So here we are at a crucial junction in our, so far, short but not unhappy life managing online staffing for Smart Online Staff. Everyone knows how this field is the wave of the future, the cat’s meow for firms migrating online, for companies who are competing in the brave new world of 21st-century marketing.
We keep ourselves organic to our customers’ needs, the aim being that we want to continue our existence, push forward the envelope of experience and profitable wisdom. The nature of the game says that our (B2B or B2C) relationships should be based on good relations, not simply a business one, but one that is accountable to our feelings, to the greater good of our communities.
One essential factor in online staffing of the outsourced variety is knowing how to be relevant and organic to remote clients. That is, they must be made to realise that our work must be seen as a real-time office resource, but an office far from their physical one.
Communication is the one and the only way for creating this essential relationship truly human and therefore effective. As we grow, so too shall the way we communicate and relate tells us if our emotional business intelligence is evolving in the right direction. One that supports, enhances and maintains customer relationships as well as our organisation.
The Right Stuff in Managing Online Staffing
Know what you want. Find the right way to get what you want. Both maxims in the remote staffing business are harder to achieve compared to virtually anywhere else. First, because online resources are so many and varied; and second, these resources can tend to daunt and confuse your efforts to find the way. So, here is what we’ve learned to be effective as an organisation outsourcing online staff:
- 1. HIRE THE RIGHT PEOPLE — a management conundrum you must effectively solve is “How do you know you’re hiring the right people when knowing them takes time?” Here is where you and your key managers must have excellent business intelligence, resume reading, HR, interview, analytic and engagement skills, preferably on advanced online levels.
- 2. WORK OUT THE BASICS OF DAILY OPERATIONS — constant tweaking over several months and dedicated study will get you a perfected work documentation system, a well-defined and applied hierarchy and priorities system, and a perfected office operation that runs close to 100% uptime all the time.
- 3. CREATE THE PERFECT WORKING ORGANISATION — this is easier said than done since you need to experiment with some parameters or standards relevant to running your remote staffing network. The making of your organic system starts here, defined by the quality and character of your staff, your customer needs, and your organisation’s essential policies. Create a system that can change as you go along to remain relevant and innovative.
- 4. BE PREPARED TO MAKE MISTAKES AND COVER THEM — daunting, right? Yes, it is, we’ve been there, and there were moments along the way when we made costly mistakes. But we were ready, and everyone pulled his and her weight to right the ship and keep it afloat and sailing on during those stormy moments. Everyone understood that emotions ran high during those times and made corrections when needed. Also, we made sure we had enough contingency funds to help our organisation weather the storms and were canny enough to know when to pay up quickly or hold up payment.
- 5. MANAGE STAFF BY HELPING THEM MANAGE THEMSELVES — many pay lip-service to personal initiative, but you’ll rarely see organisational hierarchies allowing actual initiatives by individual employees go anywhere, especially in outsourcing. The personal initiative is key in everything we do. It is only during onboarding (which takes two to three months, or more when the technologies involved are complicated) that new hires are kept under the wing. When ready, they are required to fend for themselves and fly.
The office working motto was and remains: Who Dares Wins. It’s taken from the original movie of the same title, starring Lewis Collins of “The Professionals” TV series fame. (Both the movie and TV show happened way back in the ‘80s, so be prepared for low definition videos. We share the same motto as the British Army’s Special Air Service, incidentally.) Those folks were hardcore. We applied their dedication/commitment sans the violence or gung-ho stuff. It’s all about morale and professionalism, a hardcore working ethic that gets things done right.
So Where Does the Customer Come In?
Basically, you can never really do anything wrong when in the process of organising your remote office. Mistakes in this sense are easily corrected. It is during the interaction between you and your customers or during vital commercial transactions when things tend to go wrong or when mistakes are made. In other words, operations always have the potential for going wrong.
So this section actually is where we will enumerate the things that you should avoid doing or correct when you manage remote staff. We’ve added some input on how to correct mistakes made, based on what we know works.
- 1. NEVER PRESUME TO KNOW YOUR CUSTOMER’S PREFERENCES OR UNDERSTAND HIS/HER WAY OF THINKING — yes, you might know a lot more than your customer does, but in outsourcing, he/she KNOWS his/her preferences, period. It is not for you to parse or second guess these, but for you to ask or wait for, and this system actually serves as legal protection for both you and your customer.
- 2. ALWAYS KEEP THAT RESPECTFUL PERSPECTIVE ON YOUR CUSTOMER’S BUSINESS — this relates to a fundamental understanding of customer needs and rights. Your remote staff should be able to do this or you should help them learn to do it.
- 3. NEVER DIVE INTO A CONTRACT WITHOUT STUDYING AND/OR CHANGING IT TO YOUR ADVANTAGE — this not only goes for a business contract but also for service contracts and material procurement for your business or office needs. (Changing any contract to your advantage is a legal right you should know how to use.) This will include government and other required permits, which are by nature contractual, but you cannot add changes or amend these except for specific/unique contractual documents entered with the government.
- 4. NEVER LOSE CRITICAL APPRECIATION OF YOUR BUSINESS — to be human is to be susceptible to mistakes, not all the time by any means, but enough times or potential times for a requirement to stand back and take stock of things at the right moment. This might sound like a complicated way to describe Quality Assurance, but QA works mostly in the technical sense. Your depth of critical understanding of your business keeps you emotionally competent, grounded and forward-thinking. A sense of humour helps here.
- 5. KNOW WHEN TO BAIL OUT OF A CONTRACT — on the highway of business, there are “DON’T” signs the savvy businessman can identify along the way. When enough of these are seen in relation to a business relationship, it is time to review the contract, which should have a clean and clear clause for bailing out or rendering the document null and void.
- 6. DON’T LOSE YOUR HEARING — meaning, always be open and keep your communications lines open. Anytime you start hearing your inner script more or to the exclusion of things you normally listen to, it is critical that you review communications so that you get to really hear your customer back clearly again. Never lose this connection at any stage of or circumstance related to a contract.
These we are unable to answer in this article. If interested to know more, just visit our website www.smartonlinestaff.com.au .