Are You an Outsourcing Control Freak?

OutsourcingLet’s say that you’ve got a task you need done. You know exactly how it needs to be done because you’ve done it many times before. But now you’re outsourcing it to a professional you know can do it. You set up the job and they start working… but there’s a nagging nervous feeling in the back of your mind. What are they doing right now? The next thing you know, you’re calling or emailing them to, “touch base.”

There’s a fine line between giving enough direction and becoming a complete control freak (occasionally known as a jerk). But when you first start outsourcing, it’s very hard to trust the hired help. After all, your business really is your baby!

This was a hard lesson I learned, but it was probably the most important one I learned – Ya Gotta Trust ‘Em!

Be Clear Up Front

This lesson was brought home to me by an audio engineer I had the pleasure of working with for quite a few years. It’s important to make everything that you want clear up front. (In the corporate world, they often call this a, “Project Brief.”) This is where you write down all the little details that may get overlooked – because to those of us who do these things all the time, they’re automatic… but when you’re handing that work off, you must be ABSOLUTELY clear about everything that is expected. For example, if you hire a writer to write articles for you and forget to tell them that the articles need sub-heads. If this is a spec you require, you’ve got to say so up front.

A good way to make things clear each time is to make ‘instructions’ – that Project Brief – that goes out to all of your outside talent. This includes all of your specs, special directions, passwords and everything else they need to know in order to do the job the way YOU need it done. You can even use screen capture software to make tutorial videos on how you want things done if you plan on hiring lots of people.

Don’t Micromanage

You have a hands-on attitude and you pay close attention to detail. Those are wonderful qualities! But if you find yourself checking in with your outsourcers 16 times a day, you’re really overdoing it. This is called ‘micromanaging’ and it will drive your freelancers completely insane – worse yet, you’ll be missing the whole point of passing work off… you won’t gain that time for you to do the more important tasks – and spend more time with your family. You need to reign in these overzealous tendencies and just let them do their work.

One way to avoid this is to plan when you’re going to touch base. Schedule a Skype call with them or decide when you’re going to follow up. Then, resist the urge to bother them at other times to see how they’re doing. Try to put yourself in their shoes and imagine if your client was calling you constantly asking what was up. Being a difficult client is the best way to lose good freelancers.

You’re In Good Hands

One thing that helps to tame the inner control freak is to make sure you hire good people. (I’ve said for years, “Hire the best people and encourage them to do their best.”) Get serious about finding skilled, professional workers who have plenty of testimonials and positive feedback. If you can find workers through a referral, this is always the best method.

Once you’ve given them your detailed instructions and the job is rolling, forget about it. Give them some trust and rest assured that it will work out just fine. If there’s a problem, deal with it later when you check back with them. Then get your other work done and spend more time with your family.


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