How To Choose The Right Project Manager?
22 Nov 2021
In episode #299 of “The Leadership Stack Podcast”, Dancho talks about choosing the right project manager.
“I’m not doing any guessing, I’m hiring even five people, even ten people. It’s going to cost me a lot those two or three months, but they are going do some work, at the end of the day. The end goal is just to save a lot of time and energy, from your entire team, on the recruitment process, and second, give them a job. Because, when you give them a job, you can see how they behave, how they communicate, how they correspond to their supervisor. You can really see their character, because when I know that I’m on an interview process, I can fake it.”, says Dancho.
Sean: Here’s another question, how did you ensure that the trees in your forest don’t get burned down or chopped or mutilated as you zoom out? You know, like, cause you’re going to, you’re going to get people and you’re going to tell them, he’d take care of this tree. Hey, take care of that. How do you make sure it doesn’t get burned down?
Dancho: Well, Sean, we burned out a lot of trees in order to figure that out at the end of the day, I think that I really had a hard time finding the right project managers. I mean, yeah, you can have a project manager or you could have the project manager that really thinks of the team as their family.
And what I’ve realized is that I can grow as fast as my team managers can grow, because if they’re just some people that like, these are my tasks and that’s it. Every time there is a fire, they’re going to call you. I have a fire, you figure it out. You’re the CEO, you’re the founder. On the other hand, I have really entrepreneurial managers look like a problem comes up first. They’ll try to solve it. If they can’t, then they’ll come to me.
And it is a gradual process because, at the end of the day, I trust that project management team completely. And it is really a decentralized process, Sean. What I’ve realized is that a typical owner has centralized power and nothing is being moved until they get the blessing or approval from the CEO or the founder.
And you’re the bottleneck. Every decision is to go through you. Every small tweak needs to go through you. And I told you I was the lazy guy, I said I wanted to reverse engineering. I wanted the complete opposite way. The project manager, the moment she gets the role of the project manager, has complete authority over the execution.
She wants to change the direction of the service improvement, it’s hers. She wants to hire additional people. She can just put the job ad. She does the interview. She hires them. She’s not happy with someone, she’s firing them. So she has complete autonomy over the project and execution. It is the same for the marketing and salespeople and the managers. They have the authority to define the direction and choose on their own, who they want to work with rather than me imposing who they need to work and then ask for results.
It also helps a lot that we actually put the six months plan. So every six months and now is the 30th of June. So that means that we are now making the plan for the next six months, as a core team we get together and we’re saying, okay, what’s the goal for the next six months? Project manager, we have the holy trio, how can we improve the customer relationship?
How can we improve HR? How can we improve this marketing? How can we introduce a few additional things like my own podcast or add a newsletter, or add something new? Sales; how can we actually add additional sales channels – whether we going to introduce webinars or whether we’re going to introduce a completely new sales channel. And all that is in this six months plan.
And we never managed to achieve everything. I mean, I will be surprised if we manage to do it, but at the end of the day, even if we try to achieve 50%, 60%, 70%, it’s much better rather than not having any plan at all. Because then you have no idea what you, what you want in the first. That’s the key thing and also what you managed to achieve.
And then after six months, we said, okay, we did 70%. It’s still good. So it means that we’re 70% better than the previous six months. Where are we now? Let’s try to see where we want to go now. And I think this six months strategic plan gives them independence. Because on this six months where like, well marketing, what are your plans for this six months sales?
What are your plans for these six months of operations? What is your plan? And then I just let them do their job. I don’t get involved, I don’t intervene. Of course, as a coach, as a mentor, I’m here, whenever someone gets taxed or needs an opinion or reality check, it’s like “Dancho, we’re considering between this and this, what do you think?”
Of course, at the end of the day, it’s my company. I really have to help them. But I also give myself a six months plan. So it’s not like I’m a lazy boss sitting somewhere on a beach and everybody is just killing themselves out there. It doesn’t work like that. If you want leadership, you need to be on the front line.
But my activities are usually different for me. It’s like, okay, how can I grow Bizzbee exponentially in the next six months? It works like we have the outreach. So we’re now saying, well, Don she’s writing a book, so it should be out in August. It’s already signed to the UK publishing house. So it took me like two years to write it honestly, but I will need to book funnel.
