Momentum Podcast: 290

Test Then Commit

by Alex Charfen

Episode Description

In the beginning growing your team can be difficult, when you interview people they're not their normal self, they are their interview self, it's an unnatural situation that can leave you wondering what would it really be like to work with this person?

In our company we don't wonder, we actually test and it's a game changer! You and your team are concocting a future together so it's crucial you get the right people on board. I want you to hire people that you're excited about and build momentum for you and your team and that's why I'm sharing my process with you.

Full Audio Transcript

Building a team is one of the hardest things you will do as an entrepreneur, because each person you add to your team exponentially increases the complication of the team itself. So when it's just you by yourself, it's pretty easy. You with another person, exponentially harder. You with a third person, exponentially harder. You with a fourth person, it gets even harder. And there will be a time where it starts feeling easier, once you get to the critical mass of having an organization where you don't have to manage everyone. But in the beginning, growing a team is so difficult. That's why it's so crucial you get the right people in the right seats and that they can do their jobs with a very high level of competency and hopefully a high level of expertise or specialization, passion, and drive.

Now here's one of the challenges. You can't tell what it's going to be like to work with somebody before you hire them. In fact, one of the biggest challenges I feel with job interviews is that it is an artificial situation where everybody is on some type of behavior other than their normal behavior. You can say their best behavior, but let's be honest. When people are interviewing, they're on interview behavior. They're weird, they feel uncomfortable, a lot of the times I feel uncomfortable interviewing. I mean, it's just not an easy situation to be in because it's such an unnatural situation for us to be trying someone out, talking to them, seeing if we should work with them, asking all the questions, and then wondering what's it really going to be lik.

Well, in our company, and all the companies we coach, we don't wonder what it's going to be like, we actually test. Because giving someone a test and having them actually perform work for you and seeing what it was like, that is the easiest way to actually test what it's going to be like and understand what it's going to be like to work with somebody.

Now, this is a tactic that very few entrepreneurs use when building a team. In fact, it shocks me how few people test their team members before they start. And I think the reason we don't test is, we just don't know, or we don't think of this as a possibility. So let me give you some examples of how you might test people coming in, starting with an entry-level position, and let's move all the way up to a higher level position.

So as an example, we recently brought in a designer. Not a art director, not a VP of design, not a design manager, a designer. And she is incredible. Her name's [Karina 00:02:36], she's awesome, her initial design work is absolutely fantastic. She has been so plug and play. We're so pumped to have her on our team. Before Karina started with us, we sent over a simple design task, several design tasks. We asked her to do what she would be doing in the job, using our style guide, so we could see how her work was. Now, in most cases, we get work back that we coach a little bit, or we can let them know, we can see competence, and we coach a little bit. In Karina's case, her work came back and it was usable. It was exactly what we wanted. So in this case, the test went as well as it possibly could go, and so we brought Karina in.

Now, if I'm hiring for something that's a higher level position, a manager or somebody who's going to be overseeing other people, we might actually have them come work with us for a half day or a day. We might actually have them come talk to our team, be in our huddle, see what it's like to be around our team. We're a virtual team, but we can still have them work as they would if they were actually working with us. And so we create tests for anyone who we're bringing in. If it's a copy writer, we'll send them over a recording of the podcast and have them write an article based on the podcast and pull out social media quotes and clips. If we're talking to somebody who's a content writer, we will send them over pieces of content and have them write video summaries and create resources.

And in these tests, here's what we're looking for. We're not looking for the person to send us back work that is perfect, work that we can use, like Karina did. That is just a bonus. That, you know you scored when you find somebody like that. But what we're looking for is for them to send us back work that is good, that it shows a high level of competence, that it shows a level of expertise or a level of understanding of what we're asking them to do. That we feel like it's coachable, that it was done in the appropriate period of time, that we enjoyed the process of explaining it to them and getting it back from them and reviewing it with them. And this process allows us to actually test people in the position that we're going to put them in.

