Building Strong Teams: Leadership, Coaching, and Employee Development with Sean McStay

by | Sep 1, 2023 | Uncategorized

How can mentorship and coaching programs contribute to building strong teams within an organization?


Recently, I had the privilege of sitting down with Sean McStay to discuss our collective experiences over the past eight years. We delved deep into the intricacies of building a brand from the ground up and the nuances of remote work, especially during the COVID-19 era.Β 

⬇️ Catch our conversation and let’s discuss: What are your key takeaways for building resilient teams, especially in these unprecedented times?Β 



#TeamGrowth #LeadershipInsights #RemoteWork #EmployeeDevelopment


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Schedule a Free Hiring and Recruiting Strategy Consultation CallΒ

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PLEASE NOTE: There may be some typos and/or grammatical errors captured in the following transcription.Β 

Video Summary

  • Jim and Sean discussed their experiences in the industry over the past eight years, including the challenges of building a brand from scratch and adapting to remote work during the COVID-19 pandemic. They also expressed their love for working with different clients and seeing their team members grow and develop. – 0:14
  • Jim and Sean discussed the hybrid sales model of selling through distributors and direct customers. They also talked about managing remote building strong teams, emphasizing the importance of clear communication, setting expectations, and establishing metrics that correlate with success. – 8:00
  • Sean discussed his management approach, including regular field coaching days and quarterly team meetings. He also mentioned goals for the next few years, such as expanding into new territories and focusing on aggressive growth. – 11:47
  • Sean and Jim discussed the importance of employee retention and development, with Sean emphasizing the value of attitude, learning ability, and communication skills in recruiting. They also mentioned the use of recruiters for certain job roles and highlighted the growth and resilience of Sean’s company despite challenges like COVID-19. -16:35

Video Transcript:

@0:58Jim McKenna (DSP Careers)

Thank you. You And how about, as far as your team is right now, you have direct employees, you’re using independence, what do you see out there?

@4:10Sean McStay

Yeah, so we use only direct employees for us. mean, I’ve worked with both in the past at other companies and there’s certainly good sides to both models, but with SEGA, we focus a lot of our time on training the customer and we know it’s a new product and some people haven’t heard of it.

And so we have to make sure that our staff is all fully trained and being compensated in a way that doing the training work that sometimes doesn’t turn into sales for a year or two is just as valuable as being out and selling directly.

@4:42Jim McKenna (DSP Careers)

So we find that having our own employees out in the market that are fully trained by us is the best method for that.

Yeah, I would agree with that. I would agree with that because it’s an independent rep. Yeah, they’re always, if you’re not in their main line, then I push you.

eight years.Yeah, well, I mean, it’s just that then that’s naturally fair for them. That’s how they’re compensated.

@5:00Sean McStay

And yeah, I think it’s, you know, when you’re building a brand from pretty much scratch, like we have over the last eight years, it’s more suitable for kind of a direct employee model.

@5:10Jim McKenna (DSP Careers)

Yes, great. So you’ve been able since since past eight years, you’ve been able to bring people on and all that stuff.

That’s great. Yeah, great. What do you love about your role?

@5:19Sean McStay

What you love about this part of the industry? Well, this part of the industry, I love the people that we get to work with because every project is different.

And so you go all the way from, you know, a house or a big building or a community center that’s passive house and everyone’s really on board with like, we’re going to make this the highest performance possible all the way to the other side of the spectrum where people are, you know, trying to build efficiently and, you know, it’s everything’s very expensive these days.

And so we’re able to find ways for them to solve those problems that they have on both sides of that, whether they’re kind of going full board, you know, high performance or whether they’re just trying to, you know, meet a good level of performance, but also stay within a reasonable budget.

So from my. Where I am in the industry, that’s what I love the most. For my role, just seeing our guys and gals develop is definitely the thing that I’m most excited about.

We’ve got people that came on as entry level trainer, sales reps. Now they’re managing their own teams, seeing our warehouse staff and operations staff, basically bring a brand new concept for SEGA and having our own warehouse space and designing that and learning from it.

So, yeah, the development of the team is definitely what gets me the most excited.

@6:31Jim McKenna (DSP Careers)

Great. That’s great. And how large are you team? How many teams have you been I worked 12 now.

@6:35Sean McStay

Oh, wow.

@6:36Jim McKenna (DSP Careers)

Wow. So, in the past eight years, what’s been your biggest challenges, your biggest shifts?

@6:45Sean McStay

have you seen over the past eight years? Yeah. mean, starting out, obviously, I think the biggest challenges was just you walk into an office and no one knows who you are.

They need to try and put you, you know, have some sort of frame of reference to judge what your product is and what you’re talking about.

Again, so we had to kind of work with that.

@7:02Jim McKenna (DSP Careers)

As we’ve gotten to be a bit more well-known, I mean, we’re not a host of old name, by any means, but within the high performance side of the industry, we’re well-known now.

@7:09Sean McStay

Definitely, I think the last three years, the biggest challenge has been adapting to the new kind of work-life balance and workspace balance for our clients.

