How to Train and Manage Your Offshore Team

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As you contemplate engaging an offshore team, you naturally start thinking about how to train and manage your offshore staff for maximum performance.

Here’s a 9-week plan for getting your new team integrated into your culture and delivering results:

Week 1: Explain Your Processes

The best way to start your new offshore team members’ induction with you is to have them watch your training videos and read your processes.

If you don’t currently have your processes documented, here’s an easy method for Creating awesome systems and processes.

This will allow them to have a good understanding of what type of work they will be doing, and become familiar with their role before training on the specifics of how to do it. They will also get a high level overview of your process and workflow.

Weeks 2 & 3: Face To Face Training Onsite

If possible, it’s a great idea to visit your new team members and train them face-to-face. This will allow you to build rapport, and also give them a chance to learn more about you and your firm, plus your culture and values.

It’s best to have your “Local champion” with you as they will be the person ultimately responsible for working with your offshore team. During Week 3, allow your team to do the work on their own, while you are there to assist with complex questions, reviewing, and retraining once the task has been completed.

Week 4-8: Implement A Meeting Rhythm

Your Local (Onshore) champion should have regular meetings and time allocated to reviewing and training your offshore team on the work allocated.

The best results will come when your Local champion reviews the work, has a meeting with the offshore team around what was done correctly or incorrectly, refers them to the training video and written process to review, then delegates the task again. Once this process has been repeated several times and the tasks become more familiar, less training will be required.

Week 9: Face-To-Face Review

If possible, it’s a great idea to return overseas to conduct face-to-face training on any tasks that your offshore team are still finding challenging. You can also address new, higher-level tasks you want them to take on. This is also another opportunity to build a strong rapport with your offshore team members.

Beyond Week 9: Polish and Refine

There is no right or wrong number of times per year you should visit your offshore team. Some firms will never visit their team while others will visit every 3 months.

The best way to approach it is to set a schedule, and if the team need more face-to-face training, go there. The small investment in the airfare will be paid off with increased productivity. So, now that your team is trained, what is the best way to manage them? Here are some practical examples of how to best manage:

Offshore Team Management Tips

Appoint an “Onshore Champion” in your local office, and appoint a team leader or point of contact in your offshore office

The only way outsourcing will work is if you commit to training and assisting your offshore team to make it a success. The best results come from having an “Onshore Champion” who is responsible for training, reviewing, and working with the offshore team leader.

Treat outsourced team members as if they are in your office

A successful outsourcing relationship requires the outsourced staff to feel part of your team. An effort needs to be made to ensure they are part of your internal communication (like staff news, etc.).

You must communicate with them regularly and be there to assist with their training and development needs. You wouldn’t employ someone locally and stick them in an office and not talk to them. You can’t do this with offshore staff and expect good results either. With the advancement of technology, this is now easy – you just need your Onshore Champion to be available.

Manage expectations

Outsourcing works best when there are clear expectations of workloads and KPI’s for both your local team and your offshore team. Setting targets that are unrealistic will only demoralise your team.

As a rule of thumb, it will take a minimum of three months to get your team productive. Set realistic KPIs that can be achieved and advanced as they continue to become more productive.

You won’t get the best from your offshore team unless they know the goals and what they are there to achieve. They may not get there day one, but they will work towards it, and it won’t be too long before they are hitting your targets.

Set regular meetings

Implementing a clear meeting structure is important for both your local team and offshore team. This gives everyone a chance to engage in their work, check in, or change direction as needed. This allows all team members to use their time and efforts most effectively without constant interruptions or questions.

Make regular face-to-face and voice contact

To get the best engagement and connectivity with your offshore team, ensure you have regular face-to-face and voice contact. With platforms like Zoom and Skype, it has become easier to communicate with your team member.

Work on communication styles

Most offshore workers (especially Filipinos where we operate) are taught English from an early age (often from birth) and their skill in the language is among the best in the world.

However, there are subtleties of written communication that can lead to misunderstandings. Filipinos, like many Asian countries, are known for their indirectness, which can result in misunderstandings. In addition, “yes” doesn’t always mean they understand; it can mean “yes but…” or “maybe”. The best way to identify if they understand is to ask them to explain it to you, or even better perform the task, and see if they can do it.

The Outsourced Accountant  helps accounting firms from all over the world grow their capacity, margins and profits through global outsourcing. Contact us to find out more about how we can help your firm.

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