Creating Standard Operating Procedures
I guess the question is who documents the SOPs, and how do I fit that into my day if I'm trying to wear the CEO hat more?
That's an excellent question. Thank you. So first let's define SOP. So, SOP is standard operating procedure. Very corporate. We're very advanced now. SOP, standard operating procedure, so who documents the SOP? The easiest way to document SOPs is whoever is doing the SOP should document it. So if you are owning this project right now, this procedure, you should document it. Alright? You could, say, give it to Jen, and say, "I want you to rethink this and recreate it, "and document it." Same thing with if you hired an admin person who specialized in client relationship management for instance. You could say, "This is kind of what we've done in the past. "Why don't you create a new system, "and document it as you go, "and then follow it once you've created it." But I'd say this is pretty straight forward, this is pretty good. So that's your responsibility.
like that idea of me doing this part, and then passing it off to Jen and saying, "Hey," she's the integrator, so it's, "Hey, can fill this out "with all the details that I forgot."
That's what I do. So I don't think so much in details, might not shock you. So I will bare bones something. In a minute, I'm gonna show you the difference between, say, an SOP I've created and an SOP Shannon has created. (laughs) Because mine are more like living documents. They get added to over time. And you know what? Having a living document that's bare bones is better than having nothing at all. Okay? So yeah. And so, when do you document systems is a great question. You don't do it outside of your workflow. You do it in your workflow. So, the next time to get an inquiry, I mean, like you said, you already have this started, but the next time you get an inquiry, you open up that Trello project. And as you are performing the operations in that SOP, you are documenting them, and making sure, "Have I missed anything? "Can I add any information to this "to make it easier for someone in the future?" So, actually, as a for instance for the next time you do get a client inquiry, copy and paste that email into a script, sub task there, so that someone else can take that email, change out the names or the particulars, and use it as a template in the future. You don't have to rethink like, "What is the perfect onboarding?" Just copy and paste what you already did. Somebody else can do that part. But this documentation of SOPs, well, yes, I want you to think through the why, the what, the how, the who and when. It should actually be part of your workflow. It's not something I'm adding onto your plate. It's something you're already doing and we just need to make sure it's documented somewhere. Does that makes sense? Any other questions?
I think I'm good, yeah.
No, cool. Alright, thank you.
Any question from you guys about documenting those processes? Alright, yeah.
It's not a question, more of a comment. One thing that's worked well is actually recording what you do, just because I feel like sometimes when you've done it for so long, it's so second nature. So just recording that and then sharing that with someone so they can see it later.
Yeah, absolutely. I know that's worked well for Shannon. It's worked well for Rosie as well. I tend to be, I think I process through writing, so that doesn't work as well for me. I get caught up in like, "Well, you know, then you can do this, "and then you could do that." But if that's your communication style, it's a brilliant way to do that. And when I have done that, I've actually included links to the videos in our written SOPs as well, so that they can act as reference. So it's not just check these boxes off. It's a way of actually kind of creating kind of the Wiki of your business, right? It's that shared intelligence, the collective intelligence of your whole team lives in the documentation of your systems. That sounds like really big, but it's not. It's actually not. It's super simple. It's just you learn to live in this, live with it, as opposed to it being this thing that you should be doing. Okay? And again, this isn't about creating checklist, although that's a really happy byproduct of this. It's about actually identifying how organized and how systematized your business already is. So somebody else can come in and make it better, and then use those checklist to do the work. So when I talk about how do you make your business really easy to work for, how do you ensure that a new employee can start on day one and start creating value on day two? You get this tough in place now. I mean Shannon brought on... Well, we brought on two new employees last week who are hosting chats for us as we speak, hey guys, in co-commercial right now because she had SOPs for how those things are done. Here's how you set up the event, here's how you host the chat. I mean these things aren't rocket science, but it could be really overwhelming to a brand new team member who doesn't know how things are supposed to be done. We have systems for all of that. And we have systems for it because Shannon documented them as she was working out what needed to be done. She didn't pose structure on herself, or on me, or on anybody else. She just figured out the best way to do something, wrote it down, right?
Yeah, and make Loom videos.
