While outsourced teams are not officially part of your organization, they do work for you. So in reality, they are part of your team. A change in perspective can unlock their value.
Performance is Powered by Engagement
Think for a moment: do you perform better when you know and understand your company, its strategy, and the way it delivers value to the customers, or when you don’t? The answer is obvious. After all, the company’s purpose is now your purpose, its clients are now your clients, and your own strategy and actions need to be aligned with those of your organization.
Why is understanding that so important? Because we know that people perform better when they have a sense of purpose. On the other hand, innovation and high performance are hardly present in teams that feel disconnected and disengaged.
That’s why companies make a great effort to ensure they are great places to work. However, when it comes to our outsourced teams, we seem to have a different mindset. Yes, we try to enable them with tools, accesses, documentation, knowledge transfer and so on; but there is a gap when it comes to making sure they feel engaged.
Now, is it your responsibility entirely? No. But it starts with you, because you are the one that can gain most from having a high-performance outsourced team.
The Outsourced Team is Our Team Too
While the relationship with outsourced teams is temporary by nature, we still work with them for periods that usually span several years. Remember that we have those extended teams because we need them to perform valuable work for us.
It is in our best interest to keep this in mind and take action to ensure they are fully integrated into our organization.
According to Gallup, engaged teams are 17% more productive and deliver better quality (40% less defects) than disengaged teams.
These numbers are a comparison between the top 25% and the bottom 25% across the scale. But, while statistics and circumstances vary across companies, imagine being able to improve the productivity and quality of a significant part of your workforce by 5%, 10% or even more. Wouldn’t that be something?
Working On It
Here are a few suggestions you can try.
Make it a priority. First of all, make communication and engagement with your outsourced team a priority. Hold yourself accountable, because – as a leader – it all starts with you.
Talk with your leaders. Have a conversation with your own team. Prepare questions that will help you assess the situation. What is the current mindset? Is there room for improvement?
Team up with the leader of the vendor team. That’s usually a managing director or senior executive. Let them know your expectations and tell them you are looking for their collaboration in this area. Have a candid conversation and ask about situations that can be improved.
Develop a plan together that includes formal and informal efforts to share information, improve collaboration, and give recognition. Ensure that you produce a communication plan that goes beyond the “classic” monologue-like presentation. Instead, aim to have real dialogues. Make a point of listening, taking notes and following up on them. I am sure that you will hear interesting things that can really help you.
Keep it as simple as possible. Prioritize the most relevant actions, so they can have more impact and become part of your culture. If you try too many things at once, it could prove too much.
Bring it to life. Promote the plan’s actions and lead by example. Include your leaders and the key leaders from the vendor – make them active participants in this effort.
Make recognition part of your culture. Recognize when people go beyond the usual expectations, when they come up with innovations – big and small ones – and of course, when they do something outstanding. This will create an entirely different environment. You don’t need to be too formal, you can ask your leaders to do that in weekly or monthly meetings. Just a quick mention will do.
Tips When Selecting a Vendor
When you are in the process of selecting a vendor, ask them how they can help you create a great collaborative environment. They might have some assets and tools for this.
Have conversations with the delivery team (not just the sales leaders). Ask them about their favorite experiences of collaboration and integration. This will help you understand their company culture and whether they are accustomed to having the level of collaboration and participation that you expect.
When selecting delivery locations, make sure to include teams in your time zone and close to your offices (Nearshore) as part of your solution. It does make a difference.
If you think these actions are an expensive use of your time, think about the cost of having a misinformed, unmotivated and non-innovative team.
While working to improve the engagement and performance of your outsourced team, you are bound to improve on the same for your direct team.
Remember that people perform better when they work in a safe environment, when they have a sense of purpose and are motivated. Your outsourced team needs this too. The rewards will be worth it.