297 – Dealing with changing staff and new management

297 – Dealing with changing staff and new management

‘WordPress Business Bootcamp’ with Nathan Wrigley and David Waumsley

These shows notes are best read in conjunction with the podcast audio.


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Welcome to another in the Business Bootcamp series where we relearn EVERYTHING we know about building WP sites and running a web design business from start to finish.

We are on season 4, which is a short season looking at training clients.

Today, we are talking about dealing with changing staff and new management.


We are both are taking contrasting approaches to getting our new businesses running and our first client’s site built. She is a new lawyer with no previous site.

Episode 3. Dealing with changing staff and new management

Traditional vs Agile

Nathan – Traditional with a fixed price for a finished project. Assuming the change happens AFTER the build the traditional approach has no issues. But of course, many set up a care plan.


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David – Agile. Ongoing teamwork with website interactions based and other changes on user behaviour. With agile the ongoing team dynamic will be changed.

The transition has never gone smoothly for me. Typically, I have to say I can help any more. Being agile, we avoid documentation in favour of relationships and the rules of engagement are often lost. It is hard to get new folk back to day one.

David

I don’t think that I can remember a time when this happened to me during a build, but it certainly happened during a website update and during care plan work. Nightmare. Different person, no skills, a ‘not great’ attitude!

Nathan

New Staff

  • Those who were part of the evolution site tend to have an understanding beyond ‘how to’ change this and that. They often understand the why.
  • The training of the new staff is often left to the person leaving the role. Unlikely they were hired for their training skill and now they might be demob happy and even wishing to see failure.
  • The new staff (on probation?) may be inclined to overstretch to prove their worth.
  • The new staff may have more control than they should have, and theemanagement will not be aware of less obvious damage.
  • 3rd party training is not sought. The site and staff belong to the client. Seems fair they want control over the type of training staff receive.

In my experience, staff typically ruin aspects of the site over time. Often they ‘improve’ parts of it; good SEO content, things helpful to users, better images or messaging. It is slow, so silly things can be tidied up as part of the next bigger job for me.

Silly stuff is an alignment issue, but images and videos and some responsive niggles

David

I get the feeling (in fact I know) that some prospective staff sold themselves (to some extent) on their ability to maintain the website, and then it turns out that they have no clue. They were literally lying!

I had to go over to a new employees house to explain how to create posts and pages and how they were different. She told them she was experienced with WordPress!

Nathan

With new ambitious staff, the overstretching is speeded up.

I have had the complete removal of the main business CTA (button activated pop-up form that took 80% of enquiries).

With page builders, folk are fooled into believing they are designers. No concern for performance, accessibility, responsiveness, consistency, design trends, ability to manage the site or anything we have learned about UX over the last 30 years.

Mostly they go straight for copying the ‘but it’s so cool’ UX mistakes of others.

David

New Management/Owners

New management may not mean new owners. Maybe a new department has the website now. Maybe sales and marketing have split up, or the opposite has been made with a new boss.

Owners, too, are not straightforward. There are often partnerships which dissolve or get larger.
The work you thought you were doing for the business owners turns out to have been for one of them. The other was not interested in that web and marketing malarky.

  • Clear cut new ownership of a business seems easy to deal with. Start over. Lose them or treat the site as new and require training.
  • The rest is messy!! Maybe we will come up with a solution.

I have been suddenly bombarded with requests from all over an organisation. Someone has told the new department I am the website guy, and that’s it. Ten people think they have access to my time.

Some want service level or non-disclosure agreements signing.

Access is given to 3rd parties, and new unneeded plugins are added.

Now you must train people who supposedly are doing our job.

David

This never happened to me, but I guess that the entire company could be bought out and you need to work with the same people, but they now have a completely new set of deadlines and guidelines that they’re trying to figure out at the same time!

Glad that never happened to me!

Nathan

Is there anything we can do?

  • Set it up in the beginning.
  • Have something in place.

I think my new agile stops folk from just appearing and changing stuff.

I have also learned to make sure I have access to the main decision maker. No more working a section in the organisation.

David

10 Comments

  1. Jaliisah on 18th November 2022 at 9:26 pm

    Hi Nathan, I am the webmaster/registered owner of the site vaclib is referring to. I have three sites under my ownership with wordpress.com and several that use WooCommerce. I was unaware of this until this issue with WooCommerce shipping came up. Only the site owner is able to enable it and set up payment, which doesn’t work for either the real owner or me. She does have a site login with full administrative priviledges. We are both flummoxed by this annd neither of us has found a way to change this. What we want to do is to move the ownership of this website from my wordpress.com account to hers. Is there some way to acomplish this?

    • Nathan Wrigley on 22nd November 2022 at 9:19 am

      Hi there. I suspect that, if these sites are hosted at WordPress.com, you might be best contacting their support.

      Somewhat confusingly, WordPress.com and WordPress.org are slightly different beast. With a WordPress.com account which you have, you’re paying for that and will receive support.

      With WordPress.org, you don’t get the support, as you don’t pay anything, you need to figure out the solution yourself, or find it in some other way.

      Given that you’re paying, you should get support and it’s likely to be a great deal faster than this thread.

      I’m sorry that I can’t solve your issue.

  2. Jaliisah on 18th November 2022 at 8:14 pm

    I am the webmaster/domain owner mentioned by vaclib. I want to change that ownership to vaclib because certain Woo Commerce add one must be added on and billed to the owner. I cannot find a way to change that actual ownership to the true owner. She already has administrative access to the site but it is insufficient for her to add the Woo Commerce shipping function.

