On the Virtual Team 360 podcast, I’ve interviewed many guests on their experience using the subcontracting concept in their business. There aren’t many complaints but we’ve discussed some of the difficulties that might arise. One item has come up several times: people who’ve been hired as subcontractors suddenly disappear. They seem to fall from sight! What would cause someone to do this? Believe it or not, you play a large role in keeping them on board. I’ve come up with some strategies to keep this from happening.
First, you want to do some investigating before hiring a potential subcontractor. Social media is an excellent tool for discerning important information about them. How are they interacting on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Snapchat, and the like? Look for their work style, how much their personal life might impact their work, and how they behave in general. Are they professional or too relaxed? Red flags would include bickering with others and being completely inactive on all their social media. You’ll get a feel for what they’re like and what it will be like working with them.
Once you’ve got them on board, don’t just throw them out in the water. Take the time to strategize with them. What ideas and insights do they have about the client’s work? What questions do they have? Ask them if there’s anything in particular they’d find challenging and would initially need some support on. I recommend a monthly check-in call with your subcontractors; however, you might consider doing a weekly call for the first month. It’s important that they get a feeling of ownership in these projects. When they’re personally invested, and feel valuable, they aren’t likely to simply disappear on you.
I’ve said it before, and it can’t be said often enough: communication is key! If you don’t communicate with them, how do you expect them to feel like they need to communicate with you? In a sense, by shoving them out blind, you’re the one disappearing on them! This needs to be a team effort. Assure them that if they have a question they don’t want to ask the client, they can come to you. Utilize tools like Skype, Join.Me, Snapchat, messaging apps, etc., to keep the line of communication open.
Finally, it’s very important as a virtual service provider that you show them that you do personally care. The way you treat them is the way they’re going to treat the work of your client. The more attentive you are with them, the more attentive they’ll be with the work. If you make them feel like a member of a team, they’ll see their contribution to the project as vital, not disposable.
How can you show personal care? Small things make a difference. Send them a birthday card, or congratulate them on an anniversary. Ask occasionally about their children. Do you know they’ve had a bad day, or are struggling with a personal issue like health problems? Send a quick encouraging email. If they’re a private person, that’s fine, because you can still show personal interest in them. Be aware of these things that affect them, because our personal lives absolutely affect our professional lives.
If you implement these strategies, check in with them often, and communicate efficiently, then you aren’t going to have the problem of them falling from your sight. With that said, please feel free to let me know if there’s any other issues you’re facing that you’d like me to talk about. You can send me a message at firstname.lastname@example.org!