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Team Talk: A first look at empowered functional area leaders

The boss man wasn’t lying when he wrote a blog about how business owners can become bottlenecks. To solve this, team members were put in charge of a functional area of the business and given the autonomy and authority to make all decisions within that area.

We wanted to check in with some of these newly appointed leaders and ask, “What’s it been like leading a functional area? What kind of things are you working on?”

Here’s what they had to say:

Chloe Rolph, People Ops Lead

As Stryve’s first hire, I’ve naturally been involved in almost all things “people” from the start. Over the last 7 years, I’ve had a part in almost everything related to attracting, hiring, and keeping awesome people here. Becoming People Ops Lead was a natural next step when we decentralized. I have to say, I’m pumped to officially own the area I’ve poured so much into over the years.

I think I speak for more than just People Ops–the decentralization of our functional areas has been a huge win across the board. Decisions are still in qualified hands but they’re made much more quickly. Projects get completed fast–projects that may not have even gotten off the ground previously. It’s virtually frictionless.

For me, it means having autonomy to explore things that have been floating around in my head for years to make Stryve an even better place to work. For Stryve it means having someone dedicated to pushing People Ops forward. Human Resources is no longer an ad-hoc, keep-our-heads-above-water afterthought. It’s an area we’re proactively investing in.

So what am I up to this year? My plan is a mix of process improvement, policy development, tech integration, and some fun stuff too! Some of the things I’m most excited about are…

  • Getting our team on Humi, our new HRIS. What used to live in Word docs, Google docs, Excel files, OneNote, our website, email inboxes, Google Forms, several 3rd party apps, and literal paper file folders now lives in one tidy spot called Humi. Job postings, applicant tracking, onboarding, benefits management, surveys, feedback, and time off tracking will all be facilitated in one place. Having one system that does everything well helps us spend less time on HR tasks while getting more out of them.
  • Making Stryve a better place to work. Through Humi we can conduct better 360’s and pulse surveys on psychological safety, culture, and capacity. It’s about collecting better data more quickly. Saving time on the administration end, we’ll have more time to actually put the data to use spotting issues early and improving Stryve life. A few weeks ago we introduced a weekly one question survey that takes a pulse on resources. We simply ask people to rate their workload and then discuss the results in Team Talk every Friday. It helps us better understand what’s on everyone’s plates so we can help each other or address issues before they become problems.
  • Making Stryvers’ lives better outside of work. We take our work seriously here. We get shit done and do our best to make our 40 hours a week together enjoyable. But we also really care about the other 128 hours in the week. This year we’re focusing on enriching our peoples’ lives outside of the office too. Our progressive new vacation program gives Stryvers more time to disconnect, including extra “Strybattical” leaves at certain milestones. We also recognize that “marketer” may not be the most important job title our people hold. As more Stryvers start families, we’re thinking about them too. New Stryve parents can access a 6-week salary top-up and a generous 6-month daycare subsidy.

It was hard to pick just a few things to mention. We’re doing a lot more great stuff now and the intention to do so was always there. It just took dedicating a resource to managing it to really get the ball rolling. More to come! Stay tuned.

Kyle Weber, Head of Marketing

This GIF summarizes the start of my tenure as Head of Marketing.

In the beginning, I was pretty shell-shocked by the whole functional areas thing. I’m used to clients telling me where they want to go, leaving me to chart a map and take them there. With Stryve marketing, I was thrown the keys and just told to drive. I didn’t know where I wanted to go and I had a hard time believing it was totally my call. We’re a team of marketers, after all. For me, it felt like driving a car full of professional drivers, some of whom have been driving way longer than I have. Am I driving too fast? Too slow? Who wants the highway and who wants the scenic route? 

As a result, I tried to appease everyone with a plan that covered maybe a bit more than I could handle. After being told to do less, I pared things down and zeroed in on a few key projects:

  • More service content. We’re moving away from the “less is more” approach to content, specifically when it comes to our services. We’ll be approaching this in a similar way to our client websites, building services out as resources to educate and inspire our audiences.
  • Improving the blog experience. We’re restructuring our blog to better present related resources. This will allow us to string together content based on the themes and tactics they discuss, which should make for a more informative and complete user experience. Beyond that, we’ll be able to better demonstrate how different services relate and fit together in a marketing system — which we’re all about.
  • Gearing up for campaigns. Once our resources and service pages are synced up with each other, we’ll be in a position to launch service-based marketing campaigns, which is where the marketing really comes in. As currently constructed, our content-light service section wouldn’t provide much value as a landing page.
  • Landing page enablement. Speaking of landing pages, our website is pretty static and lacks the flexibility to build ad hoc pages on the fly. If I wanted to start a campaign to get people on our Download on Digital mailing list, I’d have to loop in a designer and a developer. That’s gonna change with the implementation of a few new templates and a fancy backend page builder.

Overall, 2019 is going to be about building a foundation to support a campaign-heavy 2020. As things are in development, we’ll keep up with our usual tactics like the weekly blog, daily social posts, and the monthly Download on Digital newsletter — which you should totally sign up for.

Sarah Rosenquist, Head of Operations

I’ve always been pretty obsessed with making things as productive and efficient as possible. I’ve also been the defacto IT person and the annoying one in meetings who thinks there’s always a better way. Because of this, I’m channelling my extra-ness to make working at Stryve easier. I’ve been looking at things to make client management and work delivery more efficient and simple for the team.

A big thing we did operationally in 2018 was implementing Jira across everything we do. We also hired a managed IT provider so we could let the pros handle hardware and WiFi issues. Those were two big projects that hit at the back half of last year and are influencing what I’m tackling in 2019.

  • Improving and expanding our use of Jira will be a big focus. We got the hard part out of the way when we switched over, so now it’s a matter of refining it to make it easy. Specifically, I’m looking at adding apps that automate things, integrating our time tracking, and getting clients using it with us.
  • Simplifying back-office capabilities like our accounts payable and receivable will be a big joint project with that area lead. If we spend less time on admin tasks, we can spend more time growing the business. Our systems are quite disparate and manual, so bringing it all together will be a big win for us as we grow.
  • Setting policies and investing in IT will also be something to continuously improve. There’s always another tool or piece of hardware that could help us work faster or explore new marketing opportunities. It’ll be so great to have the guidance or our IT vendors as we keep evolving in this area.

It can be a bit scary to think about how big some of these changes could be to how we work every day. But that’s also what’s exciting about it. I’m hopeful that with my new ops powers I can come back to this blog in a year and be amazed at how much smoother things are running.

It’s no coincidence that these things weren’t acted on without decentralizing decision-making. We have clients to serve and they take the priority. All too often that leaves good ol’ Stryve to sit on the backburner for when someone has free time (lol). Things are good at Stryve, but that doesn’t mean we’re okay to stop improving and investing in ourselves. With our functional areas off and running, we’re excited to see where things go.

Sarah Rosenquist

Senior Account Manager

Sarah is a quick learn when it comes to using new technology, and is the resident geek of the team. Her favourite thing is peeling the plastic off new gadgets.

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