Hiring from the Ground Up
by MAREN HOGAN
Marketing Agency Owner with niche industry experience in finance, social media, software startups, and Human Resources. Have worked both with a large interdepartmental team and in startup environments and can plan out a full strategic marketing plan and assist and direct its implementation. Proficient to Expert level in all areas of marketing, including PR and New Media. Passion for helping clients understand how social media can be used to promote their brand and create value. I'm pretty much a CMO in a box.
Managed teams from 2-24 and communities from 4,000-100,000 members.
Additional skills include: conference and event planning, grant and proposal writing, social media marketing, market research, public speaking, copywriting, product development, UI/UX, business development and sales.
Specialties: high-level sponsorship/sales, start-up marketing and business development, brand ambassador, M&A, non-profit, community management, social media marketing
Announcer: Maren Hogan is a marketing agency owner with niche industry experience in finance, social media, software startups, and human resources. She has worked both with a large interdepartmental team and in startup environments and can plan out a full strategic marketing plan and assist and direct in its implementation, proficient to expert level in all areas of marketing including PR and new media, passion for helping clients understand how social media can be used to promote their brand and create value. She's pretty much a CMO in a box. And now, please welcome to Elevate 2015, Maren Hogan.
Maren: Hi, I'm Maren Hogan. And this is Hiring from the Ground Up, the story about how I took a one-woman consultancy to a large agency that works with clients all over the world. Well, large? There's just 20 of us. We're a marketing and advertising firm for HR and recruiting technology providers, and it started with me just hanging out by myself.
Hiring is just one part of human resources, yet it's something we're constantly tinkering with and trying to mess around with, because it sets the tone for the entire relationship. For growing companies, it's something that can't really be done wrong, or the consequences can be dire. Think hiring doesn't apply to you? Think it's not as big a problem as I'm stating? Check out these stats.
The average cost of a bad hiring decision can equal 30% of the individual's first year earning potential. Successful aren't immune, and they've had to learn from their mistakes. Zappos' CEO, Tony Hsieh, once estimated that his own bad hires cost the company over $100 million.
Sixty-six percent of employers said they experienced negative effects of bad hires in 2012. Of those employers, 37% of the bad hire negatively affected employee morale. Another 18% said the bad hire negatively impacted client relationships, and 10% said the bad hire cost a decrease in overall sales. Forty-three percent of responders from the same NBRI studies cited the need to feel the positions quickly as the main reason the bad hires are made. Do you understand that? When you're desperate, when you're rushing to fill a position, you're gonna make a mistake.
It costs $7,000 to replace a salaried employee, $10,000 to replace a mid-level employee, and $40,000 to replace senior leadership. As much as 80% of employee turnover is due to bad hiring decisions. Thirty-six percent of 1,400 executives surveyed claimed that the leading factor of a failed hire aside from performance was a poor skills match. Second leading factor at 30% was unclear performance objectives. So just to be clear, if you're hiring, and you have a poor skills match, that means you didn't do your job in assessment and screening, and if you have bad performance objectives, and people couldn't meet them, that means you're not doing a great job as a manager or a leader. Keep that in mind for later.
Saint Communications calculated the ROI of a bad hire at a staggering 401%. No, they didn't. A staggering 298%, -298%. Seventy-five percent of the demand to hire new employees is simply to replace workers who've already left their company. That's enough to give recruitment and HR professionals analysis paralysis. With my team, it's more crucial even than that. I might not be as large as a ConAgra or an Edomin [SP], but what you'll find is that every hiring decision is even more crucial than the last.
I have way more skin in the game. My resources are stretched then, and I don't have the ability to just hire someone who's not meeting their objectives. The cost of mismatched employees and high turnover comes directly out of my pocket as a small business owner. If I hire poorly, either I or one of my other employees has to pick up the slack, the team will get frustrated, and poor hires really ruin the morale of a small team.
Let me tell you a little story. It's called "The Time Thief," and this is from my friend Ben Eubanks at upstartHR. If you're not currently reading his blog, you should definitely start. He's incredibly intelligent, and he has some great in-the-trenches HR stories. This is in Ben's voice, "A few years ago, a manager called me to see if I could look into an employee's time card. The employee was consistently putting 40 hours of work on his time sheet, but he was arriving late, leaving early, and taking long lunches on a regular basis. So I reached out to the company and got the gate logs. This is just getting in and getting out, not the specific time he's actually at his computer being productive."
