How to Increase Your Productivity in the Digital Gig Economy – Outsourcing 2.0, Part 2
By Ragel Nel On March 1, 2015
Part 2: The steps you need to take to become a master (like Bob) at delegating/outsourcing
In our previous blog post, we wrote about the one superpower that all successful people appears to possess. (Hint: it’s the ability to order others around – yes, really, it’s as simple as that. Only, it is never called “ordering others around”. Instead, management books use the words “delegating” and “outsourcing” for it.) In that same post, we also explained the difference between delegating and outsourcing. So you clearly missed a lot. Luckily you can catch up here.
Next up, we’ll provide you with some helpful, actionable tasks about how you can go about achieving this. If you’re wondering whether delegating or outsourcing is for you, then ask yourself this: do you sometimes feel overwhelmed by important tasks and by urgent demands that are being made on your time? If you’ve answered yes, then it’s definitely for you.
Step 1. Identify the tasks you want to delegate/outsource
If you’re having trouble with this one – and it’s okay if you are, because most people have – start by identifying the tasks that are key to your business and day-to-day operations. Are you working for a tech start-up that are in the process of creating an app that is centered upon the users’ engagement and participation in social networking communities? Then you’d better not outsource your social media management to a freelancer, since too much of your business’s core function hinges upon that job being done really well.
On the other hand, if you are a grocery store owner, you can delegate the shelf stocking to your employees. Yes, of course your business depends on whether or not there is goods on the shelves that your customers can buy from you, but as manager, you take care of the logistics of ordering it and having it delivered, or oversee whoever has to do that. However, when it comes to unpacking the sugar and cereal and lining them up neatly on the shelves? Your employees can absolutely handle that, while you take care of management duties and see to it that you do not run out of stock.
Step 2: Find or build a great team in the gig economy.
Once you have identified which tasks you can leave up to others to do – which will leave you free to focus on those things that you do best – you have to pick the correct people to fulfil the tasks that you need done.
Now you need to decide if you already have the personnel you can delegate the tasks to inside your office, or whether the job requires someone with a specialised skill set that no one within your company possesses? In which case it will mean that you will need to hire an individual or a team from outside your company to come and do the specific job for you. If it’s the latter, then you are outsourcing the job.
How not to do it: A few years ago, there was a man who was employed by American broadband and telecommunications company Verizon who was so brilliant at outsourcing, he became (in)famous for it. Referred to only as “Bob”, he had been working at the company as a developer for a number of years – where he apparently had a reputation as a quiet, studious, reliable, hard-working guy, whose code was always clean and delivered on time. So imagine everyone’s shock when that same, upstanding Bob was caught in 2012 for having had outsourced most of his work to a Chinese consulting firm! Bob had reportedly paid the Chinese about $50 000 per year while he continued to earn several hundred thousand.
His browsing history at work revealed that, while the Chinese diligently continued coding on his behalf, he spent his 9 to 5 work days watching cat videos online, surfing Reddit and updating his social media accounts. He was finally caught when someone noticed the anomalous activity in the company’s VPN logs coming from China. This raised red flags, since the company had implemented a two-authentication VPN connection. Needless to say, despite being in possession of incredible outsourcing skills, “Bob” immediately lost his job for this gross breach of security.
So while having the ability to delegate tasks to others is certainly a gift – and especially in Bob’s case, where he outsourced the work remotely, across a cultural and geographic divide, and STILL managed to get the workers to perform so well that his own bosses suspected nothing for a really long time – it truly is not advisable to outsource or delegate when you are knowingly breaking company policy.
In our next post, we will tell you about a host of websites and online services – such as ours at MyHelpster – that make delegating and outsourcing as easy as clicking a button.