And made Loom videos. Shannon loves Loom. So, speaking of Lashanda's suggestion of making videos and kinda talking through a procedure, Shannon loves Loom. Yes, Barrel also loves Loom. If you're not familiar with it, it's just a really nice easy video screencasting software that you can kinda, you can talk to people and show them what you're doing on the screen at the same time, really sweet. So again, when you're documenting the standard operating procedures, make sure you're thinking about the why, the what, the how, the who, and then when. The why here is super important. We've talked a little bit already about helping people understand where they fit in the organization, how they're helping you achieve your goal and helping the company achieve its goals. That why is on a project by project basis, a procedure-backup-procedure basis, a reminder of how that particular project and how that particular task fits into the company's goals. So don't overlook that piece. It is easy, and I'm sure if you look through our Asana, there are tasks or projects that don't necessarily have a why on all of them, but it's a really good habit to get into, especially as you bring team members on to remind them here's why this project matters. For Barrel, this makes us money, so I can pay you. (laughs) And it's a first experience our client's receive. And if we have a high value for having great client experiences, we wanna make sure that onboarding experience is great too. The what, what actually needs to happen the task needs to be done step by step by step. The how is what makes them done correctly. How would you define a good job? How would you define an exceptional job? Is there a particular script? Is there a particular method that you use to complete that particular task? Make sure that's documented as well. Then there's the who, who is responsible for that task, who owns that task. Is it you? Is it somebody else? And then when. Is there a deadline or a trigger on that task? How do we know that today is the day this has to be done? And it can go either way. Sometimes there's a deadline involved, and sometimes there's a trigger. Makes sense? Any questions about documenting procedures? No. Alright, let's take a look at how we actually do it in our business. Alright, so let's take a look at what I said one of the bares bones Tara created SOPs. Okay? And that's for our Help Yourself Blog. So we have a blog for co-commercial on medium, and it is both for my posting, but also for our members to post on as well. For now, it's my job to be editor in chief, as well as all the other things that I do, but this is a procedure that I'm owning for now. So it's pretty bare bones as I said. This is something that would need to adapted and made stronger and optimize overtime as I gave it off to somebody else. So we've got purpose, so that's our why. So it's literally laying out here's why the blog exists, here's what we're trying to accomplish with it, here's how it moves our, in this case, membership goals forward. We have other documentation like publishing guidelines. We have submission procedures, topics that we look for. And then beyond just writing a post and publishing it, I've got a few things documented here that I wanna make sure that whether it's my post that I'm putting up, or it's somebody else's post that I'm publishing, I am making sure that it meets our publishing guidelines. I'm editing the title. I'm adding an image. And so I'm just identifying what needs to be done, and a little bit of the how, and for now this is sort of a template. So there's not a lot of who and when to it, because it's happening on a sporadic basis at this point. Frequent, but in consistent, and I'm the one who's owning. So I'm the only one who's really utilizing this SOP for now. In the future, this will get handed off to somebody else. It'll get refined, and optimized, and added to, and those things will be added in. So again, just because I say it's gotta have the why, the what, the who, the when, and the how, and all the things, it doesn't mean it has to start with all of those things. Documenting something is better than documenting nothing. Now let me show you one that Shannon made. (laughs) Here is our Co-commercial Editorial Calender. It is amazing. Shannon is the bomb. (laughs) So, we have the purpose of really... In this case, it's the purpose behind actually thinking through what our editorial calendar is all about. In other words, this is the content that we're putting out in the community and around the community. So our purpose here is to not give people what they need or what they want, but instead give them the things that start their conversations and get them to ask the questions about what they need or want. Then she's got some SOPs in process here, things like new member orientation chats, and accountability post every week. These are things she wants to develop but hasn't develop yet. So there's place holders for them here. How many of you have brilliant ideas and then forget to do anything with them? All of us. Me mostly. So this a way that Shannon is reminding herself. This stuff is important. It could be really beneficial to our overall purpose with the editorial calendar. Let's spend some time on it, eventually. Let's where where are the other things I wanna... Then she's got, in this area, all of the standard operating procedures for all of the things that happen on a regular basis. So when she created it, she was the only person doing these things, and she was documenting them for her benefit. Well, like we just said, we had two new team members join last week, and they're able to do these things quickly before this stuff is already documented. And so, we're able to hand off that responsibility, or even just say, "Guys, we know it's really fast "that we're asking you to do this stuff. "Can you take a stab at this? "Can you pinch it for us while we're in San Francisco?" And it's easy for them to give it the old college try, right? And do a really good job of it because this stuff is documented here. And that's all the stuff that can also be