Jamie Van Cuyk Of Growing Your Team: How To Delegate Effectively and Be Completely Satisfied With the Results
Delegating is important because you can’t do everything yourself. You have a personal capacity, and when you don’t let others help you, it can negatively impact your business.
As part of my series about the “How To Delegate Effectively and Be Completely Satisfied With the Results”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Jamie Van Cuyk.
Jamie Van Cuyk, the owner and lead strategist of Growing Your Team, is an expert in hiring and onboarding teams within small businesses.
Drawing from over 15 years of leadership experience, Jamie teaches her clients how to hire their early team members, including employees and long-term contractors. By learning the dynamics of each company and their specific needs, she helps them find their perfect-fit, long-lasting team members and avoid the hiring and firing cycle.
On a personal side, Jamie lives in St Petersburg, FL, with her husband and two daughters, is a hobby winemaker, loves to travel, and enjoys exercise that takes her feet off the ground, including rock climbing and aerial dance.
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive in, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started?
I always knew that I wanted to run my own business, but I wasn’t sure what type of business I wanted to own. So, I decided to start a corporate career and learn everything I could while working for someone else.
In 2016, I decided that it was time. I left my corporate leadership career to start a business with my husband. Our vision was to run a software development company where he, a software engineer, would run the tech side, and I would run the company overall. Six months into that journey, I realized running a software company was not my passion. I didn’t leave a career I loved to run a company I hated just to call myself a business owner.
I was doing consulting work for the corporation that I left during that time. Through those projects, I learned that I loved consulting and helping newer managers step into their leadership roles.
At the same time, I was attending many local networking events. I kept finding myself talking to small business owners. They would tell me, “I never had to hire until doing so within my own business,” or “While I did have a team when I was in corporate, I didn’t realize how much support I had during that time until I was trying to hire a team on my own.”
Through those conversations, I learned that small business owners needed and wanted help navigating hiring their early teams. From there, Growing Your Team was born, and I have been helping small business owners find and onboard the team members they need for success ever since by offering hiring process education, writing job postings and interview guides, and providing full-service recruiting.
Can you tell us a story about the hard times that you faced when you first started your journey? Did you ever consider giving up? Where did you get the drive to continue even though things were so hard?
Starting a business was a lot harder than I expected. While I was an expert at hiring and leading teams, I didn’t know anything about starting a business and what it took to go from an idea to success.
When I started, I set a revenue goal and a date. I told myself that if I did not achieve that revenue goal by that date, I would have to go back to working a corporate job. The revenue goal was not that high, and I never dreamed that I wouldn’t achieve it.
Well, that date came, and I was nowhere close to the revenue goal. I was making money, but not where I wanted to be for my family.
It was hard to give up completely, seeing progress was being made, so I started looking at part-time opportunities. That’s when my husband stepped in. He asked me how many hours a week I would work if I got a part-time job and what I could expect to make. He then asked what would not get done in my business if I worked fewer hours and how that would impact my revenue potential. Would the loss in revenue potential be more significant than what I could make at a part-time job? The answer was yes. He also made me realize that while I had set the goal, our family wasn’t hurting. We didn’t need that extra money at that specific time.
At that moment, I needed permission to keep going. I needed someone else to tell me that what I was doing was worth it and that I wasn’t selfish for wanting to keep focusing on my business. I got that permission, and I have never looked back. Within a few months, I was where I wanted to be revenue-wise, and things have grown significantly from there.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lessons or ‘takeaways’ you learned from that?
I 100% had an if you build it, they will come mentality. I thought all I needed to do was build a website and tell people my area of expertise and clients would come my way. I didn’t even have packages or service offerings. I thought businesses would see my value and tell me what they wanted from me.
Needless to say, that resulted in zero sales.
In hindsight, at this stage of my business, it’s hilarious to me that I ever thought that. I know I would never contact a random person to see if, by chance, they offered something similar to what I thought I needed. I want to already see that their packages align with my needs before I take the time.
I quickly learned that I needed something specific to offer, and I needed to help people see how I could help them and how I differed from other people in the space.
