May 4, 2021
While Chris Yano may be the host of To The Point, his better half has been there from the start. COO and Co-Founder of RYNO, Anna Yano is a phenomenal leader that makes amazing leaders. She has a true heart to help, and makes sure that RYNO is delivering on the promises we make to our clients.
For Anna, there is a constant balancing act. She wants RYNO to be a great place to work but not at the expense of client fulfilment, and to be the highest performing marketing agency for our clients without negatively impacting employee work-life balance and job satisfaction. Between developing internal processes, overseeing departments and leadership roles, and continuing to manage accounts to keep perspective on what our employees are experiencing, Anna has to work hard to keep this balance for everyone onboard. It’s more than important enough to make a priority, however, and if you aren’t focused on your team as much as your bottom line—you’re making a mistake.
In an effort to get outside of her comfort zone and grow her leadership skills, Anna recently attended an exclusive leadership conference. This has helped her become an even more compassionate leader, and be more patient and thoughtful instead of reactionary. For Anna, it’s a constant journey to maintain that aforementioned balance, and being the best leader possible is an integral part of that.
There were many years at RYNO when our company was customer-driven at the expense of the job satisfaction for both Anna and all employees. We’ve been fortunate enough to grow to a spot where we could pivot and make a shift in our priorities, and equally balance the needs of both clients and employees. This requires diligence on Anna’s part, as well as the entire RYNO leadership team. There are many ways this balance is made a priority, and perhaps one of the most important occurs during a yearly executive retreat.
During the executive retreat, planning for the upcoming year takes place. It’s a process of determining priorities, goals, and making sure the leadership team is in touch with the pulse of the company at all levels of the organization. An activity called “Right, Wrong, Confusing” is a difficult but invaluable way to achieve this, and something you can implement in your business today.
An anonymous survey is sent out to all RYNO employees, and contains questions about why RYNO is getting right, where we’re missing, and what is confusing. These surveys are gathered, compiled, and reviewed. The executive team takes this survey as well without looking at employee responses to remove bias and see both perspectives.
This is a challenging exercise, and it can be difficult to see where there’s room for growth. You might be surprised to find that an area you thought you excelled in is a point of contention, or perhaps your employees need more training than you thought. Still, it allows you to get a clear understanding of where you’re at, and you can use this information to craft what the next year will look like for your team.
At RYNO, we call our employees, strategic partners, and customers our family. It’s not a cliche term we use, it’s how we really feel. If you really care about your team, you should be actively finding ways to make their job satisfaction levels as high as possible. After all, your team is going to be the difference between great client fulfilment and falling behind your competitors. Anna has helped put in place several things that have been successful in giving our employees more than just the basic benefits of being employed.
We’ve talked before about our Misogi benefit, and it’s one that has been a great success at RYNO. Each year, RYNO pays for each employee to go and have a life-changing experience. The only real rules are that it needs to be something you wouldn’t normally do on your own, and something you won’t ever forget. From our very own Tall Paul taking hip-hop dance lessons to Producer Kyle going to bull-riding school, the Misogi benefit is an investment that is part of how Anna and RYNO give employees a unique experience. It’s a cost, and one that you won’t see recouped financially, but that investment into your team is going to pay in spades. From retention rates to employee satisfaction, this is just one way you can make sure your team is growing on a personal level and getting something more than just a paycheck.
A simpler benefit you can provide is often overlooked. RYNO gives employees their birthdays off! Anna hates the idea of asking someone what they did for their birthday and hearing that they worked all day and then went to dinner. It’s a single day each year where you get to celebrate yourself, and Anna doesn’t think sitting at your job (even if you like your job) is the proper way to spend it.
A new benefit that Anna has implemented for 2021 is a choice between two options. The first is one we’ve had in the past, which is a monthly massage benefit where RYNO will pay for a massage each month. Now, an option for a monthly house cleaning instead has been added. Especially for those with children, working a full work week and cleaning your house can be difficult. Coming home to a clean house can help you enjoy your time away from work, and even be the difference between a nice night with your spouse and having to scrub the toilets. The house cleaning benefit is a way to give back time to our employees, and Anna feels that is way more important than adding extra money onto a paycheck. It’s just going to get wasted on Amazon or another meal. It’s a tangible value in time and well-being, and an incredible investment into the lives of your employees.