duplicated and moved into time-specific or people-specific task or topic-specific class, tasks. And then we get into the meat of things, which is our like a month at a glance. I think Shannon kind of was like deer in the headlights when she realized just how much content we were putting out, how many events, just how much stuff was happening at Co-commercial every month, and so she wanted to get a much better idea of what was happening, not just so that we could make sure it got done, but so that we made sure that it made sense. So this was as much as about documenting systems as it was really organizing the content that we put out. And now, as you can see, there's a whole lot of different people. Well, I mean there's many whole lot of different people as we have, but you see Shannon's picture, my picture, Megan's picture. And all different people are responsible for these different tasks, and we have them assigned out day by day by day. Shannon has developed a great sort of system for how each task get named. So it's really easy to go into my Asana on any given day and say, "Oh, right, I need to get this, this, and this "up in the community, "or I've got this this call today." or whatever it might be. I can see at a glance what I'm responsible for, because she's taken the time to document these systems, and to document this procedure, and make it as organized as possible. Like I said, this took... How long did this take you? A few weeks, right?
Because I tried it on Trello. Just look at it from a macro perspective. There were so many events. It was like, "How do I even understand what's happening "and what are the types?" Because I'm disappointed we can't see the tags on the iPad. But to understand the types of events.
It's get better trust us.
Where are my tags? (laughing) But anyhow, look at it in a macro view and then winnow down. It had a couple iterations, and now that we have two new team members, I've asked like, "Okay, this is what I've come up with, "and I wanna be able to see a calendar view, "and I wanted to be able to see a list view." because also people work in difference ways and respond to different... Like some of us are visuals and some of us like a list. So, this gave us the option to do both those things. Yeah, now I hope that Megan and Christian can come in and take a look and say, "Tweak it to the next 3.0." Right?
Exactly. I showed you the two different versions of the help yourself blog versus this to say having that help yourself blog documentation of just that little bit is so hugely helpful. And then over time... Shannon, this only took her a few weeks because this is a big part of her job. For you, it may take longer, because it's maybe not as big a part of your job. Give yourself time, but you can really take this to whatever level you'd like to take it, and you could make it as easy to work for you as you'd like it to be. It doesn't have to be hard to work for you, and I think that's another. We've kind of dance around all these fears people have around hiring. I think that there's a big fear around, "Well, I would be a terrible person to work for." Right? Or like, "I can't imagine someone enjoying "trying to step into this mess." You can work around that. It can be very quick to get to a point where you feel just even a little bit more comfortable saying, "You know what? "I can't see how someone could work for me. "I can't see how someone would take this over." And these really are the first steps that I was experimenting here. You can almost see that tagging in this view, but not really. (laughing) There are some color coding. When you see it on the calender in the desktop version, it's very beautiful. It's just very beautiful. I wanna show you one more, and that is... The last one was almost daily events. They're not quite daily, but there's always something happening on a daily basis on co-commercial. The other one I said was kind of intermittent. I wanna show you a long term one, and that is every quarter we do virtual conferences, and these are pretty big events. They're day-long events. They have multiple speakers. The schedule is super tight. Boom, boom, boom, boom, boom. There's a lot of moving pieces. There's a lot of marketing because there are big membership growth events for us. And so, Rosie developed this SOP to make it as easy possible for us to just kinda cut and paste, copy and paste these events from one to another. So again, we've got the purpose behind it. There's a synopsis for it. That's all documented here. We've got our schedule. So at a glance, I can see, alright, who's speaking, what are their topic is going to be as I continue to figure that out. We see Melissa is gonna be helping me with the integration session that day. It's gonna be awesome. There's event info here. And so, again, this is less of a checklist, and more of a documentation of our collective intelligence about how this event works. So that if I'm sick with the flu and not answering my phone and somebody needs a piece of information, they can go hunt around for it. Ideally, they don't even have to hunt. They know exactly where to look, but they can find it because we document it. And speaking of company culture, as we have been, an important part of developing your company culture should also be developing a culture of documentation. The more you can make documentation a daily process, instead of a giant project, the more documentation you're gonna have, and the more integrated your team members are gonna feel, the more a part of the process they're gonna feel, the more responsive they're going to feel you are to their work, and their needs, and their suggestions, the more open your communication is going to be. These are all values you guys have been talking about throughout the day. And creating our culture of documentation is actually gonna help you live those values, which I think is pretty cool. Any question about how we document things, anything you wanna see in here that I can try and find for you? (laughs) Any questions for Shannon about how she's done some of these things, especially as a new person?