Ben dumped this all into Excel, he checked it out, and a few calculations later, he realized the record showed that this person had worked six to six and a half hours every day on average for as far back as the log showed, so months. Ben was dumbfounded. Just in one spreadsheet alone, he found the employee had been paid for nearly 200 hours of work that he never performed. Ben launched an investigation, talked to everyone involved, and realized very quickly that as a government contractor, his client can be liable for any mismanagement of time or any miscalculated hours. This was serious, and it was putting the entire company in jeopardy.
So he sat down with the employee, the employee's supervisor after he'd gather everything from his investigation, and the employee's only words after he'd laid out all of these carefully plain information were, "Can I file for unemployment?" Then the real story began. The employee was quickly approved for their unemployment claim. They started receiving checks shortly after getting fired. Ben spent the next four months fighting that unemployment claim, trying to get the investigator to realize this wasn't just poor performance or one strike, you're out. This was constant, consistent, intentional theft.
A final written appeal won the case for the company, and it felt like a personal victory for Ben, of course, but what seemed like a slam-dunk investigation and termination turned into a saga of epic proportions. Again, you should be reading Venue Banks [SP] over at upstartHR, but what this story really illustrates is that hiring is important for companies both large and small.
When I started my company, Red Branch Media, I started it in the erroneous assumption that it would be a small consultancy, meaning me in my living room, watching long Law and Order reruns while blogging and tweeting. Hey, nice work if you can get it, right? Unfortunately, fate had other plans. Within a year, I had 4 people, then 8, then 12. Today we're approaching 20, and we have employees in 3 different states. That number didn't really go directly up. It sort of seesawed. It seesawed between 2, 10, 6, 20 while I slowly started to realize just how important hiring was in our organization.
Here are some of the lessons that I learned in the process. Before you start, you have to identify the role. It's so easy to let business drive your decisions, but as we heard earlier when we were discussing stats, that can really screw up your hiring decisions. If you're desperate, they're gonna pick up on it. I remember when I just was getting ready to hire a bunch of new people, and the people that we already had here at Red Branch were so excited. They're like, "We can't wait for these new people to start." And I said, "You do realize that it's actually going to be double the work to train this people, double the work to get them acclimated, not to mention the time that we're gonna have to spend on onboarding."
So recognizing that a new rear end in a seat isn't gonna change your everyday life is crucial before you even start writing the job ad. Keep in mind this issue will multiply if you haven't properly identified the role. Decide what task you are taking from others, or yourself, or the hiring manager, or the team member. Is it taking you too much time to write sales proposals, finish the accounting, track sales expenses? Whatever it is, take the admin work and try and hire from the ground up below the person rather than trying to bring in someone to manage processes that you already have going on.
Obviously, this isn't always easy when you're in the HR department, right? When you're the Hiring Manager, it's very easy to see what holes need to be filled, but so many people say, "This is what the last person did, so I'm gonna hire somebody to do this thing next." That's not necessarily the right way to go about it. We shouldn't just be plugging holes. Hiring should be proactive. When you think about replacing the guy or the gal that was there before, what you fail to realize is that that person learned a lot during their tenure at your company. Or maybe they were hired for a role that they weren't entirely qualified for, and so there's actually more productivity that can be run from the role.
But in that time, the person that was there, his or her responsibilities could have change. Maybe a leadership shift is in place. Talk to the team, find out what is and isn't getting done. So it's not just about the hiring the manager, which is sort of what we've been told that's kind of the gospel truth, but it's also about saying, "Team, where are we now? Where are we today?" Not where were we when we wrote that JD 3 years ago or 18 months ago or even 5 months ago, if turnover is a real issue in your company.
The reason that it's so important to identify the role is because once you get to the job ad stage, you have to make it sound amazing. And when I say sound amazing, I don't mean lie. I mean, think about a shoe box, right? If you've ever been shopping for shoes, you go, and you grab the shoe box out of the rack, and on the side, you see the size, probably whether it's made of leather or polyurethane or whatever, you see the heel, and you see the width, right? It's a drawing of a shoe. There's no color there. It's just kind of a description. That's how you need to think of your job description. Now, your job ad is seeing that same shoe, a Louis Vuitton, as it were, or Jimmy Choo in a magazine ad. You see it in action. You see the glossiness. You see how it can potentially change your life.