Another great thing we do at RYNO that is really impactful is when we have a new hire, we coordinate lunches for them with other team members for their first two weeks of employment. It’s time consuming and does have significant cost, so it’s not for every company, but it’s been very beneficial for our team. We take people from different departments that don’t normally work together and strategically match them with the new employee, and pay for their lunch. It’s a way for the new employee to meet the people in the organization outside of work, as well as for the other employees to strengthen their bond. It’s a part of creating friendships and that culture of family and belonging.
It’s important to create opportunities for your employees to do things together that aren’t just about work. It’s why we do team builders, service days, and team lunches. Only having a work relationship isn’t deep enough to achieve the levels of collaboration and family that Anna has set out to establish. Investing the extra time, effort, and money into creating these opportunities allows for our team to connect better, care about each other more deeply, and have bonds that allow for more cohesive collaborative efforts.
Service days can be costly, but it’s another way to give an experience to your team as well as bond while serving others. This is an easy thing to implement into your own business. It doesn’t have to be team-wide, you could even stagger it in clusters. One Friday a month, Anna and our team find a local organization in the Phoenix metro area to volunteer time to. Giving back is a core value at RYNO, and all stems from where we started and where we are now. When Anna and Chris were starting, there were times during their growth when they needed help. Starting a company is challenging, draining, and difficult financially, and after receiving help when they needed it, Anna wanted to get to a spot as a company where they could do that for others.
Service days also recalibrate your ability to process just how difficult your day was. It’s easy for us to get caught up in the minutia of our day, but in the grand scheme of things, it’s not that bad. After serving the abused, or homeless, not having creamer for your coffee in the morning doesn’t seem like such a big deal. It can be hard, but being a good employer isn’t just about feeding your business. It’s about feeding your employees and their souls.
Anna is focused on making her employees better, smarter human beings. Whether they’re at RYNO for a few months or many years, she wants them to leave an improved version of themselves. This is why education is another one of the core values at RYNO. In an industry like digital marketing this is so dynamic and competitive, and in a constantly changing landscape, we can’t just do the same thing and be okay with being what we were yesterday. RYNO employees have a monthly education requirement, and there are plenty of options to meet it. It doesn’t have to be taking a class or going to college; it can be reading a book, attending a seminar, absorbing video content, or even just listening to a podcast.
A new part of the education curriculum that Anna has implemented is RYNOu. This is a curriculum for the entire year with different courses led by people throughout the organization. This gives our employees a chance to teach other employees who have credit hour requirements. Not only does the employee leading the training get the valuable experience of preparing a course, speaking publicly, and teaching others, but the employees taking the course get to learn something new. These courses are also recorded, and can be used down the line to train new employees or for further internal education and training.
Another thing we do that helps leverage education and critical thinking skills is implementing committee processes. Anna admits, this can be hard for business leaders to relinquish control of. Creating employee committees for your employees to make big decisions for your organization is important, however. Recently we were tasked with needing a new CRM, and it would have been easy for Anna to step in as the COO and simply pick one. Anyone that’s been through the process of implementing new software into a company knows that nothing’s going to be perfect right out of the box. Anna knows that if she makes that unilateral decision, there are going to be murmurs from employees about the product not being a good fit, or it’s frustrating, or maybe she didn’t do her due diligence.
Instead, Anna formed a committee of employees specifically to test, compare, and choose from a number of CRMs to decide as a team which is best for RYNO. They spent numerous hours looking at demos, pricing, and figuring out what was the best solution for all levels and departments in our organization. Now, if someone internally doesn’t think it’s the right fit, we have a whole army of people that were involved in the process that can explain that it was vetted, and back up why it was the best decision. It’s also highly collaborative, and forces employees to both understand the challenges of making these big decisions as well as be forward thinking about our growth.
The bottom line is that Anna doesn’t just consider her role as COO at RYNO to be overseeing operations, it’s making sure that our team has that balance between being the best possible solution for our clients and the best place to work for our employees. It’s an ongoing process, and takes a lot of willingness to sacrifice company time and effort. The outcome of spending so much time pouring into your team is having employees that are more satisfied with their roles, bonded with each other, and willing to really fight for you and your customers. Some of these things that Anna has helped implement at RYNO might work for your company, and some may not, but taking the time to figure out how you can pour into your team on a personal level will always pay off in spades.
If you’d like to be put in touch with Anna, you can reach out to To The Point anywhere you find us!