It would be helpful to kind of speak to how you consciously or intentionally incorporate your values into the documentation procedure.
Yeah, so because transparency is one of our core values, that kind of speaks directly to that culture of documentation. Only projects that have extremely sensitive information are not public to our entire team. So, anyone can go into any project and see what might need to be done. Let's say I get in a car accident, goodness forbid, and I am out, and I cannot be gotten in touch with because I'm unconscious. Anyone can go into my tasks, and see what needs to be done, same thing with any other member of our team, so it's totally transparent in that way. It also kinda speaks to personal empowerment as well. When people know what needs to be done and how they fit into the bigger picture, they're better able to take on ownership and responsibility, which makes them more productive, more efficient team members over time. In terms of communicating values and documenting values, we'll get into that more when we talk about onboarding, but we have specific areas, each actually. I'll just show you real quick. You see, in the middle here where it says Kristen's HQ, Marty's HQ, Megan's HQ. In each of those areas, not only can our team members go in and see what tasks they're owning, but it's also our values, our mission, our vision. That's all documented in there as well. So it is literally a part of their daily procedure. If not to review those things, they see them. It's a reminder that those things are important.
So if I may ask you to follow up on that, please. (laughs)
Another piece of the puzzle I would add is that I've tried to think about Asana, or not just like how do we figure out how to get the work done, how do we set up our workflow to accomplish the goals of the company, how to serve our customers better. So I am trying to think through like how do I make it easiest for us to do the work, but how will it help us to see the big picture. With the editorial calendar, how are all the vents not just a fires house on our members, but rather how are they helping them communicate with each other, and get connected, and receive content. And then also just on a really straightforward level, when I write an SOP, I'm thinking I have the member in mind as I'm writing it. How do you tweak the SOPs so that it's serving our members, our community members the best way. Does that make sense?
I think that's such a great point. Thank you for sharing that, because yeah, we can get really caught up and thinking this is all about us, and it's not all about us. We are the wonderful beneficiaries of its excellence, but it's about creating better member experiences for us. It might be about creating better client experience as customer experiences for you. But yeah, this ensures that people get taken care of, that they get what they need from us. And when people get taken care of and get what they need from us, then we are fulfilling our mission. And our mission becomes, and our visions becomes the guiding light of how we do things, so kinda going back to that how question. The biggest how is how want people to feel, how we want them to plug into our mission, how they become a part of our vision and all that good stuff. Makes sense? Any other questions? Yeah.
I was gonna say how clear and succinct your mission and values are, because just reading some of the headings, I can be like I can see the where of where that went with the personal empowerment, and the community empowerment that almost you don't even have any procedures on there that don't align with those.
Thank you. So once you start documenting systems. The good news is that your life would be easier, and you will see how hiring someone can also be much easier. Are you already starting to see that? I just wanna say one more time. It's about documentation, not imposing things on you. I've said from the beginning of today that this class, this retreat that we're having here, this campfire chat is about me sharing my own problems, my own obstacles, as much as helping you over yours. Oh man. My life has gotten so much easier in the last year, because we finally taken care of this stuff. We finally gotten serious about it. I finally said I'm gonna be the kind of person that runs a business that is this organized. So step number one, realize your business is already more organized than you think it is. Step number two, make it more organized. Make it as easy as possible to work for you. Any final questions before we wrap up the end of today?
