After the year we’ve had, we all deserve as stress-free an existence as possible – there’s enough drama going on in the real world, without drama in your working life too.  For this reason, it’s really important to work with people who can deliver the services that you require in a positive, effective and efficient way.

If you’ve been in business for a while, I’m sure that you’ve had experience of working with contractors, freelancers, or even employed members of staff who aren’t quite the best fit for your business.  It’s perhaps more noticeable in small businesses, where there are minimal staff to shoulder the workload, but it can be a challenge whatever industry you are in, and whatever you do.  Perhaps your colleague lacks confidence or knowledge when it comes to the skillset they need? If they’ve made it clear that they don’t have these skills, and are trying to learn them ‘on the job’ in line with your recommendations and approval, that’s not so much of a problem, but there are some  individuals out there who claim to have extensive skills in a particular area, but are unable to practically demonstrate these skills.  Perhaps your colleague has a different approach to communication than you and the rest of your team do, and comes across as abrupt or aggressive, or doesn’t seem to take their role seriously? When you spend day-in, day-out liaising with these colleagues, it’s not uncommon to have the odd personality clash, and in many cases these behavioural quirks are overshadowed by the positive skills and experience of those team members, but if they aren’t, it’s worth addressing them objectively (and following advice from a HR professional before you take any action, if appropriate) to try to improve the working environment for all members of staff.

When selecting in-house staff, interviews and probation periods prove invaluable when trying to establish whether a team member is going to be a good fit and successful plug the skills gap you specifically need assistance with.  The same is possible with freelancers and outsourced team members too.  Here at Personally Virtual, for example, I have grown a team of trusted business support professionals that I know can provide a high level of support and professionalism.  I have seen their references/testimonials, checked that they have the necessary insurances and systems in place to work safely and effectively, and have liaised with them all personally to ensure that they understand and share the same values that I do – to provide consistently high quality services in a professional, efficient and effective manner, despite working remotely from the wide range of businesses that we support, both large and small.  From experience, I strongly recommend that if you are considering outsourcing work to an external individual, that you make sure that you clearly identify the support that you need and the skillset that you expect before you advertise for a role, and don’t be afraid to ask potential candidates for references/testimonials and evidence of insurance and accreditation, etc. if appropriate (for example, Anti-Money Laundering or ICO registration).  It’s also worth talking with a potential candidate personally to find out more about whether they could be an appropriate fit for your existing team.  Another benefit of working with outsourced staff is that you can consider starting with a short-term contract (for example, a set number of hours or a month, etc.) as a 'trial period' before moving on to regular, retained support – why not speak to them about the way that they work and the contracts that they work to in order to find out what would work best for both you and them?

As I said, life is challenging enough without having to face additional stress in your work life too, so if you are considering bringing in a new member of staff – either in-house or outsourced – it’s worth carefully considering the skills, experience and characteristics that you are looking for so that you can find an effective, efficient and friendly individual to help you further develop and grow your business.


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