The nightmare called Delegating to Contractors

The answer to ‘How do you decide what to delegate?’ Should be very easy. If it is not one of your core competencies, give it to someone to whom it is. That way, you focus on what you are good at, and they do the same. Yes it’s true, that sometimes the best way to delegate a project is to outsource it.

My way to decide is to ask myself the question “do I want to spend my time coaching, mentoring and growing the required skills in-house?”. If I don’t then the answer is to outsource it.

Take for example graphic design. We don’t have an in-house designer, and while we have talented people on our staff that may be open to learning new skills, keeping a graphic designer, coaching and mentoring him and making sure that he is always growing would not add to our company’s competitive advantage. So we went to outsourcing. Even if we would have hired someone to work in-house, with all the required skills, do we really need to invest in growing and empowering a graphic designer in a software company???

A few posts ago, I posted Boss: Don’t DELEGATE about delegating within the company… So you can only imagine how I feel about delegating to contractors. It’s even harder than delegating in-house.

In order to feel more comfortable and to make it work, the contractor needs to understand the bigger picture and be empowered to deliver the best possible results. In our company, we invite our contractors to the office for a monthly meeting to update them regarding our goals and milestones, and to make clear their roles in achieving them. Communication is the first secret of success. So far these meetings are showing their fruits, our contractors are part of the big picture and it’s the second secret for their success.

But the most important part is, of course, there must be someone in-house that maintains responsibility and manages each and every project or outsource company.

I call it the 200% responsibility. The contractor is responsible for his work, but so is our in-house person that is managing him.

To illustrate the point a non-office issue that can explain the importance of the 200 percent responsibility:

Say I need to pick up my daughter from School and drop her off at home with her mother.

I will stop the car and will make sure that my daughter is safe as she’s crossing the street – my 100%. At the same time, and regardless of me, my wife will be watching my daughter crossing the street from the moment that she leaves the car, until she is with her – 100% responsible. During the time that we are both watching her, while exchanging responsibilities, we are both 100 percents responsible – 200% responsibility. I am 100% responsible for getting her there safely. My wife is 100% responsible for her getting to her safely. There is no room for partial responsibility.

Coming soon: Hiring workers who are expert in fields that you are not, or ‘How to interview potential workers when you don’t understand what they do’.

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