So when you're thinking about job description versus job ad, keep that picture of that shoe box in your mind. Both of them tell you about the shoe, but they're completely different in terms of what they look like, what information you get, and how they make you feel inside. Consider your applicants when you're writing this job ad. A job advertisement sells you the job, and a job description is just the fax man. The job ad is where you put all of the amazing things about the job as well as the things that make it unique, like the bad things along with all the great things about working at your totally amazing company.
If you're not great at this, find a company, and it doesn't necessarily have to be a competitor of yours, who is great of this and start copying some of the verbiage that they're using, not word for word, but pay attention to how they make the job applicant feel and use that same feel in your own copyrighting. You could also use a job generator or a job wizard, a job ad wizard. A lot of companies offer this within their ATS. I know that Recruiterbox is one that we've used, and it works very well. Just so you know, they are a client, but I'm sure that there are several ATS, both free and low cost, that will allow you to build a job ad from a bank of sort of descriptors, and skills, and qualifications.
Now, then, let's get onto the lessons. Lesson number one, don't hire friends and family. While employee referrals work out swell in the corporate world, clocking at the highest applicant to hire conversion rate, only 7% apply, but this accounts for 40% of all hires in general. They can spell trouble when building a brand new team, but don't take my word for it. After all, my first two hires were my best friend and my husband, both of whom still work for me, but instinct tells me that's actually luck. My sister, while a great writer left Red Branch Media for another opportunity, and while she's happy, and I'm happy, it was devastating at the time.
If you are gonna hire friends and family, and you make that choice consciously, you're gonna need to take my next few lessons even closer to heart. Just so you know, if you are gonna hire friends and family, make it a solid employee referral program. You wanna get everyone excited and have a formal process that rarely allows you to get too subjective about the people that you wanna work with you but maybe not for you. If you must hire these people, take them through the same interview and betting process as everyone else, so you don't get accused of nepotism or favoritism. Again, use an ATS constantly. Your applicant tracking system is gonna be your best friend throughout this entire role, I mean process.
All right. Lesson number two, be crystal clear about your expectations. When you try to sell a job, it's all candy canes and unicorns, someone's gonna get a horn in their rear. What I mean by this is when I first went to hire, my virtual assistant, I thought, "Wow, it's gonna be great. She's gonna get to talk to all these amazing people that I know. She's gonna get to build out all of these things that I don't have time for." But I wasn't thinking about the time it was gonna take me to really train her to do these things or help her build the relationships in the industry that she would need to be truly effective.
Even if you don't feel this way about your job today, you need to get people excited about it, and it's imperative to get the education that they need and the focus that you need to create an attitude of ambition and excitement. Our motto at Red Branch is, "Constantly Be Better." During my first interviews, I told candidates all the good stuff about the job - you get to be on Twitter all day and get paid for it - but I neglected to tell them about difficult issues with the position, like you're gonna have to start ahead of the East coast and end after the West coast, and let's not even talk about international clients and supporting them on social and all of the different new ones as in subtleties that exist throughout the world.
Even if I didn't explicitly use this verbiage, I didn't give our new social media manager the actual education that he needed, and he had to learn the entire greedy picture of what being a social media manager for B2B clients across the globe really looked like, and he had to get that on his own. As a leader there, both in the job description, job ad, hiring process, that was a failure of mine that I realized, "Hey, I need to not do that next time."
Today I consider it my job to scare out of their position, because we're a startup, and my husband works for me, and I have three young kids, I don't have time to hire people who aren't gonna do their job. I don't want somebody who's gonna sit at their desk and play on Facebook all day unless it is the social media manager, and I don't have time for people who can't give me 100%. Maybe that's not fair, but that's the way it is.
For example, so just so you know, Red Branch Media has its own cultural values. What I'm advocating is not taking on my own cultural values as yours. What I'm advocating is find out what your cultural values are, right? Either work hard, play hard, feel free to leave whenever you want as long as your work is done, but that's not true for every single organization. For example, when I speak on the subject, people say, "Well, that's all fine and good for your tiny little agency, but we're a government contractor, and we can't do X, Y, Z," or, "Our culture isn't hard. If anything, people leave out of boredom and when not in need than anything else." Those are precisely the things you need to be honest about from the gecko.
