Will delegation transform your business? Heck yeah!
It can help you wrangle your out-of-control inbox, manage technological hiccups, and generate top-notch content + other valuable tasks. But once you start hiring out, all of a sudden you’re responsible for team members, which can be a heck of a transition if you’ve been going it alone for years.
And leading a team has its challenges, especially if your team members do phenomenal work but can’t seem to deliver it on time. Suddenly you’re a boss, a project manager, and a babysitter all at once!
And since you want healthy, open relationships with your team members, you may be reluctant to nag them a thousand times a day.
Trust that instinct. There are far better ways to cultivate accountability in your contractors! And today I’m going to share a few of my faves.
Set Clear Expectations
Obvious, but also INCREDIBLY important. Being open and transparent about what you want and expect your contractors to do is essential to creating ongoing accountability.
And expectations should be set on several levels:
General: Before a new team member begins working with and for you, have a discussion about your communication and delivery preferences. Talk about how often you expect progress reports, what to do if projects take longer than expected, and any work-related pet-peeves you have. It can be helpful to put all of this in a “Collaboration Guidelines” document, which you can share even before you make a hire.
Brand: Since your contractors will be doing work on behalf of your brand, they need to become familiar with its parameters. Create a brand book that includes basics like fonts, colors, and taglines, but also captures examples of how you want your pinnable images to look and the keywords you want associated with your online presence.
Individual Projects: Any time a team member dives into a new project, outline your expectations for how it should unfold before work begins. Make sure your contractors feel empowered to make decisions on your behalf, but also comfortable coming to you with questions when they feel unsure.
Create Reasonable Deadlines
Note the inclusion of the word “reasonable”!
You are the boss which means you are 100% in charge of deciding when you want work completed. However, if you consistently demand lightning-fast turnaround from your team members, they’ll just get burned out.
If you’re launching a recurring project that has monthly deliverables, chat with your team about how long they truly need to get the work done, and done well.
Be firm, but willing to compromise, especially on projects that have some leeway.
Use a Tracking System
Don’t have the time or energy to check in with your contractors multiple times a day? Me either!
A project management system like Basecamp can be your best friend when it comes to efficient tracking and accountability enforcement.
Find out why I can’t live without this outsourcing tool, and get the scoop on a few great software options right here.
Yes, software can help with keeping projects on track and generating deadline-reminder emails. But it shouldn’t totally replace person-to-person check-ins, especially when you’re onboarding a new team member.
You need to build trust and rapport as well as enforcing your expectations, so consider scheduling weekly or monthly update meetings. Doing so will help you make sure projects are progressing, and allow you to address any questions or hiccups.
Communicate, Communicate, Communicate
It’s so easy to get frustrated when a contractor delivers shoddy work or misses a deadline.
But if you’re not being clear from the outset, you can hardly blame your VA or content writer for screwing up!
As soon as you feel like a project or task is starting to stall out, open the lines of communication.
Ask how things are going, offer to help, recommend tools and resources. If a recurring task is being handled sloppily, say so. Don’t just expect your team members to read your mind.
Offer praise, feedback, and guidance so everyone who works for you knows where she stands.
I know, I know, this is a toughie. But you teach people how to treat you, and if your team believes they can slack off and never feel any repercussions, why would they change?
Everyone makes mistakes, so consider offering a warning (or even two) before enforcing consequences. You don’t want your contractors to live in fear of your wrath.
But don’t let recurring errors slide. Communicate your feelings about inadequate performance, and explain how you’ve determined your response.
Reducing responsibilities is a good way to deal with lesser offenses, but you need to be prepared to cut ties with consistently unreliable team members.
Be Generous With Rewards
On the flip side, make sure you praise and reward outstanding performance so your team feels valued and appreciated.
An incremental bonus system will create accountability through positive reinforcement, but even verbal kudos help build loyalty.
Running an effective team is no mean feat! But with these simple tips, you can create accountability, trust, and a supportive working environment for all of your contractors.
PS – Here’s a bonus tip for helping your contractors succeed: Give them crystal clear project outlines. If you don’t know where to start, check out my VA Training Templates Library. I’ve put together dozens of step-by-step plans you can simply hand off to your VA, complete with task-tracking calendars, and you can get them all for one price right here.