Hiring and Managing a Team of Outsourced People - Part Two
In Part One of our two-part series “Hiring and Managing a Team of Outsourced People” we talked about the dreams and reality of running a business and what it takes. Remember, you can’t run any business without help, unless of course you want to become an expert on everything. No matter what, you will have to outsource some work and knowing how to manage the team will help your business run with finesse. In Part Two we are going to talk about the different aspects you’ll face when hiring outsourced employees, managing your employees, building a team and communicating with your team.
First thing first … HIRING! You want to find the right people to get the job done. Let me start off by saying Be Prepared!! If you have to hire people, you will make bad hiring decisions.
- People will disappoint you.
- People will not live up to what they say they will.
- People will oversell themselves.
That’s the nature of humanity and the nature of business. It is not going to be a honeymoon. It will not be perfect. It is a working relationship and a process. It gets better over time, as you learn to work together.
Do not get discouraged and do not give up. You will find the right person for your team.
How to Hire Your Team
Hiring can be a very grueling process but try to make it as smooth as possible. I hear more often than not, “Where do you find your outsourced people?”
- Find them online. I’ve had several successful hires from hiremymom.com and for occasional work Odesk is great resource as well.
- Ask your Facebook friends – e.g., people you know who are in a business that’s similar to yours – see if they have any references.
- Your best bet is to try to hire someone who comes through a referral. This will most likely be a person who did a really good job for somebody you know in your circle. A referral takes away the pain of working with a person who doesn’t work out and who can’t get the job done. In the end, it saves you from wasting your time and theirs.
During the hiring process there are steps you can take to ensure you get the right person fit for the position – without having to meet them face-to-face – times sure have changed!
- Carefully interview them via Skype call or phone call. Ask all your important questions in regards to the work they will be doing, their experience and education. Take the time to get to know the person – don’t be afraid to ask questions.
- Check their references. Make sure they have done the work they say they have.
- Assign a test project. This will show you the person’s knowledge and help you see if you work well together.
- Make sure they want to do the thing they are applying to do. Sometimes people will ask about jobs because they are just looking for a paycheck. People who are just looking for a paycheck will not do quality work. They will not invest in your business or care about the work they’re doing for you.
When you hire somebody and you hire somebody good, you want to try to keep them as happy as you can and to ensure they stay with you. The cost of replacing that somebody will be pretty high and take time away from the business because you will have to start the entire process over again.
If you find somebody that gets along really well with your team and your business is in growth mode but you don’t have work for them yet, you may want to hire them early because you know that their personality and their work ethic fits with your business and that they will step into the position when the company creates it.
Managing Your Team
So now that you’ve figured out how to hire your team, let’s talk about managing them. This can be tricky – but if you take the proper steps and you show how efficient you are, your team will follow.
To run your business, the first thing you need to do is have a plan and know who is going to execute that plan. It is very important to know what types of talent you need on your team to execute each plan that you may have.
If you have a web developer, don’t expect that person to edit videos. If you have a video editor, don’t expect that this person is going to be able to write email copy. There is a slight possibility that you run across a person named Mary who actually does have multiple skills, and can do all of these things (hire Mary!).
The people you are managing need to know what your expectations are for each project. People cannot read your mind. Once you have discussed what your expectations are, take the extra time (or have your assistant take the extra time) and make sure:
- The project instructions are visibly written down for you and them to see.
- The project instructions are clear as to what it is you need them to do.
- Ensure that everyone has the resources needed to get the job done – e.g., if they are going to code a webpage, they probably need copy written, your logo and graphics.
You can never expect that this person will just figure out what they need to complete the task and do it all on their own, but you can take the time to empower them to tell you what they will need. Lay everything out so any questions and directions they may need are easy to ask for.
- Give them something to do.
- Give them a timeline as to when that something is due.
- Ask them directly, “Do you have any questions?”
- Set up a status update source to ensure that you know what is being done, how it’s being done and when it’s being done.
- Make a call-to-action so that both you and they know what the next step is … this could be as simple as asking them to repeat back to you (e.g., “Hey, can you sum this up for me? Tell me what I just told you to make sure that we’re both on the same page.”)
Managing More Than One (Team Size)
The real trick comes not in hiring or managing your first person, or your second person, or your third person – it comes more in what you have after you have about five people on the team.
You can manage up to five people easily enough. If you have five people, it really doesn’t break. You can do a lot of things and get a lot of things accomplished, and it just kind of works because it’s small.
Once you get to more than five, it’s really important that you have project management in place and understand what your big picture goals are, what your project is, what the pieces of the project are and what the timelines for your project are. Then it becomes a matter of having you or the project manager check in on how each of those pieces are moving forward. If there is something blocking the way, you remove it. And if things are not running on schedule, you either fix whatever needs to be fixed or you communicate a change in schedule to whoever needs to know.
Communicating With Your Team
It’s very important to understand that because your people are outsourced or virtual, there is no ability to do “watercooler” talk. This being that, if people are in their emails going back and forth, you can waste a ton of time. You can just go around and around, and within two days the message hasn’t been communicated properly. In such a case, you really want to tell the people you’ve hired that if there is something truly urgent and needs to be clarified ASAP, they can pick up the phone and call one another or they can chat on Skype, Slack, Google Chat, text or any other chat channel. If it’s just something small, then by all means stick to normal levels of communication. But you should have it defined in your group how things should be communicated and any communications best practices.
There may come a time you’re wondering why things aren’t running the way you feel they should, or your team isn’t working the way you’d like them to, so ask yourself these questions:
- Do you have the right people on the team?
- Do you have the right set of resources for what you need to do?
- Do they have the right skills and the right talents and the experience?
- Do they have the ability and do you have the time to have somebody train them?
Are communication levels failing and things not being completed on time? Are tasks being completed but not the way you would like? Take a moment:
- Does your team know how to communicate with one another?
- Do they know what they are responsible for?
- Do they know what to do if they get stuck?
- Do they know the appropriate time to escalate an issue back to you or whoever is project managing the piece?
Managing people and managing a team is a skill, and it’s similar to a really awesome cheerleader captain, the captain of the football team, a great manager at work, or a parent – it’s about checking and knowing what’s going on. It’s about taking the time to actually communicate. Some people have learned this skill and other people haven’t. You can’t expect to read people’s minds, and you can’t expect people to read your mind.