It took a while and a few progressions to go from having zero packages and services offerings to the ones I have today. But now I know that you have to be clear and concise if you want people to express interest in what you offer and make sales within your business.
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
We focus on hiring the right person and not just a body. To do this, we learn the specifics about the company and the position, and we uncover what success looks like within the role. While the day-to-day responsibilities are essential, finding someone who can do that type of work is only one part of the process. We focus on identifying the person who can do the tasks in a way that will make the business owner happy.
Each position we help fill is unique. We might have hired a position with a similar title and responsibilities before, but the details of the ideal candidate change from company to company. We focus on those details and find the company their perfect team member.
One of our first clients owned a gym and was trying to hire personal trainers. Their job posting was very generic. After having it up for months and paying to promote it, it was still not attracting any ideal candidates. That’s when we came in and rewrote the job posting to describe the exact candidate they were looking for and who would be a match for the role. Within 48 hours, they had four highly qualified candidates, and one had their first day of work two weeks later.
Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?
My best tip for how to thrive and not burn out is to remember that you can’t do everything. Not everything can be done today — and this doesn’t mean that you are falling behind.
Too often, we create our to-do lists by listing out EVERYTHING that needs to get done. But the reality is, not everything can be done now, and most things on the list can’t be accomplished until something else is completed first. Focus on what you can do today and stop worrying about the rest.
When I feel that I have a lot on my plate, I give myself small goals. I look at the list and say what three things that can and should get done today are. Those three tasks are my priorities. If those three things are accomplished, the day was a success. Anything else that gets done in the day is a bonus.
The feeling will quickly go from overwhelm to accomplishment when you stop focusing on everything that could be done and start focusing on what you can and should do today.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?
There have been a number of people who have helped me get to where I am today in my business. One person, in particular, is Nikki Rausch of Sales Maven.
I remember being at a point in my corporate career where I was at a crossroads. There were two positions available that were the next step based on my current position. One was sales, and the other was leadership. At first, I was going to apply for both, but I told myself that I needed to choose which path I wanted. I selected leadership because I knew I would be a business owner one day. I figured that I could always hire someone to sell, but I would never hire someone to lead my business; I would be the CEO. Therefore, I needed to take the path the become a better leader.
While that path served me well, I didn’t realize one thing at that moment in time. I would be starting as a business of one person, and I had to fill both the leadership AND the sales role.
I knew nothing about sales and saw it as a very uncomfortable process. I was so hesitant to move the sales process forward because I didn’t want to be seen as salesy or pushy that I left so many opportunities on the table.
Nikki helped me realize that sales does not have to be a negative thing. You’re not asking people to buy something that they don’t need or want when they come to you. She taught me how to approach conversations to uncover what they are looking for and help them see how my services can be a match. Now, I get on sales calls, and I am confident. I’m not afraid to tell someone that I am not the right fit, and I’m not hesitant about moving the process to the next steps when someone is the right fit.
Sales calls went from being a stress-inducing part of my business to something I enjoy because I get to help business owners gain the information they need to make the right next steps in their business.
Ok thank you for all that. Now let’s shift to the main focus of this interview. Delegating effectively is a challenge for many leaders. Let’s put first things first. Can you help articulate to our readers a few reasons why delegating is such an important skill for a leader or a business owner to develop?
Delegating is important because you can’t do everything yourself. You have a personal capacity, and when you don’t let others help you, it can negatively impact your business.
Here are some ways not delegating can impact your business:
- You leave money on the table — You can only do so much within a day, week, and month. Therefore, there comes a time when you start saying no to business that would typically be ideal projects or clients. This includes giving them start dates way in the future. People want to give you more money now, but you can’t take it. When you reach your capacity, you limit your revenue potential to only what you can do in a set time period. When you delegate, you expand your capacity and can earn more.
- Your service levels drop — When you don’t hold yourself accountable for your capacity and don’t delegate, you can overextend yourself. This often results in drops in service levels or quality. Customers have to wait longer than normal for deliverables or responses, or maybe you’re rushing and delivering work that’s lower in quality than normal. For you, it’s done, but for them, it’s not what they expect. When expectations fall, customers start to feel undervalued, and undervalued customers tend not to be repeat customers, which hurts future revenue opportunities.
