AMY PORTERFIELD: Well hey there, welcome back to another episode of the Online Marketing Made Easy Podcast. I’m your host, Amy Porterfield. Today we are talking all things project manager.
We’ll explore how to know when you’re ready to hire a project manager, tips for finding and hiring, and most important, insights on how to work with a project manager once you find somebody who is a strong fit.
Since I started my online business, I subscribe to the concept of going pro and showing up in my business like I’m in it for the long haul. When you hire for your business you’re declaring that you’re in it. You are putting a stake in the ground and you’re investing in the growth of your business.
You are committing to paying someone else. That takes guts. Basically, you’re saying, “I’m willing to put up money for my business.”
Hiring for the first time in your business or hiring for an elevated position like a project manager is scary, a bit overwhelming, and absolutely thrilling all at the same time.
I created today’s episode to start the conversation with you about potentially hiring a project manager. You might not be ready just yet. We will explore that. But I wish someone had sat me down early in my business and said, “I want you to plan to hire a project manager sooner than later.”
I now believe, based on my experience with working with a project manager for a few years now, that it is an essential role in your business if you are creating programs, products, and services and you are promoting those online via launches and campaigns.
We will get into all of the specifics about what a project manager can do for your business but I just wanted to start right there.
Two years ago on this show I interviewed my friend, Laura Roeder, about hiring a project manager. I’m refreshing this topic here because I have learned a lot in two years.
I feel like two years in online marketing is more like dog years. It’s like I talked about it ten years ago. I have a lot of new insights to share with you. I’ve been in the trenches longer now and I think you will find a lot of value in some of the lessons I learned along the way.
Instead of encouraging you to go back and listen to that old episode, I’ve included the most important aspects of that episode into this one. Then I’m going to explore some new areas in more depth and with more examples.
Since some of the insights I’m sharing today were inspired by my conversation with Laura way back when, I wanted to give Laura and her business a shout out.
Laura is the creator of Edgar. Edgar has actually sponsored our podcast. Edgar is my social media scheduling tool of choice. It is the only tool I use to schedule my social media.
Specifically, I use it for Facebook and Twitter but you can also use it for LinkedIn. With Edgar it’s not like a one and done kind of thing with social media posts. When you post on Edgar you schedule something and it will post today or whenever you want it to post.
Then you can repurpose that post and have it go out again next week, the week after, and on and on. Your social media posts get repurposed. If you’ve ever followed any of my content you know that repurposing content is the key to consistency.
The more you fill up your library inside of Edgar with your own original content and links to other people’s content, that means you are consistently posting on social media.
Here’s the cool thing. If you go to MeetEdgar.com/amy you will get a special offer to test out Edgar and a free mini training to help you with all of your social media strategy. Go check it out.
Let’s jump into all things project manager.
You know I like to create mini trainings for many of my podcast episodes. I want to make them incredibly actionable and I want you to go out and do the work that will get you the results.
I’ve organized this episode into four sections. I’m going to answer two questions that you likely have right from the get go:
- Should I hire a virtual assistant before I hire a project manager, and
- What can a project manager do for my business?
I am then going to explore the question: How do I know if I’m ready for a project manager? If I am ready, what the heck do I pay them?
After that I’m going to give you some of my personal tips and insights to help you find and hire a stellar project manager. That’s where the freebie comes into this episode.
I’m going to give you my exact job description that I used to hire my own project manger so you can tweak it and use it to model for your own job description. I’m also going to give you my project manager candidate survey.
You can literally just steal this and use it as your own. These questions are so valuable to really get a good sense of who the person is and their skill set before you actually get into any of the interview process.
It’s going to help you weed out the candidates that are not right for you. I’m going to give you my job description and my candidate survey. All you need to do is go to http://www.amyporterfield.com/159download to grab it right away.
I’ll be talking about the freebie a little later when we get to that section but I wanted to tease you with it from the get go.
Finally, we are going to explore how to work with a project manager. It’s one thing to find and hire one but then what do you do after that? I want to help you leverage this new asset in your business. It’s going to be so incredibly valuable if you approach it correctly. And I’m going to help you do just that.
Let’s start at the top.
First question. Should I hire a virtual assistant before I hire a project manger. The answer to that is that it depends. If you need support with your customer service, with managing your email and calendar, with daily and weekly tasks that need to get done to drive the business forward, and if these things are currently neglected or falling through the cracks in your business then I would consider hiring a virtual assistant.
Even if it’s just ten hours a week it will definitely help you keep your ship in order. With that you might be asking how a virtual assistant is different from a project manager.
