A glimpse into our team communication style.
Mark our boss is often asked by a prospective client, ‘How often does he have to talk to his team in Manila?’ When he walks into his office, does he say hello to his colleagues? Or does he just walk in, sit down and ignore people around him?
Just because staff are in Manila, doesn’t mean they should be treated any differently.
Sometimes, people are coming at the offshore model with the wrong mindset. Sometimes, they are just looking for an employee to fix the problems in their business… as long as they don’t have to talk to them. Those are the clients we won’t work with.
Normally, when this question is asked… it’s out of a genuine desire to make an offshore model a successful part of their business. And it is a bit different. You don’t get the random conversation as you would if you worked in the same office. To walk into the office and ask about someone’s weekend requires almost no effort. If the employee is located offshore, then you have to open Skype (or whatever tool you use) and call them.
Our boss travels a lot, and he always makes sure he calls people in our team just to talk with them for a few minutes when he can. He even does that with some of your staff too if you happen to employ people in our BPO. From time to time, He’ll make a random Skype call to one of them and say hello.
But what about planning and executing work with an offshore team? Same thing. We will share with you our ‘Meeting Rhythm’, which we learned from Verne Harnish. In fact, almost everything we do comes straight from Verne’s work.
Every day, at 12:30pm all 37 people on our team meet in the ‘Control Room’. We have four massive white boards around the room with all sorts of data and projects listed for everyone to see. It’s completely transparent. Any one of the 220+ staff working in our business can visit, see the numbers/projects and ask any questions they want to. We have our other boss Jon on Zoom and he does the call remotely. Mark does the same when he’s travelling.
A couple of years ago, we stopped doing daily huddles…and it only took a few days before we lost visibility of what was happening around the business. We quickly reinstated the habit and have never stopped since.
There are three components to our daily huddle.
1. Good news/updates
We share new sales leads/calls; new clients coming on; new staff who accepted jobs with us and interesting things happening in the business over the next 24 hours or so. The other day was quiet, and we had nothing to share. So someone shared the latest news on their new puppy at home.
We have a lot of projects on the go at any one time. The employee responsible for each project shares with the group what actions will be taken over the next 24 hours to progress their project toward completion. This keeps things moving and keeps staff accountable for their corner of the business. If the project stays on the board for too long, our boss demands quick action… so people are always hustling and pushing projects to get them finished.
If anyone is stuck, this is where they shout out for help. It’s either solved on the spot quickly by someone in the room, or it’s taken offline and dealt with after the meeting.
Weekly Management Meeting
This is new for us. In 2016 we hired and promoted managers across our business. Putting lots of senior people into a fast-growing business is very tricky. We had a bunch of communication issues on our team late last year.
This year we implemented a weekly management meeting. Every Friday, our managers and their assistant managers meet in the control room. We share updates and problems with them, and we nut things out on the spot and find solutions. There are zero communication problems on our team now – everything is handled around the table once a week. There are no more misunderstandings, no more assumptions being made, and everyone is on the same page ALL THE TIME.
The boss’s personal assistant takes notes in a particular format for the group. We don’t do ‘minutes of the meeting’. We look for something far more practical. We have a document that lists ‘Who’, ‘What’ and ‘When’ for any tasks discussed. There is no place to hide. The following week we run through that list to ensure everyone did what they needed to do during the week.
Execution is a huge part of success in anything… so our team take it very seriously. And we have our boss supporting us in the background if we need a hand.
Monthly Staff Meeting
This is another chance to communicate in more depth with everyone on our team. We look at revenue, profit, cash, sales, budget, staff numbers and a bunch of other fun stuff.
We have everyone’s name on a white board along with how many books they read the prior month. Our team read 315 books between them in 2016. How proud do you reckon we are of that effort? How much development do you think happened on our team last year? Anyone who didn’t read a book gets some friendly, public mocking to ensure they put more effort in the following month. There is an expectation people will take charge of their learning, and not wait to be spoon fed. Everyone on our team takes this seriously – anyone who doesn’t, won’t stay employed with me for long.
We need people learning and driving things forward… there’s no room for passengers.
Quarterly Strategic Meetings
Our bosses aren’t good at doing this. They tend to talk almost every day and because our business moves so fast, they keep things very flexible. At some point we will add in a more formal quarterly strategic meeting… but for now, we score a failing grade on this.
Have you ever worked in a job where you knew what management were thinking; how much money was in the bank; how revenue was tracking or what issues the CEO was wrestling with.
Our staff knows almost everything, aside from confidential HR issues we have to deal with. I could say our HR and Operations Managers know absolutely everything about the business.
And we like to run our business like that. No hidden agenda. No way for gossip and other issues to take hold. Just the real deal, every day.
If you are struggling with communication problems; execution problems; gossip; misunderstandings and other issues that makes building a business tougher than it already is… then I suggest you dive into a book called Scaling Up.
Where to From Here
If you are ready to be at the forefront of the accounting profession by building an offshore team, you can email us at email@example.com or book an appointment with our team to get you started