us more clients. And when that happens, our top line revenue goes through the roof and we have the opportunity at that point to grow our businesses exponentially. So the math is really simple. Happy team equals high performing business.

It really is.

Jody: Absolutely, love it. Love it. Well, thank you so much Lindsey. That’s been a wealth of information to help a lot of us as we transition from being that freelancer to actually being a business owner, how to do it right when we are looking for people to hire, pause, think about what it is that we actually need to be hiring for, and then making sure that we can commit that time to help our new recruit to learn the ropes, communicate back and forth. It’s a two way street, so that we set them up for success and also sets our business up for success.

So where can people learn more about you?

Lindsay: The first and most important place is my website, You’ll see all sorts of information on there.

One of the most important things is I love to do VIP sessions, mornings, afternoons, full days to really help solopreneurs who are ready to make this next jump, to have that pause time and really reflect and get strategic about their business. So there’s information about that there. I’m on Instagram @highvoltleadership.

You can find me on LinkedIn. Lindsay White on LinkedIn. Come and connect with me there. I love to share lots of information about leadership, culture, team building, high performance cultures.

Jody: Awesome. And Lindsay also does have a great little quiz on her website, so be sure to head over there fill out that quiz. I completed it and it’s like, oh wow, I found a good value there. So make sure you check that out.

Lindsay, thank you so much for your time.

Lindsay: It’s been a pleasure, Jody, thank you very much for the opportunity.

Jody: My pleasure. Thanks for being with us today, guys. Look forward to seeing you next time. Bye for now.


I love to share practical information to help you improve your skills, learn something new or help you avoid the mistakes that many Ad Managers and I have made to help fast-track you on your journey as a well-paid and in-demand Ad Manager.