Getting New Staff from Newbie to Seasoned Pro

Mike Taylor | 17 October 2018
Growing new staff members

Throughout the last four and a bit years, BBT has experienced an exciting amount of growth. It’s funny to think that we once started as a two-man band and now we are a 25 plus strong team.

In this time, I have been lucky enough to watch our team evolve. I’ve seen them flourish, I’ve seen them stumble, and I’ve watched some hairs turn grey. But, at the end of the day, these moments have produced a team that is capable of achieving an incredible amount.

One of the biggest learnings for me in business has been managing people. Coming from a sporting background and spending a large part of my life coaching at an NZ representative level, I thought I would be well conditioned to growing a business team. While some things are transferable, a lot is new territory having never built a business before.

One of the biggest differences to sport is not everyone is aligned to the same things all the time, and you are dealing with many different personalities. In a sports team, it’s all about the W. In business, that W is often blurred depending on the position and the person. Every new person you bring onboard is different, bringing their own unique set of skills and capabilities. Thus, everyone requires a different approach.

Nothing gets me more excited though than seeing someone new to our business, in an industry notorious for overworking their young staff, to succeed and learn. It is one of the great prides I have running my own business. Some of the things I have learnt along with way dealing with young people into the industry and into my business.

Expect a few mistakes

While, we all hope that a new employee will take to their role like a duck to water, be realistic with your expectations.

Of course, we expect our new employee to possess certain skills and knowledge, but remember, there will be a fairly steep learning curve as they get accustomed to the role. There will be some bumps, there may be a few spelling mistakes, brand guidelines overlooked or less than positive client feedback. But, remember that we all make mistakes.

Provide support

Obviously, mistakes are less than desirable but rather than harp on about them, aim to turn them into meaningful teaching moments.

The best way to accomplish this is by having a strong support network. We have learnt that clear and transparent communication channels and regular catch ups are the best courses of action.

Reinforce their role

Whether you bring on a new director or social media guru, show them a bit of love. Showing them that they are more than just another cog in the machine, will go a long way to making their transition stress free.

As we know, talent today aren’t simply driven by a paycheck. When faced with a choice, a lot of employees today would choose a culture where they feel valued and wanted. So however you choose to demonstrate their value, whether it’s a pat on the back or a beer on Friday, don’t underestimate the power of positive reinforcement.

See if they can swim

In an agency environment where things can change at the drop of the hat, sometimes we can’t afford to bring a new employee on slowly. I’ve learnt that sometimes the best thing to do, is to chuck them into the deep end.  

Speaking from experience, some of the best results and biggest growth I’ve seen has come from those moments where it was either sink or swim. Putting your new team members in an uncomfortable but controlled position could be the best thing for them.

Be process driven

Bringing someone new onboard is exciting. It’s like a breath of fresh air blowing through our office. While we always see the energy levels rise and motivation shoot up, it has also been a time when our internal processes are tested.

As you are going through the process of bringing someone new onboard, use this time to also evaluate your processes. Ask yourself, how will your communication channels be affected? Will your workflow map be able to cope? And, is there anything we can implement that’ll make the expansion smoother?

But, the best approach I’ve found is to view the new person as a blank canvas. There is never a better time to get a team member to buy in than in their first few weeks.

Since we started on this BBT journey, I’ve definitely learnt my fair share about putting staff in the best position to thrive. By no means am I a guru at it, but with the growth we’ve seen, I’d say we’ve turned our fair share of newbies into all-stars.