Maybe this fear is stopping YOU from increasing your success with outsourcing (Watch the FREE video for details).
So imagine this (maybe you haven’t yet, but imagine this) …
You’ve hired your first Virtual Assistant, Admin person, Webmaster, whatever role you need. So now you’re concerned.
Are they really doing the full day’s work they agreed to?
How do you know?
(As you’re reading down through this, remember, hiring your Virtual Assistant and your own expert team is all about getting more done, in less time, for less money, so YOU don’t have to do the work yourself)
The fear that your workers are not working is a legitimate fear. You’re paying for their time. If they’re not providing you with that time, then that’s a rip-off and a breach of contract (and a breach of confidence, which is equally important).
So how do you answer that fear? And more than anything it is about answering that *fear*, rather than it being a realitity.
There are 3 broad areas of solution
- Spy software
I would strongly suggest implementing the first 2. The 3rd option is up to you.
Certain job roles lend themselves to targets more than others. The Virtual Assistant role, if your giving them numerous new and different tasks on a regular basis, does not lend itself to daily targets, because it is changing every day. So with such VA roles, you would instead rely on detailed Reporting (see below).
With other jobs, daily targets are more applicable, such as article writing.
You might expect 1 article of 400 words per hour. This is a realistic target. So if they are working an 8 hour day, you might set them the target of 8 articles per day.
You would realistically expect fewer articles per hour or per day if you want them to be top notch, high quality articles and/or if they need a lot of research put into them (there are more detailed examples of daily targets within the Outsourcing Exposed book on Amazon).
But this is a default daily target we implement for our Article Writers.
The Rules of Engagement outline that for any day where they don’t hit target, they do not get paid for that day (and this is all clearly explained to all workers in our team).
Personally, I have NEVER had to invoke that rule and not pay any of our team, because what has always happened, on any single day where they have not hit target, they have always made up the time later if they needed to. So I got the work done that we needed, and they got paid. Everybody happy!
So what daily targets could you set? If daily targets are not going to be feasible, what weekly targets could you set? Or could you set a target date for them to finish a certain (larger) project? This approach would be applicable with a webmaster or programmer for example, where the work is more project-based, rather than repetitive.
Not only does this squash your fear that work is not being done – it also tells your team that it is vital to you that they do produce, and that you are on your toes, making sure work gets done. Because of this, more work gets done.
The best and simplest form of reporting is the End Of Day Summary report. It works like this…
As a condition of working in your team, you mandate that they must put it onto your Intranet team zone (collaboration software) AND they MUST send you an email of this EVERY day. It must contain the answer to the following questions, every day.
End Of Day Summary
1. What I did today (include approx number of hours spent of each task)
2. Any problems
3. What I will do to solve this
4. Anything I need from Jordan (Team Leader) or Duncan (Director)
5. What I plan to do tomorrow
For everything in 1. (what they did today) they must also include the approximate number of hours it took them.
FYI – We offer a FREE Intranet setup and professional web hosting within the ExpertTeam.tv membership (access to candidates, training to give them, plus coaching for you, web hosting and intranet).
So they report to you into your Intranet AND copy a copy of the report into an email to you.
Done – SE Nuke run for T2 XXX backlinks (1 hour)
Done – Document Marketing Robot for PDF to T1 XXXXXX (2 hours)
Probs – DeathByCaptcha credit is zero – need more
Solution – Purchase more credit – Duncan
Duncan request – Pls purchase more DeathByCaptcha credit
Tomorrow – Run SE Nuke for XXX T3 backlinks,
Tomorrow – Run DMR for XX T2
This is all it needs to be – summary bullet points, nothing more. Don’t let them waste more time on this than is necessary. They then copy and paste that exact same section into email and send to you.
End Of Week Summary report
You might also like to instigate a process of getting a weekly summary of everything they have done that week. This simply means they summarize and collate each day’s End Of Day Summary. The purpose of this is so you can get an overview of what the whole team are doing from a higher level overview. This is also handy if you are away on vacation, sipping Caipirinha in Rio, or just out of town, so you can still get a handle on your business.