So if we're hiring somebody to become a team member of ours, to be full time, to work directly with us, we'll test them, we'll send them over content, we'll send them over a test to do for us and then have them send it back to us. When we're working with somebody contract, who is going to work hourly, we'll find out what their rate is, and sometimes we'll even pay for a test just so that we know that we're working with somebody whose work we really want to have and continue working with before we commit long term to having someone either on our team or as a contractor. And as you build out your team, making sure that you're testing new team members coming in on the front end is an absolute game-changer, and it will stop you from having challenges with team members.

Now, I have a confession to make. We haven't always tested every person. In fact, recently, in the last year, we didn't test a couple of people, and here's what I can tell you. Every time we deviate from our standard hiring process, which is create a clear [4R 00:05:44] document with the role, responsibility, results, and requirements. Go out and conduct a thorough search for people who are talented and skilled and able to fill that role. Make sure you have three people to choose from in the hiring process, three qualified candidates that you would be happy with any of the three. Thoroughly interview those candidates. Test the one or two that you want to have actually in the position, and then go through that test and make certain that the work that they turned in is what you want, it's coachable, it's something that you think is improvable, or maybe you just got lucky like we did with Karina, and it's just usable work right out of the gate, which I don't want you to expect that to happen. Karina could actually set up an unfair expectation for other team members.

What we're really looking for is, is it work that we're okay with? Is it work that's close? Is it work that's coachable? And if we do all of those things, that's when our process really works. And I know that this is a solid process, because my team members actually enforce it. They'll say, "Whoa, whoa, whoa, did we see a test on this person?" Or "Did we figure out if they are capable of doing the job?" And they want to actually see what the person's done, how they've done it, and be able to move forward. Even members of my team will remind all of us, "Hey, if we don't follow the process, we're at risk," because here's one of the most challenging things you can do as an entrepreneur. And I know, because I've done it.

One of the most challenging things you can do as an entrepreneur is when you bring somebody in and almost immediately you realize it's just not right. When you bring in a team member, here's what happens between you, that team member, and anyone else on your team. You all concoct a future together. In your mind, you're actually assembling the future successes you're going to have with that team member. In your mind, you're actually creating these outcomes that are going to happen. As entrepreneurs, we create the future. So you're literally dreaming up, thinking up, and creating the future as you move forward through this process.

Now here's the challenge. When it doesn't work out, that entire future comes crashing down. And for people like us, that is intensely frustrating and demoralizing and makes us want to stop. It literally can make you want to stop building the team. Just that issue, or just that process of going through and trying to hire someone and having it fall apart can make you want to pull back completely.

And that's why I want you to test, then commit. Because here's what I want you to know. As an entrepreneur, there comes a time where the momentum you can generate on your own just isn't enough, and if you're there, that feeling will never go away. It will continue to be there. You will continue to want to do more. You will continue to want and need a team. And so, I want you to go out and hire people that you're excited about, and I want them to be successful in your company, and the easiest way to do that is to follow a solid discovery, interviewing, and recruiting process, and then bring in a person with a test so that you know there's a very high likelihood they're going to be successful. That way, when you create this future, the dreams that you have, everything that you're going to do moving forward, it actually can move forward and be real.

And you can avoid the feelings of failure and frustration and irritation like I had recently when we brought in a high level team member, and within five days it didn't work out. My team was pretty quick to point out to me that we didn't test in that case and it fell apart. So when we don't follow our process, we have challenges. That's why I'm sharing my process with you. Not just because I want you to follow it, but I'm reinforcing it myself that from this point forward, we as a team will follow what we've always done and test, then commit, and I won't have any more shortcuts. I want you to build the biggest team you can, go make your greatest contribution, and do everything you can in the world, because as entrepreneurs, we learn very little standing still. We need to be in momentum to actually make things happen, and we learn very little alone. We have to be part of a team to reach our greatest contribution, and I want to help you get there.

If you're ready to build a team, or if you've already started building a team, you want to understand how to grow yours faster, I'm doing a webinar this Thursday that you do not want to miss. It's called "How To Build A Game-Changing Team Without Having To Manage People." Go to and join me. I want you to know something, you will not be allowed to buy anything on that webinar. There is nothing for sale. It is purely information to help you understand how to build a world-changing team without ever having to manage people. I'll see you Thursday.

Thank You For Listening!

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With gratitude,


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