As a business owner, deciding to outsource talent is one of the smartest moves you can do for your company. Remote teams can help you save time and money in completing specific tasks and projects while still hitting the business goals you’ve set. It’s not that difficult to implement either, as any reputable recruitment agency can recommend remote workers or third-party service providers that can deliver what your business needs.
However, hiring a virtual team does not come without challenges. In the age of telecommuting, business owners should be evolving their leadership skills as well. It’s critical to learn how to properly manage your offshore teams to maximize productivity and iron out any hiccups along the way.
Here are some tips and adjustments you can do to lead your offshore team better.
1. Develop a communication system
Make sure your offshore team is using the same communication tools as your in-house team. Whether your first line of communication is via email or chat, give everyone the same information and directive. For meetings, let your offshore team know whether they should be prepared for voice calls or video conferences. Your virtual communication tools should always align and make sense for the type of work involved.
Additionally, in some cases, there may be teams who have cultural differences or some degree of language barriers. To avoid conflict and miscommunication, managers can monitor group or team discussions to ensure that everyone is on the same page.
2. Understand your team’s needs
How often do you need to be talking to your offsite employees? Do they need weekly check-ins or monthly meetings? Are there specific project heads you need to collaborate with all the time? These are some of the questions you should consider when figuring out your team’s needs.
Be careful not to adopt the “out of sight, out of mind” approach! Reach out with periodic status updates and give them confidential feedback forms where they can give you an opportunity to air out problems, clarify some concerns, and offer suggestions. Make sure their voice is heard.
3. Think about the time
Time zones make a significant impact in work collaboration. In most cases, your offshore team may not subscribe to the same time zone as you. This is particularly true for companies based in the U.S. with outsourced partners in Asia. Be mindful of when and how you message them within and beyond your working location’s office hours.
This is also true for setting up interdepartmental meetings or sensitive deadlines. If your offsite employees need to join a meeting scheduled in your time zone, let them know weeks in advance. The same goes for projects that need to be handled by different people working in different locations.
4. Set and manage expectations
From the get-go, you should be able to clearly define and identify the roles, responsibilities, and priorities of your offshore team to minimize blunders and failed expectations. This means ensuring you have project briefs which communicate the scope of work that needs to be done, specific dates and deadlines that need to be met (and clarified in everyone’s time zone), and more.
If you let your offshore members work too autonomously, they may feel lost in some of their tasks. It’s still important to give them a sense of direction so that they know what you’re asking for.
5. Set ample time for training
Part of knowing their job description means understanding the processes and ways of doing things for the company. You can set-up online training sessions via video calling tools that will allow you to educate them “face-to-face”. Not being able to train your employees personally could spell out longer training times, but don’t skip this step—it will be more efficient for the company in the long run.
6. Treat them as you would in-house employees
Your offshore team is a global extension of your company, so make them feel it! Include them in company-wide announcements, inform them of the company’s plans, and let them know that you also value their professional growth. This treatment will make them feel more open in expressing concerns and suggesting ideas that all boils down to better productivity.
7. Regularly visit your offshore team
Yes, this means taking trips out of the country to get to know the other members of your company. To keep them connected and make them feel like they’re a part of the company, periodic in-person visits can bode well for all parties involved. You can host team building projects in your offshore team’s country, or you could also invite them to HQ. Both are great opportunities to get to know your employees and even see what other skills you can tap them for as you help shape their careers.
Communication is indeed the foundation of any great business relationship. Discussing the things that matter can significantly improve how you work with your team, whether or not they are physically present in the office.
Make sure you can cultivate a connection with your remote members so that they become confident in speaking up and engaging with other members of the company. What matters most is smooth company relations for better productivity and higher rates of success.