Here’s how I see it. Often times when you work with a virtual assistant in the capacity I just talked about, your weekly and daily tasks, to keep your business up and running, you assign tasks. Often times they are specific daily and weekly tasks.
The virtual assistant is a doer knocking them out one by one. Ideally, if they are good they take the initiative to manage their time and tasks with little micromanaging needed.
To me that is a really good use of a virtual assistant. However, with a project manager, instead of assigning daily or weekly tasks, you will be assigning outcomes. He or she will come up with the roadmap to completion.
The project manager builds the plan from start to finish and then manages the execution while managing multiple players to get the job done.
Often times you want both on your team. Maybe not right away, but as your business grows I think you should consider hiring for both positions.
To be clear, there are many virtual assistants out there that are outcome driven, resourceful, amazing project managers in their own right. However, on the whole, and by definition, project managers are typically a different kind of role than a virtual assistant.
It’s often not fair to ask your virtual assistant to be your project manager if they don’t have the right skill set. That’s a recipe for disaster. So don’t just automatically assume any virtual assistant would be perfect as a project manger. More often than not, that is not true.
I think a skilled project manger is a unique breed. I’m going to share with you the skill sets you want to look out for so that you know you are hiring smart.
That conversation was important to have in terms of whether you should hire a VA before a project manager. Maybe. Also, what’s the difference between those two roles.
Moving on to the next question. What can a project manger do for your business?
You are going to get sick of hearing me say “project manager” a million times during this episode so let’s shorten it up. I’m just going to say “PM.” Deal? Ok.
What can a PM do for your business? Let me give you a big picture snapshot of how my project manager, Chloe, works inside of my business. First of all, she creates every project plan for every campaign, every launch, every new project we take on.
She creates those project plans inside of Asana, our project management software that we use. Asana, Basecamp, Trello, it doesn’t matter what you use, you just need to make sure if you have a project manager you are using some kind of software to manage the projects.
If you have a really good project manager they become super bossy over the software. They own it. It is theirs. All of us work inside of it but they’ve set it up. They’ve organized it as it needs to be organized to make sure the project gets done.
They are creating the tasks, assigning the tasks, moving them around, making sure everything gets done.
We often tease that Chloe is super bossy inside of Asana. Don’t even try to move around a category. She will notice in a second. And I absolutely love that. I love when my team members take full ownership over what they’re working on and have a lot of pride in it.
You want somebody to create your project plans and use a software to do so.
In addition to that, as they are managing the projects, they are managing all of your contractors: Your copywriter, your designer, programs, on an ongoing basis.
Imagine how great it would feel if one person on your team had an intimate relationship with all of your best contractors.
Chloe knows Ry Schwartz, my copywriter, really well. They go to coffee when he comes into town. She knows Jess, my designer. She talks to my programmer, Mike, all of the time. She really does foster those relationships.
That’s important because those contractors, though not full time, always make time for my projects because we treat them well and we absolutely love the work they do and they know it. That comes primarily from Chloe.
In addition to that, you might not have even thought about this one. But your project manger can really help with customer support issues, especially related to tech.
When my customer support team is stuck and they just really can’t figure out why something’s not working for one of my potential customers or one of my students, after they’ve really tried everything, they can elevate the issue to Chloe.
Chloe is in the back end of everything. She knows how Infusionsoft works and how we set up the tags, how the funnels work. She’s intimately involved in the back end because she has to be so if something needs to be elevated Chloe can typically troubleshoot really well.
We do a good job of making sure our customer support can answer most questions so it doesn’t have to be elevated. That would probably drive Chloe crazy. But she is definitely an extra resource there.
Finally, this is probably the #1 reason I love having a project manager, your project manager is going to help you prioritize your projects so you know what to work on and when to work on them.
In many cases it feels like Chloe is my boss and I love it. Devin, my business partner, and I come up with a big picture strategy. We set the stage. We know what we’re doing this year, what we’re going to promote, and what we’re going to create. All of that gets decided between Devin and I.
But once it’s decided and we have our revenue goals and any other goals we set, we’re really clear about what the year’s going to look like. We communicate that to Chloe and from there Chloe starts to prioritize and figure out what’s going to get done first and how something’s going to get done and what it’s going to look like.
She really runs the show in that respect. And at that point she starts bossing me around saying, “Amy, you’ve got to work on Modules 1 and 2 this week of your brand new program. I need to know XYZ about graphic design by Friday.”
She assigns all of this stuff to me in Asana. I love to work that way. I just wanted to give you a good sense of what a project manager could do inside of your business.
We’re moving on to how to know if you’re ready for a project manager; and, if you are ready, the typical pay range.