If you're sitting across from an eager beaver or a clear non-conformist, it's your job to tell them all about the things about the job that they're probably not gonna love. By doing this, it will attract the people who will thrive in that environment, and you let those other folks sort of self-select out, so you don't have to deal with retention issues, and frustration, and employee disengagement. You'll gently nudge those who will be a drain on company resources or wilt in your particular culture out the door to find the opportunity that's right for them.
You can do this easily with your revamp job ads which we already talked about. I let everybody know from even before, even if I'm sourcing them, "Hey, this is the kind of culture that we have. You don't have to show up in a three-piece suit, but you do have to show up 110% every single day. We don't rest on our roles all." I'm very, very direct about what it looks like to work here.
Phone or video screens are always a great job when you're desperate to hire for a role or when you're a small agency that just signed a massive client. It can be easy to say, "Let's just pack them in. Let's get warm bodies in the door." That's actually the worst thing you can do. You don't wanna take those phone screens and those video screens and really take the time to get to know somebody before you say, "Yup, you're hired. Come on in. Get to work."
A cultural FAQ page is a wonderful resource to have. This lets people know what to expect. I remember some of our first few hires came in in nice suits, bow ties, lovely dresses, and we're a very casual office. And because of that, they felt really uncomfortable. If I'm interviewing someone in my workout pants, and they're wearing a vest and a tie, I feel like I probably should have been a little better about explaining what kind of culture we have here.
Finally, you can give people a primer for every interview that you offer. Let them know what they're gonna be asked. Let them know what the process looks like. This helps them feel comfortable, and it also helps them be their best self. The goal of an interview, and I hear a lot of people talking about this, is not to trip people up.
All right. This is one of my favorite things to talk about. Skills pay the bills, but work ethic rules. So when you are building a brand new company, chances are you're gonna get a lot of entry-level folks, and we certainly have a lot of entry-level folks that start here at Red Branch. When and if they leave or today, I wouldn't say any of them are entry-level, because they all learn very quickly and very fast, and here's why.
So how do you test for skills and work ethic? By giving assignments before you've hired. I don't recommend doing this for actual work, so make up a fake piece of work for people to do, because that can get you in hot water legally. But you probably also shouldn't test for strategic skills this way, but the equation for a great pre-hire skills test is as follows: a simple, fictional client or problem, plus some background information on the Internet from a totally different company and just fill in the names, plus a specific set of time and parameters, like two days, or an outline, or something, so they know exactly what the deliverable it needs to look like and exactly when it needs to be delivered.
And then finally, your deliverable. This equals an incredible pre-hire skills test. When appropriately placed in the interview process, meaning you've done the phone and the video screen already, review the resume, have the person this close to the offer. That's when you bring this equation into play. This does a couple of things: it gauges the work ethic, duh. Many people simply aren't willing to do even a minimal amount of work for a job they don't yet have. Well, I appreciate not giving away solid and real work or strategy for free. This is a little bit different.
If you really feel weird about it, too, you can always offer to pay them for their time. We call it an assessment, because it is one, and if you can't write 300 words for a spot at my company, I can guarantee you will not make it here. Keep in mind if you are hiring for a spot, you need to make sure the test per position is the same for every candidate, otherwise even if you're small, you can run into some EEOC stuff.
Number two, it assess the ability to follow direction. I also use this in my job postings as do many recruiters, I use lines like, "Include the word 'marketing manager' in your response," or, "Make sure to email your response to firstname.lastname@example.org," or, "Don't submit a resume. Just send me a tweet as to why you're great for the job." Now, we both know that I need to see your resume, and I want to put it in my ATS, and obviously, I don't need the word "marketing manager" to tell me if somebody is actually applying, although some of you at bigger companies would need to use things like that.
What this really does is say, "Are they just spraying and praying? Are they really looking at the job advertisements?" Or, "Are they just saying, 'This looks good. Marketing mirror, marketing mirror.'" If that's what they're doing, you're gonna be able to tell to see if they read these small, little, minute statements throughout your job ad. And finally, it shows if they can just do the work. We're an agency, so I have to fill a lot of different kind of roles from admin, to project manager, to AV geek, and PR pro. I give sample radio spots or a quick and dirty brain guide. I'll try a simple press advisory or a 300-word blog post. I've tested their skills while testing their work ethic, and I've been able to weed out resume patters, tire kickers, and those who simply can't be bothered.