I will need to figure out how to promote it and everything. Then I wanted another agency which will be a content agency and that it’s not our – it was not our intention at all, but most of the high-ticket clients or like, well, in addition to the outreach, we actually need some content to support the outreach as well.
So I said, okay, let’s build another agency. Then I want to enter into the coaching and consulting like Dan with you because the book is do it yourself. So agencies are usually more expensive, but if you cannot afford it, you can do the done with you. But if you want, you can just buy the book or an. Learn it on your own.
And these are really, as you said, looking at the whole forest where you want to hustle the B2B outreach and prospecting segment, but we want to target the done for you like agencies that you just pay and they take care of everything. We want to hustle the done with you, where we are going to have several coaching programs that you can just choose what’s the right for you.
And the do it yourself, which will be a mix of books, academies, videos, webinars, and everything. Everything is around the same umbrella, the Bizzbee branding, and everything is about B2B, lead generation for high ticket service providers. So as you can see, this is really at least our forest, which we’re not going to do in six months. It’s going to take a few years to cover all that. But since we have a few years plan, it’s much easier. Well, in these six months, what we can actually do to get closer to the four or five years plan. Yeah. Every six months we are enforced to step back, look at the whole forest, whether we still want to be in the same direction or things change – we want to switch a bit to the direction and then go back into the trees and do the everyday hustle.
But at least every six months, we take a step back, try to see the whole forest. And also every month, we’re just trying to see, okay, where are we? Did we get lost? Did we change the direction or anything? And it’s really not an operational plan, but it is like general guidance.
We don’t do like six months, month one, I’m going to do this. Month two, I’m going to do that; it’s really bad planning. For us it’s like, well we want to achieve this in six months. Every month we’re saying, well, this month I have too many different activities. So I’ll just take every bit from it. Or next month, I’m a bit free I’m going to take this, this and this for this month.
But four years, plus. Divided into six months plan, but not in advance. Every six months, we decide what we’re going to involve in a one month plan where every month we think, okay, new month, what are we going to take from the six-month plan that can actually be done here?
Sean: That’s a really good answer. One thing that I think is missing in a lot of people who are tuned in might be wondering about is, how do I look for – so you mentioned that you burned a lot of trees actually trying to figure out how to zoom out well. And now I’m wondering, how do you find those right project managers that you mentioned earlier?
Because I’m sure you’ve found a lot of wrong ones. How did you get the right ones?
Dancho: Very hard. For me at the beginning, maybe that’s juniority and then becoming really an expert in the field, but you do a lot of interviews and some tests and personality and stuff just to get the right guy, and at the end of the day, it’s not the right guy.
And I give up, I give up on trying to find the right guy. Now my different strategy is to grab five people. I start working with them for three months, and then I see what they’re made of. Because on your CV, you can put so fantastic stuff on all the magic that you’ve delivered. Then very well polished or on the interview because you know that you’re being observed. You can start pretending, faking it even. So you cannot really evaluate whether someone is good or not.
So our whole logic is to take them, work three months with them. You’ve realized if someone is sitting next to you for three months, you can understand their character, their soul, their intentions because you cannot fake it for three months. It’s a long period.
And what we were starting doing here in Bizbee is like, we grab – we actually take five, seven interns put them for three months and after three months we take one or two. And we know that that is the best from the best because you got 50 applications, you take five to seven people, you take one or two.
And we don’t hire managers, we grow managers. So from the people, someone will grow or show some interest in marketing. We’re moving them in marketing they’ll show interesting sales. We’re moving them to sales.
And it’s really evolution rather than a quick fix. And it’s much longer. It’s much more expensive when you think about it, because I need a lot of time to grow people. But at the end of the day, I tried every other way. I tried hiring experts in their field and then they come with a big ego behind them. Like, you know what? I have 10 years of experience, I know how to do it. We’re like, well, look at the market – the market needs this, it’s not whether what you want or you don’t want, the market needs this. If you can fulfill it, perfect; if not, there’s no point.
That’s the only way where we said, you know what, we’re going to grab people and maybe make a mistake and learn fast and fire the people that are not good rather than, you know, spending three months just thinking about who is the right candidate to hire.