I take pride in knowing my audience well. I feel like I know you pretty good. Instead of giving you a vague answer of how to know if you’re ready, I thought about this for a while and decided to talk to you as though you are my friend and we were at coffee. As it should be.
Here’s what I would say to a friend who is building an online business and is beyond their first year. I think you need to get through your first year of business before you hire a project manager.
In that first year you’re figuring out a lot of things. I think you need the time to figure it out. Maybe that first year you hire your first virtual assistant. But from there, after the first year I would tell you that if you’re bringing in revenue somewhat consistently, you have something to sell, and you are actually selling it and you are feeling overwhelmed, burned out, and emotionally exhausted AND you know you would find value in working with a sidekick in your business then I say it’s time to explore hiring a project manager.
If you love the idea of someone else creating project plans and managing your project management software and the idea of focusing only on the areas of your business where you personally kick some serious butt, then explore the possibility of hiring a project manager, for sure.
If you don’t want to manage all of your freelancers and contractors and you have a lot of moving parts in your business right now, and if it feels like you have a lot of spinning plates or if it feels like there is so much that’s not getting done and so many great opportunities that you can’t even touch then I would consider hiring a project manager.
If you have a never-ending to-do list and you feel you are never getting to the stuff you want to get to in terms of profits, then again, hire a project manager, for sure.
Basically, I just read that because I wrote it for you in advance. But if we were sitting over coffee and you were actually bringing in some revenue, obviously probably not as much as you want to bring in, but if you’re bringing in some money and you think you can reinvest some of it into your business and all of those other things (moving plates, a lot of projects you’re not getting to, you know there are profits to be made but you can’t even focus on that area, you don’t want to create the project plants) then that’s when I want you to seriously consider hiring a project manager.
I’m going to say this later but I’m going to say it now as well. I know it’s scary to take this leap and hire a project manager. But you can never really see the full potential of your business when you keep doing everything yourself. Never Ever.
A ten-hour a week or even 20-hour a week virtual assistant and just you is not going to get you to those big goals that you’re setting in your business. If you can reinvest I want to encourage you to think about hiring a project manager.
That’s a nice transition into the next question. What should I pay my project manager?
The good news for you is there is actually a pretty big pay range for PMs. It starts around $40,000 a year. We’re talking full time here. It goes up to $90,000 a year. I called a lot of my peers to inquire about their project managers and what they are paying and I also did some research.
Again, there is a pretty big pay range. The good news for you is depending on where you’re at in your business and what kind of budget you have right now, you’ve got some options.
I do believe in most cases you get what you pay for. Usually the more skilled, experienced PMs will demand a higher price. But that’s not always true.
We work in a unique industry in terms of being able to hire virtually. If somebody lives in Iowa and somebody lives in San Diego and they are both project managers you might be able to pay the person in Iowa less because their cost of living is a heck of a lot less.
They might not demand such high prices but the skill sets might be equal between the candidate in Iowa and San Diego. You just never know. You’ve got to do your homework.
When I say between $40,000 and $90,000 full time per year you can actually break that out to see what that equates to hourly. It corresponds pretty well. Look at the pay range and break it up into hourly. Then look at your budget and start to play around with the numbers to decide what you can reinvest into the business.
Be realistic and don’t come from a place of fear. We’re going to talk about the limiting fears that come up when hiring an elevated position like a PM. We’ll get there.
But just be careful that you’re not so afraid to let go of the money or that you won’t be able to pay this person that you think you don’t have the money to invest in them. That’s usually coming from fear but we’ll talk about it. We’re not there yet.
Moving on I’m going to shuffle some papers to look at my notes.
Section three is all about finding and hiring a project manager. I have found that the trick to finding a really solid project manager is asking the right questions during the hiring process.
If you’ve never hired a project manager you don’t know which questions to ask. So I created the Project Manager Hiring Tool Kit. That includes the job description that I used to hire my project manager and it includes the new-hire survey I hinted at earlier.
You can literally just steal my new hire survey, plug it into any survey software like Survey Monkey, and you are off to the races. You want all your potential candidates to fill out the survey before you ever interview them.
You will find out so much about them before you ever take any time to actually interview someone personally. I want you to get your hands on the Project Manager Hiring Tool Kit. Go to http://www.amyporterfield.com/159download or text the phrase 159download to 33444.
Make sure you grab that. It’s full of really good goodies.
Now that we know what a project manager can do for your business and now that you are clear if you might be ready (that doesn’t sound great but you are getting clearer) for a project manager, or, if your smart, you’re just planning for one.
You might not be ready to hire one right away but you’re going to plan for this. That’s what I wish I did. You are really keeping your doors open and you’re watching your budget closely. When the time is right you’re going to do it.