So all of our guys have been remote and I’ve been working remote for like 13, 14 years now, but a lot of the architect offices, engineering offices, the people that we call on, it used to be if you wanna get a hold of that person Monday to Friday eight to five there in their office, but with COVID, obviously, they couldn’t be.

then since then, with more work from home and more flexible work, and we have to find new ways to kind of meet our clients where they are, whether that’s on social media or a different networking events, we’re just finding new and interesting ways to reach out to them that isn’t just meeting them at the office every day.

@8:00 – Jim McKenna (DSP Careers)
Okay. So do you sell through distribution?

@8:03 – Sean McStay
You sound through distributors? We sell, we have a hybrid model. We sell through distributors. also do sell some customers direct depending on the market and the customer size.

It’s a similar model to a lot of our competitors and so we kind of have had to adapt that model as well.

@8:20 – Jim McKenna (DSP Careers)
Okay. All right. And all your people they work remote.

@8:24 – Sean McStay
Yep. we don’t have other than the two, the two guys that are in our warehouse in BC.

@8:29 – Jim McKenna (DSP Careers)
Everyone else. Yeah. a remote work. Because that’s become more and more popular here. There’s almost not a data goes by that I don’t have a candidate asking me.

I work remote. Yeah. Every since COVID.

Every remote remote remote. And so, and so that, that’s, it sounds like you’ve been doing this a long time working remote and you manage people a long time, but it’s fairly new to some of my clients here.

So any tips you can give as far as managing people who are remote, how do you make sure they’re productive and make sure they’re hitting the numbers and make sure they’re working.
Give it that All that stuff.

@9:01 – Sean McStay
Yeah, definitely. mean, I think my management style is people start out with 100% of my trust, and then you can lose it from there.

And if when you start losing it, it’s really hard to get back. But when you start out with that kind of mindset that, you know, this person’s coming to work to do their job.

I trust them. You really start looking for ways to remove roadblocks for them to do their job successfully, whether that’s giving them the proper tools training, etc.

And then as far as making sure that they’re doing the work. It’s 100% about clear. So if you’re in the office every day and you’re talking to your staff, you can have kind of a very informal communication style.

You can have maybe a little bit less defined communication because it’s going to spontaneously happen throughout the day. But when you see your staff, you know,

I see some of my guys four times a year, five times a year, maybe you have to have a much more structured communication style and you have to have very clear expectations for them for what it is that you’re doing.

You know, we have CRM that we use. We have different tools that we use. So we know what activities they’re doing and that they’re making sure that, you know, to support them and their success that they are doing those activities.

But as a manager, that means you have to understand, especially on the sales side, what is it that actually pushes the needle?
And you know, it’s not just about hitting these metrics that are kind of faceless, you know, just because they look good.

It’s about what metrics actually push the needle, what makes a successful territory, and then helping your staff hit those metrics and then getting to see that level of success.

So when they can see the correlation between, if I do these things, I’m going to be successful and other territories that are successful have done these things.
I find that there’s a lot more buy-in for, yeah, I need to do my, you know, seven visits a week.

I need to do my 14 phone calls, my four new customers, whatever it is that you’re measuring. They can see the direct correlation for it.

And I find that that works not just for experienced reps, but also really well with kind of the younger generation.

They like to be able to see the kind of that correlation straight through of like, this isn’t just a random number we’ve pulled out of a hat.

This is why we do it. You need to do it. Now you’re doing it and you’re seeing some success.

And so I think that that’s, you know, just having that real clear communication and expectations is the biggest key to managing remotely.

@11:19 – Jim McKenna (DSP Careers)
And are your people they need to feel every day?

@11:24 – Sean McStay
They’re in the field typically four days a week. So I typically have one office day a week and then four field days that changes a little bit from week to week if they have trade shows or what have you.

@11:33 – Jim McKenna (DSP Careers)
That’s kind of a typical breakdown. And how often do you go out? And you said you see people about four or five times a year.

So I’m assuming that’s one on one. You probably have national sales meetings, all that stuff. So how often do you, are you personally, how do you become more than you get out?

@11:47 – Sean McStay
Yeah, so it depends a little bit on if I’m managing salesperson directly, which I still have a few people or if I’m managing a manager that is managing a team.

The sales people directly, I try and get there every two or three months. They’re pretty experienced. I’m Staus, they’re okay with that.

When someone’s starting out, it’s more often. But I get out in the field with them. do field coaching days.

go to meetings together, go job sites, etc. And then, yeah, we do have quarterly team meetings as well, where we’ll get together and bring other facets of the company together sometimes as well.

know, marketing will send somebody or application engineering will send somebody and we can do kind of modules to make sure everyone’s on the same page with new products, etc.

@12:27 – Jim McKenna (DSP Careers)
Sure. And as far as your customer interactions, do you interact with customers yourself too? The distributor is big, big large contract.
know, whoever.

@12:38 – Sean McStay
Yeah, so when we have Canada split up, our main territories that we have staff living in, have salespeople living in, I don’t interact with those customers too frequently.

But because I’m in Alberta and we don’t have a salesperson in Alberta yet, I do talk to the customers here and we have a very good distributor here as well that I work with.

