Russell Mackenzie Talks About the Things You Can Learn From Taking the Brick-and-Mortar Model Into the Virtual Model

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There's no question that the virtual world has opened up a whole new world of possibilities when it comes to team building. With the click of a mouse, we can now connect with people from all over the globe, forming teams that would have been impossible to assemble in the physical world. However, there are still lessons to be learned from the old-school brick-and-mortar model of team building.

For example, Russell MacKenzie uses a structured interview process to ensure that he is hiring the best candidates for his team. He also has a clear vision for his team and communicates this vision to his employees on a regular basis. By taking the time to learn from the brick-and-mortar model, we can build stronger virtual teams that are more successful in achieving their goals.

It's this type of thinking that can help us take our virtual teams to the next level. By understanding what each individual is looking for and how they can contribute to the team, we can create a more cohesive and effective unit than ever before. So next time you're looking.

Read the Full Transcript

Atiba de Souza: You know, we talk a lot about building virtual teams here on Build Your Team, but are there things that we can learn from the old school brick-and-mortar model? Absolutely. And my friend, Russell MacKenzie is joining me today to discuss some of those lessons that we can learn from the brick-and-mortar model that we can also take into the virtual model.

Wait till you hear some of the things that he does and the way he does interviews, it's absolutely wonderful. As always guys, we are brought to you by Client Attraction Pros. If you're a business owner, who's ready to get your name out there and let the world know that you exist, we can help you through fantastic video marketing services.

Atiba de Souza: Hey everybody. Welcome to Build Your Team. I have one of my friends today from down under of all places. Yes, Australia in the house, Russell MacKenzie and he's going to share with us some of his lessons and insights, because he's a physio down under. Well, actually, let me, let, let me bring Russell in and let Russell, you tell us, tell us about, about you and your business.

Russell MacKenzie: Hi, Atiba. Hey, thanks for inviting me onto the show. Yeah, we're a, we're a physio practice in Adelaide, South Australia. We have a variety of services. Personally, my, my bit that I get into is headache and migraine treatment, but we also have, a pilates studio, exercise area, run balance classes, we run Pilates classes. 

Atiba de Souza: Wow.

Russell MacKenzie: And, you know, general physiotherapy across the board. So we really covered a fair few 50 areas. Yeah. 

Atiba de Souza: Yeah, that's great. So, you know, one of the reasons I wanted to have Russell on guys is because, you know, I talk a lot about working in virtual environments and building teams in virtual environments, but Russell has been building teams and I've watched him over the last year and a half, two years, building team for his local practice. And some of you have asked me about that. Hey, what about, you know, those of us who have brick-and-mortars and we need to have people come in and it can't all be virtual. Can we talk about some of that? So, Russell, here's my first question to you, when it comes to building your team, right, as you started your practice, I'm assuming you started your practice and it was you and maybe your partners. What was it like when you were bringing in your first person? What were you going through?

Russell MacKenzie: Yeah. Well, so we started in June of 2009, which was when a global financial crisis period, which was... 

Atiba de Souza: Great time to start. 

Russell MacKenzie: Good choice. Why not? 

Atiba de Souza: Better time than during pandemic. 

Russell MacKenzie: Yeah, it's crazy. Really. So we started then, and it was after about six months, we brought on our first employee. So up until then, it'd been me and my wife who was really looking after the reception, office manager, running the place side of things. And then in about January, I think of 2010, we brought in our first physio, apart from me. And so I had known this person for a while. I'd worked with her before. I'd almost mind, I'd almost, we'd decided together this was going to be the path that we'd follow. Which we're able to follow through on, but even though I knew her well, it was still a really, really hard thing to do because up until then it had just been me and I, and, and my wife, Toby, but as far as looking after employees happiness and welfare and making sure that they were supported and all those kinds of things I haven't had to think about before. I hadn't been a manager before, so it was a really, yeah, it was really a steep learning curve for me. So it was, it was an easy hire and that I'd already decided. We had a word we'd decided that's what's going to happen, but it was still hard. And, and building up her workload was a gradual process too. So that came with pressures on me that I hadn't felt before. Yeah. So I guess the pluses were, it, it reduced my workload, clinical workload because she was taking some of the classes and that was good, but it increased my workload and otherwise, and I was learning. 