Now that we’re at that point I want to talk to you about the whole finding and hiring process. The first thing you want to do is know your hiring avatar.
I want you to write down the kind of person you need. Be specific here. My job description in the tool kit and the new hire survey will help you with this. For me I want a Type A personality.
I want someone so incredibly prepared that he/she is going to knock my socks off all the time. This is what my Chloe is in terms of being totally prepared. She Googled every single interview question and created flash cards with her answers to the questions. The girl was prepared.
She told me later that she was so nervous for the interview that she made sure she got dressed up for it, she looked really good, and what I couldn’t see beyond the computer because it was a Skype interview, she had all these notecards pasted to the wall. No matter what question I asked her on the live interview she could look up at her notecards and she would be ready.
It cracks me up because if you know Chloe this is so her personality. I like someone that’s going to come to the table prepared. Never has Chloe come to the table and said, “We have a problem,” and then crickets/silence.
It’s always, “We have a challenge. Here are some options to solve it.” That’s what you’re looking for. For me it was Type A, prepared, self disciplined. I want them to be a little bit aggressive and really driven.
I don’t want them to hesitate to tell me what they are thinking or suggest new ideas. I want them to feel comfortable in their own skin. I want them to think they have something to bring to the table and present it.
Also, a little bit bossy. We tease Chloe all the time that she is the big boss of the company. We want someone to be a little bit bossy. That’s kind of a funny word but I like to use it because whether you’re a guy or girl if you’ve got a little bossiness in you I’m not against that.
This is a big one…resourceful. Whoever you hire has to be resourceful. They need to know there is always a way, always a way, to figure something out. In addition to that they need to be detailed.
Detail is important. You want your project manager to naturally think in terms of chunking things out or putting things into categories or compartments. You want them to look at everything in that way because they are the ones that are drawing out the blueprint and moving things forward.
If they think big picture all the time they will never think about all of the different specific action items that are included to get to the finish line. They are 100% not big picture thinkers as much as they are detailed.
Of course, everyone needs to think of the big picture but you want them to live in the details.
This is also a big one for anyone running an online business. You want them to do quality work regardless of how long it takes them to get there. That doesn’t mean you want them working 20 hours a day.
We have online businesses where our hours are really random sometimes. What you don’t want to do (for all your hires, in my opinion) if you have an online business similar to mine, you do not want somebody that wants to work just in the nine to five.
If they come with the corporate mentality and think they are on at nine and take certain breaks during the day then they are off at five and “see ya,” that typically doesn’t work for an online business. Just be careful about that mindset.
Finally, I want somebody with self satisfaction. They know when they’ve done a good job and they don’t have to be told all the time. A project manager is really an elevated position.
It’s not a lot of hand holding unless you’re training them and we’ll talk about that. But it’s not a lot of hand holding and it’s not a position that you have to be telling them all the time that they are doing a great job and to keep it up.
You want to encourage them but it’s just a little bit of a different mindset. I like the idea of self satisfaction. Those are the things I look for in my PM so I wanted to share them with you.
Hiring Tip #2 is knowing where to find the good ones. First and foremost, start with referrals from friends, colleagues, Facebook groups, LinkedIn connections. Start with the people that know you and might even know a little bit about your business.
From there you can go to sites like Indeed or Craigslist or wherever you want to go. First make sure you write a job description. Then email your friends or call or text them and tell them you are looking for a new project manager. Give them the job description and ask them if they know of anybody to send them your way.
I found Chloe because she was working in a project management role at the Chopra Center. When I say she was working in a project management role it was not anything like what she does inside my business.
We will talk about skill set in a moment. She had an understanding of online marketing, which I thought was really valuable, and she had done online launches. It wasn’t like we do them but at least she has been in that world.
That was a big plus for me. I also loved her drive. She was highly recommended by a good friend. I absolutely love referrals. It’s really the only way I like to hire. It’s funny because Lindsay is my community manager and she was really referred by Trivinia, who was watching her closely and got to know her online.
The same with Kate. Kate came from Trivinia. Trivinia has now left the business to work more on her virtual assistant business but Kate is my VA. Everyone was basically a referral on my team. I absolutely love that.
If you can get referrals, definitely go for it.
Moving on. I want you to quiz them. Don’t just ask for a cover letter and a resume. Ask them to answer a series of questions that get to the heart of who they are and what they will bring to the table.
I have the exact questions you need to ask them. That’s in the tool kit at http:// www.amyporterfield.com/159download. That is where you get these questions. But you’ve got to quiz them during the hiring process.
