One of the benefits of modern business is being able to access high-quality outsourced support.
In our very own profession the rise of outsourced paraplanning and administration services is revolutionising the way many businesses operate.
For small one-person owner-operated businesses, these services give them the option of not having to build and manage a support team.
For larger firms the more mundane aspects of paraplanning and administration can be outsourced. This in turn frees up quality internal staff to do more of what they love and are good at; the work that adds most value to the business.
It not only paraplanning and administration that you can outsource. If you take a look at sites like…
…you’ll find an amazing array of specialist support people.
What about values and culture?
In other articles I’ve written about building a great team (Some Assembly Required: building the perfect team, 3 Good Reasons to Keep your Team Happy), I’ve emphasised the importance of ensuring that all team members buy into your core values. Can you actually do that when you build an outsourced team? Does it work with a mix of in-house and outsourced team members?
For me the answer is an unequivocal yes.
In-house or outsourced: there’s no difference
Regardless of whether you are hiring someone to perform a role in-house, or looking to partner with an outsourced person the issues are the same:
Is there a values fit?
Do they get it, want it, and have the capacity to do it?
In your recruiting process for in-house staff, or in your due diligence process for selecting an outsourced individual or firm, you’ll need to make some sort of evaluation on the values fit. Do they see the world the same way as you do? If they do, that’s a great start. If they don’t, it’s an absolute show stopper.
So don’t be afraid to explain and discuss your core values with a potential outsourced contractor. It’s not bullet proof in helping you partner with the right person, but you’ll know pretty quickly once they start if there is truly a values fit.
The second piece of the puzzle is to ensure any contractor gets (i.e. understands) the role, wants to do the role, and has the intellectual, emotional and time capacity to perform the role for you. Get it, want it, and capacity to do it, or GWC as Gino Wickman describes it in his book Traction.
As regular readers of my blogs will know, our whole team at FP Advance (11 people) is made up of outsourcers and contractors. Does that mean they’re all self-interested swashbucklers and guns for hire? No. This group of people are some of the best we’ve ever worked with, and we love them to bits.
Last year, in the lead up to Christmas we organised a traditional Christmas party at a nice restaurant in central London and invited all of our outsourced team to attend. Our bookkeeper flew in from Glasgow, our graphic design guy came down from Hereford and my VA came up from Poole. Others were based closer to London.
We paid for their travel and paid for the lunch. Why would we bother to do that? They’re outsourced suppliers. Surely they can pay their own freight.
That’s one view, I guess. However, we don’t see them (or treat them) as external suppliers, we see them as part of our FP Advance team.
Your team is your team
The face-to-face Christmas lunch was the first time Debbie and I had ever met some of our team in person. So what happened?
We did a very short explanation of the work that we do, why we believe in what we do, and told stories about one or two of our core values. We then went around the table and got people to introduce themselves to each other and to speak a little about what they did outside of work. It won’t surprise you to learn that most people around the table shared one of our core values; freedom. It was an amazing experience and brought us all together even closer as a team.
Would you do something like this for your in-house team at Christmas? Of course you would. There’s no difference in my mind between your in-house or outsourced team. They’re simply your team.
I’d encourage you to think of any outsourcers as partners, not merely suppliers. You don’t necessarily have to state that publicly, and nor do you need to create a structure that enshrines that commercially or legally.
However, in your mind think partnership and treat them like partners. Don’t act like you’re doing them a favour by giving them your work. That’s not the attitude that’ll make them feel valued and willing to go the extra mile for you when it’s required.
Share the vision
You can go even further. Just like you’d do with your in-house team, spend time explaining your vision for the business and sharing the business plan with your outsourced team.
You know from your own motivation that everyone wants to work with a group of driven people trying to do some good. And Financial Planning firms, once they’re understood by employees or outsourced team members, are fantastic places to work because the work you do makes a real difference. Share the good news; let your outsourced team see under the bonnet just a little, so they can get excited and feel good about supporting you.
What we’ve found at FP Advance is that a team of skilled outsourced people can really buy into what we do.
I know that’s possible for you too. You just need to make sure you’re all on the same page.