I think you just answered my question, because my question was a little bit of like, "Okay, so where do we start?" But I think two things that popped up for me as kind of an answer is, one, just document things literally as you go, like whatever is on the agenda for tomorrow, just do it. And then also, maybe as it relates to what we are talking earlier about where we are going with some of those first or next hires start documenting. If you think you wanna hire someone to move into a certain role, make sure you start documenting those procedures. Because seeing your... I have total Sana jealousy, right? Like, "Oh I want all of that."
That makes me so happy, you have no idea. (laughs)
But then it's overwhelming like, "Oh my gosh." To get all of that feels like overwhelming.
So that's taken us not only the 11 months of this year, but before that as well, before I decided I was 100% onboard with the whole thing. So a lot of it has been January through November of this year. So just keep that in mind. That's a really long time frame. I can't even say we have everything documented yet. There's a lot of stuff I'm responsible for that is not properly documented. Just own it, shall we? But it's a good start, it's a good start. So yes, absolutely, document, just document as you go. Like I said to Barrel, the next time you get a client inquiry, pop that email that you send into that script template, and you can add on things little bit by little bit too. The other thing is, yes, you can start documenting ahead of a hire. The other thing you can do is hire and have the new employee document for themselves. So that's another thing to consider. And contractors work well with that too, because often contractors are coming with their own SOPs. And you can be like, "Hey, can you "copy that into my Asana or my Trello "or can I get the Google Doc for that "so that I can keep building off of your awesome work?" So that's one of the nice parts of hiring contractors is you get their standard operating procedures too. It's been very effective for us in the past. (laughs) Anything else before we finish up here? Alright. We have gotten to the half-way point of this class. I'm shocked and can't even believe it, but I feel good about it, feel good about the foundation that we've kind of started laying here. We're gonna get into a lot more of the nitty gritty. We are gonna talk about budgeting. We are gonna talk about job descriptions. We're gonna talk about interviewing, onboarding, performance management. But we have to lay this ground work today, whether you've already been hiring, whether you've been building a team already, or whether, like I've been saying, maybe you've got a lot of fear or you've got a lot of anxiety around even the idea of hiring. Building this foundation is so core to being actually able to make a good use of the team that you have. So I'm curious. How has your outlook changed on the prospect of hiring and the prospect of your business making good use of the team that you might build.
I'm clearly not ready to hire yet, but my outlook has changed dramatically because I can see, I can see looking forward how... Oh yeah, I will be ready to hire at some point in the future because of the foundations that you have given us because of this class, and I'm so happy that I'm a member of co-commercial because I'm gonna have lots of people to talk to about all of this stuff. And I have to say that we were talking earlier about the mission, and I actually do have a piece of my mission which is play is not the opposite of work. When it is used strategically, play is how we make work more effective.
I love it.
So there you go.
I love it. Who else? What's changed about the way you are thinking about hiring over the course of this day?
I can see the possibilities of how I can put myself more in the front lines, being the spokes person for my business, instead of just being behind the scenes trying to manage all the little pieces of day to day. Possibility is probably the word that I'm walking away with.
For me, it's separating myself. Viewing myself as separate from my business is a separate entity. That was just a huge aha for me.
We're gonna take another step toward that tomorrow too. Okay? Maya?
When you went over the five parts of the business, I've worn all those hats before in my past lives. So it's been very clarifying today to start to really look at it through the lens of, "Oh, but what do I wanna do "and what do I wanna own in this business?" And so, I'm a lot clearer now than I was this morning about who am I handing staff off to and in what order. So I'm very grateful for that.
Excellent, wonderful. Sharon?
The idea of formulating jobs that exist for people, even if you're not gonna hire to fill those jobs, the idea that I could start organizing right now so that when I can hire specific people, I mean that was just revolutionary idea for me.
I love it, I love it. Great, thank you guys for sharing your takeaways. It's so important to kind of track our journey through this, because it is a big journey. There's a reason we have been talking together as much as we have, instead of me talking at you. This is a process. It is a journey. It is a process of discovery, and we are only half way through it.