Test them is #4. I remember when I applied for my job at Tony Robbins. They not only gave me one or two but a series of test assignments to complete in order to start working there.
They put me through the ringer to get that job at Tony Robbins. I jumped through so many hoops it wasn’t funny. Because of that I now do that with some elevated positions on my team.
Chloe jokes that I just about killed her during the hiring process. But I knew she was going to be a significant role in the business if we hired her. I knew I would be paying her well. Because of that I wanted to make sure this girl really knew her stuff.
I gave her an assignment. Basically, we put a dummy launch together. It took me a while to put this together so I’m not saying this part is easy. But you are hiring for a really important position.
Basically, I had her do things like finding contractors to write copy for a sales page and design an eBook, balance a budget. They were small things but I wanted to see how she engaged with people.
I actually gave her a budget to work with. I am going to guess it was $250. I had her go out and use whatever resources she wanted to use and get a little piece of copy created. I gave her a bunch of content she had to get designed in an eBook.
I shouldn’t say it was a bunch, it was a little tiny thing. I probably shouldn’t even call it an eBook. But I basically had her do the things that would be similar to what she would be doing in my business.
That was basically a week and a half of her work and she had to do it for free. That might seem crazy to you guys but I just wanted to see how serious she was. She didn’t have to spend her own money to get the stuff done but I wasn’t paying her to do the test assignments.
I feel that really said a lot about her. She said, “Bring it on. I’ll do it.” Chloe says this test was like an onboarding project in that it prepared her for what to expect when she came to work for me.
She understood my communication style, how I liked information presented, etc. She got to know me a little bit through this process. Let’s just pretend she didn’t like me. Let’s say she didn’t like the way I gave her information or asked her to do this project.
Then she wouldn’t come work for me. That would be great. People actually self select and think they don’t even want to work for this person. Great because we don’t want to go down that road.
They get to learn a little bit about you and your communication style as well as you getting to learn about them.
Hiring Tip #5 is, if possible, hire a project manager that only works for you and does not have multiple clients. I know, I know, easier said than done. However, this is such a golden piece of advice if it’s possible.
I say this because when you have to share a project manager with other people, other people’s launch dates get in the way. You just don’t have their full attention. Even if you’re hiring part time, there are people out there that only want part-time work.
Maybe they will grow into full time with you. But don’t think that everybody wants a full-time job. Don’t think that if you don’t give them a full-time job they will go get work with somebody else.
If you can, it is an ideal situation to not share your project manager. It just gets really complicated when they have a lot of clients. I just wanted to throw that in there if at all possible.
Hiring Tip #6, your project manager does not need to be in the online marketing or digital media industry. They don’t need to have experience working in a start-up business. They also don’t need to know how to use online marketing technology.
In your job description, I would not mention Infusionsoft, MailChimp, or LeadPages or anything like that. When Laura and I talked a few years ago about hiring her project manager she mentioned that her project manager came from a ski resort.
She managed all of the things at the ski resort. She did not know anything about online marketing nor any online marketing tools. All of that is teachable. I think what’s even more important is that somebody has the mindset of being able to manage multiple pieces, can spin plates at all times and build relationships with your contractors and knows how to see a project from start to finish and really understands the details of each of those action items.
If they don’t they know the questions to ask in order to figure out what steps are going to be involved to get to the finish line. Those are the skill sets that people can have in so many different jobs that they bring to the table. They do not necessarily have to have online marketing technology expertise.
I just wanted to throw that out there. I know my friend, James Wedmore, has a stellar project manager. Her name is Jilly. I was told that Jilly did not come to the table with any marketing experience. Now she is kicking butt in a growing online marketing business that’s making millions.
She’s really holding her own. They rely on her a lot. That stuff is teachable. I look for personality and skill set beyond knowledge of online marketing and online marketing technology.
Real quick, before I get into how to work with your project manager, we’re almost there and that’s kind of my favorite part of this whole episode, let’s talk about a few limiting beliefs.
Now you know what a project manager can do for your business, you know if you’re ready for one or maybe you’re just going to plan for one. We already talked about pricing. We talked about hiring and finding the right person.
But now I want to talk to you about limiting beliefs that will stop you from hiring a project manager. Many of you are ready to hire one but you think you’re not.
Limiting Belief #1: Thinking you can’t afford a PM. I am talking to those of you that know this is not 100% true. You know who you are. I want you to step back a little bit, look at your revenue, look at your revenue goals and how you plan to make money in your business. I want you to be really honest with yourself.
Can you take some of that revenue and invest in a project manager versus spending it in different ways? Dare I say it? Versus spending it on another online course. That’s saying a lot. I sell online courses. Or versus spending it on some kind of trip you plan to go to a marketing conference or whatever it might be.
