Outsourcing is the process of hiring another individual or company—either domestically or internationally—to handle business activities and tasks. Hiring an outsource company has become a standard practice as it allows businesses to acquire services and skills that are usually hard to develop due to financial or workforce restrictions, sometimes even both.
By outsourcing, entrepreneurs get to focus more on core competencies, cut costs, and improve the efficiency of their business. Compared to hiring someone locally, outsourcing can save business owners as much as 60%.
With the onboarding of this team in your company, it’s only natural to face challenges when managing a remote team to work productively and achieve the results you want. In this article, learn more about the speed bumps in working with an outsourced team and how to come out on top of these challenges.
Challenges of Managing an Outsourced Team
Admittedly, managing your in-house and outsourced teams require two very different styles. Here are some of the challenges that go with managing an outsourced team:
1. Time difference or scheduling conflicts
It is likely that the outsourced team lives on the other side of the world and, therefore, in a different time zone from yours. Some offshore teams are willing to adjust their schedules to match their employer’s time zone, but then, there are also the holidays of their respective countries. Another scheduling conflict that could arise is their perspective of time—some countries are strict with time, while others are lax about it.
You can overcome these scheduling conflicts by doing the following:
- Find a middle ground – Establish how many hours you want your offshore team to work for you. Do you want them to work for ten or 12 hours? Check your team members’ respective time zones and see if there are any overlapping hours between all time zones.
- Establish a work schedule and scheduling protocol – Will you follow strict working hours, or will you offer a more flexible working schedule for your team? When it comes to scheduling meetings, deadlines, and projects, find out how many days or hours your team members need to prepare for so that they can carefully plot their calendars.
- Research beforehand key dates and holidays of your team members’ respective countries – These days may be non-working holidays in your team members’ countries, which could potentially mean delays. Determine if you want them to come to work during that particular holiday and make up for it as their overtime pay.
2. Language and communication
When working with a remote team, communication is crucial. Some countries have a good grasp of the English language, while others don’t.
When hiring a member or a company to become your offshore team, check which language they can speak and communicate in. Use simple language to explain tasks, deliverables, and overall goals. Moreover, establish clear and open communication channels with your team.
Conduct video calls so that everyone can become familiar with his or her communication styles, ticks, and gestures. This also helps your team associate a face with the names and voices they will usually work with.
3. Understanding different cultures
Each country has a different culture, belief, values, principles, and habits; these differences are inevitable when working with an offshore team. Overcome these first by acknowledging the differences from the very beginning.
Practice basic courtesy and work ethics, and make sure everyone in your group knows what these are so they are aware. Ask your recruitment firm or HR personnel to conduct culture and sensitivity training for your offshore and onshore teams.
4. Managing expectations
For many companies, setting unrealistic expectations is one of the top problems of outsourcing. Manage expectations by defining and identifying your offshore team’s roles, responsibilities, and priorities to minimize or prevent mistakes and failed expectations. Provide project briefs that give your team the scope of work that needs to be done, the exact dates and deadlines, and the like.
5. Lack of leadership
In a traditional work setting, there is always a manager on the floor keeping members motivated and making sure that they meet deadlines and that the same high quality is maintained. Assign a point person in your team to act the role of a project manager.
He or she can help mitigate the challenges of cultural differences and scheduling difficulties and help you understand these differences, as well as your team members, better. At the same time, the project manager will help the offshore team channel their work problems with you.
Tips to Work with Your Outsourced Team
After being aware of the various challenges you may face when working with an outsourced team, how can you solve such hurdles? Read on to equip yourself with the best solutions you can implement with your outsourced team.
- Make them see the vision and set a goal
For a virtual team to work harmoniously with you, make them see and believe in your company’s goal. Have them understand how vital your company is to you and what your definition of success is. Maybe then, they will feel motivated to work hard for you and, thereby, share your vision. If needed, remind them about the company’s goals.
- Show a united process
Keep everyone on the same page and up-to-date with his or her tasks, deadlines, and expectations. By ensuring cohesion within and between your outsourced team, they get to accomplish valuable work. To keep everyone in the loop, choose one out of the numerous communication tools that everyone on your team will use, and make sure that they align with the type of work involved.
In addition, encourage accountability within your team through collaboration tools such as Dropbox and Google Drive. These tools will help you see your team’s progress, thereby encouraging them to spend their time efficiently.
- Allow some room for flexibility
Not everyone responds well with a rigid structure or micromanaging. Maximize your team’s efforts by ensuring that they can work when they feel most energized and motivated. At the same time, you should trust your offshore team. Never forget that you hired them for their expertise in a particular field or task. Make your team feel that you trust them to make decisions based on their professional judgment.
Ask for their opinions and make them feel included in the project or task. Encourage them to ask questions, get involved, or speak up.
- Highlight achievements, reward good work, and show gratitude
Sometimes, saying “good job” and “thank you” already makes a world of difference to an employee. This can boost productivity because they feel appreciated. Your appreciation and gratitude can also come in the form of a gift or award. There is a reason why many companies nominate someone as their “Employee of the Month.”
To amp up your team’s productivity, introduce incentives or rewards systems for their outstanding effort. These are great ways of encouraging your team to work better and meet their deadlines or targets and demonstrate their involvement with the team and the company despite being miles away.
- Check your offshore team
Once in a while, check-in with your offshore team outside work hours. This gives you and your team a chance to get to know each other beyond emails and deliverables, thus strengthening your relationship with them. This also shows them how much you value their work and the effort they have put in for your company.
Manage the Challenges
When it comes to working with an offshore team, there will always be challenges, but these can be resolved through open communication, understanding, and working together toward a common goal. Outsourcing should not be a burden but rather help alleviate problems and tasks that you cannot do alone.
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