  3. vaclib on 18th November 2022 at 7:25 pm

    I have Woo Commerce set up on the WordPress website – Humbleweed.net – and my webmaster is listed as the owner so I need to change it so shipping would come out of my credit card. She is listed as the WordPress and WooCommerce owner instead of me.

  4. vaclib on 17th November 2022 at 11:45 pm

    Or can we just change email addresses?

  5. vaclib on 17th November 2022 at 11:44 pm

    I need to change ownership of our WordPress to the domain owner – me. My webmaster has the wordpress in her name and I need to use WooCommerce for shipping products

    • Nathan Wrigley on 18th November 2022 at 8:27 am

      I’m not too sure that I understand the problem. Can you explain more?

      • vaclib on 18th November 2022 at 8:38 pm

        Not sure if you got my reply since it isn’t posted. I own the domain and my webmaster set up WooCommerce on the website and it appears to be in her name as well as the WordPress website. Is there a way to change ownership of the WordPress and WooCommerce for my Humbleweed.net website?

  6. Dennis Dornon on 3rd October 2022 at 5:04 pm

    Hi Nathan and David, I’m just catching up on the podcast and heard your request notifications on what other Admins are adding and removing on their connected Child sites. I believe WP Activity Log by WP White Hat Security may already have this feature, and I’ll also research if it is something we can add to the MainWP core plugin.

    Thanks for the mention! 🙂
    Dennis Dornon

    • Nathan Wrigley on 3rd October 2022 at 5:06 pm

      This is great. Thanks Dennis. Will be great to hear what you manage to find out. Thanks for the comment.

Please leave a comment...

Nathan Wrigley

Nathan Wrigley

Nathan writes posts and creates audio about WordPress on WP Builds and WP Tavern. He can also be found in the WP Builds Facebook group, and on Mastodon at wpbuilds.social.

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Transcript (if available)

These transcripts are created using software, so apologies if there are errors in them.

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[00:00:00] Nathan Wrigley: Welcome to the WP Builds podcast, bringing you the latest news from the WordPress community. Now welcome your hosts, David Waumsley and Nathan Wrigley.

Hello there and welcome once again to the WP Builds podcast. You have reached episode number 297 entitled, Dealing With Changing Staff and New Management. It was published on Thursday, the 29th of September, 2022. My name's Nathan Wrigley, and I'll be joined in a few minutes by David Walmsley so that we can have our discussion on today's topic.

But first, A little bit of housekeeping. If you like all of the things that we're doing over at WP Builds, why not subscribe so that you can be kept up to date? And the best way to do that is to go to our subscribe page. It's over at WP Builds.com/subscribe. Once more, WP Builds.com. Forward slash subscribe, and over there you're gonna find all of the ways that you can connect with us.

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It's just a little install of our very own WP build.social. Get yourself signed up. It's very quiet over there at the moment, but you never know With your participation, we might be able to liven things. WP Builds.com/deals. That's our deals page. It's a bit like Black Friday, but every single day of the week. Loads of coupon codes over there for you to peruse and get yourself significant amounts of WordPress products. WP Builds.com/deals.

The WP Builds podcast is brought to you today by GoDaddy Pro. GoDaddy Pro, the home of manage WordPress hosting that includes free domain SSL and 24 7 support. Bundle that with The Hub by GoDaddy Pro to unlock more free benefits to manage multiple sites in one place, Invoice clients and get 30% off new purchases. You can find out more by going to go.me/wpbuilds. Once more, go.me/wpbuilds. And we really do thank GoDaddy Pro for their continuing support of the WP Builds podcast.

Okay, let's get onto the main event today, shall we? It is episode number 297. As I said, it's called Dealing with Changing Staff and New Management, and we are in our WordPress Business Boot Camp series.

David and I chatting this through, have you ever had that moment where you've phoned up the company that you are helping build a website? Perhaps it's a company with a ongoing maintenance plan, and suddenly you realize that the people that you. To talk to have gone. They've left, they've moved on, and you've now got to face the difficult situation of recreating the rap rapport that you once had, figuring out who's now in charge, figuring out any changing expectations.

So that's the subject of today's podcast. I hope that you enjoy it.

[00:03:38] David Waumsley: Welcome to another Indie Business Boot camp series where we learn everything we know about building WebPress sites and running a web design business from start to finish. We're on season four, which is a short season looking at training clients, and today we are talking about dealing with changing staff and new management.

So Nathan and I are taking contrasting approaches as we tried to get our new. Businesses run in and our first client site built, she's a new lawyer with no previous site, and we'll move into the differences between our different approaches. So your traditional, So for you, what's that mean in terms of changing staff and new management?

You know

[00:04:20] Nathan Wrigley: what, this is a really curious topic, and I could be wrong about this, but I honestly don't think I've ever heard anybody dealing with this topic. I think we might be breaking new ground. Yeah. It's a first David. Wow. Is WP Build. No, I'm sure that if I dug deep enough, People'd find it. Yeah. The way that I'm working obviously is I'm building the project, handing it over and in a sense, That may be the last time I ever deal with the company.

If I'm lucky enough to get a care plan, great, I'll have ongoing relationships, but there is a distinct possibility that I'll never deal with that company again. So in that sense, it doesn't really matter. But if they're on a care plan, that, that's usually where the point of contact is. So that person I will deal with and I'll keep dealing with them.