You can do this again with video interviewing tools. You can do this with just standard email and your own brain. You can use an online assessment or some sort of proctoring video depending on if you're like in manufacturing or something like this or coding. And finally, we have our own consistent process which we do document just to be on the safe side.
Lesson number four, have you ever noticed in apocalypse movies or TV shows about our dystopian future that the ones who survive adapt? Also, have you noticed that also do something like laser hair removal and keratin treatments before the zombies arrive? No? Just me? No, but the real key here besides laser hair removal, which will change your life, is adaptability. Adaptability is super important here at Red Branch, but you may need structured thinkers, or maybe you need people motivated by compensation, or perhaps you need those who work well with others if you're in the service industry, for example.
It's learning to identify these things that are so difficult. You might have guessed that I'm talking about culture. It's difficult, because it's costly and generally on the ownness of the applicant to prove that they can align with the culture. How is it possible, though, to hire for culture if you haven't identified your culture? That's crazy you guys.
This is why companies like Gallup and Elevated Careers started plotting and charting the attributes of people inside the company versus those outside of the company. It made matching so much easier. You see the same things in tools like EHarmony's new Elevated Careers, Good.Co, and RoundPegg. These people are matching intrinsic values in the people to company-identified values. It's because culture is not as important as cultural alignment. Of course, the company doesn't actually have values. It has people, and some of those people are in leadership, and their values won't influence the overall culture of a company. The larger a company gets, the more culture is focused on the teams, and the departments, and the locations.
We use a tool call Vitru to create a constantly changing and moving map of our values and the values of the people here at Red Branch. It allows us to see how, when, and where, yes, even that, people work best together. It allows me to see how the new social media intern is gonna interface with me or his own manager. So I can compare personality traits like the ones that you see in MBTI and also Gallup with work values like the ones that you see in tools like Elevated Careers.
A great example of this is in two of our employees. Kerry and Shaley couldn't be more different in person. When I met Kerry, she was the coach of a soccer team, she had been abroad, she was a college athlete, and she is one of our great web developers here at Red Branch Media today. Shaley, on the other hand, was very poised, was a dancer in college, had worked in an agency before, and now leads our entire content division.
When I first met these two girls, I wouldn't have ever guessed that they would score almost exactly the same on their Vitru profile. They have very different personalities, they seem to be polar opposites, but in the end, not only did they become incredible co-workers, but they were both made of what we like to call "Brancher staff". So they were perfect for us. They ended up working very well together, and checking sort of outward personality indicators didn't give us any idea that these two would be so similar. I was literally able with Vitru to see all the ways in which they work well together and how they would work well together.
So some resources for you, Gallup StrengthsFinder, I know a lot of people have used that, and BTI is supposed to be wonderful for personality assessments. Of course, there's Vitru at govitru.com, which is a client of ours, but we also use their services. There's RoundPegg and Good. Co.
Lesson number five, this is about onboarding. You need to make their first day the best day possible. We have a client, Clipboard, Inc., that does nothing but onboard clients, that's it. There's no end-to-end system, no extra modules. It's just onboarding. It's so important that it's literally the only thing that they do.
Sixty percent of companies don't set onboarding goals for their new employees, which is a crying shame. They don't think it will matter as long as the candidate can do the job, but if you've gone through steps one through four, you realize that it's very difficult to know whether or not the candidate can actually do the job especially with no push from leadership. I didn't actually realize the importance of onboarding. My employees did first. Yes, the HR expert, the longtime blogger, the eBook writer, all of these things I didn't realize the importance of onboarding until it came into my company.
I totally blew this crucial piece of the puzzle. Instead, my team, like me feeling sorry for the brand new hires that were tossed into the deep end, developed a total schedule for a new group of hires that left nothing to chance. Well, the slogan of my client, Clipboard, Inc., is "Create the Best First Day" had not yet crossed my teams mind at that time. They had the same spirit. Hiring doesn't and shouldn't be left at a dusty desk, clutching a cold coffee mug to its chest, wondering where it should hang its coat. It shouldn't be bogged down with a giant binder and a faint idea of where the bathroom might be. So how do you do this?
