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Your Guide to Training and Onboarding Your Virtual Team

May 10, 2017 Claire Ponsaran No comments exist

To reduce friction, many businesses choose to outsource to the Philippines because of the country’s cultural similarities with Western nations and the Filipinos’ familiarity and ease in speaking English. Choosing to outsource offshore, however, poses several challenges to small and medium-sized businesses.

One of those challenges that businesses face is creating a positive and engaging onboarding process for all their staff. Managers must provide effective training and build camaraderie among the members of their team despite the geographical distance and the language and cultural barriers between them. If you’re one of the managers responsible for training and onboarding your staff, here are a few things you can do to make the process work to everyone’s advantage.

Prepare Your Onboarding Schedule

Every endeavor, no matter how big or small, should start with a plan. Collaborate with your outsourcing provider’s training and operations manager in customizing an onboarding plan for your business.

Orient each member of your team according to their duties and responsibilities. Prepare a list of tasks that each member is expected to do each day, and the tasks you expected them to finish in a week and at the end of each month.

When planning your schedule, take into consideration the time it would normally take your team to achieve mastery in doing their tasks and following procedures without delay. Lay out your expectations of their job performance after two weeks of training and after 3 to 5 months of working with you.

Be Extremely Organized
It’s essential to be extremely organized and have detailed outlines of everything you need done from your new employee. A good way to do this is with a shared document. Have one main document with an outline linking to several different related documents. Another good way is creating a task list with precise due dates. Creating a task list ensures that each employee is assigned to a specific task, and projects are completed on time.

Provide the Right Equipment and Software

Before your team even started their training, make sure they have the tools to do their jobs well. Coordinate with your account manager when purchasing equipment and installing software for your team. In turn, provide the necessary info that your outsourcing provider needs to register your licensed software from the computers your team will be using.

Welcome Your Team with a Kickoff Video Call

Arrange to have your team meet over Skype or using any VoIP client for the kickoff. It’s important that you set up a video conference with your team. Connecting a face to your name and voice will help ease your team’s apprehension of meeting your for the first time. At the same time, you become more human and relatable to them when you do face-to-face meetings through video call rather than email or chat.

Create a video that reveals who you are as an organization, what your mission and values are, and how your corporate culture looks like from your side of the pond. Virtually tour your offshore staff throughout your office, and let them meet the rest of your onshore team. Have your onshore team record welcoming messages for them.

The Right Touchpoints
Eye contact and body language help to kindle personal connections and the “swift trust” that allows a group of strangers to work together before long-term bonds develop. This is when you can assess team dynamics and work to bridge specific gaps – for example, by assigning an achievable task to a pair of dissimilar colleagues, allowing them a “small win” – as HBS professor Teresa Amabile calls it – together.

Assign Buddies from Your Onshore Staff to Your Offshore Team

Rather than simply introducing each member of your offshore team to their onshore counterparts, make use of the buddy system. Assign buddies or mentors from your onshore staff to teach each of your offshore team the ropes. This is a great method of transferring knowledge and wisdom to your new hires. It’s also effective in building a closer working relationship between your onshore staff and your offshore workers.

Assign a Buddy
Choose someone who genuinely enjoys interacting with people and who embodies the culture that you want your team to have. The individual you choose will be the new hire’s de facto role model, so be sure to pick a buddy who has the right attitude for this assignment.

Make Your Offshore Staff Feel Like They’re Part of Your Team

Create company emails for your offshore staff and include them in email lists and chat groups for company-wide announcements. It’s not always possible to include them in company meetings and social events, but you can send them videos and updates about what’s happening with your organization. And, when you need to make a major decision that will affect them, invite your offshore staff to share their views and feelings about the subject.

To further strengthen the esprit de corps of your team, reward them with company-branded items, such as mugs, pins, caps, and shirts. Acknowledge their achievements and celebrate whenever they reach their milestones as a group and as individual workers.

Establish Workflows and Guidelines

One of the goals of onboarding is to establish habits in your staff. These habits are part of your workflows and should follow the guidelines you set. Emphasize among your offshore staff the importance of following standard procedures and checking in with their team leader or onshore manager from time to time.

Your offshore team will make mistakes during onboarding. But, as they continue through their training you’ll soon notice an improvement in their skills. There will be less errors in their final work outputs. By the second week, they’re able to finish their tasks sooner than the week before, and they’ll become more efficient as time goes by.

Evaluate and Refine the Process

Don’t expect a system or process to work perfectly well at any time and in any situation. Technologies and techniques may change, and so should your onboarding process. Evaluate how well your team performed during the first few weeks, and identify areas that you may want to improve. Ultimately, refining the process is best done through collaboration with your account manager and the rest of the operations team employed by your outsourcing provider.

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