And that has been the moment that's been the person where this fracture has occurred. I, as far as I know, I never. I can't think of an example where the people helping me put together the site disappeared or changed. I don't remember that happening, but obviously that's something we'll probably have to talk about.

But it would usually be the care plan bit.

[00:05:26] David Waumsley: Yeah. What about you? It's I think it, it's a plus point I think for the traditional. This one, usually I'm, I'm with the Agile, I think is the way forward, but Agile is the ongoing teamwork with. Website kind of iterations been ongoing, so it, you really need to have this ongoing relationship.

So when staff change or management change, then that really has gone out the window. And my experience so far is it's never, when there has been that kind of change, it's usually meant the beginning of the end. My dealing with that

[00:06:02] Nathan Wrigley: website. Okay. That's really interesting because I think you're right.

There is a plus point here for the traditional approach because I'm gonna be dealing with somebody and there'll be a finite moment in time. The contract will be signed, and from that moment on, I'm getting paid. I've never had to go through the courts, but that would be an ultimate recourse. I'm gonna get paid and essentially I'm on my.

So I don't really need that ongoing interaction. I just go away, make the site as per the spec. Obviously there's some amendments, they've got a couple of round of amendments or whatever that might be, but broadly speaking, it's in the bag at that point and I've just got to go and build it. And I'm pretty confident that I could have done that.

And whereas you, if you're halfway through and somebody comes along who doesn't share that vision, And has a real radical way of doing things differently. You're faced with a bit of a dilemma, aren't you? Because there's nothing they've signed up to and they can come back to you, and say, No, we don't.

I'm just not happy with where we've got to. I think we need to radically change, and in a sense, you've gotta, you've gotta be willing to bin everything if they've got pockets deep enough to sustain that. Yeah,

[00:07:15] David Waumsley: and I also, I think there's something. The difference I think between traditional and going agile is when you go agile, you because you need something to measure to justify these ongoing changes, you end up being much more, I think, connected to the business reason for the website than you might do with traditional.

Where you might just come in and say, they want a website, they wanted to look and function this way, and that's it. That's your involvement with the company. So I think with moving towards that, which I think is. To, to build a site, if you've got it rooted in what business aims you have, but then the connection is broken as soon as somebody has a different vision for their business.

[00:07:58] Nathan Wrigley: Yeah. Do you know, that's really interesting because we had a quite a long chat before we press record on this, and broadly speaking, I think this whole episode comes down. Personalities and getting on well with people in different companies. The sort of the intimacy, if you like, of the relationship that you build up and how well you know them and how trustworthy they are and how trustworthy you are and how much you respect each other and so on.

And, e even down to the little things where they will go the extra mile for you and you might go the extra mile for them and it just builds up all that trust. This potentially does shatter all of. But yeah. Okay. Let's dig into it then. Shall. Yeah.

[00:08:41] David Waumsley: I tried to break this up into different sections of the new staff first.

What happens there? I've never really asked you that. Have you, I think most of the cases you're dealing with the business owner when you've done websites. Has that always

[00:08:54] Nathan Wrigley: been the case? Yeah. Very often that was the case, but also there have been areas where, I've dealt with. Okay. You might even describe them as the business owner because I've dealt, I've had like various clients from lawyers and building firms and all that kind of stuff.

And essentially the person that I'm dealing with has carp blanche. So basically they are the person they get to. And I do make that clear at the beginning. I want the person that I'm talking to, that's part of the proposal is I want the person to be able. To be the decision maker, And if they're not the decision maker, can I speak to the decision maker?

Because you know that's sort of 1 0 1. I would imagine if somebody's gonna step in when you're 90% of the way through it and say Nope. So no. Often it has been for one of a better word, an underling. But in my understanding of my relationship with that business, they are the person that I need to speak to.

No I've never been, can't think of a single time. Where somebody came in and u Z to what I was doing because they were more senior. That's not happened to me. Did it ever happen to. No, but I think we

[00:10:02] David Waumsley: agreed that we always dealt with one person that's right on that they had the authority and that, but I think it's come to bite me a little bit recently with large organizations, cuz I realized that they do have the authority for the job that they're asking me to do.

And that's probably all I should need. But in order. But because they're going off in their own silo with what they think a website needs to be, treated how it needs to be treated. Yes. This can is I can see how that now and has experienced it getting undermined by people that higher up. And for me that.

Once that wouldn't have been a problem. I'm getting paid for doing the job that person I'm responsible to has told me to do, and that should have been fine. Now it's becoming more difficult as I try to get more into the kind of user experience stuff and connect everything up to the business aims.

I find it really frustrating. Now

[00:10:55] Nathan Wrigley: I can well understand how that might happen. I guess it's at some. The, you this artificial idea that this person has authority even though they don't have authority within the business. But as far as you are concerned, they have that authority. Yeah, it does create an additional point of friction because they've got to go back to their boss and justify the work that's being built or has been built.

And it may be that, attention is created there where the big, the chief boss says, No, you've got to get this fixed. That's not what we want. And then they've gotta come back to you and explain it all. I'm quite happy with my traditional system in that respect because there's literally ink on paper saying this is what we're doing and there's no equivocation, if you wanna do it again.