There are ways to save in your business so you can invest in an elevated position like a PM. Let’s be really realistic here.
Limiting Belief #2: You are not ready and you start to think you could do all of it yourself for now. The truth is that maybe you could. But you will lose your mind.
It’s not sustainable to be working all the time and be super stressed out every single day. It’s not going to lead you to the type of business you want. Just like so many things in life, I hear this from a lot of moms, they say you’re never ready to have a baby but when you do, of course, you never knew love like that before in your life.
I do believe that in so much of building an online business you are never ready for these big leaps but you make them anyway, at least those that are really kicking butt in their business.
They make the big leaps even when they feel they aren’t ready. Never let that stop you, that you feel you aren’t ready.
One thing that leads you to feeling like you’re not ready is comparing your business to somebody else’s business. From there you make the decision that you’re not ready.
My business isn’t big enough. I don’t have a legit business. I’m not making enough money. I’m not doing big enough things in my business.
Again, the sooner you start to take big leaps in your business the sooner you see the growth in your business. This whole idea of thinking you’re not ready and comparing yourself to another business, you’ve got to get really honest.
You might not be ready. You might not be making consistent revenue. You may not know what you’re going to sell or how you’re going to sell it. You aren’t ready for a PM just yet.
However, some of you are deep enough in your business and making enough consistent revenue that if you brought a PM in you could elevate your business and start making more money so that you never ever worry that you won’t have enough money to pay an employee.
Remember, we’re looking at taking big leaps so that you can grow your business. Just be honest with yourself. I’m not saying everybody’s ready by any means. But you’ve got to get realistic here.
Let’s dive into the final section of this mini training, how to work with a project manager. Once you have a brand spanking new project manager on your team it’s important that starting on Day One you know how to work with him or her.
It’s different than any other position you’ve ever hired for. First, once they are hired there are a few things I want you to do.
#1: Build out the time to train them properly. Chloe actually joined during a launch in my business. I took two days with no interruptions to show her the ropes. I blocked out my calendar. Trivinia helped me with this at the time.
We basically focused on what Chloe needed to know. We had to book the time to actually train her. She got trained beyond those two days but I worked on the launch and basically said I was doing “this” because of “this” and “here’s what we do.”
I got in the trenches with her so she could see what I was doing. We actually did this virtually. Chloe happens to live in San Diego with me. However, I only see her maybe once a week. And that’s not necessary. It’s just convenient. You can definitely hire virtually.
I love the book SCRUM. We had Chloe read the book and we use SCRUM inside of our business. It’s basically how you plan out your projects. We don’t use it perfectly. We just use some main elements from it.
It’s a good starting point if you want to get clear about your process of working with a project manager. Scrum is a great book.
#2: Let your project manager know who you are and how you work. Don’t be afraid to share some of your vulnerabilities.
One of my closest friends just hired a brand new PM. On the first morning she told her PM, “When it comes to technology I don’t like to figure it out. I don’t want to do the research. I’m great at finding human resources to help me but lousy at researching to get the answers. Nothing frustrates me more than technology.”
When she told me she told her PM this I thought, “Yikes, you might have sounded kind of like a jerk.” Then I realized when she was talking more about this that I could hear the pain in her voice.
One of the reasons she hired a PM was because she was so frustrated with figuring out the technology and how it all pieced together in a bigger picture for her project plants. She just hated it and I could feel the frustration in her voice.
I realized she doesn’t have the patience for the research and she should be honest. She said, “This is why I’m hiring you. Please help me.” I thought it was really smart that she was vulnerable right from the get go so don’t be afraid to put yourself out there.
You want to be the leader. You want to keep that in mind. You are the leader. You are driving this forward. But you can also find a nice balance where you can be vulnerable and say, “This is not my strong suit, it’s not where I want to be spending my time and that is why you have been hired.”
I want you to be vulnerable as well as being a leader. We juggle so many hats.
#3: Set expectations. I learned this one while working for Tony Robbins. I want you to encourage your PM to always come to you with three options. They don’t always have to be stellar options but I never want to be presented with a challenge and think my hands are tied.
Basically we have a challenge and you’ve got one option to fix it. I am likely not going to love that option because it’s a challenge. So it’s frustrating. In our business we encourage our team overall to come to the table with more than one option.
Three options is ideal. It doesn’t always happen but that’s what we put out there. Set expectations right from the get go and let your PM know that is what you would like them to do. They don’t know what they don’t know so you’ve got to talk to them about this.
