Outsourcing to a team isn’t quite the same as managing a traditional pool of coworkers.
Since your contractors may never be in the same room with each other, you get to bypass office gossip, interpersonal politics, and competitive cattiness. Big wins for you as a team leader!
In many ways, your outsourced squad is far easier to wrangle than a cubicle-dwelling team. However, managing contractors does take some finesse.
Because you aren’t always meeting face-to-face, it can be harder to communicate effectively, and overcoming obstacles together is often tricky. That lack of face-time may also mean that you focus so intensely on getting top-notch deliverables from your team members that you miss the importance of understanding and respecting their processes.
Which is why we’re diving into the essentials of outsourcing today!
And before we get started, here’s a little preview: If you want great results from your contractors, you’ve gotta keep ‘em happy.
Establish a clear company hierarchy
Offices need org charts, and outsourced teams need clear-cut reporting structures.
This might seem counterintuitive (since freelancers love freelancing for its lack of rigid frameworks), but believe me when I tell you this is a must!
When you’re running a collaborative team and no one knows who owns certain tasks and decisions, you force your team members to make their own rules. Chaos ensues, followed closely by an avalanche of misery.
You’re the boss, so outlining a common-sense company hierarchy falls to you. Create it, share it, and enforce it. Your team will be healthier and more effective with this guide in place!
Ensure everyone is working in his or her “zone of genius”
Back in school, our teachers frequently forced us to improve our weaknesses; If you got an A in math and a C- in Spanish, you were told to spend your time and energy on Spanish. The working world can (foolishly) go down this road, too, especially in companies that conduct performance reviews.
But as the manager of a team, you should ditch this outdated framework ASAP.
If you want your team members to do their best work, give them tasks they do well and enjoy doing.
If they’re lousy at Twitter but spectacular at Insta, don’t scold them for sub-par tweets; Encourage them to focus on gorgeous photos with sticky captions. Reward great performance with the opportunity to continue performing well. Your team will thank you.
Use a good project management system
Tracking tasks and managing deadlines by hand is a waste of your limited time and energy.
Get your whole team on a solid project management program, and you’ll cut down on headaches and miscommunications. Here’s a roundup of our favorites!
Set reasonable due dates
It can be absolutely infuriating to watch a contractor miss deadline after deadline … but when this happens, try not to jump to conclusions.
While it’s certainly possible that he’s sleeping on the job, it’s also possible that you’re demanding painfully tight turnarounds.
Talk with your team about due dates and deadlines, and encourage them to be open about what feels reasonable.
Allow your team some autonomy
Ever met someone who LOVES being micromanaged? Me either!
Once you’ve hired great people, trained them and set them to their tasks, give them some space. It’s perfectly fine to check in and ask for updates, but don’t breathe down their necks.
Contractors perform well when they feel trusted and know they’re viewed as experts. So pop them into their zone of genius, and let them do their thing!
Create a culture of openness
Being a good listener can be challenging in a virtual world; Tone and nuance get lost in emails, and even Skype has its limitations.
It’ll take some work, but it’s still worth your while to create a working environment that feels collaborative and open to everyone on your team.
Contractors should feel totally free to make suggestions and present ideas, and know they’ll be heard. This practice helps your team feel valued, and also gives you access to a pool of creativity and input that can spark new projects, products, and business endeavors.
Your team members are intimately familiar with your business, and may share amazing insights you’ve never considered.
Pay them well and plan to keep them long term
Encouraging autonomy and openness will remind your contractors that you respect and value them.
Paying them well and treating them like permanent team members underlines their importance. Show your team you admire and need them by meeting their financial and job security needs. ‘Nuff said.
Every team has its quirks, and keeping your business systems running smoothly will involve some managerial improvisation. But these seven tips can help you outsource in a way that’s both supportive and productive!
PS – Here’s a bonus tip for boosting your team’s productivity: Give them crystal clear project outlines.If you don’t know where to start, check out my VA Templates Training Library. Inside, you’ll find dozens of step-by-step project kits your team can implement immediately, with little to no input from you. Get all the details right here.