Atiba de Souza: And so that's, a really common thing that I hear from people, right. That I hired my first person and my job got bigger, not smaller. 

Russell MacKenzie: Yeah. 

Atiba de Souza: Right. And I think for a lot of new businesses and when you're doing your first hire, that's a really unexpected reality.

Russell MacKenzie: Yeah, I guess you think, oh, this is going to make love so much easier. Any kind of workload and a half here, this is going to be great. And the reality is, isn't quite like that. And you've got to work through it.

Atiba de Souza: So my next question for you then would be okay, so number one, is, was there anything in particular that, that when your workload became harder, that you had to focus on, and learn through as a new manager and then how did that change once you added the second, third and fourth employee?

Russell MacKenzie: That's a really good question and I don't know that I learned my lessons quickly enough to be honest. I really, I, I stumbled through that period and 

Atiba de Souza: Okay. Fair enough.

Russell MacKenzie: And yeah, and it was, it took a while to... see the thing that I was missing out on and probably my biggest learning, which I didn't learn until down the track when things started getting a little bit easy, was to have a systems and processes. Like everyone knows you've got to have systems and processes. I really didn't have them in place. It was very much leaving things a bit to their own devices like management by application rather than delegation. And so, yeah, there was a period of time where it was pretty hard. And I think one of the... Looking back, one of the things, one of the mistakes I made in bringing on someone that was a friend that I've worked before, is there wasn't a really clear, I don't want to use the word hierarchy, but it is really like as the business owner, we, I think we both considered ourselves to be at the same level. And that was a mistake in retrospect, and that was completely my mistake and so it ended, that created, I think of few, a few issues along the way. A few, 

Atiba de Souza: Okay.

Russell MacKenzie: A few frictions, that maybe if I'd have established, established that and established expectations better right from the start, it wouldn't have been a problem.

Atiba de Souza: So let me ask you this, on that note, would you have say that if you had better processes that would have helped with better expectations? 

Russell MacKenzie: Absolutely. Absolutely. Yeah. If we had, if we had the processes, if we had the yeah, expectations were upfront, I think that was the biggest thing, you know, in terms of how we worked, if my expectations of her but also of myself, I think I was just going and taking one day at a time. Really wasn't, you know, I was learning to how to be a business owner. I was learning how to be a manager. I was learning how to do all these things that I never learned about at uni. I knew how to be physio, I didn't know much beyond that. I was learning how to, how to negotiate with the landlord, you know, all those things all at the same time.

Atiba de Souza: Oh, yup. Yup. 

Russell MacKenzie: You know what I'm talking about. 

Atiba de Souza: It's a lot.

Russell MacKenzie: It's a lot. Yeah. Yeah. 

Atiba de Souza: Yes. 

Russell MacKenzie: And so one, one thing that if I had my time again, I'd definitely would have done, would have been trying to change my mindset towards what I was doing with my first employee and think, well, I am the business owner. I do have certain expectations. These are what they are, and we've done it right from the start and that would have avoided a whole stack of problems. 

Atiba de Souza: Absolutely and that is so awesome. And you know, Russell for everyone who watches me on a regular basis knows I always talk about this. I say, you've got to hire for fit first. So often you want to hire for the position and the talent you've got to hire for fit first. And in order to understand fit, you must first understand yourself because if you don't know who you are and who you want to work with, 

Russell MacKenzie: Yeah. 

Atiba de Souza: Then it's impossible to actually figure out when someone fits. Then after you hire for fit, you've got to know what you want them to do and have as you said and I say it all the time defined processes. I'm the king of SOPs. Have your processes, so they know what's expected. So it's great that, that you've had that. And I mean, for all of us, it takes a while. Right. I think your story is very much like so many others. And mine included when hiring our first teams or managing our first teams. Right? 

