Business owners and leaders often understand the financial implications of engaging an offshore team. Firstly, it is more cost effective to have a low-cost resource doing the non-revenue generating, or low-value, work; secondly, the opportunity cost that it creates by freeing up the local team to focus on revenue-generating work is also very clear.
However, the commercial benefits alone are often not enough to convince the principal’s local team to buy into the idea. This is not a problem unique to real estate and it accompanies every new project in every industry. The simple answer for all real estate business leaders is to expect the initial push-back and have effective tactics in place to address it and, ultimately, convert it into employee buy-in.
Push-back from your team stems from uncertainty about how changes will affect their role.
In a former career, working on enterprise-level IT project implementations, I very quickly learnt the change management plan and the project management plan were the same thing – you can’t have one without the other.
Here are five tactics we have used before that will help you get buy-in from your team and start to create a change culture in your agency.
The reason you get push-back from your team is uncertainty. They are uncertain about what the new changes will bring and how those changes will affect their role in the business. Your team want to know ‘What’s In It For Me?’ (WIFM). There are plenty of ways you can do this; however, the most effective method we have found is workshopping how an offshore team will benefit them.
Get your team in a room together and ask them to write down those tasks they love doing in their job and those tasks they hate doing. They should end up with two lists. I bet the tasks they hate doing will more than likely be mundane, repetitive and process-driven – which are perfect for sending to an offshore team.
On the other hand, the tasks they love doing should be the revenue-generating tasks that will ultimately result in agency growth and a more profitable business. Ask your team, ‘If someone else did the tasks you hate doing, what impact would this have on your productivity and happiness at work?’
2. Meet the supplier
It is always beneficial to introduce your team to the supplier; in this case, your outsourcing partner. Why hide the identity of who will be working with your team? At Beepo, we strongly encourage client teams to jump on a video conference call with our Philippines team. This really helps your people understand the cultural similarities and take away some of the stigma associated with working with an overseas supplier. Better yet, don’t discount the option of taking some of your senior members to the Beepo office in the Philippines – guests are always welcome.
3. Involve them in the decision
Fear of change is often caused by a lack of understanding.
Do your staff truly understand why the change is important to the business? Have you included them in your decision-making process and explained to them what things might look like if the new project doesn’t go ahead? Getting the team together and workshopping the current business challenges you face, and how those challenges may impact each one of them individually, can be very powerful. Fear of change is often caused by a lack of understanding.
Be comfortable in the knowledge that you are not the first horse to bolt. There are plenty of other real estate agencies already building offshore teams. So reach out to your peers and see who can talk to your team about how outsourcing in the Philippines works for them. If you can’t find anyone who is already doing it, ask us; we can easily pass on the details of some customers who would be more than happy to talk to you and your team about their experience.
It is your role as leader to educate your team and ultimately create a change culture in your business.
5. Introduce the technology
Objections from your local team can sometimes be as simple as, ‘How is it practical to work with someone who is based 8,500 kms away in another country?’. To overcome this, demonstrate how easy today’s technology has made it. All you need is a webcam, headset, computer and a cost-effective, easy-to-use web conferencing tool (we use Zoom). We have found that once we have shown customers how to use Zoom to record training videos, whiteboard ideas, meet with multiple stakeholders and so on, employees start to see how easy the technology is to use and how, in a practical sense, outsourcing can work for them.
Don’t let employee push-back be the barrier to you implementing an offshore team in your agency. Push-back is normal. It is your role as a leader to educate your team, secure buy-in from them and ultimately create a change culture in your business.