Establishing Repeatable Systems & Strengthening Your Operations

Written By Danielle Fauteaux

Ft. Kayla Baretta, Vice President of Operations at Paper Leaf

Managing managers and managing teams is hard work, especially when going through a big transition within your agency. Listen in on Kayla Baretta’s experience in her leadership role at Paper Leaf, which has doubled its team size since she started working at the agency.

In this episode of RecalibrAgency, Kayla and I discuss:

  • How to deal with big changes within the agency
  • Using a level system to reduce bias and ambiguity
  • Helping team members grow and firing when there’s not a good fit

In this episode:

[00:34] Kayla introduces herself.

[01:31] Paper Leaf started as a design agency and now offers software and application development. Kayla walks us through the transition.

[03:34] How did their team go about adjusting skill sets and hiring for the right seats to make that change?

[06:04] What has it looked like at Paper Leaf for the roles of individual contributors to change the structuring of groups in order to deliver on projects?

[08:38] Paper Leaf uses a level system to reduce bias and ambiguity.

[10:10] How a level system has changed how Kayla leads people.

[11:59] The only assumption you can make is that people want to do a good job.

[16:14] Plan for the future of your agency, but be willing to iterate. 

[17:37] Would Paper Leaf have been able to get to selling six-figure development projects without processes and systems, or processes and standardization?

[18:59] What Kayla has done to balance a level of structure and oversight with autonomy to enable growth in team members.

[19:16] Kayla’s advice on firing people.

[27:09] You can deliver successful products without having people in your shop work insane amounts of overtime.

Key Takeaway

Kayla had some very good points to really take to heart and remember as you’re doing that. Her first point is to adjust the skill sets and determine what skills you need to fill. Evaluate constantly as you’re adapting in this agency environment, in the marketplace, and for your clients.

Kayla’s next point was that you need to make sure that you’re developing structure and defining expectations for your team members. They need to know just as well as you do how they’re performing. You can provide that information through standardized job descriptions, performance improvement plans, coaching plans, growth plans, etc. They need to know what they need to do to get to that next level, and they can feel like you’re collaborating in their success with them. 

The third takeaway of this episode is that you as a manager aren’t going to know everything and you’re going to be handling situations that are unique and new constantly. Change is hard. You’re not going to be perfect, but show up. Continue learning and be gracious to yourself. 

And finally, value your people’s time. Make sure that if they are working overtime on big projects, if that is how you’re scaling your business, that you’re compensating your employees adequately. Work hard and go home, that’s what people want. They want to spend time with their family. They want to work in order to live. They don’t want to live in order to work. 

Take those items to heart, and hopefully implement them into your agency.

Building a successful marketing agency takes grit, a focus on your value, and sometimes a *loving* kick in the pants.

Needing an ally as you achieve your long-term goals?

I’d be happy to help.

Danielle Fauteaux, Agency Coach

Danielle Fauteaux

Hi! I’m Danielle. I’m passionate about helping creatives recognize their value and place in this world, passionate about helping leaders regain control over their responsibilities, passionate about encouraging others to live more meaningful lives; and passionate about doing more with less. I guide creative firms through the Momentum Framework to achieve their revenue and profit goals while falling back in love with the mission they originally set out with.