Stop the Errors: Set a Review Process That Works Mistakes make you look unprofessional and hurt your growth. Fix them today.
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Emails with typos. Ads with grammatical errors. Website headlines with mixed up title cases. Blog posts that just don't make sense. Sales decks with logos from churned customers. All of these day-to-day errors make your growth team look more like a B-team.
When building a startup, it's easy to write errors off as par for the course. But the truth is these mistakes make you look unprofessional and hurt your growth. Prospects will wonder if these errors mean your product is imperfect as well.
So how do you keep from looking like you can't get out of your own way, but still grow as fast as you can? Create and implement a review process for your growth team that works and then stick to it.
Before you start: Determine whether or not you even need a process
I'll confess that I'm not a big fan of process — it can get in the way just as often as it can help. So, of course, my first recommendation is to figure out whether or not you actually need a process.
On the growth team, you might need a process if:
Campaigns (or ads, emails, etc.) have gone out with errors.
No one ever knows when something is ready to go — it seems like you have to step in to get anything released.
As an executive or head of the team, you've seen something multiple times, but your changes aren't being implemented.
You have no idea what's going on; it all just feels like a giant mess.
My team found itself having all of the above symptoms earlier this year, and I wasn't a fan. After some trial and error, we came up with a review process that continues to work, even when the team tripled.
Step 1: Instate a "two sets of eyes" policy
Instating a "Nothing leaves without at least two people reviewing it" policy was the first — and most important — step in our new review process. Even if you're good at editing your own work, you'll likely make mistakes and then skip right over them on review. On our team, it doesn't matter who the second set of eyes belongs to, as long as it's someone other than the original author.
Step 2: Set an executive review process
If "two sets of eyes" is the baseline, the next piece to tackle is setting a clear, repeatable executive review process.
At first, we simply said, "If it's not an ad revision or blog post, the head of marketing needs to review it before it goes out." Unfortunately, that led to massive confusion — my Slack was full of DMs, varying channels and things to review everywhere. Reviews took up entirely too much of my time, and no one knew the status of anything, at any time.
We fixed it with this process:
Anything slated for executive review gets put into a Slack channel dedicated exclusively to reviews. We work nearly 100% from Slack, but this idea translates to other platforms. Maybe it's a separate Asana board, Teams channel or new email list. The important thing is to make sure that the review process lives wherever your executive does the bulk of his or her work on a daily basis.
The executive (me, in this case) has two specific review days with one to two hours blocked on the calendar to get it all done. My review times are Tuesday afternoons and Friday mornings.
Conversations about the item to be reviewed happen within threads on the dedicated Slack review channel.
When something is, or isn't, ready, the executive marks it with an appropriate emoji to denote its state. I use a check mark if it's approved, a green square if it should go to someone else or an X if it's not approved. Have fun with it, but be consistent with your use of emojis. During my review days, I can easily figure out where to start my review, since I just scroll back in the Slack channel to where the emoji marks end.
Step 3: Set an emergency process
Of course, not everything fits neatly into a Tuesday/Friday review cycle. Some things need to be reviewed or acted upon before the end of the day. To handle these, we set up an emergency process — again in Slack, because we're fully remote and live there.
We set up a separate "code red" channel. Anything that's an emergency gets posted there.
Anyone needed in the process gets tagged.
We agree as a team that this channel is only for urgent work, and we drop everything to handle things there.
Step 4: Set a team process
Those first few steps kept us going for a while, but then we discovered that our marketing team channel was getting completely crammed with non-executive review requests. We set up a team review channel with the same emoji conventions as the executive channel. Each team member reviews however works best for him or her, and we keep the team channel free for questions, conversations and strange memes.
Step 5: Review, remind and tweak
No process stays perfect forever (and if it does, I want to hear about it). We review the process when it feels broken, remind the team when one or more of us break the process (I'll confess it's usually me!), and tweak as necessary.
First, decide whether or not your team needs a process. If you've got errors, you need one. If you don't have errors, then you need to write a book and show us all how it's done!
Next, bring the process to the team instead of asking the team to go to the process. In our case, this meant keeping the review flow contained inside Slack, but your team might virtually gather somewhere else.
Keep it clean and be consistent. Reviews live inside their designated review channel, executive or otherwise, and you'll review them at a set time on a set day.
Finally, assume that there will be fires. We can't process our way out of last minute requests, at least not entirely. So make sure you designate an urgency channel and establish an alert system for hot items.
That's it! Go forth and process.