Outsourcing is a strategic decision for any company. When done right it can yield immense benefits for both sides, which is why it is important to find effective ways to make the relationship work.
It brings together people from different places and various cultures and encourage them to work together toward shared goals. And just like any working relationship, it’s bound to come across some roadblocks but making this work should not be a problem as long as you’re able to do one thing: get to know your staff.
Human relations is crucial in any business because it directly affects work performance. Knowing your staff really well can lead to more motivated workers and improved employee retention. So how do you make this work especially in a setup where you’re dealing with people from varying backgrounds?
Nick Sinclair, CEO of The Outsourced Accountant (TOA), shares his insights on his experience working with his Philippine staff that’s comprised of more than 600 Filipino accountants and support teams.
Nick also offers compelling reasons why you need to start growing your firm in the Philippines while dispelling preconceived notions about cultural differences. He also gives practical and proven ways on how to manage an offshore team.
1. Filipinos tend to be people pleasers
They will say yes to everything. And it’s just really their culture. They are generally not inclined towards confrontation and they don’t like letting you down.
Generally, Filipinos would not ask questions or seek clarifications on certain instructions out of politeness, even if they don’t fully understand everything. Mistakes will arise as a result.
To effectively train your offshore team, make sure that every process is properly explained to each member. Encourage them to ask questions or clarifications on a certain process. Show them. Utilise technology and record the processes so they’re easier to learn. For conversations, use Skype, Zoom, or GoToMeeting.
With my original accounting firm, we had all our Australian staff of 38 record everything they’re doing for eight hours a day and turned those recordings to training videos.
TOA Global Support staff with COO Ben Vickers on Valentine’s Day office celebration
2. Filipinos tend to be sensitive
Compared to Western people, Filipinos would take things to heart much often. This sensitivity can cause problems when communicating something in a manner they consider impolite. Culture differences like this need to be handled with care.
To avoid conflicts between you and your staff, make sure that you talk to them as calmly as possible. It’s more advisable to come up to them and talk to them privately, rather than calling them out in front of the others.
“Now I’ll bring that person into the room and I’ll tell him or her of the concern, that she’s letting the country down, the company down, the family down. And that’s just how they deal with it. They respect people when they do that. They’ll walk out of the office and they’ll go back and apologise to you and work twice as hard. That’s just the way that they like things to be handled when there are issues to deal with.”
3. Filipinos work best if you have set KPIs
Setting a number will make expectations clear, which often leads to increased productivity. Let’s say you are getting bookkeeping work done in the Philippines, it’s recommended that you work out how many transactions per hour your staff needs to accomplish.
Track the number of transactions in an hour and increase it by 10 to 20% and then set that as a key performance indicator (KPI). This should help you set sound expectations and make things clear between you and your staff.
Make sure every expectation is clear to all members
4. Filipinos are very social people
Reaching out to your Filipino staff will pay off greatly. You can foster a trusted and friendly working atmosphere when you have a good relationship with your staff. A simple nod or “hello” should start the ball rolling. Corporate culture should not prohibit bosses to have a good and fun working relationship with the staff.
Reach out through simple everyday conversations on Skype. Try adding them on social media, they are very warm and welcoming to strangers. Don’t be surprised if you get personal invites to special occasions because they are that wonderfully open.
Creating an open and friendly team culture will require you to take the time and effort to invest and connect with your staff. Here at TOA, we strongly recommend our clients to visit their offshore team at least twice a year — see them in person, build trust, and forge genuine relationships.
5. Filipinos value hierarchy
Filipinos want career growth. With TOA, we have a very flat management structure but our staff wants to grow professionally. They also value titles, which is one of the key indicators of success in any work culture. Many of our accountants’ titles are Senior Accountants and Senior Vice President Accountant. These titles matter a lot since these are considered among the benchmark of success in the country.
Moreover, they value authority. They regard leaders and other people who hold a high position with respect. The same goes with dealing with older people, which is a manifestation of their courteous tradition.
Bridging cultural gaps in the workplace should not be too difficult as long as you are genuinely interested in getting to know the people who work with you.
To learn more on the Filipino culture, see one of Nick’s keynote presentations entitled, How To Bridge The Cultural Divide.
The Outsourced Accountant helps accounting firms from all over the world grow their capacity, margins and profits through global outsourcing. Contact us to find out more about how we can help your firm.