Hiring — and keeping — amazing employees is possibly the most underrated “growth hack” in business.
Why do you think that is?
If you answered, “Because it’s really, really, REALLY hard,” …you’re absolutely right.
Hiring consistently ranks as one of the top challenges for business owners at every level. Even for trillion-dollar companies who can afford to throw any imaginable amount of resources at this challenge, it’s still disgustingly, absurdly tough.
This is a problem. A business that can’t attract, nurture, and most importantly — retain talent (rest assured I am fighting the urge to call out some very well-known names right now…) is a business that will forever struggle to grow.
And I don’t mean exponentially, I mean just to grow, period.
So today, let’s talk about hiring and employee retention. Not just because I feel like it, though there is that — but also because my good friend Joey Coleman released his new book, “Never Lose an Employee Again.” It’s absolutely brimming with real-world examples of how different remarkable brands are solving the many challenges of hiring and keeping employees.
Aaaand… The Draw Shop is one of the case studies featured in the book!
Now, I don’t claim that we’ve cracked the code here at TDS and created some kind of Employee Utopia. (Things around the office can get pretty heated, especially when folks start ranking their favorite classic rock albums around the water cooler!) But here’s what we have created:
- A pretty airtight hiring and onboarding process that helps us create consistently great client work even with brand-new teammates.
- A team that gels seamlessly across different roles, time zones, production stages, and art styles.
- A culture wherein folks happily stay with us for 8+ years, or even since Day One — whether they’re in-house or under contract.
And I think that’s pretty special. So, to celebrate the release of Joey’s book, I thought it would be fun to peel back the curtain on exactly HOW The Draw Shop does hiring, onboarding, and retention. Read on, and I’m sure you will get at least one new idea or insight to implement in your own business!
(And if you want more, you can always pick up “Never Lose an Employee Again” wherever books are sold. This link has a pretty big selection of stores where you could snag it, plus 3 chapters you could download for free: click here)
So, let’s start with hiring, and one of the biggest, most counter-intuitive lessons I’ve ever learned:
You do not, in fact, always need to hire the best person FOR THE JOB…
…but you *do* always need to hire the best person FOR THE TEAM.
Here’s what I mean by that.
1. Soft skills beat hard skills (and it’s not even close)
Whenever we hire an artist — or a copywriter, or a voiceover artist, etc. — we prioritize one thing… and it ain’t technical skills!
Of course we expect a certain level of competence from our teammates, whether they’re in-house or under contract (more on that in Lesson #2).
But competence by itself isn’t enough.
There are a lot, and I mean A LOT of people who can write copy, or draw well on a whiteboard, or narrate a script.
But people who can take a client’s creative brief and understand how to improve on their vision? People who can parse even the vaguest client feedback and deliver on it every time? People who understand how to use their craft to solve our clients’ business problems?
Solid soft skills (pun always intended) are hard to come by — and harder to train. We are keenly aware that each employee of that caliber is a walking miracle, like a unicorn dressed in a gown sewn out of four-leaf clovers…
So when we find them, we do our darndest to keep them!
2. Set one clear standard for performance
Assuming you did a good job hiring them, your employees want to do great work for you. They want to knock it out of the park on every project and task.
But it’s ON YOU to show them exactly what it looks like, and what you expect from them.
Here at The Draw Shop, we have something I like to call the “one in twenty” rule. We expect all of our whiteboard artists to be able to produce one minute of whiteboard animation in 20 minutes of filming and freehand drawing.
Why one minute? Because when we produce marketing videos for clients, bill for projects, calculate production costs, etc etc. — we do it in one-minute increments.
One minute of finished video is our North Star metric. And so the “one in twenty” benchmark is also a wonderful standard to set for artists. It’s clear, easy to remember, directly tied to deliverables, and ambitious — yet achievable with the right training.
3. Train your teammates to hit that standard consistently
Now, you can’t just pull out a performance benchmark out of
your bu some undisclosed location and demand that your employees have to meet it now!
I mean, you could certainly try… but it never goes well for companies that do.
If you want your team to live up to whatever lofty standard you’ve created for them, you must help them develop the skills they need to succeed.
That means investing in employee training and onboarding — and a whole lot of it!
Here at The Draw Shop, we spend a full 100 days training our whiteboard artists. Here’s how…
Erik, my co-founder, is a fanatical and accomplished mountaineer, who believes in achieving huge feats in small increments. Back when we started the company, he devised a training process that mirrors that steady pursuit of climbing.
All artists start at zero (“base camp”), and navigate a series of exercises (we called ’em “pitches”) under the art director’s guidance. Each “pitch” is short, tactical, and designed to refine an artist’s technique — and they all build on each other.
By the end of 100 days, all of our artists have SO MUCH hands-on experience and feedback under their belt that they can hit the “summit” of 1-minute-of-video-in-20-minutes consistently!
And when they do…
4. You can never have too many surprise parties!
Delighting clients and customers is important — but delighting your employees? Even more so!
The workplace should not be just a place of strenuous, nose-to-the-grindstone labor. It can and should also be a place of joy, celebration of accomplishments, and weird in-jokes only your teammates would get.
In other words, if you want your team to come together in hard times… make sure they share the good times, too.
Here’s how we do it at The Draw Shop:
Whenever a new artist successfully “graduates” from training, we conspire with the entire office and throw a big surprise party for them. Yup, complete with balloons, pizza, and games — or it doesn’t count!
Even beyond that, we’re huge fans of surprise celebrations. There’s just something about a celebration you’re not expecting, you know? It feels a lot less like “corporate-mandated fun times, beep boop” and much more like the sincere, playful event it’s meant to be.
So if you take away only one lesson from this entire post… throw more surprise parties! (Surprise activities like ax throwing, bowling, and escape room trips also count.)
Wait, actually, there’s one more…
Did you find these employee retention lessons valuable?
Then you will absolutely adore “Never Lose an Employee Again,” a new book by my good friend Joey Coleman.
Joey featured The Draw Shop as a case study in the book, along with many other remarkable brands. Read it, and you will learn how to:
- Write job descriptions that attract the right candidates in droves (no more positions going unfilled for 8 months!);
- Eliminate the “hire’s remorse” that every new employee feels (yet few businesses ever address);
- Welcome someone on their first day in a way that will leave a lifelong impression;
- Onboard your people to get them comfortably kicking butt in their roles faster and more effectively;
- Re-engage your existing employees to turn them into dedicated MVPs;
…and much more.
If you’re looking for a reliable source of proven hiring and employee retention strategies — backed up by dozens of examples of REAL companies making them work in the real world…
…then “Never Lose an Employee Again” is a must-read.
Click any of the links below to grab a copy wherever you get your books. It will change your business forever:
P.S. In case you’re wondering — nope, not a single one of these links is an affiliate link. I don’t get compensated in any way if you buy Joey’s new book, I’m just sharing it with you because I believe in him and his mission that much.