- You spend your time instead of your money — The cost can be a top reason people don’t delegate. But, you have an option: spend your time or your money. What do you sacrifice when you spend your time instead of your money? Time with family, outings with friends, healthy eating, self-care, exercise, sleep, and more. You’re limited on time, but money is something you can make more of in your business, And if you delegate the right tasks to the right people, the ROI should be worth more than the money you spend.
Can you help articulate a few of the reasons why delegating is such a challenge for so many people?
Delegation is a challenge because it’s how we’re conditioned.
For starters, we’re trained that achievers can do it all. Achievers are driven, Type-A, and can work through every challenge. While part of this is true, it, in turn, makes too many people believe that delegating is a sign of weakness. Instead of realizing that it’s a sign of success that you have grown your business or position to the point where you can’t do it all, it’s often viewed as a negative with people thinking, “I should be able to do it all, and I must be a failure if I can’t.”
Second, we are also conditioned to believe that overwhelm is a part of business. In the beginning, it’s natural to wear many hats and be pulled in many directions. It becomes normal to have a never-ending to-do list and so much sitting on your plate. Because you’re used to doing it all, it is difficult to identify when you should transition from doing it all to starting to delegate. We continue to live in overwhelm because we’re told that it’s what it takes to run a business.
Lastly, knowing where even to start is difficult. Once you realize that you need to delegate, it’s a process to get the right tasks off your plate and hand them over to a team member who will succeed with the tasks. So much of what you do seems intertwined because you have been doing it all that it’s difficult to sort the tasks you need to keep and the tasks someone else can do. Analysis paralysis can kick in where you go, “I’m too overwhelmed, I’ll figure this out tomorrow,” and tomorrow keeps being pushed into the future.
In your opinion, what pivots need to be made, either in perspective or in work habits, to help alleviate some of the challenges you mentioned?
For starters, recognize that there comes a time when you shouldn’t do it all. Delegating is not a sign of weakness or failure but a sign that you have reached an elevated level. Celebrate that you are there.
Next, understand that you don’t have to give away the keys to the business to get help. You can start small and work your way up to delegating tasks that have more responsibility and authority. Start with a small, backend part of the process that matches your comfort level and build from there.
For example, when my business started to grow and needed help with recruiting projects, I wasn’t ready to hand off all the recruiting work. Instead, I have my team member help schedule interviews and communicate with candidates. Next, they helped review resumes. Now, I’m getting ready to delegate completing interviews.
Can you please share your “Five Things You Need To Know To Delegate Effectively and Be Completely Satisfied With the Results?” Please share a story or an example for each.
Here are my five tips so you can delegate effectively and be happy with the results:
1) Be clear on what you’re delegating — Too often, I see business owners post online that they are overwhelmed and hiring. When someone asks for details about the position’s responsibilities, they say they haven’t figured that out yet; they just know they need help.
This often results in poor delegating experiences. If you don’t know what the person will do for you, you can’t ensure you are hiring the right person. A team member who will be great at helping you with marketing tasks might not be the same person who will help you answer the phones and stay on top of your inbox. In addition, a team member who is used to running marketing strategy will not be happy simply adding pre-written marketing content to social media scheduling tools.
Take time to figure out what you need help with so you can find the right person.
2) Select the right person — Once you know what you need to delegate, you must select the person who will complete the tasks. This might be someone already on your team, or it might be someone new.
Either way, there’s one crucial thing to remember. Just because someone is great at what they do does not mean they are right for you. Your amazing team member on your staff might fail at the new responsibilities if they don’t match their strengths. And, the person you connect with on a personal level during an interview might not have the skills to be successful.
Delegating only works when you give the tasks to someone capable of completing the work and will be happy doing the tasks. Make sure you select the right person and not just anybody.
