As someone who’s had their own team since 2016, I get a LOT of questions on the topic! Hopefully, this post will answer some of those for you. If you’re a service provider, I highly recommend hiring help. In my experience, it’s pretty difficult (not impossible, but hard!) to scale to 6 figures without a team. In this post, I’m going to share the details of how you should set up your Team Onboarding System!
Having a defined system of how you handle team onboarding is a really important piece of building an amazing team. It allows you to go through the process in a MUCH smoother way. It makes it easier (and quicker) for you. Plus, the transition for your team member will be better, too.
One big mistake I see people make when they hire is NOT having a team onboarding system. Similar to client onboarding, team onboarding helps set expectations, define roles and responsibilities, and works to set everyone up for success. Without at least somewhat of a process, you’re way more likely to have problems or feel overwhelmed (especially if you don’t have a lot of experience delegating or managing others!).
I dive way deeper into this system in The Systems Society. That’s where you can find all of the email templates, tutorials, and Asana workflows you need to put this system in place! (Shameless plug 😂 But seriously, it’s super helpful!)
Step #1: Choose the Type of Team Member You Need to Hire
First things first — this Team Onboarding System is specifically for if you’re a service-based business looking to hire subcontractors. You can kind of follow this if you’re looking to hire independent contractors, but depending on who you hire, that might look totally different.
The reason I say this is because when you’re hiring a subcontractor, it’s much more of a typical employer-employee relationship. Whereas when you hire an independent contractor, they are the one in charge and, if they are experienced, will be onboarding YOU (vs. the other way around). Some independent contractors don’t mind being onboarded, but that’s not typically how it works. So if you aren’t hiring a subcontractor, you’ll need to be upfront that you’re looking for someone to join your team and will be the one in charge.
I talk more about the different types of team members (subcontractor vs. independent contractor, etc.) in this post on What Types of Employees Should You Have on Your Team?
Decide on What Position You Need to Fill
This one may seem kind of obvious, but it’s actually where a lot of people go wrong! Although this is a popular recommendation, I actually don’t suggest that your first hire be a virtual assistant (VA).
VAs are tempting to hire, because they are typically known for being inexpensive and “jacks of all trades.” But that’s WHY they might not be the best person to hire.
I’m not recommending that you NEVER hire a VA, but in my opinion, it’s more of an “advanced” hire. So it might not be the best choice if you’re just getting started with building your team. VAs typically need quite a bit of training on your systems, tend to be more inexperienced (this is a generalization, though!), and if they’re doing a lot of different things for you, it requires you to have ALL of those systems in place before you hire them.
I’ve talked to a lot of entrepreneurs who struggle with their team, and the most common issue is delegation. Not always, but a lot of the time it’s because the first person they hired was a VA. And they had no idea what they were getting into!
The important thing is: I don’t want you to hire someone just to be immediately overwhelmed and create MORE work for yourself.
The goal of hiring is to take things OFF your plate. So unless you already have amazing systems in place and lots of trainings created for your VA, you may want to consider hiring a specialist instead.
Specialists can sometimes be a bit more expensive (not always — you’d be surprised!). But the amount of time they will save you and the less frustration it will cause is worth it!
When you’re trying to decide who you should hire first, think about:
- What areas or types of tasks in your business do you dislike doing the most?
- What would be the easiest to delegate?
For example, if you’re a social media manager, you may want to hire a copywriter or a graphic designer. Someone who is a specialist and who can take a bunch of things in that area off your plate.
A Rant on Why I REALLY Think You Should Hire a Specialist
Delegating one chunk of specific work is way easier than trying to delegate 50 smaller tasks. You will likely just have to create 1-2 tutorials for your new hire vs. 50 tutorials for each of those smaller tasks. This will allow you to feel less overwhelmed, especially if you’re new to delegation.
That extra time you’ll save will free you up to do more things that you actually like doing or are really good at. You could even potentially use that time to work on creating those systems/trainings needed for hiring a VA, further maximizing your time. A VA is typically a good second or third hire.
