Delegation is a critical component of outsourcing. As a manager or business owner, it's your responsibility to effectively divide the work into small tasks. Choose the ones that your outsourcing staff can do well, and leave the important work to you and your top-level management. But, why do you need to delegate? How do you do it in the context of outsourcing?
What's the Nature and Purpose of Delegation?
When doing your work, you're often advised to cut it down into small, manageable chunks to help you schedule them efficiently and accomplish your goals without feeling overwhelmed and frazzled. When you delegate, you're not only assigning half of the work to others, you're also giving them the responsibility of making sure the work is done exactly the way you wanted and that it's finished on time.
Janet House Carter, writing for Supervisory Management magazine, said:
To get work done with and through others, a manager must regularly give authority to his or her staffers. This shows staffers that the manager has faith in their abilities—which is what makes delegation such a powerful motivational tool.
At its core, delegation is a form of collaboration. By agreeing to doing the work assigned to them, employees make a commitment to cooperate with their manager or supervisor and other staff whether here or abroad. Employees are encouraged to contribute to the organization according to the best of their abilities and ambitions.
Why Delegate Work to Your Outsourcing Staff?
We learn in our management classes that delegation helps save time. But, it's not really time you're saving because the work that your outsourced staff does takes the same amount of time to do when you did it yourself. What you're saving is YOUR time and energy -- your personal resources that are better spent in resolving higher strategic issues.
When you're not focused on the small stuff, you're free to do higher value work as a business owner or a top-level manager. This kind of work, like leading campaigns that generate more leads and attract more clients, has a higher return on investment.
When you're delegating work in an outsourcing relationship, you're opening up an opportunity for your staff to develop new knowledge and skills, to acquire related work experience, and to learn from you through mentoring. You're also taking advantage of your staff's different perspectives to their work, thereby encouraging innovation and diversity in your organization.
How Do You Delegate to Your Remote Team?
Distance and a difference in time zone may present a challenge to management, but delegation is not impossible when you're outsourcing to another country that's practically on the other side of the world. All you need to do is schedule the chunks of work and make sure everyone follows up with you on their progress. Here are a few tips to remember when you're delegating work.
1. Learn to let go and trust others to do the work as well as you did.
Yes, you're good at your job. You only wanted to produce the best work and deliver the best service for your customers. To delegate, however, is to let go of your fears and worries. It's part of your growth as a leader in your organization.
Learn to trust that the people you hired have all the qualifications and experience that are needed to perform the job well. Let your outsourcing staff do value-seeking work that support your organizational goals.
To ease the anxiety you feel, start small. Start delegating the small tasks to your staff. Then, as you gradually develop an appreciation for your staff's abilities, add more complicated tasks until you find yourself trusting your staff to do the job right.
2. Figure out which tasks to delegate and which ones to retain as your core competencies.
How do you know which tasks you should assign to your remote staff and which ones you'd rather assign to your domestic team. Coach Padraig advises clients to ask the following questions when delegating work:
Would this assignment give someone the chance to grow in their role and develop new skills? Is there a chance this activity might occur again? Would teaching it now to someone else provide lasting benefits?
Could the assignment be divided up and given to multiple team members, focusing on each of their individual skills? This is an opportunity to encourage teamwork and make use of each team member’s strengths, all while freeing up your time and attention.
Consider assigning not only the smaller tasks, but also value-seeking work to your remote staff. Delegating work should also give your staff the opportunity to learn from your expertise and gather additional experience in your market. Another value that you can get out of delegation is to keep your staff on their toes. The balanced mix of challenging and routine tasks will prevent burnout among your staff.
3. Provide training for your staff and the resources they may need to do their job.
No matter how smart your people are, they'll need to know what your business is all about and how you do things in your organization. Yes, training takes time, and you're not sure you want to "waste" any more time when you need your staff to be on top of things from the get go. But, rather than think of training as a "waste" of resources in your organization, consider it as an investment. And, the return on this investment is seeing your staff perform well and reaching targets.
4. Communicate clearly with your team what needs to be done, how much time each task will take, and other things they need to know.
Communication is key to doing the work efficiently and working together harmoniously. Be specific when you give out instructions. Include a list of the tasks, your expectations for each, their respective due dates, and the key performance indicators (KPIs). If you could share what challenges your staff may encounter and how to best deal with them, then it would be great.
Make a point to schedule a morning huddle with your team on both sides of the ocean. You not only keep the communication lines open between your remote and domestic teams. You're also providing an avenue for your people to bond and build a good working relationship.
5. Stop micromanaging or nanomanaging your staff.
Nanomanagement, which is micromanagement done by managers or owners of small businesses, is a damaging way of managing people and their work. It strongly speaks of a lack of trust between the boss and the employees. At a managerial level, it means the boss does not know when the small stuff is no longer worth his or her time.
If you find yourself doing so much and demanding to be fed with information constantly, then you're a micromanager and you need to stop. You're not only pushing your staff to burnout, you're also wasting much of your time on tasks that are way below your pay grade.
In closing, delegating work is only effective when you know you can trust your outsourcing staff to do the job as well as you can. This is possible when you train them and give them time to learn. It's also important that you treat delegation as a form of collaboration where trust and a spirit of cooperation are essential components. Through delegation, you can make your outsourcing strategy work amazingly well in your favor.