In fact, I even have a clause like that and I can't remember the way I phrased it, but the clause was something along the lines. If there's major amendments, we will scrap this proposal. I will keep the money that you've paid me already and we will begin again. So I protected myself from that.

But then I suppose in your sentence, if that changes, you just have to be adaptable. You've gotta swallow your pride a bit and say, Okay, so long as they keep giving me the hourly, daily rate, whatever it might be we'll work with them. They're the boss. Yeah. No. Yeah.

[00:12:18] David Waumsley: Yes. Yeah, I absolutely agree.

I mean it's, Sure, I'll run through some of the points that we got on this new staff here. Thing that, the fact that one of the issues, I think new staff come in and they have, were assuming it's content management system, so they update certain amounts of content on it, but they were, if they were not part of the evolution of that site, then they don't have the why we do certain things.

And that's, Kind of one of the things that I noticed that somebody comes in and they may change things, but they don't know why things were set up in the first place and that it can be a problem. I see this starting to happen with a couple of clients with this one. So the new person is trained by the person who is leaving the role.

And because of that, they they can either be de mob happy or made even not like the company that they're leaving. . Yeah. Yeah. And don't really, And they weren't hired, were they? This is the interesting thing. Who's responsibility for training? That's what's supposed to be talking about here.

Is it because. It's always been their assumption that they own the website, so they should train, but they give that job to somebody who was already looking after the website to train the next person as they're on their way out rather than

[00:13:36] Nathan Wrigley: us. I've got a couple of thoughts on that. The first thing is, I suppose it really depends upon the nature of their leaving.

In other words, yeah, if they're dismissed, if the person that you were dealing with is dismissed. Yeah. Maybe they've got a period of. Where, they're entitled to work for 30 more days. But you gotta imagine in that 30 days they're, how should we describe it? They're less likely to be on the ball.

And so the idea of creating a training regimen for their replacement is, I feel a little bit too far. I think that's, that is hard to imagine. But if, I guess if they're just leaving of their own accord. A similar thing happens, but I imagine they're more likely to, have a favorable representation of the company for those 30 days or whatever it might be.

So that's one thing. But also you mentioned the not understanding, the why. I just, But it's also just the how, how do they actually create the website? If somebody comes in and they've never touched WordPress before, the it. You will be literally back to the start with their training needs, won't you?

Okay. You go to this url, write it down. You put in a username and a password. Now you're into the WP admin. From there, click on posts and da. So you really are training. You're going right back to the start, and this is a costly endeavor. It's, this is not gonna happen quickly. So I think there's the how and the why, but also the the nature of their leaving I think is crucial.

[00:15:14] David Waumsley: Yeah. I've always had a product that I put up, which is training, and I've never sold it once to anybody here, a separate thing. If somebody is coming in they can book this time and I'll, I will put something together specific to their site, and their training never happened yet.

[00:15:31] Nathan Wrigley: Let's use the car analogy again. We often do with. Websites and cars. You're not buying a car and then going for the 200 pound training to use the car package. Are You just drive in the car away and going off into the distance. There's no way you're gonna be sold a training package for the car.

And I, I completely get that. It's, it's good that you. But I'm curious as to what resources you've, We talked about knowledge bases and all that kinda stuff few weeks ago. Yeah. I don't suppose you've got a lot of materials pre-made for that. Have.

No. .

[00:16:08] David Waumsley: The how it, the how's never been the problem.

I think the why has become a problem recently and I think it's because the options now that are there with the page builder. So I don't like to constrict anybody. I like to hand it over. And the assumption always previously was that people didn't wanna touch stuff that they didn't know. But when new staff come in, the other issue is that a lot of 'em come in wanting to make an impact.

So yes, they want to show off maybe on the probation at the time, and they overstretch what they know, but suddenly they've got all these tools, they go, Ah, I could create my own pages here and I can use the page builder, and off they go.

[00:16:48] Nathan Wrigley: It'd be interesting to know if any job description Yeah.

Included care of the website, and in particular, familiar. With WordPress, for example. I wonder if in any of the companies that we've ever dealt with, if that was part of the job description, and if it was, I wonder what, whether it actually had any impact upon who they hired. Yeah. Okay. Yes. I claim that I've maintained hundreds of websites before. I'm a genius at websites. Okay. All right. In the interview, prove it. Show us what you can do. Here's the website. Just make some modifications. I bet that's never happened in any business we've dealt with.

[00:17:29] David Waumsley: No, and it's interesting cuz I'm, there's a company that I've done a lot of work for who's just changed over their person in marketing is now looking after the website.

And clearly they do have some background in that and probably that's why they got the job. They'd had work for an agency before, so they knew it. But it was really interesting because of. Because I've spoken to them now and what they know is very limited, and actually it's out to date

I think it's before, I think they really see that a WordPress website is a theme based thing, so you change out the theme and everything changes. It's, that's where they're at with it. That was their understanding. But it's interesting because it does mean that they also go and do stuff.

I don't often see with other clients is that they will just go in and download a plugin that they think will do the task that they want to do at that time, no review of it. Doesn't matter if it's up to date or not, yes. But I

[00:18:28] Nathan Wrigley: guess, ah, that's such a. Awful dilemma to be in, isn't it? Because, excuse me.

You know that you could have had that conversation and probably found a solution which was superior. Yeah, but it's over each, isn't it on your part to be going in saying no. Uninstall that right now. . Yeah, because I've got a better solution. Cuz that's not where the boundaries are.

