Outsourcing to a talented team so you can stay in your zone of genius has lots of perks, from less time at your laptop to more time at your favorite sunny vacation spots.
Buuuut there is one very un-glamorous part of being the boss: having hard conversations with your team. Learning how to effectively communicate with your team is a must if you really want outsourcing to work long-term. Let’s take a look at the top four tough-yet-necessary conversations you need to have (on an ongoing basis) if you want to create a thriving, harmonious team that loves supporting your vision:
1) Performance and Expectations
First things first: Performance expectations are something you should discuss before you ever sign on a contractor’s dotted line. You’ll need to have an open and honest conversation with every team member about what you expect from them and what success looks like in their role. You can (and should!) also set up regular performance reviews (yep, a lot like a “regular business”) to address any performance gaps or areas of improvement. Just make sure to also knowledge your team member’s strengths and provide constructive (rather than destructive) feedback.
2) Work-Life Balance and Boundaries
Running a successful online business doesn’t require burning the midnight oil. Obviously, you know this, but does your team know it, too? It’s crucial to have regular conversations about work-life balance with your team. Be sure to allow them to talk openly with you about their workload and availability–and to let you know if it ever changes. Encourage them to set boundaries and respect their own personal time. It might feel weird to do this–and hard to hear that team member is struggling to keep up or feels themself burning out–but remember, a team that feels supported and balanced will be happier, more productive, and ultimately contribute to the growth of your business.
3) Conflict (or Signs of Conflict)
Let’s face it, conflict happens in every team. We’re all human, right? This is why you need to know how to properly handle it in a way that doesn’t destroy relationships. First, it’s essential to address it head-on. Don’t ignore issues that you see cropping up between team members or between yourself and your team members.
Instead, opt to create a safe space for open communication and conflict resolution. If the issue is between team members, you job is to be the mediator and guide the discussion toward a positive outcome for all (and the business as a whole). If you’re personally having conflict with a team member, it’s still important to foster a culture of open dialogue and collaboration.
No matter which role you’re playing, it’s important to tactfully speak your mind and allow anyone else involved to do the same. Be open to their ideas and feedback–even if it’s sometimes hard to hear. Stepping up and voicing your concerns at the first sign of conflict –and making sure others on your team feel safe to do so – can keep them from escalating.
4) Career Growth & Development
As you scale your business, your team members will truly become your biggest assets, and nurturing their growth is key to both their happiness and your business’s overall success. Check in with them regularly about their career aspirations, current goals and any development opportunities (whether that’s within your business, or elsewhere).
You can even identify areas where they can expand their skills and offer them training, mentoring, or new challenges to take on. Notice your new VA really loves editing your podcasts? Ask her if she’d be interested in writing up show notes or repurposing content from your show into social media posts, for example. Investing in their growth is also an investment for your business, remember? I pinky-promise that doing just that will help you retain top talent and ensure your whole team is motivated, engaged, and dedicated to your business – not just for now, but for the long run as well.
Having these hard conversations may feel uncomfortable at first, but trust me, they’re worth their weight in gold. By addressing performance expectations, setting boundaries, resolving conflicts, and fostering your team’s career growth, you’ll create a harmonious, motivated team that continually wants to–and does–propel your business forward.