#4: Introduce them to everyone. I actually got to interview Chloe about this episode so some of this came directly from her. That is really valuable because I wouldn’t have thought about it from her standpoint.
She said, “Every time you would teach me something you would mention Jess the designer or Ry the copywriter.” She would tell me she didn’t know that person so before I would forget I would make an email intro.
I would say, “Okay, Jess, I want to introduce you to our brand new project manager, Chloe. This is how she’s going to work with us.”
I would make sure Chloe had an email intro to everyone she would be working with. Maybe she wasn’t ready to dive into work with them but now she had a direct line to them. She had their email and she could start the relationship.
That was important so that she didn’t feel like she couldn’t talk to certain people just yet.
#5: Let go. You’ve hired the best. You’ve done your research. You’ve found someone great. You’ve tested them. You know they are going to be a huge asset to your team. You’ve also trained them. They are ready to go.
Now you have to let go. It’s just like a parent letting go and letting their kid go to college to do their thing, you’ve got to let your PM do their thing. When you’re running your business you’re spending so much time in the minutia of little details trying to get things moving.
Remember, you are overwhelmed and stressed. A PM can alleviate that if you step back and let them do so. I think that’s really important. You’ve got to let them figure it out.
Here is what I’ll tell you. I think this is the valuable stuff that no one talks about. When Chloe came into the business, like I said, she came in during a launch, which was probably terrible timing, but at the time I didn’t expect her to run the launch so she wasn’t running anything. She was just observing.
She then started to work on smaller projects. I would say it was a good six months before I thought, “Holy cow, she’s awesome.”
I liked Chloe and I knew she was going to do a good job. But I didn’t see the magic until about six months in. It was a day that I realized we were talking about a project and Chloe knew more about the project than I did and more than my business partner, Devin.
She was assigning us tasks with so much confidence in her voice. At first I freaked out. I thought, “Oh my gosh, am I losing touch with my business?” I didn’t know this and that. Then, all of the sudden I thought it was so great, Chloe knew more about a project that I did.
That meant I was no longer in the weeds. It was a really cool feeling. First I was scared and then elated. I loved that I was finally able to let go. You’re not going to let go on Day One.
You’re going to make sure they’re properly trained. You’re checking in with them multiple times a week to make sure they really do have the support. Now we check in twice a week.
Quite honestly, Chloe and I work really closely together so she can text me or Slack me anytime. But we have official meetings for 30 minutes on Monday and Thursday.
I’m going to talk to you about what those meetings look like because this is going to help you understand how to work with your PM. So that’s a good transition.
I thought it would be valuable to share some stories of how you can work with your PM inside of your business so you get a really good sense of what this looks like. I started this conversation in the final chapter of this mini training all about how to get them ready to work with you and how to train them and set expectations.
Now I want to get into the gritty stuff. Here are a few scenarios.
If your business is just you and a project manager then your PM would sit down with you, look at what you want to accomplish for the next six months and from there, together you can make a plan.
What are you going to prioritize? The PM should be really vocal in this conversation. Once you get clear on what you’re going to prioritize first, second, and third your PM goes off on their own and creates detailed plans for each of those projects.
They might just take one at a time. You work out the project plan, you implement, and then you move on to the next one. They should have questions for you along the way.
Be open to that because they can’t figure out all of the action items if they don’t know all of the players involved and all of the outcomes and what software you want to use and all that good stuff. They’ll get better over time and will figure that stuff out on their own down the road.
But if they’re not asking questions in the beginning I’m worried. I say to be open to a good six months of really working with them on project plans.
Your PM is constantly reviewing the Business To-Do List. They aren’t doing it themselves. That’s another thing. Although everyone on my team gets in there and gets their hands dirty and works in the trenches, I do try to keep Chloe out of the day- to-day tasks.
She can’t manage all of the moving parts if she’s the one changing the copy on the sales page and if she’s the one going into LeadPages and changing the Facebook pixel and all that stuff that we do during launches.
I don’t actually see the PM as the doer. They have a small team to help them. Chloe works really closely with Lindsay, my community manager, and Kate, my customer support manager. Chloe works with these people and then, of course, all of my contractors as well.
She will do some of it but I don’t want her doing all of it.
Your PM is also looking for areas that have stalled. When you have a project that was supposed to be done a week ago and it’s not done the project manager should ask what is delayed.
Let’s say it’s the copy. The copy is delayed and we don’t have the copy for the sales page. The PM then has to decide if it’s the copywriter. Did we change things and the copywriter didn’t get the communication? Is it the programmer that didn’t get the copy? That’s what the PM is doing.