The boundaries are completely different and they can do that. And in, in my scenario, I don't really. If they do that, fine, get on with it. But yeah, you can call me when it goes wrong for you because the ongoing relationship is the thing you really you're just making it harder. Can, but I, Okay, so another question for you would be, where does your work for these kind of pieces come from? Are you, and we talked about this before we click record. Are you reaching out to the. The client when you notice those kind of things, or do they typically come for you and ask for your expert expertise?

Or is it, how is that whole ongoing, agile thing working out with these new members of staff? .

[00:19:37] David Waumsley: I'm gonna answer it, but I'd bringing you back into this. Yeah, because actually I didn't have anything in place for that, for the kind of agile, which is still new, but I did anyway in the sense that I had them on a care plan.

So yeah, even though it's in the small print, I, So you may have this as well, if I have to care for their site, then. I need to care for the software that I've installed, not software that they might install that might break it. So I have a little claw in there. So I have pulled them up on this before, but it's happened just again, because somebody's doing their work because they're new staff.

They feel they want to do it. They've installed something. They've installed something which has just been dropped from the repository, , it's been banned from the repository. I dunno why? And you just think, Oh good, great. I've actually got to go and contact them cuz they'll not know.

Having it

[00:20:27] Nathan Wrigley: installed. That's fascinating though, because I, how, where did that discoverability come from? Was it just that you were working in the admin and spotted something or have you got some sort of alert that tells you that's been in installed? Yeah. Okay.

[00:20:41] David Waumsley: You miss it actually with, Because the thing is when you've got something like main WP, which will do updates for you, but if they install a plugin that doesn't get updated, you've no idea they've installed it.

I've got no system that tells me that unless I go into their admin. So yeah, in this case it was, I saw it and the I, the irony, and a lot of times this has happened when new staff come in or management decide to appoint somebody who knows about websites to come in, is. Software does get added in sometimes multiple things doing the same thing cuz they tested it out or something and then just left it there.

Yeah. Installed without used. And it's a really, I do now, I do try and say, Look, do you need this? Cuz in the case that I'm in, I still need to have this conversation. The one that's been installed and moved from the repository now didn't need to be installed because the plugin I already had in.

Did the same thing. Oh, that's, Yeah. That's, So they hadn't had the, they hadn't had the training and it's Yeah. What do you do in this situation? Do staff would come in and bring in some knowledge or they, They want to do it their own way. And it's the same with third parties as well.

Come in, they, yeah, we have a theme. Often if it's an SEO person or something, they might install a plugin so they can hug in their G tags or whatever into the head. But you've already got a theme that's got a place for

[00:22:07] Nathan Wrigley: that, yes. So couple of things have come out from that. Firstly if anybody listening to this nose of a piece of software, which will alert.

when a plugin is installed. I dunno that isn't done by the, let's say the, the super user, the admin, or a particular user. I'd love to know about that plugin, cuz that's a really cool one. And the second one is Dennis Dawnin from Main wp. He does listen to this podcast. And there you go.

Dennis, can you, , can you please? Can you please add that into main WPS capabilities so that we can be alerted when a new plugin is installed by anybody including ourselves? Cuz we might do things by. . Yeah. I

[00:22:52] David Waumsley: wonder if it's there. Actually, we could be very embarrassed by this. Yeah. , that's

[00:22:56] Nathan Wrigley: Clearly not using the software well enough.

Yeah. So have you actually had this happen to you where it's been utterly counterproductive where somebody new has come in and it's, It really genuinely has deteriorated the relationship very fast. No,

[00:23:12] David Waumsley: I don't think so. I can see, new staff is gonna come in and if they do their own thing and it's, I still really, from the past, it's still that I did finish the site and it's theirs to ruin as they like, so I won't, but it does make it difficult to go forward.

Cuz how do you. Somebody asks you to come in and help with the design on something that they think you designed, but they've done so much to it since you almost feel like we just gotta start again, really from day one. And I think, that's it. But in that way I would just let it go and hope it wouldn't happen.

But it's more difficult, I think. Should we move on to a little bit about managers and owners and whether we change Yeah sure. Because, Even this isn't straightforward. I think cuz there's a difference between managers who maybe, Cause I worked for a big charity and that went wrong really, because they, the person we dealt with changed, went to a sort of new department, they left and somebody else took over and they weren't the owners, that were dealing with the people who were responsible for the website.

So that entirely changed the relationship. And then on top of it, I've had another situation. I was dealing with the owner, so I thought I was fine, but they were in partnership with somebody else and when they left , Oh, you're left with a partner who didn't know what they knew, and it could go in reverse, couldn't it?

New partners come in with new ideas, so I think there's plenty of room for. Stuff to go awry

[00:24:43] Nathan Wrigley: there. Yeah. I had a situation with one of my clients where the business was big enough that there were layers. The business was stratified and, there were the senior partners and then there were, yeah, people further down, and then they themselves had underlings and at some point in that hierarchy, I'm not quite sure where this person laid the person that I had built up a relationship with over many years.

And I really think I was working on that site for about eight years touring and throwing multiple redesigns over the years and, The, that person left and was suddenly replaced with a new person. I it wasn't a a sort of force departure. They told me they're gonna be leaving. Here's the name of the new person that's taken over.

