The Offshore Strategy Killer

By Andrew Mault - Country Managing Director, hammerjack

Originally published on LinkedIn

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If like thousands of SME business owners, you are starting your offshore journey by hiring resources through a staffing services provider in the Philippines, you should know about one of the biggest offshore strategy killers: Attrition

Attrition will slow you down and can bring your journey to standstill. Attrition happens in any business, but the impact is a lot more magnified for a small offshore team - one or two staff. Here are my top tips to help you hold on to your valuable offshore resources to keep your offshore strategy on track.

  1. CHOOSE YOUR TEAM WISELY

    Finding team members with the right experience, skills and fit for your business will set you on the right track. Get this wrong and you could be off to a bumpy start as you try to shape your new team member to fit in your business. If your team member is not right for you then they might not stick around. Or worse, you might be left holding on to an under performing team member as you work through the tiring labor processes that govern the Philippines. This can be costly and impact your progress.

    Here are a few tips:

    • Ask your candidate why they are looking for a new opportunity and what they are looking for in the new role. Make sure that their goals are aligned with what your role offers i.e. growth into a leadership role or exposure to a new skill or market. 

    • Avoid job hoppers (those that skip from job to job, chasing higher and higher salary, this is a common problem in the outsourcing industry). Your service provider should be able to weed these candidates out but check anyway. Also make sure that your provider has carried out background and reference checks, usually pretty standard but again, check anyway. 

    • Make sure that your chosen candidate has the right skills and experience to do the job. Consider creating a practical assessment to put these skills to the test. Your provider should assess basic skills but you may want to add something a little more technical. 

    • Find out how far your new team member has to travel to go to work every day, if they are spending three or more hours in public transport each way, then they may be quick to leave if an opportunity comes up closer to home.

    • Be sure to assess at least three candidates before making your decision. Don’t make a deadline the reason for rushing your decision. If you make do with second best, you will only be disappointed when you don’t see the return on your investment. And it’s a false economy if you have to spend hours each day trying to get your chosen team member up to speed.

  2. GET TO KNOW YOUR TEAM

    Taking the time to know your new team member and learning a bit about the culture in their home country will go a long way to getting more out of your offshore investment and help you to better engage with your newest team members. Get to know them and their family situation. Are they married? Do they have kids? Do their kids live with them or in the province? Filipinos are all about family. 

    There are lots of public holiday in the Philippines, but thankfully your new team member will be happy to follow your holiday schedule. That said, there are important holidays that your team member will probably want to take. Some that spring to mind are November 1 and 2 (All Saint’s Day and All Soul’s Day), Maundy Thursday and Holy Friday. The Christmas holidays are also important. Be sure to ask them if they plan to take these holidays and try to plan the workload around them. Small gestures go along way and will make your new team members feel a part of your business family.

  3. SET YOUR TEAM ON THE PATH TO SUCCESS

    This should go without saying but unfortunately many SME’s businesses take a loose, almost play-it-by-ear approach to training their new team members. First impressions count, and training is often the first glimpse that your new team member’s get, of how your business operates. Taking an ad-hoc approach to training may leave your team members feeling a little nervous about what they have gotten into. There is a good chance that your new team member has taken the new role with your business to advance in their career. They will be judging you and may be quick to jump if your business appears disorganised.

    Take time to create a training plan and assign people from within your business to train on processes, functions and products etc. This plan doesn’t need to be complicated but handing them the plan on day one will make them feel prepared for what lays ahead. You should discuss performance goals and KPIs. Take time to make sure that this is understood whilst also assuring them that you will provide the training and support to get there. If your budget allows, you should consider traveling to train your new team member in person, spending at least one week with them. This is where you embed your unique business culture and teach them about how your business works. This goes a long way. Personally, I would avoid bringing new team members to you for training. It’s a nice touch but could be costly if they don’t stick around. Better to save a trip to visit your office as an incentive for meeting certain performance goals, and as a retention bonus i.e. you will bring them to your office after 12 months. 

  4. SHOW THEM THE FUTURE

    Provide your new team with a vision of where your business is heading. Discuss projected growth and what your long-term plans are for your offshore operations. Working for growing business or a startup is exciting and brings lots of opportunity. If possible, provide them a view of their own growth path 6, 12 and 18 months out. Let them know how they are going to be measured and what the possible rewards may be. This is one of the main areas that new team members look for in a new role and lack of growth is in the top two main reasons that people leave, with number one being money. If you are just removing a process or function from your business to reduce costs but there is no growth for the role then your chosen team member might not stick around. Would you? In these cases, you might want to consider outsourcing the process, as day to day management of output becomes the responsibility of the outsource service provider. I will cover this subject in a separate article.

  5. MAKE THEM PART OF YOUR TEAM

    Introduce your new team members to your business and make a fuss of them as you would any new team member in your onshore business. Jump on a video call and go around the grounds allowing everyone to introduce themselves, if practical. Making your new members feel like they belong to a larger team will lay the foundations for instilling your business culture in your offshore operations.  This is also a good time to outline your business structure and who they will interact with on a daily basis.

    Meet with your team regularly, perhaps have them join your daily or weekly team meeting via a video call. Include them in business updates or even better, your company newsletter. When it’s their birthday, buy them a cake (or get your service provider to get one for you). Working as part of a remote team can be lonely and a bit dull. Taking the time to check in everyday will go a long way toward closing the gap between your onshore business and your offshore team members. 

It’s not rocket science

Most of these tips are basic but surprisingly missed by many businesses. Lots of businesses get it right and I am more than happy to introduce you to some of them. Establishing capability offshore is challenging but is a whole lot easier if you can keep hold of your team members. It doesn’t stop at this and your offshore team will need your time and attention ongoing if you are serious about getting a return on your investment. 

Remember you get out what you put in.



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