So maybe it’s a more lean, more agile approach instead of doing strong hard plans. You just think like take a few we’ll learn on the way we see whether we’re a good match or not. If you’re good you stay, if you’re not – thank you very much. But if you see, we also do the agile way, even on our strategic plans. We don’t plan five years, what’s going to happen by it as a waterfall project management.
It’s a more general direction in six months, still a general direction on a monthly. Let’s try to solve this, this, and this, and it is a life metric change. I mean, of course, if we have too many clients, we’re going to slow down on the growth because we have to serve the clients.
If there are not that many clients, we can focus more on the growth and actually add additional services. But back to HR, I gave up on finding the right project manager. My alternative is to start growing your ideal project manager.
Sean: That’s amazing. So we take a very different approach here in SEO-hacker.
We actually hire – have a very long hiring process. That’s worked really well for us, but right now that we are experiencing really good growth. Well, I think we have to, we might have to do it like how you do it, where we were hiring.
Dancho: How long is the hiring process Sean?
Sean: The cycle is around three months, that’s too long, I guess. We have a six-step – seven-step hiring process where they, go through and I’m the final step. So that’s like six to seven people that they have to go through and we’re rethinking it now, yeah rethinking it.
Dancho: Out of curiosity, isn’t it even cheaper to hire them on some small project for that three months?
Which of course you’re not going to make a lot of money, but if they need to go to six, seven people and good people, good quality people that you trust, it means that instead of them focusing on doing their job, they also need to spend time on the recruitment process. And in two months, instead of figuring who is the best; within three months, you actually give them work and you pay them for three months.
And of course, maybe a diff and the first month you’ll see one or two guys are not good. Thank you very much. In the second month, you’re considering bit one or two. I’ve made mistakes, where I had the assumption that that guy will never fit into the Bizzbee culture. And I was surprised that the second month they blossomed into the perfect candidate.
And honestly, that’s why maybe I said, you know what? I’m not a psychologist. But even a psychologist trying to just estimate, try to guess. And I’m like, I’m not doing any guessing I’m hiring even five people, even ten people. It’s going to cost me a lot in those two or three months, but they’re going to do some work at the end of the day.
The end goal is just to save a lot of time and energy from your entire team on the recruitment process. And second, give them a job because when you give them a job, you can see how they behave, how they communicate, how they correspond to their supervisor, how they talk with their peers, you can really see their character. Because when I know them on an interview process with you, Sean, I can fake it. You know I am so teamwork, openly communicative, collaborative. I mean, there are lots of keywords I am taking in Google up and put it in.
Sean: Yeah, that’s true and I love what I’m hearing. I’m learning from this. And we are always – experimentation is one of our core values and I think it might be high time when we experiment on our, our hiring process, find that we might be taking too long.
We are, I’m going to check this out in my execom and see if it’s –
Dancho: I am sure that experimentation is key to every entrepreneur and startups. I mean, even with SEO, with everything that you do, you have to do either A-B testing or do some, let’s try it like this, let’s try like that. Well, just I am urging all the entrepreneurs to keep the same mindset in absolutely everything.
Service development let’s experiment. Let’s check out the market feedback, finance let’s experiment, hire an expensive guy, hired cheap guy, get some insurance and see what works for them, because I realized that all the theories in the world will not solve that particular, exact same scenario that you are, like but my unique scenario is like this, this X, Y, Z.
And you can also experiment with HR. You can, of course, you need to experiment with marketing cause see what resonates and whatnot. But I was recently experimenting with. Which was really also interesting topics because we had an offering, it was X amount of money and we weren’t getting one or two clients per month.
I broke it into two stages, the same price. I didn’t change everything. It was just the planning stage execution stage. We started closing eight clients per month, same activities, same pricing, just different presentation on the proposal. And that’s like four times more clients just by changing the thing.
I was like wow, what was the word that the clients were perceiving the proposal in this way, rather than in that way. And if we don’t experiment, it won’t succeed. But of course, when you experiment, you might make mistakes, but I think that’s the whole goal of experimentation. If it works, you’re happy, you’ve found a new way better.
If it doesn’t work, you’ve learned another lesson that you know now why, why not to do it like that anymore. But when you experiment, it’s a win-win situation.
Sean: For sure. For sure.