Boy, was that a. Total failure. We just didn't hit it off and I don't quite know what it was because I tried really hard. But they were just full of ideas. They obviously had complete car blanche be, That was the thing, which took me by surprise, I think, is that the previous person that I dealt with was constantly referring to, Yeah, that's a really good idea.

Let's do that. Great. I'll just get it checked. I'll check that. That's okay. And then I'll come back to you. So they didn't have total responsibility, but it. Bothered me because it was obviously a bit of a tick box. They would go to their, whoever it was that they were working with, and it would always come back with, Yeah, let's do it.

Let's go for that. This person was just full of ideas and never once said, I need to get that checked. It's, no, we're gonna do this. Just do this. And there was no relationship building. There was no endeavor to ask me any questions and if I pushed back with reasonable. Opinions.

I just got shot down and it was so obvious within about an hour of meeting this person for the first time that we just weren't compatible. And I persevered. We probably had two or three meetings like that and in the end, the, that worked just silently disappeared. And I looked one day and the website was brand new.

Was somebody else ? So yeah, the relationship bit is totally key. I.

[00:26:56] David Waumsley: Yeah I think you've nailed it is, and for me, I think the more I think you can get away with not having a relationship. If you really hold strong to the traditional, you're gonna contract everything from the beginning. You're gonna have a deadline.

You're gonna take exactly what they want and deliver that only then I think, it is still difficult to. Construct a, an effective website if you haven't got the relationship. But at least there is something there. But I think if you try to go the route I'm edging to all the time, which is more ux, getting to connecting everything that makes that website connected to some business problem.

Unless I'm dealing with the business owner and the person who. Overall control with that, it's outta the window. So as soon as the new management comes, really, you either have to start again and they're gonna buy into your approach or they're not. And then it's time to move on, isn't it? Do

[00:27:50] Nathan Wrigley: you know what, And I actually think that relationship building is one of the nicest bits about the.

I know it's fun to tin with the technology and I'm sure for a lot of people, when I say those words, it'll just be horror, I hate dealing with clients, but when you get the right client the feeling that you've helped them and that they want your help and they value your opinion, and that you've actually in some way contributed to the success of, I dunno, 10 people over at that business and you've assisted in making their lives.

More comfortable, for one of a better word, and you can pick up the phone without fear of getting shouted out or getting, or the phone ringing. And you just look with dread at the phone number and think, Oh God, what? Now? That is, that's one of the best bits. So fighting for those relationships, I think's really good.

It's curious. We talk about the clients more often than not we, we seem to dwell on the problems that clients create and how clients need to be managed and how they need to be put in their place and told and instructed and bent. And shaped I think. I think there's something very nice to be had in working with them and getting a relationship and actually getting to know them.

I don't mean like you're off out for drinks or. You've at least figured out what their life is like and what their requirements are, and get into conversations sometimes that are nothing to do with the web, talk about their children and those kind of things. It's a bit more of a human approach, and I know that's not for everybody, but I love that kind of stuff.

[00:29:26] David Waumsley: Yeah, so do I, We were talking earlier about we were saying as you get more mature, and I've noticed this happen with me, the more confident I get in the process of building websites the more I realized I'm not an expert and I take that approach now with me to the first conversation. So it's not.

Bring in all these skills and I'm gonna bring my expertise and tell you how it should be done. It's me coming with, I've got some great ways of solving your problems. Let's learn. I learn from them about their business stuff that I didn't know and they learn from me a process that might help us to work towards turning their problems into a solution online.

Yeah. And I think that kind of shared adventure together to learn each other. Knowledge,

[00:30:12] Nathan Wrigley: Has that caner, has that candor ever backfired? Have you ever been in a situation where you've expressed your, for one of a better word, like frailty? Has that ever backfired where the person's clearly been like, Whoa, blooming out.

You're not talking yourself up, are you talking yourself down? What's, Have you ever sensed that it backfired on.

[00:30:32] David Waumsley: I don't think with new relationships because of the fact I'm starting because of this kind of, I'm really worried about risk. Let's just start stuff. We'll do it. And I think I'm confident to come off, I think I'm able to present the way forward in a way that will understand and it seems professional, but they, I'm not going to insert my expertise on it.

I'm inserting if you like, The systems that other people use to come up with the best solution. And I think just bringing that is enough. If you're referencing people, the Norman Nielsen group and stuff like that for usability, if you scatter that in, people realize that you're not just making stuff up.

[00:31:17] Nathan Wrigley: I do, I've always, I've always been impressed by that side of your approach because we have a lot of conversation that we don't record. Yeah. And you talk about that quite a lot, have, how you tell them that you don't know how to do certain things, for example, or you are not sure.

How to do a certain thing or you are not the best person if that's what they really want to do. Yeah, and I've gotta say, I imagine it's a subset of people, and I am one of them who would be drawn to that. And there'll be a, presumably a subset of people who will think, Oh no I wish they were more assertive in telling me what to do.

I just wanna be told. But as with everything, you're trying to niche, aren't you? And if you can find a bunch of those clients who. Dovetail nicely with that approach and who respect that and who like the idea that we're doing it together. I think that's a total win, like a real proper win because life is just easier and life is just a little bit more pleasant.

You'd have to, like I said, stare in dread at the phone when the number comes up and think, Oh God, what's about to be said? Cuz you're pretty sure it's gonna be a pleasant conversation at the other end. I do respect that. I think that's,

[00:32:27] David Waumsley: I think you also write as well about, you get kicked back on that and there will be it.