3) Know what it means to do it right — Team members are not mind readers. If you don’t tell them what you want and what is right, they will make their own assumptions. Therefore, if you want to delegate successfully, you must determine what it means to do the task right. The challenge here is that right doesn’t always mean your way. Sometimes we have to let go of our ways of doing things because another way might be just as effective.
To determine the right way, ask yourself why it’s important to be done that way. If your only answer is “because I said so,” you need to be okay with it being done differently. However, if there is a real reason why it needs to be done that way, it will help with training and ensuring delegation success.
For example, years ago, a team member asked if they could help me with a presentation. When the presentation came back, it did not look how I would have designed it. I started to change it, and then I asked myself what was wrong with the presentation. Did it contain all the required information? Yes. Was it easy to follow? Yes. Did it follow brand guidelines? Yes. What there anything wrong with it other than I would have done a different layout? No. There was nothing wrong with it other than personal preference. I left the presentation as is, and it received great feedback.
4) Train — Training takes time, but the time is needed if you want to be happy with team member performance. Teach the team member what to do and why things need to be done in a certain way. When it comes to training, showing is best. If it’s something you cannot easily show, verbally provide the training. Written-only training tends to produce the lowest results.
Why? Because team members often think, if they can’t take the time to train, it must not be that important.
Training is important even when you’re hiring an expert. They might know what to do, but they don’t know yet how you want it or how to navigate your systems.
For example, accounting work is similar in all organizations. However, how and when you want to receive reports might be different than their last boss. Maybe you want them to walk you through the reports and give more insight when their last boss didn’t need that level of explanation because they had an accounting background.
5) Retrain! — The chances of everything being done right the first time is slim. Why is this? People don’t always absorb everything the first time. Training can be like building blocks, with each session getting them closer to what is needed for success.
Think of a movie you have watched multiple times. The first time you watched the movie, you enjoyed it and learned a lot about the plot and characters. Then you watch it a second time. This time around, you catch stuff you didn’t catch the first time. What you’re seeing and hearing during the second viewing was right in front of you the first time, but you didn’t catch it. It wasn’t that you weren’t paying attention, but it was because the first time, everything was new. You could only absorb so much. The second time, your base level of knowledge was different, so you could take in more information.
It’s the same with training. Sometimes it takes more than one round of training for someone to absorb all they need. Help them out the second time by showing them the difference between what they did and what was expected. Train on the difference and why that difference matters.
One of the obstacles to proper delegating is the oft quoted cliche “If you want something done right do it yourself.” Is this saying true? Is it false? Is there a way to reconcile it with the importance of delegating?
When I hear people say this quote, I follow up with the question, “Does it need to be done by you, or does it need to be done right? You can always train someone to do it right.”
Delegating takes trust, and too often, we forget that it takes effort on both sides to build trust. Effort comes in the form of teaching people what it means to do the task right. People are not mind readers. They don’t know what you want unless you tell them. And sometimes, due to different backgrounds, experiences, points of view, and methods used at past jobs, it takes more than one time for someone to grasp your expectations and definition of right fully.
Will a team member do everything 100% right the first time? Probably not. But chances are you are not delegating for one instance of the task. You’re delegating to save yourself time over a longer time period.
So, take the time to train to save yourself time every time that task needs to be completed in the future.
Thank you for all of that. We are nearly done. You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)
I would like more small businesses to focus on diversity with hiring, starting with their first hire. And not just diversity when it comes to sex and race, but in terms of hiring people with disabilities.
Too often, businesses think of hiring team members with disabilities as hiring someone who is lesser. But this is not the case. There are many people with varying disabilities that are 100% capable of completing the required job functions. Sometimes these team members do need special equipment or accommodations, but these don’t have to come as an expense for the business. Be open during the hiring process, and don’t let biases stop you from getting the right person on your team.
How can our readers further follow you online?
Visit Growing Your Team at https://GrowingYourTeam.com
Or find us at the following social media accounts:
Instagram — https://www.instagram.com/growingyourteam/
Facebook — https://www.facebook.com/GrowingYourTeam/
LinkedIn — www.linkedin.com/in/jamievancuyk
This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for the time you spent with this!