They are troubleshooting. But even more so, they are looking for stalled tasks, things that aren’t moving forward as planned. They figure out what has been the obstacle in the way and they move it out of the way.
Often times, nowadays, because Chloe has been with me two years, I rarely hear about these challenges. I know things are happening and not always running smoothly because no online business does. But I typically don’t hear about them.
Or, they will give me a heads up. This is what I really like. I don’t want to be left in the dark all the time. But when we moved over to my new website and relaunched the website, which I’m going to be talking about next week, (next week’s episode is all about the big mistakes I made when relaunching our website) something got broken with my podcast in iTunes.
It just wasn’t showing up properly in iTunes. I don’t want to be left in the dark about that because my podcast is a big deal to me. Instead I got a message that said, “Hey, something’s broken with iTunes once we moved over to the new website. We’re working on it. I’ll give you a heads up when it’s up and running again.”
It was nothing to worry about, just a heads up. That’s where you want to get to with your PM. You want to be in the loop. Not on everything, but the important stuff. You also want to know it’s going to get covered and that they will let you know when it’s fixed.
That’s kind of like a dream scenario. It takes a while to get there but you’ll get there.
Here’s another one. Let’s pretend you’re going to write all of the copy for your sales page and all of the copy for your promo emails. You specifically. You are going to do the writing.
Your PM will assign you exactly what needs to be written. I use Asana for my project management tool. Inside of Asana, in the launch plan that Chloe created, there will be a category of emails.
She will list every single email that I need to write and all of the details about the sales page copy that I need to write. She will list them all and then she will assign them to me and give me due dates.
I can change those due dates. I can talk to Chloe about them but she starts the conversation. She assigns them and she knows a pretty good sense of when I’m going to be working on what so she’s not just pulling these due dates out of thin air. We talk about it in advance.
When your PM gets really good they likely will then include links to Google docs of old emails you wrote just to give you a good sense of what you can model. They are giving you resources to kind of get you going in the right direction to finish your action items.
Again, your PM is going to start assigning projects to you. It’s such an amazing, great feeling. I promise you. It takes time but you can get there.
I just wanted to give you a snapshot of what it might look like when you start to work with a PM inside of your own business.
I thought I would leave you with a way to really support your PM once they’re hired and are off and running. We call this Tea Time. How do you make sure your project manager is supported and happy? This is really for anyone on your team.
You’ve got to Trust. That’s the T. It’s all about the principle of letting go. You do not need to micromanage your PM after they’ve been trained, of course. You’ve got to trust that they are going to figure it out.
The E in the word “tea” is to Empower them. Give them the resources they need to really take charge and make decisions. The empowerment starts in the training and then it continues in your regular weekly check ins.
They need a line to you. Some people on my team don’t need to go directly to me to make sure they do a good job. Your PM likely needs to check in with you regularly if you’re running the show.
The A in the world “tea” is Appreciate. Trust, Empower, Appreciate. Take the time to get to know them. Understand their needs and what makes them happy. This is really for everybody on your team. But if they are local, spend a little time with them.
I feel bad all the time because Chloe is the only local one. Poor Kate and Lindsay never get to have a little fun with us because they are in Connecticut and Canada. However, because Chloe is nearby, after a big launch I might take her out for a glass of wine so that we can celebrate and all that good stuff.
Then I try to make it up to my other team members. This is making me sound totally partial. Anyway, I know that if you can be in the same proximity of your hire, take advantage of that.
If you can’t, make sure you support all of your team members because it’s so incredibly important that they know they are appreciated. I’m pretty sure I don’t need to say any of this. You guys are going to take good care of your employees. I have every bit of confidence in that.
Let’s go ahead and wrap up.
I know we covered a lot. The last thing I’ll say is that it’s all about mindset. I bet you can hire a project manager in your business, maybe not full time, but part time, sooner than you think. Just start to plan for it if you’re not ready to actually dive in and do it.
Again, the freebie is so good. The Project Manager Hiring Tool Kit is available at http://www.amyporterfield.com/159download or you can text the phrase 159download to 33444 to get the job description I used to hire my own project manager and the exact questions you can ask in a survey during the hiring process.
You can just totally steal that part from me and plug it into any survey tool and you are off to the races.
I cannot wait to meet you here next week. Next week’s episode, #160, is all about the big mistakes I made as I was redesigning my new website. I’m so proud of my new website. If you haven’t checked it out yet make sure to do so at http:// www.amyporterfield.com.
The road to get there was pretty rocky. The reason for that is bad leadership. Who is the leader? Me. Yeah. I’m getting into all of that next week in Episode #160. I hope to see you there. Thanks for tuning in. Have a great one. Bye for now.