But in some ways you just know from the conversation that you are not going to do the job. So I reject the stuff that would've been a kickback otherwise if I'd have forced something that didn't work. So I turn away a lot of stuff. Yeah, that's possibility. And also some people just don't come back after the first conversation cuz they instinctively.

You're gonna go in the areas Yeah. That

[00:32:52] Nathan Wrigley: don't wanna go. Yeah. And I guess that's why this conversation is so interesting is because for all of that, you've built up all of that you've worked your way through it, and then suddenly it's gone. Yeah, and you've no idea because it does come down to personality and that interplay between your personality and their personality, and you've no idea what this new person is gonna be.

Maybe they'll be even better. Maybe they'll just like the ideal person, but really it's a bit of a toss of a coin. They could be exactly the opposite, and I think there's a lot of trepidation at this moment. If you do find out that. The key person that you're dealing with in the businesses has changed.

I think you really do need to start getting on the phone and communicating with them and trying to figure out, once again, if this is gonna work out and be honest with yourself. I'm really not sure that we are gonna be a hit. Okay. We've worked together for eight years. I've done really well out of that business.

I wished that it had carried on for another 10 years. But I can see that the writings on the wall, time to move on. Maybe those conversations are hard to have with yourself, but maybe it's the conversation that you need to. Yeah,

[00:34:04] David Waumsley: exactly. I think, it's interesting when I've got people that we set it up, I, in a more traditional way now, and I still have the ongoing relationships from the care and their businesses need to change.

It's been, it's a tricky point and I think I've managed to keep some people who I can't do the design with them because I just know that. I didn't start properly in the first place. I didn't root it in that Agile UX thing, but what I can do is, which I've done recently, is suggest that they, you want a visual designer, go and get that.

If you do that, I'll turn that. I'll make your existing website into their vision, and that way I can just go back to a certain role, which isn't the thing that I would do as part of a normal design, but I can still do that, implement a role for.

[00:34:50] Nathan Wrigley: Yeah, it's interesting the more that we've had these conversations, traditional versus agile, the more that it's obvious to me that the relationship piece.

Is completely baked into Agile and without that relationship, it's not gonna work out. Maybe it will, but if you've got a stagnant sour relationship, the people don't get along. You can model through that. With my approach the sort of traditional approach Waterfall. You just have to be able to get through the initial meetings and bear each other and tolerate each other and, maybe it gets a bit snarky or whatever, but so long as you've got the contract, you're off to the races.

That's fine. But with yours it's gotta be baked in. You've really gotta finesse that relationship and work on that relationship. Otherwise, the whole project is gonna be sunk and you'll never get any work, ongoing work out of them. Yeah.

[00:35:43] David Waumsley: I'm talking about there'll be people who know agile and worked in big agile teams, which I've never done who will probably be shouting at me because.

I'm talking of Agile as in a relationship I have with the business owner. A lot of people are working agile teams who be part of an organization and it'll be the team spirit in that small group, and that will be essential to Agile. No doubt that team with the right skills, but the also agile.

Gets disrupted, it gets turned into a way that management can just get people to keep churn out different things in short bursts, . Yes. A bit of a hamster wheel it can easily become yeah, my, my view on Agile as I'm talking about it, is very much my, small business view of it.

[00:36:30] Nathan Wrigley: Yeah. And I think it marries really well with. The way that you approach life, it works really well. And I think I'm sure that, several years from now if we had rerecorded these, there'd be more data to support that. You've got this final section in the show notes. Is there anything we can do?

You should, Yeah. I had, I have no process for this happening every time. It's just a, Oh, really? Okay. . We talked a couple of weeks ago about the fact that, did we create knowledge bases? I tried that kind of thing if I need to reeducate somebody on how to work with WordPress I'm basically having to start again.

I can't really point them to anything. I haven't got anything in place, so I have nothing set up to cope with this at all. And every time it happened, thankfully, very infrequently I was floundering and just hoping that I'd get on with the person. Have you got anything? Do you have a system for.

[00:37:24] David Waumsley: No, not really.

It's something you learn as you go along, isn't it? Yeah. From the very first one that I had when somebody sold their business, as somebody knew, I contacted them and said, Yeah, we're not using you. I've got somebody by . That's great. It was like, Oh, painless, At least for this.

Yeah. And everything, since there's been a discovery, but I think now if I was starting in. Business again. Now, I would definitely think about this from the beginning. The fact that am I really talking? Who am I really talking to? Do they have a partner? Are they aware of the conversations we have?

Because that's fooled me before because, when one's left and the other one's remaining, they really had no idea. And I thought I was just talking to the business owners, so I think the only thing I would do now is to be aware of it and. The experience, Take that into the first conversations, realize who I'm dealing with and how they view it, and what could jeopardize that.

[00:38:25] Nathan Wrigley: Yeah. For me, I think the, in the rare instances where this happened I think they wanted me to go into their offices, which I did. And I think I get the feeling, looking back on it, that they wanted me to go in. Almost like pitch for it again and come up with some radical way that the website was gonna change their business for the better.

Because the one example that's in my head the person was in charge of marketing for the company and clearly when they were hiring somebody, they must have had in their mind, Okay, let's take this as an opportunity. We've got one staff member leaving. Let's take this as an opportunity to really reboot our marketing.

