The other day my wife asked me where something was in the office and I wasted at least a minute trying to describe where it was.
Sometimes business is like that.
Explaining all the things you want done and how to do them to an in-person employee can be difficult. Now imagine doing the same with an outsourced worker halfway across the globe.
Things can get pretty dicey.
A lot of trial and error has taught me some valuable communication hacks.
And Communication is key.
Here are my top tips for improving communication with your employees.
1. Be Consistent.
The very first thing that you have to do is to choose which type of communication you and your outsourced employees are comfortable using.
Let’s say you have agreed to use Dropbox and Skype (which are my preferred methods, by the way) then make sure that you stick only to those two mediums. Integrating other platforms means there will be a learning curve and a learning curve means time.
The whole point of outsourcing is the streamline processes, save time, and lighten your load. Stick to the methods you choose in the beginning.
2. Be Detailed.
Your employees need simple, actionable systems. If there is not a clearly defined step by step process, they will invariably make errors and guess what that means for you?
Wasted time and wasted money.
Take the time to spell out exactly what you need done. Step by step.
Imagine you are giving your mom instructions on using her iPhone – this is how you’d want to do it.
First, you’d let her know the end goal objective.
I like to show my people where the work they’re doing fits into the bigger machine. Sometimes that extra context makes a difference in how they understand the purpose of the project or task.
For example, you might tell your mom…
Let’s activate your icloud storage on your phone so that we can automatically upload all the pictures on your phone to a safe spot. That way if anything happens to the phone, you won’t lose any pictures.
Now she knows what we are planning to do and why.
From here, you wouldn’t tell her to go to icloud settings and turn photo sharing on.
Because she’s your mom, and she doesn’t just intuitively know how to do that.
She needs detailed, step by step instructions.
So go as basic as you can.
For example, you might tell her…
- Click the only button on the phone to get to your home screen.
- You should see an icon that looks like a grey gear shift, called “Settings”
- Click that.
- When Settings opens, scroll halfway down the screen to the icon that says “icloud”
- Click that.
- Scroll down until you see a colorful flower icon that says photos.
ETC. You get the idea.
Yes, creating these systems will take TIME.
And yes, the whole point of outsourcing is to save you time.
But here’s what years and years of doing this has taught me.
Take the time to be 100% clear about your processes and that’s all you have to do.
You only have to do it ONCE.
Then you have a template that any employee can use at any time to do the exact same process, exactly as you want it done.
Sure, they might have an occasional question even still. But being so detailed will minimize questions.
So again, include anything and everything they’ll need related to the whos, whats, hows and whys of the tasks on hand. You can’t go wrong here.
As a side note – you can be creative with how you detail these processes. You don’t necessarily have to type out all of them. If it’s faster and simpler for you to record a jing video of your screen and walk them through the process verbally that’s fine, too.
3. Learn to Listen
I’ve had incredible ideas on ways to improve efficiency from my outsourced employees.
Read that again.
I pride myself on hiring all-star employees, so it comes as no surprise that they are smart and innovative. There has been more than one time when an employee saw a way to create a shortcut and make our systems simpler and more effective.
But I never would have even heard these things if I wasn’t really listening to them. Really interested in hearing what they have to say.
Being the boss means being able to listen, and listen well. Next time your employee engages you, see how much you can not talk. Interrupting or assuming you know what they’re asking will usually lead to more confusion and less productivity. Let them feel heard and valued, then respond in a way that gets things moving.
Once you have mastered the skill of effective communication, you will notice just how strong your working relationship will be with your outsourced employees can be.
You’ll also notice a great improvement in their overall performance.
(NOTE: It is highly recommended that you take my FREE 60 Second Outsourcing Test to find out if you’re ready to make more by doing less. Click here to learn if you’re ready to outsource in just 60 Seconds!)