The cool thing is there's lot of platforms and lots of services. Many onboarding modules are built into an HRMS, and ATS, or an HRIS. Of course, there's people like Clipboard, Inc. who have like their modular thing, and you can integrate them with whatever processes you're already using. No matter what you do, there are a lot of things that you can actually do as a leader, and as a community builder, and as a culture keeper within your own company, selling software or anything like that.
All right. So first things first, you need to get the paper work out of the way or, better yet, get a system that requires no paperwork. Second, have their computer and phone ready from day one. You don't want to leave them there waiting for a half-hour while you get everything ready and get their passwords together. They need to get in there and start seeing the systems that they're gonna be using, and there's no better way to do this than having their stuff ready before they get there. Assign them a mentor and give them specific things to go over during their time together. If you have values, state them and then ask the mentor to show the new hire these values in action at your company.
What I mean by this is is one of our values is communication and transparency. So communication and transparency I feel like are probably in everybody's hand book, but for us, it means, you know what, we CC each other, and when we have an issue with somebody, it goes on the company intranet, because we're not gonna fight about it behind closed doors, we're not gonna have gossiping. There are times when, of course, this isn't appropriate, but for the most part, if we have an issue with somebody's work product, we bring it up in a common place, so then we can all work through it together. So that would be a way of showing that's what communication and transparency means here. You need to figure out, of course, as I've been saying, what it means for your workplace.
Have a colleague in their department, show them the basic tasks related to their jobs, right? So there's gonna be people that they work with day in and day out. You're gonna want them to meet those people and show them the specific task and specifically how they are done in your company for that first day. You're also gonna flip that around and have them talk to somebody who's not in their department who can maybe show them something that everyone in the company has to know.
For example, at Red Branch, everyone is required to do plea shares, right? Client articles, our own internal podcast, whatever it is, we have everybody sort of share those on social accounts through which they feel comfortable sharing. That's something that anyone in the company can show them. It doesn't have to be somebody that they are gonna be working with every day.
Have a further person help them set up their email, their social accounts, their intranet, so that in this way, they get to know multiple people throughout the company. And onboarding isn't stuck on just one person especially if you have a small team. You can have different little employee ambassadors be responsible for this. At the end of the day, round them up for an inspiring speech and answer any questions they have.
Now, I know this sounds kind of silly, and it also sounds kind of harsh, I think, to a lot of people, but when I have new hires start, it's either at the end of the day, at the end of their first week, I get them together, and I tell them, "I will always have your back. I will intercede with you for clients. I will make sure that when you make a mistake, we find the best way to fix it. I will hurry to get a solution, and I will stand in the gap for you when people are angry or frustrated. In return, this is my company. My husband works for me. I have three children. We're not funded. We're completely bootstrapped. So anytime or anything that you steal from this company means you're stealing from me, and that means you're stealing from my kids."
And that single speech ends up in inspiring a bunch of loyalty, right? Because they know that I have their back as long as they have mine. So whatever your inspiring speech is, whatever your Al Pacino moment is, figure it out. Find out what your company really means. Find out what it really means to be an employee of your company. Like being a Brancher is a serious thing. What does it mean in your company?
Finally, and this is the toughest lesson when you're hiring and managing from the ground up, you have to know when you're wrong. There are people you just can't hire. Maybe they want too much money, or they're remote, and that position can't be. It could be they're a family member that isn't quite qualified or a neighbor that just wants something to do. Sometimes you get this before you hire, and then sometimes you don't. See, hiring as we discussed earlier isn't just about the interview or the onboarding process. Sometimes you can ace all the lessons that we've talked about today, and things still don't work out. If it's not working out as a leader, and this might be tough, you need to get into the mindset that it might be your fault. I know, deep breaths.
Here are all the things that you can do before letting someone go, and I'll give you some examples from our team: you can change their team, right? We have Marissa, who's my right hand lady. She's our amazing corporate communications head. She is wonderful, but there was a time when I had to change her team, because she simply couldn't work with the difficult client team. It wasn't working for her. It wasn't working for them. So we simply moved her over, and she flourished. You can change their working arrangements. So some people due to family circumstances or illness may need to work from home, or maybe they've just had a baby, and they need to work part-time or not at all for a little while. So keep that in mind before you decide to let people go.
