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What Are We Doing Here?

OPS STORIES

Ops Stories: Operations Managers, Operations Leads, Heads of Operations and other operations folks coming together to network, share operational challenges, experiences and advice.

Part of wider Stories brand, spun off COO Stories run by Kelsey and Ben.

OPERATIONAL CHALLENGES/TOPICS BROUGHT BY EVERYONE

  • Effective documentation of processes, keeping everything up to date, and ensuring everyone across the organisation is informed at all times.
  • How to instil an operational 'question-everything-improve-everything' mindset in a very young team who were not initially hired to be operational.
  • Effective implementation of CRM systems.
  • Improving hiring practices to increase diversity (and how to do it cost efficiently).
  • Growing pains: recruitment and handling interviews, documentation and processes in general.
  • Splitting the teams in a growing startup. When to do it? When should everyone stop knowing everything? When do you need specialist teams?
  • GDPR and difficulties with international compliance (differing laws in each country).
  • Getting everyone in the company to use the same process/system.
  • Prioritisation when you're the first operational hire in the company: where to start? What's number one priority? What do you all wish you'd done a long time ago?
  • Being the boss: how to tell people what to do (when you're a new Ops Director / new company with not a lot of structure).
  • Recruitment dilemma: juniors with lots of potential to be trained up VS more senior hires VS specialists, and when is the right time to hire each of those profiles.
  • Growing from 6 to 25: when is the right time to promote people and how to do that.
  • Best and most efficient onboarding practices.
  • Logistics in a delivery startup and getting an order from A to B: outsourcing vs doing it yourself.
  • Process becoming too bureaucratic too soon due to fast growth; difficulty in making quick decisions due to the number of people having to be involved.

DISCUSSION

On Communication:

  • How do you communicate when something changes? How do you encourage everyone to participate?
    • Facebook Workplace, Slack, Basecamp.
    • Friday presentations from heads of departments.
    • Kgotla with the whole team - brutally honest, "get it out at each other" session when people ask what they want to ask with no judgement. Botswanaian thing, read more about it here.
    • Physical "feelings box" (can be awkward when someone's putting in a note and everyone's watching).
    • Anonymous Typeform open for everyone at anytime to ask questions. Goes to the whole leadership team (important: not founders only! So that founders can be accountable) and every few weeks all questions get read out and answered in front of the company.
    • Slack integrations and anonymous feedback bots like Abot.

On Onboarding:

  • Onboarding process sets the tone for everything else!
  • Important to set a plan for the next 1-3-6 months.
  • Onboarding starts straight from the offer. You need to take out as many questions as possible. 3 page document with general information, what's expected of you, what the challenges will be, etc.
  • Managing new employee's expectations is the biggest thing. It's ok to be upfront about the challenges!
  • Getting the balance right between selling the job/company and the reality. Don't oversell the role - you'll need to come back to reality once they join and the first 3 months are most important for retention, also the most dangerous.
  • Reality check question in the interview: "What kind of job do you think you're going to be doing?"
  • Build out week-1 program with everyone in the company involved = ensuring that every new joiner gets the right amount of information.
  • Always get the feedback from someone who joined recently or even a while ago. What haven't they regularly understood?
  • If someone's joined only a few weeks ago, get them to join the same [training] session again if they want to repeat it - after having been in the company for some time, they will see things in the new light / will be more receptive to detail.
  • Onboarding calendar with events/training open to everyone is open for everyone encourages people to have standardised experience throughout the company, no matter when you started or how long you've been here. A sales person who has been at a company for months or years will benefit from a fresh session on customer support training.
  • Video training for seasonal/temp staff: watch video, answer questions. Helpful training people in parallel, however, content quickly gets outdated. Feedback on training videos varies as all depends on learning style.
  • Have a shared document with all processes mapped out in a varying level of detail (depending on depth of training), where new employees grade themselves 1-5 on how well they understand/know each part of process. Identify weak points and retrain.
  • Having direction is very important. OKR system: share team level OKRs of the company and have new joiners create their own objectives. Review regularly and adjust.

RESOURCES

WHAT'S NEXT?