Russell MacKenzie: Yeah, yeah. 

Atiba de Souza: But we grow and that's the key, guys. Russell grew through it and he got better. And so, so tell me now, where are you now from a management perspective? How big is your team grown and what are some of the, the, the, the challenges that you're facing now and what are some of the things that you've done that have really supercharged your teams so that they, they really can be great physios inside of your practice?

Russell MacKenzie: Yeah. We've, we've got a team of 10, including me now. So there's six therapists, five physios and massage therapist, two reception staff and, myself and my wife, Toby. So it's, it's the 10. So we've just gradually grown, growing that out over the years. And what you were just saying before is absolutely spot on these days and the way that we've ended up with the team that we've got, which is I'm so proud of the guys that I work with. It's just, they're just fabulous. And they've all got their own individual take on things, but we work so well together. The way that I've hired is based on personality. Is on fit first and foremost, I couldn't agree with you more. Skills you can teach. 

Atiba de Souza: Yup. 

Russell MacKenzie: You can up-skill people but if they're the wrong fit and particularly in a face-to-face kind of role in a healthcare role where it really does depend so much on your rapport with people and being able to get your message across, that's the only way to go. And one of the biggest mistakes I've made in the past is hiring based on CVs or hiring under pressure to get someone into a role. And then, you know, you're taking the, and it's not a good way to do it. Yeah. 

Atiba de Souza: No, it's not. 

Russell MacKenzie: Sorry. I forgot what the whole question was. I went on off, on 

Atiba de Souza: No, no, no, no. That's, that's great. That's great. But, but let me, let me actually, pause there and share something that I don't normally share either. I don't even look at CVs anymore. Okay. So like in our hiring process, which we've completely systemized, I don't, because the CVs not going to tell me anything about your personality, it's all about the communication. Right.

Russell MacKenzie: Yeah. 

Atiba de Souza: And then I actually have someone else on my team who goes through CVs after I've decided which people I like.

Russell MacKenzie: Yeah. Yeah. Right. That's interesting. 

Atiba de Souza: You know, and it's like, yeah, because if you don't have the personality, I don't care what's on your CV. 

Russell MacKenzie: Yeah. 

Atiba de Souza: I don't care what your history is. I don't care how good you are. I had that happen, literally last week.. Literally last week, I went with someone, we were, we were interviewing and it was this like, yeah, his CV is fantastic, but he's an absolute jerk.

Russell MacKenzie: And the relationship isn't going to last very long. 

Atiba de Souza: No, he's not going to fit. 

Russell MacKenzie: I quite like that because you're meeting someone and you're talking with someone and you're assessing them out without being swayed at all by what happens to be on their CV as well. So yeah, I like it. Maybe I'll do that in the future. I have to make sure people are registered. 

Atiba de Souza: Oh, yes.

Russell MacKenzie: And they're qualified. So I'd like to see that a little bit. 

Atiba de Souza: Yes. 

Russell MacKenzie: Yeah, 

Atiba de Souza: And so let me also be clear on that so we do ask questions in our job posts and, you know, your response back, right, your cover letter or whatever has to answer those questions. So that's also big for me. And so, you know, like for example, if I'm hiring an accountant and I want a CPA, you must, it was one of my questions, are you a CPA? 

Russell MacKenzie: Yeah. 

Atiba de Souza: So I do cover sometimes, you know, those things in questions. Okay, good. So they qualify in that sense, but the fact that you worked for some big firm and you're some great person and you've done, I don't need to know all of that right now. I just need to know who you are. 

Russell MacKenzie: Yeah, yeah. Yeah. I really liked that. The last two people that I hired, my last three, four people that I hired, my process has been get them on the phone, have a chat, hey, let's go out for a coffee. And we go out for coffee and, and sit down and talk and, and Maddy and Lucky who I hired recently, most recently t'was last year. We... 

Atiba de Souza: I remembered when you hired them. 

Russell MacKenzie: Yeah, 

Atiba de Souza: Yes, yes. 