Overall, specialists require less training and can typically jump in and start working with minimal onboarding. If you’re hiring a graphic designer — they already know how to design. You don’t have to really teach them how to do the work, just give them guidance and direction.
Whereas with a VA, if you wanted them to organize your inbox — you would first need to create a specific system for that, then train them on it. The reason for this is that VAs aren’t typically the ones who strategize how to do things (they implement things for you), which is why you would need to create the system for them first.
If you don’t create systems before hiring a VA, it typically results in them asking you a ton of questions and would take a while for them to “get it” and be able to fully take it off your plate. You may even feel the need to micro-manage. These things will end up making you feel more overwhelmed and will probably not save you any time (it may even put more work on your plate).
Disclaimer: If anyone reading this disagrees with any of the previous statements about VAs because you yourself are a VA — I would argue that either: (a) you are not actually a VA but probably something more like an online business manager, or (b) you’re a really, really good VA who should be charging more money and/or niching down. Most entrepreneurs who are starting out building their team do end up hiring VAs who cannot implement in a really effective way without clear direction (through no fault of the VA!). I started out as a VA and have nothing but respect for VAs. They are a perfectly good position to hire for if you have systems in place and/or are willing to invest in a very high-quality VA.
Step #2: Build Out Your Onboarding Process
Once you figure out the exact position that you’re hiring for, it’ll be a lot easier to set up your Team Onboarding System. Because WHO you’re hiring will dictate what you need to create in order for everything to be ready for them to join your team.
One big mistake I see a lot of entrepreneurs doing is they do this step after they hire someone instead of before. It will go a LOT more smoothly if you can create (at least some of) this material ahead of time.
Create Any Necessary Tutorials or Trainings
First, think about the specific area you need help in and what components they would need to do their job successfully.
If you don’t already have this set up, I would highly recommend putting together some sort of service delivery workflow for your offerings using a project management tool like Asana.
For example, using the social media manager example from earlier, let’s say you offer Instagram management services. After you onboard your client…what steps need to be completed as part of that management process?
You may need to do things like:
- Create a content calendar
- Design graphics templates
- Write copy to repurpose their content
I actually go over my personal process for delivering Instagram management services in my Instagram System if you’re curious!
Whatever you do for your clients…it should be all set up in a workflow in your project management system (like Asana!) with each step mapped out. If you haven’t already done that — do it now!
Then, review all of the steps in your service delivery process that would be delegated to your new team member. Again, using the social media manager example, you may want your new graphic designer to design templates and create graphics for each post in the content calendar.
Add in any details, directions, or tutorials your new team member would need in order to complete the tasks you plan to assign to them.
Set Up Your Contract
If you’re a member of The Systems Society, then you can use the subcontractor contract template that I’ve given to you! Or you can purchase a contract template from The Contract Shop. (There are also some free templates here.)
A contract is important for any type of working relationship. But you’ll definitely want to make sure to have a good one in place for your subcontractors.
The two special things you’ll want to include in their contract are:
- Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA): This should be in place to protect your information as well as your clients’ information.
- Non-Compete Clause: This makes sure that your subcontractors can’t work with your clients except through you.
Write a Welcome Email
You can do this on the fly after hiring someone! But I like to have a welcome email template (hint: there’s one in The Systems Society!) that I use every time I hire someone and go through this Team Onboarding System. Using a template makes it a lot easier, so I don’t have to reinvent the wheel every time I hire someone.
I also like to do this before I actually hire someone just to make sure everything is in place and ready to go. That way, I can send it immediately after I make the decision on who I’m hiring. Then we can jump in and start working together right away!
In this email, you’ll want to give them a warm welcome and also any important details they might need to know, or that would make working with you easier.
You may want to include things like:
- An invite to Asana (or whatever project management system you use)
- An invite to Slack (or whatever communication software you use)
- A link to any general trainings or tutorials they might need
- Details on when you’ll get started and what to expect
- Best way to contact you with questions
- Anything else you think they might need!
Step #3: Create Your Application
This step may not be necessary for you! If you already have a specific person in mind that you will be hiring, or you have a list of candidates that you will be interviewing, feel free to skip this step.