Once in a while it is worth getting them to run a task diary (it is a darn wise move for YOU to run a task diary before you start outsourcing, and periodically after you have started to see what other tasks you should be outsourcing – more on this in a later post). This post outlines how and why to do this, with screenshots.
Here are the instructions exactly as I sent them to my team recently…
DO THIS EVERY DAY FOR THE NEXT WEEK
Every hour – write a short note of what you did in the last hour
Limited time frame – 1 week
So please write this diary. I want to see this next week. It will look something like this for each day
Against each of those times write a note of what you achieved in the last hour. Send this task diary to me in a .txt file at the end of the week.
This serves a few purposes
- It lets them know that you are watching them.
- It lets them know that you care about their output.
- It gets them to focus on output and objectives.
- It allows you to analyze whether the tasks they are doing on an hourly basis are the optimal use of their time. Is there a better way they could operate?
Team Analysis Of Task Diaries
You might also want to open up the team’s task diaries to each other and analyse them as a team. This gets SCARY.
It gets scary for you and it gets scary for everyone. If they know that everyone is going to be chewing over their hourly work output, don’t you think they might work with a bit more focus, drive and objectivity from now on?
That’s exactly what it does!
Go easy with this if you choose to take the team analysis approach. Make sure everything is done in as constructive a way as possible. Suggest better ways to operate rather than flat-out criticising,and encourage your team to do the same for each other.
Weekly Team Talk
This is a piece of gold-dust info for you – get into the habit of doing a group voice call with all of your outsource team. Our team productivity and my management of the team massively shot up when we implemented this strategy.
You can use Skype or you might find webinar software gets you a more reliable phone line (the audio quality of Skype voice calls seems to have deteriorated since Microsoft bought out Skype…)
By talking with your team all at once, you build team cohesion, getting them all to feel as one, as a team, and they know they are held accountable for their work. There is more detail on how to run a Team Talk within the Outsourcing Exposed book on Amazon. The basics for now – get the whole team on, you can run through any new direction of your business, and each team member takes it in turn to give a summary rundown of their work achieved in the last week.
Targets & Reporting
If you get the operation of team targets and reporting right, you will by now have fully squashed any fear that someone is not working fully. By now you should be able to see that they are reporting daily and that their hours are fully worked every day, and worked effectively, efficiently and optimally.
If anyone in your team looks like they’re not pulling their weight (it is rare, but it might happen), then you need to take the appropriate steps. Ultimately you can fire them, but before you put yourself through the recruitment process again, could they be better trained on what you expect of them and how they can work more effectively and efficiently?
A good strategy is to speak to them by Skype voice and try to dig into what their motivations are in life in general. Are they driven to succeed? These are the people you want. What drives them? How can you better use their skills and their motivations?
The carrot and stick approach works. They need to know not doing their work is unacceptable, and that good work is appreciated.
If you are really not sure if someone in your team is not pulling their weight, you might want to consider spy software. Personally I have almost never had to worry about this. If you operate the first 2 output-tracking methods (targets and reporting) effectively and optimally, spy software wont be necessary, and might even have an adverse effect.
What most spy software does is take a screenshot of the workers computer screen every set period of time. For instance, if you could see a screenshot of what they were doing on their computer every 30 seconds, then you would see if they were goofing off, mucking about – or if they were working.
NOTE – If they are on a fixed daily target, why would you care if they are goofing off and mucking about at some point of the day? So long as they get their daily target done, that’s all that matters to you, right?
Well, you might wonder if the daily targets are pushing them to a high-enough standard. Maybe you could set their standards higher? That might be a justifiable use of spy software.
One such spy software tool is Rescue Time. It works in exactly the way I just outlined – takes a periodic screenshot and lets you see a sequence of these screenshots.
Consider the downsides to using such a tool…
Your team member might feel like they are not trusted
So consider if the positive benefits of using it outweigh the absolute need to use it. Exhaust and maximize the full use of setting targets and reporting before using the spy software. Not only will it save you the cost of the spy software, but you will most likely have a happier team for it.
And that means you get more done, in less time, for less cost by outsourcing effectively!
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Credit: Image c/o owni.eu