And I think that person wanted me to go in with a radical set of ideas, and I didn't, I just went in and said, Tell me what your thoughts are. And I think maybe that flawed them a little bit. They wanted me to be coming up with all these radical new things and I didn't really have anything, any ammunition.

I just thought we were going in for a chat. So maybe that's something I would have in place, if I. Aware that things were about to change. I think probably now I would look at the website a little bit more and really drill down on, Okay, what isn't working on this website? What can I change?

Basically all the stuff that you are doing constantly, but I probably haven't looked at that website for a year or so. So it's a, there's more things to, to change and maybe in that situation I could have been more proactive. I think you just said

[00:39:56] David Waumsley: the key thing. That's the, Is there anything you could do And I just waffled on for a while, but actually that is it really just find out what it is that they're looking for you to do in relation to their website.

Yeah. Because they may have, they may just see you as the technician who makes things possible, or the designer who makes it beautiful. They might not see you as the marketer. And most of the time I'm stepping on the toes of the marketer with my approach. Yeah, that's interesting. And I need them on board.

So I think that would probably be the key thing, is to try and work out what they, how they see me, what they think I might be able to do for their business. How big do they think the website role is? And yes, how am I included in this to their

[00:40:38] Nathan Wrigley: business? See, E even in this my sort of like the one step forward, two step back nature.

Yeah. Is kicking in because I'm also think. Would that client be thinking, Oh, okay. You are seeing this as an opportunity to gouge us for more work. , you've come in with all these fancy ideas and clearly you wanna just get a load more work. So I'm still completely conflicted, should I have gone into that meeting and said all of these things that would've ultimately cost them a load of money.

Or should I just said, You tell me what you wanna do. I don't know. I think it's really hard, and this is where the whole relationship thing comes down, because with the previous incompetent of that job, I could literally have. Okay, what shall we do? What needs to be done? And I would get an honest and straight answer.

And I knew what I needed. This person, I have no idea what are they? Are they sizing me up? Do they have another website builder in the background? Just waiting to see how this meeting goes. It's very difficult. You've gotta tread on eggshells a little bit and figure out where the ground. I guess

[00:41:39] David Waumsley: my change now in my approach is that what I'm trying to get over, I guess with new people is I want the decision maker and I want to say, Look, I've learned so much from all of these people who are looking at the web and.

Coming up with systems to make it more effective for users to make you more business. And I've got all that I can try and bring and translate to the business or introduce you to these things. Do you want me to do that? And that's the way I'm trying to get at it. And I'm not in the way. I try and.

Get that out away with the money, just saying, I'm literally charging you by the hour as you want work doing. But I have to work to the expertise that has influenced me so much and I can bring that we work on it together and that's my approach now and I think that's where I've made my mistakes before is just not really aligning how they might see me and my role and what I'm supposed to bring into.

The organization.

[00:42:36] Nathan Wrigley: , I think this whole episode, for me at least anyway, can be summed up with the word relationships. Yeah. I think if you can create a fabulous new relationship, you're off to the races. Yeah. And it's about figuring out. Whether that person is somebody that you can have that relationship with in the same way that, you've been to the pub and you've met new people and for reasons that I can't quite explain.

Your spider sense comes out and you just I don't really think you and I are gonna be compatible, and you never say it out loud, you just get that impression that the way that they are and the language that they're using and the way that they're behaving isn't something that I'm comfortable with.

Maybe there's a bit. Figure it out and be happy to move on if need be, or persevere if you think you can forge that. Yeah. So essentially

[00:43:27] David Waumsley: we just said they can't be trained. It's the relationship's

[00:43:30] Nathan Wrigley: gotta be there. That's it. Yeah, that's it. Yeah. . Yeah, that's right. You can't teach an old dog. New tricks. David, haven't you learned anything in life?

Okay. That's it. What's coming up? Oh,

[00:43:42] David Waumsley: that's it. Is the last one on this one where we're just going, I dunno what we're gonna talk about here, but I've labeled it up as when the client turns web designer. Yeah. So we've be touched on this a little bit. Yes. That we're working with page builders these days. It does open up that possibility.

This

[00:43:59] Nathan Wrigley: episode could also be called when the Client Breaks things. Let's let's see. Let's see what happens. We'll be back in it, but, Go

[00:44:06] David Waumsley: on, sorry. But they actually want, don't they? They want these days to be so many of them now think it is part of their responsibility. Yeah. So I think we have to chat about it.

Yeah. Okay.

[00:44:15] Nathan Wrigley: We'll do that in a couple of weeks, but that was a lovely chat. I'll see you in a couple of weeks time. Thanks a lot. Cheers. I hope that you enjoyed that. Always a pleasure to chat to my good friend David Wamsley, and in this case, hopefully you got something out of it. Perhaps you've been in this scenario before where the staff have changed without you knowing about it.

Perhaps it's created friction or wrinkles in your relationship. If you've got anything to add, please head over to WP Builds.com. Search for episode number 297, and leave us a comment there. You could also do the same in our Facebook group. WP Builds.com/facebook will get you there. Search for the topic for number 297 and maybe get involved in the conversation there.

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Okie doke. We will be back on Monday. We always are. WP Builds.com/live. It's our this week in WordPress show. Join me and very likely three guests as we talk about the WordPress News from the previous week.

If not, hopefully we'll see you back next week. It'll be an interview, and if we don't see you for any of those all I have to do now is to fade in some cheesy music. Wish you a safe and happy week. Stay safe, Byebye for now.

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