Managing an offshore team is almost exactly the same as looking after your team at home. To make it work, you need to be prepared to invest some time and energy into your team.
Here are 5 tips that will help you make an ongoing success of your offshore team.
Take the time
Offshoring is an opportunity to expand your business faster and save on costs. However, to make it work you’ll need to invest time up front. It’s not a ‘set and forget’ solution. You need to train, mentor and speak with your offshore team on an ongoing basis, just as you do with your onshore team. This will improve the quality of service for both you and your customers, and consequently lead to a stronger return on investment.
Treat your offshore team like your onshore team
Your offshore team is part of your business. And they’re people. Just like your local (onshore) team, they’ll perform best when they feel included and when they have excellent working relationships with their colleagues and managers. So be sure to talk to them and build strong relationships. This will help them:
Live and breathe your culture
Align with your vision
Work towards your company goals
Develop a rapport with your local (onshore) teams
Be happier and more productive in their roles
TIP: Simple programs like Skype, Google Meet, Zoom and GoToMeeting make it super easy to have face-to-face team huddles.
Dedicate ‘champions’ to manage them
Your offshore team is a critical part of your business. You need to equip them with the knowledge, skills and attitude they’ll need to fill that role. Just as importantly, you need to ensure excellent team cohesion, collaboration and goal alignment.
The best way to do this is to dedicate two ‘champions’ to your offshore team – one onshore and one offshore. Their role is to glue your two teams together, making it far more likely you’ll achieve the outcomes you seek, and far less likely you’ll experience any of the problems that disconnection and distance can cause.
Your onshore champion should manage and communicate with your offshore team. Your champion will be someone who:
Has an intimate understanding of your business and culture
Your offshore team can come to with questions
Provides clarification and guidance to your offshore team
Hosts regular meetings with your offshore team
Checks in with individuals on your offshore team
Is responsible for your offshore team’s performance
Provides feedback and encouragement
It’s not just about knowledge transfer, either. It’s also something of a cultural transfer. Your onshore champion has to provide information and insight that your offshore team couldn’t get simply by reading your website. They need to:
Deliver clear responsibilities and KPIs
Manage people based on outcomes
Allow people flexibility
Communicate – having good systems in place for communication is especially important with a remote team
Again, it comes back to treating your offshore members as part of the team. You may not see them at the watercooler, but they’re still a very real part of your company. You need to make sure they’re engaged – just like the rest of your employees. Fortunately, these days, technology makes this a lot easier than it used to be.
Your offshore champion will be your onshore champion’s main point of contact, and the person on the ground who coordinates your offshore team’s day-to-day time and tasks.
They’ll have their ‘finger on the pulse’ of your offshore team in a way that’s only possible for someone local to achieve. They’ll typically be a senior manager or team leader – one of your early offshore hires, and someone you feel confident working with.
Ideally you’ll fly your offshore champion home to visit your local office for a few weeks, at least once a year. This will solidify the relationship and give them an excellent understanding of your business.
Visit your offshore team regularly
Visiting your offshore team and facilities is a must. It’s best to organize a trip when you first set up the team, and then visit regularly after that.
Fly over and take a few days to work with your team on the ground. Get to know your staff properly and allow them to get to know you. Face-to-face conversations help make your business, its goals and its customers a clear reality to your offshore team members (rather than remote concepts). If your offshore team understand who they’re working with, and more importantly why, they’ll deliver far better service quality and results.
Visiting your staff in person will also give you an insight into their strengths and weaknesses, so you can better allocate resources to appropriate tasks and make decisions about advancement.
Plus, while you’re visiting, chances are you’ll get to meet other business owners and managers who are offshoring too. This is obviously great from a networking point of view, but – more importantly – it’s a great way of exchanging best practices with other clients.
Create clear systems and processes
Clear systems will help your team do their jobs effectively, and you’ll see a quicker return on your investment through:
More efficient work
Higher job satisfaction
Better staff accountability and clear KPIs
Better quality control
Consistent products, services and brand representation
Consistent customer experiences
MicroSourcing has a great deal of experience in all of these areas. We’ll walk you through the process of setting up your systems and processes, and once you’re up and running, we’ll offer proactive advice whenever we see an opportunity for improvement.