And I find it’s nice for me because I still get to drive. I have the feedback, can see how the systems are working, but obviously it’s not a huge territory for us, it’s relatively small compared to the other areas.

So it’s enough to keep keep me busy and keep me talking to people, but otherwise yeah that’s mostly I just worked with our team.

@13:15 – Jim McKenna (DSP Careers)
Okay, great. So what are your number one goals over the next two, three years?

@13:23 – Sean McStay
Yeah, so I mean last year we just expanded into Quebec in the Maritimes with a new staff member there, so that’s going to be a big goal for us to continue to develop there.

I would also like to duplicate our training center concept that we’ve got on the west coast somewhere out east as well, it’s been working quite well for us.

And then from there we just have really aggressive growth goals, and so that’s going to mean onboarding some new staff, it’s going to mean making sure that all of our marketing and collateral and technologies are up to pace as well.

@13:55 – Jim McKenna (DSP Careers)
So it’s going to be more growth like it has been for the last number of years, so there’s going to be a number.

You know, building the team with good solid people that are going to be here for a while is always my main focus.

Okay. Do you have any expectation to expand into the US or other countries?

@14:12 – Sean McStay
So we have a business unit in the US that takes care of them. So yeah, they’re about the same size, they’re actually little bit bigger than us now.

And yeah, my boss is actually, he takes care of the Canadian unit and the US unit as well as South America.

@14:28 – Jim McKenna (DSP Careers)
And so yeah, the US business unit is doing really well this year as well. Okay. So they sound, they have direct employee employees or they know those independent reps.

@14:39 – Sean McStay
All direct employees there as well.

@14:41 – Jim McKenna (DSP Careers)
That’s great. Okay. That’s fine. Right. Perfect. So if you had to give a piece of advice or any lessons learned to attract and talents, it sounds like you’ve got you’ve got you’ve over the past eight years you’ve attracted a lot of people.

And you have your retention level, I’m assuming is pretty strong as well. So what kind of lessons or advice can you give as far as attracting good people and keeping good people?
Because that’s a big challenge to keep keeping good people.

@15:10 – Sean McStay
100% yeah that’s one of our biggest things that we focus on. As far as attracting good people I think that you know making your interview process as seamless and open as possible.

We I have a very open style when I do my interviews is not the typical canned questions. It’s you know I really want to give them a solid idea of you know the good sides the bad sides the challenges etc that they’re going to be looking into.
And I try and get them to open up and ask you know more genuine questions as well so that we can make sure that there’s alignment there.

We also do send all of our new or potential new staff out into the field with our guys for a day whether that means flying them somewhere or if there’s already somebody active in their area.

And so they get a field day to just experience the job see what it’s like and and that tends to help.

A lot with their understanding as well. As far as retaining talent, I think that, especially in a smaller business unit, like C to Canada is much smaller than obviously our colleagues in Europe.

So there’s not always a new position title every two years available for everyone. And so to make sure that people are staying engaged with their job, make sure they’re getting lots of education opportunities, make sure they understand their path and the employee and the manager have talked about what their path forward is, and just making sure they feel like they’re developing as a professional as well as in their job.

I think those are really the keys, especially now, to employees staying. Because as you know very well, employees are not staying with companies as long as they did in the past.

They tend more to move around. so to try and not just prevent that, but also prepare the employee for inevitably, they’re going to probably move to another company, make sure they’re developing their professional skills as well as their job skills.

@16:59 – Jim McKenna (DSP Careers)
And that’s It seems to really keep them pretty in tune with the job. What do you look for in talent when you’re recruiting?

@17:07 – Sean McStay
do you look for? I recruit mostly on attitude. Aptitude, we can teach. I could teach somebody to sell. can teach someone about the construction industry.

But I need someone who’s interested in learning, someone who’s open to new ideas, trying ideas, and then also someone who’s good at communicating.

So I try and encourage as much feedback as possible, because every territory that we move into is different than the previous ones.

Canada is a big country. have European products that sometimes we have to adapt. And so the best thing for our company is that if the employees give their feedback to us as well, so that we can learn from them.

So yeah, really good communication, good attitude, and interested in learning are kind of my top three things I look for.

@17:55 – Jim McKenna (DSP Careers)
OK? OK. Or anything else that we Anything else you might be able to share or add that you think is unique to what you’re doing without market?

@18:08 – Sean McStay
No, I don’t think so off the top of my head. mean, we’re pretty kind of European family business and we take that attitude into how we do things.

take care of our employees. think businesses are starting to understand that more and more now that that’s pretty crucial.

@18:25 – Jim McKenna (DSP Careers)
And yeah, that’s been one of our keys for success for sure. No, that’s great. No, it sounds like it’s very impressive what you’re doing, especially over
far you come to sound like you’ve had tremendous growth, not only product wise, but people wise and company size and everything.

And you went through some hard times too. I would assume just like everybody did for COVID, that kind of stuff.

you’re able to get you’re able to get above that. So that’s that’s that’s the regulations on that. That’s great.

That’s great. So pretty much it concludes my questions.


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