Creating an application for your position makes the hiring process a LOT easier, especially if you know that you will have quite a few candidates. I’ve worked on team onboarding processes for situations where there were hundreds and hundreds of applicants. That might not be the position you’re in! But you still will likely have at least a few interested people that you’ll need to vet before you interview them
Using an application helps you:
- Clearly define roles, responsibilities, and expectations
- See all potential candidates at a glance to compare/contrast
- Easily and quickly review application responses to narrow down candidates
When you use a tool like Typeform, JotForm, or Google Forms for your application, it’ll let you review your form responses in a spreadsheet format. That makes it super easy to review everyone’s responses at once and figure out who your top candidates are.
In The Systems Society, I give you my application template that has been tested time and time again and helped me hire many amazing team members.
If you’re developing your own, you’ll want to include questions like:
- Describe your experience level with [whatever you’re hiring them for]
- What is your availability like?
- Show examples of work you’re really proud of
The more comprehensive your application is, the more accurately you’ll be able to narrow down your top candidates. Interviewing is time-consuming and takes a lot of work! So your goal should be to use this application to get as much information as you can. That way, you’ll have fewer people to interview. Plus, the more you know about them, the fewer questions you’ll have, which means the interviews will take less time.
Step #4: Promote Your Application
The next step is to promote your application so that you actually have people fill it out! The good news here is that, unlike promoting a lead magnet or offering where they would need to give you something — this is a super easy “sell” because you’re wanting to pay them!
A lot of people get nervous to promote an application because they think of it like a launch. Don’t worry about whether or not people will apply (because they definitely will!).
Even when I created my very first application just 3 short months into my business, I had dozens of applicants!
Here are a few ways you can promote your application:
- Post about it on social media
- Send it out to your email list
- Share it with friends, peers, or family and have them send it to their audiences
- Make a post about it on Craiglist, Reddit, or an online job board
- Share it in Facebook groups! (Just make sure to check the rules first)
I recommend putting a deadline on your application. Have it “close” on a certain date and then review all the applicants at one time once it’s closed.
Interview Your Top Candidates
As you’re reviewing all of your applicants, narrow it down to the ones with the most potential. This part of the process is really difficult, but it does get easier the more you do it!
Since your time is so valuable, I would recommend interviewing as few people as possible! In the end, you should have 2-5 candidates that you are interested in interviewing. Reach out to them to schedule an interview (I use Acuity for appointment bookings).
If you have a super comprehensive application, you might not actually have that many questions during the actual interview — and that’s okay! I like to use the interview to simply learn more about the person and see if their personality vibes well with mine. If you have other people already on your team, you might want to try to imagine them as part of that group and see if you think they would fit in well together.
I find it difficult to judge someone purely based on a black-and-white application. The interview gives you a chance to meet them “in person.” This will allow you to get a better sense of if you’d actually like to work with them.
After you complete all of your interviews, you’ll need to decide on who you’re officially going to hire. This part is my least favorite aspect of the entire Team Onboarding System. Now you have to let the other candidates know that they weren’t chosen. It’s difficult, but it’s got to be done.
Let the chosen candidate know that you’d like to work with them and make sure they’re on board. Then notify all other candidates of your decision not to hire them.
Send Your New Hire Through Your Team Onboarding System
Send your new hire the welcome email and walk through any other necessary steps of getting them fully onboarded.
You may want to do things like:
- Add them to Asana (or whatever project management system you use)
- Add them to Slack (or whatever communication software you use)
- Introduce them to any other team members
- Send them a welcome card
- Walk them through any directions, tutorials, or special instructions
- Assign them their first task or a test project
In The Systems Society, I share my Asana workflow that I use when onboarding new team members that has all of these tasks laid out for me.
Now that you know all of the steps you need to go through in order to have a great Team Onboarding System in your business…get to hiring!
DM me on Instagram @mirandanahmias if you liked this post or have questions about building your team! (Or want to convince me that I’m wrong about VAs 😂)