You can change their role. Our lead content creator was at her peak producing 15 articles a week, which is a tremendous amount of writing. But when she started, she started in email, which she could never really get the grasp of. Then we moved her over to project management, still wasn't a fit. It took three more moves before we finally got the brilliant idea to ask her what she wanted to do, and she said, "You know what, I wanna write all day." So we let her write all day, and she ended up being a huge asset to Red Branch Media.
You can change their supervisor. So sometimes, people don't necessarily wanna be under the people that they're under. It could be a personality clash. It could be they remind somebody of somebody. It really doesn't matter. It could be that they had a big fight to begin with, and they're just never gonna be great working together. Whatever it is, keep in mind that most people don't leave their jobs, they leave their managers, and they don't have to leave. You can change them around, especially when you're a smaller company, but even in a larger company. It doesn't need to be so structured and rigid, that you can't say, "You know what, those skills are transferable over here."
You can change your expectations. So we had an incredible writer producing a lot of content, and he was terrible at proofreading. There would be grammar mistakes and spelling mistakes, and it frustrated me to know and because I am the de facto editor here, and finally, I was like, "Why am I stressed out about this? Why don't I just hire a proofreader, continue to get this incredible writing, ton of production, lots of good stuff, and we'll just have somebody else correct it?" So I just had to change my expectations in that situation.
You can change their environment. So some people really need to work from home in order to feel productive, and happy, and engaged. And that doesn't necessarily mean that they have to do it forever, but sometimes life happens, and you have to change people's environment. Maybe they need a private cubicle or an office. Maybe they want to work from a stand-up desk. So keep in mind, environment changes can go a long way towards helping an employee achieve their ultimate performance goals.
You can change their seniority. So Kyle is one of our designers. He's our design team lead, and he does a wonderful job working with our design team to make sure that everything goes around. Not that Kyle was ever endangered of getting fired, but he truly flourished in his role when I allowed him to do what he does best, which is organize and triage the different projects, so that everything gets done on deadline.
And then finally, you can go away. Every July, my husband and I go to Europe for two weeks, and then we take our kids, and we drive all over the U.S. for the next two weeks. It's an entire month of not checking work email, not checking up on clients, not being on client calls, and not looking over the shoulder of my employees, and I'm telling you it works wonders. This gives them a chance to really be the very best team that they can be.
See, there's something awful like stealing, or time theft, or lying. You probably would have caught that in some of those early assessments or personality tests or whatever you wanna call it. But I believe, I truly believe, that people want to work. I'm not out to make work fun. I'm not your mom. I'm not your best friend. But everyone that's at Red Branch today had to work through something. And as a good leader, not a mom, not a best friend, as a good leader, I had to help them work through those things.
Finally, let's talk performance. Hiring from the ground up means diddly spit if you don't gauge performance. After all, easy doesn't mean great, and anything less than great means mediocre. And I don't think anyone in here wants to be mediocre, or I guess anyone out there wants to be mediocre. We have performance reviews every two months. We're in the middle of them right now. They take forever to schedule, document, and actually implement, but we do it anyway. Why? Because as our workforce grows, it's even harder to find that face time with people, hear what they need, how they're doing, what they're learning, how they're implementing it into new things. We can get so caught up in the tactical, that we forget to strategically lead people.
It's also crucial to discuss reality and what they need to improve upon. So we have a little saying around Red Branch like, "Be Better." Another one is, "I'm never gonna say keep up the good work," because I wanna see good work, then I wanna see great work, then I wanna see astounding work. We're always trying to improve, and so performance reviews aren't just a chance to give raises and slap people on the back. They're a chance to give real feedback, both to the employee and for the employee to give to me.
As I said earlier, my employees have been instigated in many of our best hiring reforms, but I still tightly control every aspect from my end, because in the end, a bad hire is on me. Whether they were bad, because I missed it in the sourcing stage, or didn't catch their attitude problem in the interview, or caused it myself by giving them a terrible onboarding or management experience, it's my fault. So I continue to ask my people their thoughts on applicants and candidates just from the resume and interviews and only based on work product. But this way, I can bring the entire company into building our culture, into building our team. That's how we hired from the ground up at Red Branch Media. Any questions?
Well, I have a ton of resources, and I'm really excited to be able to present here. So thank you so much for listening. I hope it was useful, and all of this information is available online, as well as tools that I've recommended, the sources of all the stats that I've cited, and the full on script and SlideShare. Have a great day.