The past few weeks we’ve been talking about building a successful team and creating your dream assistant. I shared the fantasy we all have about finding someone ideal to help us grow our business…and I gave you my “secret sauce” for making this fantasy a reality.

(If you haven’t had a chance to read those posts, I suggest you go back and do that now. :))

Now I want you to take your eyes off of your new (or potential) team member for a moment and instead take a deep look at yourself and your business. Why? Because creating a successful team means training new team members and introducing them to your culture and your goals.

Today we’re going to start the discussion by evaluating the state of your systems. Now, don’t hang your head in shame or stop reading. It’s okay if you’re not ready yet or if you have some work to do here.

Trust me, I’m ready to help you. But before you can make improvements, you have to properly evaluate where you are right now!

So – see if any of these statements sounds like you:

I’m too creative for systems. I love to innovate and do things differently every time. Systems would be restrictive and boring.

Ah, my creative friend! I love your energy and enthusiasm, and your desire to change things up each time you work with a client or do something in your business. But, I have to be honest… you have systems in place already. You just don’t realize it.

I’ve worked closely with lots of creative people and I’ve learned that even the most innovative among us are creatures of habit. It’s human nature. Repetitive tasks are repetitive simply because we naturally develop habits as we do them.

(Admit it – you brush your teeth and wash your face the same way nearly every morning. You tie your shoes the same way as well…and you likely check your phone at the same times during the day.)

A habit is just an undocumented, unintentional system. Believe it or not. There are unrecognized systems in your business right now, no matter how creative and innovative you feel. You use certain favorite software tools, follow certain steps, and repeat similar language when you talk to your clients.

These are systems, my friend…and documenting the for your team member will make everyone more effective and successful.

Sure, I have systems – they are inside my head. But I don’t have any documentation. I don’t use checklists or notes.

Good for you! You’ve developed your own “best practices” and you use them every day to get work done inside your business. You are your own systems “expert” – carrying incredible experience and wisdom in your head. You’re ahead of the game…

Now you just need to get this brilliance out of your mind and into a format your new assistant can use easily. But I’m guessing you’re not sure where to start.

The best place to begin is to evaluate the tasks you’re delegating to your new assistant or team member. Where would you like them to begin their learning and training? This is the first system you need to document and the first series of checklists or work instructions you need to create.

My advice? Keep things simple and focus on being clear and conversational. Your goal is giving your new team member a starting spot. You can both build on things from there. 🙂

If I had help (an assistant or team member) I would have the free time to create the documented systems I need in order to train an assistant or team member. Can’t I just hire someone and go from there?

Good question. You CAN do things that way if you like. In fact, most people try that idea a time or two before they realize how damaging it is for their business and for everyone involved.

Don’t worry… I’ll explain.

It might seem like a great idea to simply hire someone with the skills you need and let them “figure out the best way” to do things inside your business. After all, they are talented – you can count on them to find a great way to work that fits both their needs and yours, right? Wrong!

Without a basic, documented system and a few work instructions you are setting everyone up for failure. This approach creates:

  • Frustration for your new team member because she’s not sure what to do next and doubts her own work and ability to help you.
  • Confusion for your clients because your team member struggles to give them the same consistent, confident service they are used to receiving from you.
  • Overwhelm for you because you find yourself answering lots of questions, fixing mistakes, and spending your time putting out fires created by this situation.

This is one of the biggest mistakes I see business owners make when they begin growing a team. Taking the time to create a few simple systems before adding a team member (and then building systems from this point forward) is the most important way to ensure success for everyone. Without systems, you’ll all spin your wheels and you’ll become increasingly frustrated with the experience.

So, where to go next? Well, stick with me because I have more guidance to share with you next time to help you set both you and your team member up for success. Until then, start thinking about the first few tasks you’d like to delegate and the habits (systems) you use to get that work done.

Grab a piece of paper or a blank screen and begin listing steps. Don’t worry if it’s not perfect yet… we can improve from here.