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Why Communication Will Make or Break An Offshore Team’s Success

Two lambs talking

We are going to talk about one thing that will cause your offshoring project to fail…or any project involving a team, really…
Or, more accurately, lack of communication.

This goes both ways…

If the Filipino team sit there passively and don’t talk to the foreign team, the project is likely to fail. And, if the foreign team doesn’t talk to the Filipino team the project is likely to fail.

It’s everyone’s responsibility to learn how to communicate and understand each others’ culture.

We’ve only ever had one business offshore project fail with us.

The business failed to offshore successfully due to poor communication.

There are 3 stages of communication issues.

1. Common Cold

2. Pneumonia

3. Death

If you have staff in the Philippines, or you are an employee in the Philippines, you need to pay attention to this and make sure a Common Cold doesn’t lead to Death 🙂

1. The Common Cold

We had a chat with one of our clients recently. His firm has grown crazy fast and he feels he is losing touch with his Filipino staff. Someone else is now dealing with the day to day in his office instead of him, which means he is one level removed from direct interaction with his Filipino team. We understand that…and we have faced a similar issue.

To remedy that, we implemented two things.

1. Newsletter (goes to staff, clients, and other people who landed on our list)

2. 1:1s with team

We suggested to our client he does 1:1s each month with his team. Total time invested, probably about an hour each month. We also suggested a 15 minute daily huddle with his team too. If he does that, we suspect he’ll feel much more connected with the day to day and pick up any issues early.

Your staff want to be updated. They are interested in what’s going on in your world.

A quick dose of Vitamin C will fix the issue for this firm and we expect he’ll feel connected again in no time. It was caught very early and is easy to fix. He already had an established relationship with his team and that makes a huge difference.

If the relationship hasn’t been established…you could end up needing more than Vitamin C.

2. Pneumonia

Recently, while talking to a staff we discovered an issue in a team. We learned the Filipino staff were under massive stress and even considering resigning because they couldn’t handle the issues they were facing.

It was beyond the Common Cold. They needed Antibiotics, not Vitamin C 🙂

We listened to the problems, and had the employee document it all for me so I could call her boss in Australia and have a chat about what’s happening. When we read through the issues, we suspected it was the trusty old communication problem rearing its ugly head again. In this case, there were no voice/video calls happening between the Aussies and the Filipinos.

It was almost all text. And we all know how crap that is. Time consuming to deal with, and very easy to misinterpret. The Aussies and Filipinos on this team had never met in real life, so there wasn’t really a relationship established (yet!) which just compounded the feelings of helplessness of the team.

No relationship, and text only communication is a fast path to the morgue!

Coincidentally, the Aussies were going to visit Manila anyway…and guess what happened within a couple of hours on the first morning? Straight to Starbucks to go through the issues….then a day of shopping together. By the end of the day everyone was happy.

Communicating with each other will be much easier from now because they have a relationship.

3. Death

A couple of years back, An email was sent to all the staff. We asked them to tell us if they had any roadblocks, or issues with their work and needed a hand. One of the staff replied and said… ‘I’m a 4 year experienced CPA and they have me doing 2 hours a day of data entry…and that’s all.’

She was called into the office and we had a chat with her. We called her boss in Australia and asked what was going on. Here’s what happened… We deal with the partners of accounting firms, and the owners of businesses… When they come on board as a client, they are fully engaged and sold on having a Filipino team.

Guess who wasn’t sold on the idea, in this case?

The Aussie team. (lack of communication from the partner) The partner was out running around building the business, while the Aussie team were hoarding the work for themselves and not training or communicating with the Filipino staff.

We all agreed it will never work under those circumstances and ended the engagement immediately… death of the offshore project for that firm. Their staff were quickly placed with another firm and life moved on.

Our health tips so you never need medication or a body bag…

1. Get on a plane and meet your team.

The sooner the better. The better the relationship, the less issues you will have.

2. Eliminate email as much as possible.

If you have questions or instructions for tasks – get on a call. Talk to each other.

Email or text messaging via Skype is completely inadequate for anything complex.

3. Did your staff nail a job?

Good! Send them some Starbucks as a surprise gift. We can sort that for you.

Show appreciation to your staff and you will receive grace from them when you don’t get it right.

4. Are you working in our Manila office and your Aussie or British boss is busy and doesn’t talk to you much?

Show some initiative. Tell your boss you are keen to hear about what’s been happening in the business and would love to talk to him/her for 10 minutes…most employers will find the time and be impressed with your interest in what’s going on.

Here’s the good news…

Most firms working with us have these issues completely under control. For businesses and employees new to this offshore thing…the tips we’ve covered here aren’t hard to implement and could be the difference between Vitamin C and the Morgue.


Where to From Here

You can book an appointment with our team to learn more about offshoring and be at the forefront of the accounting industry.


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