Russell MacKenzie: Yeah. We're in a bit of spot, a bit of a spot. It was a bit tricky because we had two people that, that left at more or less the same time for their own reasons. But they, yeah, it was just incredibly tough timing. And I caught up with these guys and then we sat and we talked and we talked, we talked. And I'm the kind of guy, if I go out with someone probably after 20 minutes, half an hour, okay, I'm done. You know, it sounds really bad, doesn't it? Well, 

Atiba de Souza: No, it's the reality, like, you know, when you don't like them. 

Russell MacKenzie: Yeah. Yeah. But these guys were just talking, talking, I thought, oh, that's a pretty good sign. Pretty easy to talk with, very comfortable. And so my hiring process is a bit more like that these days, making sure they drink coffee first. That's important.

Atiba de Souza: Yes. 

Russell MacKenzie: So you can work that out at the first meeting and then, and then just whether they're easy to talk with then you can build a rapport with them easily and, and when they have the same kind of values. 

Atiba de Souza: Absolutely. And there's that word values. When we're hiring for fit, another thing we look at is do they match on core values, right? I want to put a date stamp on this for anybody watching this in the future. It's 2022 right now, guys. And so we're still in the midst of the global pandemic. And Russell just said that last year in 2021, when we were definitely in the midst of the global pandemic for his local physical practice, he took people out and sat with them and had coffee to get to know them before he hired them. When we're talking about fit, guys, this is what we're talking about and you can't use the excuses sometimes of, oh, this is going on or, oh, that's going on, so I'll just hire anybody. That's what you kind of just heard Russell say. And so Russell, it leads me to an interesting question for you though, because you've done something that I don't think I'm thinking back, I don't think I've ever had the experience of doing and I'm really curious about, because I've heard other people have really great success with this. You conducted your interview offsite. 

Russell MacKenzie: Yeah. Well that, that first meeting I didn't and I, and what I said, it was an interview, but it wasn't an interview. So I said to them, I said to both of the guys, Hey, I just want to catch up for coffee, nothing formal, this isn't an interview. I just wanna catch up, have a chat. And I kind of wasn't interviewing in a sense, but it wasn't, we still went ahead and did a formal interview in the practice afterwards. But so it was really, there was no agenda, in terms of, I didn't have any questions in particular that I was going to ask you. I just want to see where the conversation went and just to see how good a fit they would be. So it wasn't an interview, but it was an interview, I suppose. Yeah. So it wasn't like I went out, took them out and sat down and went through a bunch of questions.

Atiba de Souza: But that's awesome because it took them out of the environment and he gave you a chance to really see who they are. Right. And sometimes as business owners, we get so rigid that, oh, it has to be done this way or it has to be done. That's the way everyone... But you said why? 

Russell MacKenzie: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. 

Atiba de Souza: Okay. So I think that's awesome, man. And the proof is in the pudding. 

Russell MacKenzie: Yeah, absolutely.

Atiba de Souza: He's had these two, two people with him for almost a year now. Right. And not only has he had these two people with them, and it's not one of those things because, and Russell and I talking and so I know this, these aren't just two people that he has with him that he wishes he could get rid of. And he's like, why did I hire him? He actually is enjoying having them on the team.

Russell MacKenzie: Yeah, absolutely. They're great. They're really, really good. And that's the thing that I'm the happiest about in hiring this way, is you get people on the team that you enjoy spending time with them and push you. You know, you're looking for, I, these days, I'm looking for people that are better than me,

Atiba de Souza: Yes. 

Russell MacKenzie: That pushed me and you know, I'm not, I think some people are a bit frightened and as a business owner, I want people to not be as clever as them or something like that. I'm looking for people that are, you know, a better than me and push me and yeah, I love it. 

Atiba de Souza: All right, guys. I hope that you actually heard what Russell just said. Okay, if you forget everything else, right? Forget Australia. Forget his accent. Forget physio, forget everything. I want you to hear that one point. You want to hire people who are better than you. That's the one thing to walk away with today. So often as business owners and Russell you're, you're saying this so well, we hire people and we want to be the big guy or the big woman in the room. Instead put the spotlight on them, hire better than yourself and your organization will propel forward at a rate that you can't even predict or stop. Would you agree with that Russell? 

Russell MacKenzie: Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. Yeah. And I've been, I've been in that trap before of feeling like I have to posture and, and, and, you know, that's not right. You know, I'm not better than you, but in reality, now I, I'm really comfortable with the thought of these guys know more than me on, on all these topics and I'm really comfortable with it and I'm grateful for it and 

Atiba de Souza: Yeah.

Russell MacKenzie: And I hope they continue to, you know. It's really liberating really, for me to be able to say, it's great. I know that I'm not the expert on this. You guys are much better at it than me. 

Atiba de Souza: Yes, absolutely. Absolutely. So, Russ, I've got one more question for you. Okay. And that question is my friend, being that you're in a physical practice and you see each other all day, every day that everyone's working. Right. How do you have fun with your team or, and build team dynamic?

Russell MacKenzie: One word coffee. No, we, we, we do, we have a very strong coffee culture in our, in our practice. I supply the beans in the machine and, and good beans too. Good beans that must be in, it's gotta be grind on demand. You can't have a ground already. You've got to grind on demand. We do, we have a strong coffee culture in our place. So that's one thing we, we do and I think this is unique for physio practices. I don't know of anyone else that does, but we catch up twice a week, the physios, for an hour. And we have a little meeting, I'll pass on things that people need to know and we'll talk about stuff. And then we have a half an hour of professional development after that, where it'll be me or one of the physios presenting. And there's something really good about that just being in the same room, sharing ideas, we have a bit of fun. It's not all super serious. And so I think that that definitely draws us together. We're not just passing in the corridor all day long. 

Atiba de Souza: Right. 

Russell MacKenzie: So we, we catch up that way. We haven't done much catching up outside of work in person admittedly, lately just with what's been going on. But that's something that we, we plan on doing more of, escape rooms and things like that. That's definitely part of the plan, but, just the way that the culture of the place is it means that we, we do get a chance to sit down together at least twice a week as a group and share a coffee and chat and bounce ideas off each other. So yeah, it's pretty fun. And, and we've got a, we've got a Facebook messenger group that we just share random stuff on from time to time as well. I think that's a small part of it as well. I think it's the in-person part that really makes a big difference. 

Atiba de Souza: Yeah, good communication. And, and guys, you heard that coffee. You know, he said it all in one word coffee. And if you remember, even in his interview process, one of the first things was, do they like coffee? Cause if they don't, then you're not going to fit here. Right. And you know, you may say, oh, well, that's just silly, but that's part of who they are. That's part of their identity. And that's the, the, the thing is for your business, you got to identify what's your identity, what's your culture, but everybody buys in and them maybe something small and innocuous. It could be coffee. It could be bowling. It could be anything, right? But it goes back as well to that what you value. It goes back as well to what you value. Well, Russell 

Russell MacKenzie: Would I hire someone that doesn't drink coffee? Yeah, for sure. Yeah. Yeah. We may not get along... 

Atiba de Souza: And he has to say that for the recording, folks, because we can't discriminate.

Russell MacKenzie: That's right. That's right. Try, try latte. I draw the line at chai latte.

Atiba de Souza: Absolutely. Absolutely. Well, Russell, thank you brother for being here. Do me a favor though, and I know not everybody can get there. Right. But for those of us who can, tell us again where you're located and the URL for your physio practice. 

Russell MacKenzie: Right. If you're passing through Adelaide, South Australia, we're at Fulham, in Adelaide, kinda not far from the beach, it's a nice little spot Western suburbs of Adelaide. And our URL is www.adelaidewestphysio.com.au and you will find us there. 

Atiba de Souza: Perfect. Russell brother, again, thank you for being here. I really appreciate it. And hopefully we get to do this again soon. 

Russell MacKenzie: Yeah, that'd be great. 

Atiba de Souza: All right. Bye everybody.

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